Perhaps it was business as usual in the MXGP at the weekend.
Race fans lined the track at the British MXGP at Matterley Basin, near Winchester, at the weekend to witness the world championship action first-hand and they again saw Dutchman Jeffrey Herlings (MXGP class) and Latvian Pauls Jonass (MX2 class) assert themselves as the undisputed winners.
The unusually sunny British weather was scorching hot and when combined with the nearly 2,000 meter circuit provided testing but epic conditions for the world’s best motocross riders. The stadium like venue gave perfect viewing for all in attendance as the racing action kicked off.
Aside from the wild MXGP and MX2 racing the FIM Veterans Motocross World Cup was action packed with riders like last year’s winner, Martin Zerava, who won the VMX in 2014 and 2017 too, the two-time 250cc Motocross World Champion Mickael Pichon (France) and multi-time GP winner Mervyn Anstie (Britain) all joining in the racing.
Saturday’s race one was led from start to finish by Zerava while Pichon worked his way back to the front after a bad start while Anstie crashed out. Anstie crash looked worse than it was fortunately but a fracture to his collar bone plus some injured ribs left him out of racing Sunday. When the racing returned Sunday so too did the dominant performance from Zerava with Pichon again second for a surprising result. Finland’s Niko Kalatie rode consistent all weekend taking two third place finishes to round out the podium behind Pichon and back to back winner Zerava.
MXGP race one started with a holeshot from KTM’s Antonio Cairoli just ahead of his team-mate, Glen Coldenhoff. A few spots further back was the other Red Bull KTM of Herlings, the MXGP points leader.
Team Hond’s Tim Gajser also had a good start and ran third after the start but by the end of the first official lap Herlings moved into second as Coldenhoff dropped to fifth behind the surging Clement Desalle on his Kawasaki.
Yamaha’s Romain Febvre and Jeremy Van Horebeek ran 6th and 7th with Kawasaki’s Tommy Searle in 8th. Febvre later jumped into 5th past Coldenhoff which he held for the remainder of the race.
Searle was looking strong before a piece of plastic caught in his chain started to distract the Brit. Meanwhile Kawasaki’s Julien Lieber was gaining ground and with four laps remaining Lieber took a spot from Searle along with Yamaha’s Jeremy Seewer. Searle took the 9th back when Seewer fell in a turn and lost a handful of positions before finishing fourth.
Back at the front the battle was on between Cairoli and Herlings. A bad lap and some mistakes left Herlings in a position to take the lead but Cairoli fought back and the two carried on for the next laps. With 2 laps to go Herlings dove to the inside of Cairoli and both bobbled with Cairoli going down. Herlings took the race win but Cairoli got up quickly and managed second with Gajser 3rd.
Race two started just the same with Cairoli taking the holeshot and Herlings around 4th with Febvre and Desalle in between. Meanwhile Gajser lost traction and had a big save in front of Pit Lane. After the first few corners Herlings was already into 2nd and chasing down Cairoli while Desalle took 3rd from Febvre.
The front two started to pull away from Desalle after a couple of laps as both were setting their fastest laps each time around. On lap 6 Desalle fell, letting both Febvre and Gajser through before remounting his Kawasaki.
Gajser then started to close on Febvre coming within passing distance several times but couldn’t make it through. As Gajser continued to try to get by Febvre it was Desalle who ended up making it past the Slovenian.
When the two-lap board came out, Herlings was still behind Cairoli by a few seconds and realized he need to make a pass for the lead. As the pair started the final lap and came down the start straight into the first turn Herlings spotted his opportunity and took the spot! Herlings’ pace on the final lap resulted in the fastest lap of the race with a 2:19.285 and gave him the race win for maximum points and the clear overall. Herlings win gave him his 100th World Championship podium as Cairoli finished 2nd and Febvre took 3rd.
Jeffrey Herlings: “I am very happy to be here in this spot and to win… we made it happen and it’s a pleasure. It was a great race, both times I managed to get the lead, the first race 2 laps until the end and in the last race it was in the last lap, it was an amazing fight and a great way to get my 100th podium.”
Romain Febvre: “I am really happy to be on the podium again as the last few weeks have been tough…”
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten:
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 35:58.965; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:10.188; 3. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:14.527; 4. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:32.384; 5. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:47.533; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:50.591; 7. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:58.183; 8. Julien Lieber (BEL, Kawasaki), +1:01.933; 9. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +1:06.611; 10. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Suzuki), +1:09.122.
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten:
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 35:26.698; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:01.150; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:40.145; 4. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:42.049; 5. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:54.266; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:58.266; 7. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), +0:59.513; 8. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +1:01.221; 9. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Suzuki), +1:32.712; 10. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +1:39.421.
MXGP Overall Top Ten:
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 44 p.; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 36 p.; 4. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 36 p.; 5. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 36 p.; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 30 p.; 7. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, SUZ), 23 p.; 8. Tommy Searle (GBR, KAW), 23 p.; 9. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 22 p.; 10. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 17 p.
