Back-to-back GPs will push riders to the limit on the world championship scene, with battered bodies now facing the third round in as many weeks, the Swedish GP at Uddevalla this weekend.
It is the 11th round of 15 in the world championships, following smartly after the GPs of Germany and Latvia.
Italian Antonio Cairoli (Yamaha) (pictured above) has a solid lead in the MX1 class with new runner-up Max Nagl (KTM), defending world champion David Philippaerts (Yamaha) and New Zealand’s Josh Coppins (Yamaha) following.
In the MX2 class there is KTM’s Marvin Musquin on top with fellow French rider Gautier Paulin (Kawasaki) and Portugal’s Rui Goncalves (KTM) completing the top three.
Winning his second consecutive GP at the Latvian event last weekend, Cairoli is ready to enter the Swedish Grand Prix on top of his game. The Italian heads the MX1 Championship at his first full season in the category and has already taken four Grand Prix victories while the second winningest rider Jonathan Barragan, of Spain, has two.
Cairoli’s performance in Latvia left Belgium’s Clement Desalle (Honda) with a disappointed second, though Desalle collected his maiden moto win at the end of the opening heat. Desalle, whose defeat was also due to a clutch issue in moto two, will surely give it another try this weekend in Sweden to improve on his fifth position in the championship, just 19 points behind Nagl.
Nagl struggled in the second Latvian heat but managed to move past Philippaerts in the points standings. The latter dropped down to third ahead of Yamaha Monster Energy Motocross team-mate Coppins, coming back to the podium at Kegums after two strong rides.
Leaving Cairoli aside, the group of riders spread from second to sixth in the championship are spread in just 30 points as this list also includes Belgian Suzuki star Ken De Dycker, whose Latvian GP was hampered by a first moto crash. Sweden is a milestone venue for De Dycker taking his maiden overall win at Uddevalla in 2007.
With the fans expecting Barragan’s return to action after his Swedish GP win of last year, they will have to wait one more round as the Spaniard is due to comeback at Lommel.
Home rider Johan Carlsson of Delta Rentor Racing Team will try and improve on his 32nd place in the points standings by exploiting the advantage of racing at home while American Matt Boni will jump onboard the Factory 450 Honda seat left vacant by injured Billy Mackenzie of CAS Honda.
With the Swedish GP being the closest to his home country Norway, GP winner Kenneth Gundersen will reinforce Yamaha’s line up this weekend as a wildcard rider. In 2008 Gundersen entered his 12th FIM World Championship season with the Utag-Yamaha.com squad but a knee injury at the opening GP in Valkenswaard saw him pull out of the whole GP campaign.
In the MX2 class, Goncalves is feeling confident.
With three GP wins now in his bag, the Portuguese rider stormed to third in the MX2 championship to put runner-up Paulin in his sights. The goal will keep Goncalves busy in the forthcoming weekend with the Portuguese expected to try and close the 21-point gap from the Frenchman.
Championship leader Musquin watches the dogfight for second being 49 point ahead of Paulin. Courtesy of a second overall finish, the KTM mounted Frenchman took his fourth consecutive podium in Latvia where he collected as many points as overall winner Goncalves and limited the damages to his solid Championship.
Kawasaki’s Paulin completed the podium in Latvia with the country marking both his podium comeback –after an absence of two races- and the maiden appearance of the series in the country.
Italian David Guarneri (Yamaha) just dropped from third to fourth in the championship, rounding off a packed top four.
Kawasaki’s Steven Frossard is fifth ahead of rookie Ken Roczen (Suzuki).
This weekend is also the penultimate round of the Women’s world championships.
The championship standings are headed by Germany’s Steffi Laier (KTM).
The previous round, in Germany last month, added drama to the series which was headed by defending champion Livia Lancelot (Kawasaki) until Laier’s home event.
The French rider entered Teutschenthal with a dislocated right shoulder and the injury got worse through the weekend. Eventually Lancelot pulled out of round five and is probably done with this season ending in two rounds, while Laier won and took the championship lead.
Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com