An immaculate Redsand MX Park in Spain hosted the third round of 20 in the 2018 FIM Motocross World Championships at the weekend.
The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team remains undefeated in terms of both motos and GPs overall with Italian defending world champion Tony Cairoli taking his first spoils of the year in MXGP and Latvian MX2 defending world champion Pauls Jonass ruling MX2 once more.
Watched by 26,000 fans, Cairoli was in the mood for full points following runner-up positions in both Argentina and Holland. The Sicilian stalked French rider Romain Febvre for seven laps of the first moto and crossed the line almost five seconds in front of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mate and championship leader Jeffrey Herlings.
In the second race, Cairoili seized the holeshot. He passed Frenchman Gautier Paulin and massaged a race-winning margin over a battling Herlings to record his first 1-1 of the campaign. The Grand Prix of La Comunitat Valenciana delivered the defending number one’s 84th career success and 300th top three moto finish. Cairoli’s achievement also ensured at least one victory in all 15 of his world championship seasons since 2004.
“I’m really happy about the weekend. We made some changes to the bike for improvement and I was very pleased to get back from a bad start to second on the first lap of the first moto,” Cairoli said.
“I struggled a bit to pass Romain. I had the better speed but took a while to make it happen. It was good to win. A holeshot in the second moto and Paulin was aggressive and with a good rhythm but I could pass him and control the situation.
“I knew Jeffrey was coming back strong but we could respond with some good lap-times. Everything went well and I’m really happy to win here in Spain. It is my 84th win; it’s really nice and the season is going good. I’m happy to fight with Jeffrey and the other guys. The red plate doesn’t matter too much at the moment. It is about trying to improve and we are trying different things but we have a good set-up.”
Herlings finished the GP 2-2 and lamented a poor start in the first moto and a first lap tumble in the second. The Dutchman had a tough day cutting through the pack – setting the fastest lap both times – but the victor of Argentine and Dutch rounds secured a third consecutive trophy and ties on points with Cairoli at the tip of MXGP. Despite the same number of triumphs and second places the FIM have given the red plate to Cairoli for round four by virtue of his status as the most recent winner.
“It wasn’t a good weekend and I came to this track aiming to win but I messed up both starts; the second one wasn’t too bad but I crashed on the first lap and had to come back from somewhere around fifteenth and was still able to fight my way up to Tony,” Herlings explained.
“The bike we have is really solid but we might have some new parts to try for the starts and hopefully we can improve with that. Once the starts are better – and I also need to look at what I am doing on the bike – then we’ll be able to put ourselves in a much better position. The competition is strong here and it is tough to come through the pack; every weekend has been like this and I either barely make it or run out of time. I have a great team behind me and we’ll be working on it in the coming weeks.”
Monster Energy Kawasaki Factory Racing’s Clement Desalle reinforced his third place in the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship with his second podium in the three rounds of the series run to date.
The Belgian turned round a disappointing performance in qualification around in a confidence-building performance as he raced in the leading group in both point-scoring races. A pair of fourths saw him tie with Romain Febvre for the final podium place but his better finish iin the second moto was sufficient to claim third overall on the day and strengthen his third place in the series standings.
“It’s positive to get this podium, as yesterday the feeling was not so good,” Desalle said. “We changed our strategy for today and that helped me a lot, especially for the starts; if you don’t get a good start it’s difficult to get a good result as the class is really competitive.
“I’m happy as I got a good start in race one and I was fighting all race to finish in fourth place; my second start was not quite so good but I had a good feeling and made many strong passes during the first two laps to come back to third. I again finished fourth; I had a strong battle with Febvre for most of the race but he couldn’t pass me and it’s good to have a second podium since the beginning of the season. Now we will continue to work hard; third is good but my goal is to win.”
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Febvre come tantalisingly close to his first podium finish as he tied on points with the third place.
“Overall, I had a good weekend,” Febvre said. “I was only just off the podium, which is good. I know my speed is good, my starts were also good. I just need to be a little bit better.”
While the MXGP class is full of biggest stars in World Motocross the local fans were cheering the loudest during the MX2 class. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team’s Pauls Jonass was the winner but his young team-mate from Spain, Jorge Prado, was the focus of the fans.
Race one started with a FOX Holeshot from STC Racing Husqvarna’s Henry Jacobi who barely surpassed Hitachi KTM UK’s Conrad Mewse to the chalk line. Right behind the pair was Jonass who quickly took over the lead.
Prado had a good start as well in 4th after the first lap just ahead of Honda 114 Motorsport’s Hunter Lawrence. TM Factory Racing’s Samuele Bernardini passed Lawrence for 5th on lap 2 and 2 laps later both himself and Lawrence overtook Jacobi. Lawrence also moved into 4th ahead of Bernardini in the process. Thomas Kjer Olsen was next to take a spot from the TM rider and five laps later Olsen would do the same to Lawrence.
With Olsen pressuring Prado both the Spaniard and Dane found the speed to pass Mewse for second only two laps before the finish. At the line Jonass won with Prado, Olsen, Mewse, and Lawrence rounding out the top five.