MXGP Championship Top Ten:
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 436 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 382 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 314 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 291 p.; 5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 267 p.; 6. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 257 p.; 7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 237 p.; 8. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 207 p.; 9. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 198 p.; 10. Julien Lieber (BEL, KAW), 162 p.
Much like in the MXGP class tension is building within the MX2 championship as KTM riders Pauls Jonass and Jorge Prado each try to assert themselves as the top rider. Prado who won Saturday’s qualifying Race by a near mile took the race one holeshot, but Jonass responded before the pair excited turn three.
While Jonass was leading and Prado held second, Spain’s Ruben Fernandez (Kawasaki) was off to a blistering start. Fernandez ran third in front of Husqvarna’s Thomas Covington and Thomas Kjer Olsen. Fernandez held the position the first five laps before Covington took the spot.
On the same lap as Covington’s move forward his teammate, Olsen, was shifted back by Honda’s Calvin Vlaanderen. The following lap both Vlaanderen and Olsen moved Fernandez down the running order.
Things then started happening fast for Fernandez, dropping another two positions the next lap and four more after that. Olsen however found his groove again and passed Vlaanderen back and went even further forward to pass Covington. Olsen then faced a mechanical issue and was unable to finish the race while Jonass and Prado crossed the finish line followed by Covington, Vlaanderen, and Honda’s Marshal Weltin, who had a stellar ride. Also impressive was Yamaha’s Ben Watson who, after having an issue on the start, came back from dead last to finish sixth.
Race two was another holeshot from the fast starting spaniard, Jorge Prado. Race one winner Jonass was behind Prado from the start but didn’t let Prado get far away. In third was Husqvarna’s Henry Jacobi with Olsen and Vlaanderen giving chase.
Just outside the top five was Australian Jed Beaton in sixth but on his third time around he ejected of the uphill triple and did not finish the race. Inheriting sixth position from Beaton was KTM’s Davy Pootjes.
On around lap six, the battle for third intensified between Jacobi and Olsen. Olsen went around the outside of Jacobi but the German fought back which caused him to miss his line and as Olsen tried to charge by again Jacobi slammed the door causing Olsen to go down. The battle allowed Vlaanderen to pass both and jump into third. Olsen tried to rebound from the fall but his bike again gave out forcing another DNF.
Just after the battle for third was decided Jonass charged past Prado for the lead. Meanwhile Watson was again fighting forward after another bad start and with two laps to go the British hero took fourth from Jacobi as Jonass won the race ahead of Prado and Vlaanderen. The overall finished the same as race two with Jonass on the top step, Prado second, and Vlaanderen taking third for the second time.
Pauls Jonass: “Today I managed to turn it around and in the first race on the start I was just behind Prado and managed to pass him right away. I am happy to go 1-1 again and especially like this because in previous races when Jorge has got the holeshot and a lead he just pulls away, so for me it was good to catch him and pass him in the last laps today.”
Jorge Prado: “It was tough, really tough, he (Jonass) was riding really good this weekend so I did my best and I am happy with that.”
Clavin Vlaanderen: “It is really good to get back to back podiums. There is a big battle for 3rd place on the podium with about 5 guys so it is fun to battle with them, it is good racing and it’s always clean.”
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 36:21.354; 2. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:00.840; 3. Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:49.040; 4. Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA, Honda), +0:55.651; 5. Marshal Weltin (USA, Honda), +0:59.351; 6. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +1:00.863; 7. Henry Jacobi (GER, Husqvarna), +1:01.791; 8. Jed Beaton (AUS, Kawasaki), +1:06.628; 9. Anthony Rodriguez (VEN, Yamaha), +1:10.412; 10. Michele Cervellin (ITA, Yamaha), +1:16.918
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 36:42.951; 2. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:01.294; 3. Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA, Honda), +0:38.493; 4. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:40.283; 5. Henry Jacobi (GER, Husqvarna), +0:54.081; 6. Iker Larranaga Olano (ESP, Husqvarna), +0:58.663; 7. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:59.296; 8. Davy Pootjes (NED, KTM), +1:07.559; 9. Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +1:13.917; 10. Michele Cervellin (ITA, Yamaha), +1:23.880.
MX2 Overall Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 50 points; 2. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 44 p.; 3. Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA, HON), 38 p.; 4. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 33 p.; 5. Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 32 p.; 6. Henry Jacobi (GER, HUS), 30 p.; 7. Iker Larranaga Olano (ESP, HUS), 25 p.; 8. Marshal Weltin (USA, HON), 24 p.; 9. Michele Cervellin (ITA, YAM), 22 p.; 10. Anthony Rodriguez (VEN, YAM), 22 p.
MX2 Championship Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 401 points; 2. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 373 p.; 3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 288 p.; 4. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 279 p.; 5. Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA, HON), 234 p.; 6. Jed Beaton (AUS, KAW), 216 p.; 7. Henry Jacobi (GER, HUS), 187 p.; 8. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 179 p.; 9. Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 166 p.; 10. Michele Cervellin (ITA, YAM), 161 p
The next round of the 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship is taking place in St. Jean d’Angely, France on June 10.
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