The fastest motocross riders in the world took on square-edged ruts of the track in Losail, Qatar, for the opening round of the 2016 FIM Motocross World Championship at the weekend.
And that’s where Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings doubled up to claim the first leaders’ red plates of the season.
Also at Qatar at the weekend, New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan dominated the opening round of the Women’s Motocross World Championships. BikesportNZ.com will have more on that later.
For Gajser, it was a dream start to the season for the 2015 MX2 World Champion, who instead of staying back in the MX2 class to defend his title, decided to take the plunge and race the premier class for 2016, the MXGP division.
While many were wary of the young Honda Gariboldi riders decision, he soon silenced doubters with his exceptional performance which saw him take a double race victory to win the opening round of the 2016 MXGP World Championship on his debut appearance.
Tim Gajser, at the tender age of 19, also put his name in the history books as the youngest rider ever to win in the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship on his debut. The Slovenian rookie sensation said, “I was really relaxed coming here, I didn’t have pressure on myself. I didn’t know what to expect, I knew I had a good winter, good preparation, good testing and good with the team, so I came here just wanting to give my best.”
Meanwhile last year’s rookie sensation, the defending MXGP World Champion Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre was running a fierce pace in both races.
The Frenchman admitted his elbow was giving him a little bit of grief, “The first moto with my injury to the elbow I couldn’t ride like I expected, I was just too tight.” Nevertheless he put together two top three finishes to tie for second overall, “I was not happy with the riding” he said, “but I’m happy with the place. I made a mistake in the second race but I came back strong for second. I knew Tim was really good, I saw him riding a few times in the winter, I saw him riding with the 450 so I knew he would be good. Anyway we have 17 rounds to go.”
Friday’s top qualifier Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev took home the same amount of points as Febvre, but was pushed down to the third step of the podium due to Febvre’s second place in the final race. Bobby also finished both races inside the top three which made for a solid start to his 2016 MXGP campaign as he rounded off the podium in third.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek rode some solid laps this weekend for fourth, which is one place better than he finished last year.
Making up the top five, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli is armed with titles and speed but has never won here in Qatar. The Italian who is already a legend in the FIM Motocross World Championship with his eight world titles, was forced to face the same truth once again as he nursed a few injuries home to fifth.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings has been working hard all winter to come out all guns blazing here at the opening round of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
“The Bullet”, as he is known, has had a tough run of injuries over the last couple of years but they haven’t slowed him down much as he had his KTM pinned in both races to dominate the opening round in the MX2 class.
Another rider banished from the last two seasons due to injury is Team Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Dylan Ferrandis. Since doing his knee at the MXGP of Spain last year, the Frenchman has been laying low, but having won a race here in Losail once before, he was expected to be fast.
In terms of speed, the number ‘4’ delivered. He had the guts but not the glory as he had to settle for second behind the former two time MX2 world champion, Herlings.
A thumb injury in the winter didn’t stop Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass from twisting the throttle to it’s fullest as he nailed a Fox Holeshot in the first race and was on the cable in the second to round off the podium with a convincing 3 – 3 performance.
Team Suzuki World MX2 Team Manager Stefan Everts informed us that Jeremy Seewer was feeling under the weather this weekend, but that didn’t stop him from stealing some thunder in the opening race when he got off to a great start and put the pass on Pauls Jonass to lead the first few laps. Although he proved he has the speed, the Swiss dropped back in both races but still posted two top five results for fourth overall.
Meanwhile Kemea Yamaha Official MX Team’s Brent Van Doninck had a stellar start to his 2016 MX2 campaign with an 8-4 result to round out the top five.
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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MXGP Race 1 Top Ten: 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), 33:56.516; 2. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:07.507; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:19.644; 4. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:23.148; 5. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:27.015; 6. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:29.383; 7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:30.886; 8. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:32.227; 9. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:33.672; 10. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:35.336.
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten: 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), 34:07.633; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:08.230; 3. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:09.952; 4. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:10.628; 5. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:11.960; 6. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:14.601; 7. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:19.057; 8. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:20.221; 9. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:41.741; 10. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:42.891.
MXGP Overall: 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 50 points; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 42 p.; 3. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 42 p.; 4. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 34 p.; 5. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 33 p.; 6. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 30 p.; 7. Tommy Searle (GBR, KAW), 25 p.; 8. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 25 p.; 9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 25 p.; 10. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 24 p.
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:36.485; 2. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:02.127; 3. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:36.086; 4. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:39.609; 5. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Yamaha), +0:45.698; 6. Petar Petrov (BUL, Kawasaki), +0:46.475; 7. Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), +0:54.016; 8. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +1:00.550; 9. Jens Getteman (BEL, KTM), +1:08.121; 10. Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +1:12.918
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:39.257; 2. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:17.253; 3. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:33.722; 4. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +0:35.284; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:36.687; 6. Petar Petrov (BUL, Kawasaki), +0:38.114; 7. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Yamaha), +0:39.889; 8. Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:51.246; 9. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, Kawasaki), +0:52.150
MX2 Overall: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points; 2. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 44 p.; 3. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 40 p.; 4. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 34 p.; 5. Brent Van doninck (BEL, YAM), 31 p.; 6. Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 30 p.; 7. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, YAM), 30 p.; 8. Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), 25 p.; 9. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 17 p.; 10. Jens Getteman (BEL, KTM), 17 p.