Race two started with a Fox Holeshot from the local superstar but again Jonass took the lead nearly instantly. Olsen had a much improved start for race two and also passed Prado before the first lap was complete.
Darian Sanayei was fast all weekend and, after coming from 13th to finish 6th in race one, the American started race two in 4th after lap one with Lawrence behind him.
In the eight laps of race two the top seven remained the same but, on lap nine, a mistake from Olsen and pass from Sanayei on Prado put Sanayei second and Olsen fifth, with Prado and Lawrence between them.
After three more laps Olsen had refocused and passed Lawrence for 4th. In the remaining seven laps, again no position changes occurred in the top six but Sanayei made several attempts at the lead.
At the finish Jonass won his 6th race of 6 this year for his 3rd overall victory, with Sanayei, Prado, Olsen, and Lawrence finishing the top 5. In the overall standings Jonass scored the perfect 50 points ahead of Prado with 42 and Olsen with 38 for his 3rd podium of 2018.
With a perfect score Jonass has a 30 point advantage in the standings over Olsen. Prado is 3rd and another 15 points back.
“It is nice to start the season with six wins from six motos but motocross is never easy!” Jonass said, “Many people at home have been saying ‘that looked like an easy race for you…’ but every moto is difficult. You need to stay focussed. This weekend was not easy because Jorge was there in the first moto all the time and in the second Darian, Jorge and Thomas were close! I tried not to make any big mistakes and stayed calm to control the race. I enjoyed the track today.”
Jorge Prado was happy with second place.
“It was a good weekend and I am happy with my second place,” Prado said. “The first moto was good, the second I struggled a bit but we’ve been working hard so I’m pleased. For sure everybody wants to win here and Pauls is difficult to beat! Lately he has been riding even better than usual. So we’ll keep trying!”
Third overall sees Thomas Kjer Olsen remain second in the class’ provisional championship standings.
“There are lots of positives to take from this GP and I’m happy with the progress we’ve made,” Kjer Olsen said. “I felt good all weekend here in Spain. I didn’t get the best of starts in the opening moto and this made everything harder for me.
“Fortunately, my start was a lot better in moto two and I could really show my speed. I am a little bit disappointed I went down while I was running second. I was in a very good position to push Jonass for the lead. Overall, my speed was really good this weekend and my fitness as well. We continue working hard and I’m looking forward to the following round in Italy now.”
MXGP breaks for Easter weekend with round four taking place at Arco di Trento and the Pietramurata circuit for the Grand Prix of Trentino (the first of three visits to Italy this year and with the calendar now extended to twenty events due to the late inclusion of Bulgaria to the slate) on April 7-8.
Photo courtesy Ray Archer
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MXGP Race 1 Top Ten:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 34:52.260
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:04.693
3. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:12.061
4. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:14.076
5. Julien Lieber (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:25.080
6. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:26.294
7. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:35.890
8. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:41.653
9. Maximilian Nagl (GER, TM), +0:47.206
10. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:53.029.
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 34:23.638
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:01.830
3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:23.498
4. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:28.612
5. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:29.971
6. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:43.888
7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:48.158
8. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:50.046
9. Julien Lieber (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:57.229
10. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Honda), +1:15.708.
MXGP Overall Top Ten:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 50 points
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 44 Points
3. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 36 Points
4. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 36 Points
5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 34 Points
6. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 28 Points
7. Julien Lieber (BEL, KAW), 28 Points
8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 24 Points
9. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 24 Points
10. Maximilian Nagl (GER, TM), 22 Points
MXGP Championship Top Ten:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 141 points
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 141 Points
3. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 103 Points
4. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 101 Points
5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 98 Points
6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 79 Points
7. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 78 Points
8. Maximilian Nagl (GER, TM), 60 Points
9. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 59 Points
10. Julien Lieber (BEL, KAW), 54 Points
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 35:20.628
2. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:03.886
3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:05.319
4. Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), +0:06.553
5. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Honda), +0:07.313
6. Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +0:11.488
7. Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA, Honda), +0:16.544
8. Jed Beaton (AUS, Kawasaki), +0:23.234
9. Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), +0:38.655
10. Adam Sterry (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:42.637
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 34:59.912
2. Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +0:07.775
3. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:12.139
4. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:12.556
5. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Honda), +0:22.616
6. Jed Beaton (AUS, Kawasaki), +0:29.097
7. Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA, Honda), +0:30.329
8. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:33.527
9. Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), +0:41.595
10. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, Yamaha), +0:52.751
MX2 Overall Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 50 points
2. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 42 Points
3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 38 Points
4. Darian Sanayei (USA, KAW), 37 Points
5. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, HON), 32 Points
6. Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), 30 Points
7. Jed Beaton (AUS, KAW), 28 Points
8. Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA, HON), 28 Points
9. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 20 Points
10. Bas Vaessen (NED, HON), 20 Points
MX2 Championship Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 150 points
2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 120 Points
3. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 105 Points
4. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, HON), 99 Points
5. Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), 81 Points
6. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 81 Points
7. Jed Beaton (AUS, KAW), 72 Points
8. Darian Sanayei (USA, KAW), 68 Points
9. Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA, HON), 63 Points
10. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, YAM), 54 Points