Defying the perils of the throttle-heavy and rough track, that was indiscriminate with its mix of smooth banked turns and knee deep ruts and bumps, were the two most flamboyant and currently most aesthetically-pleasing riders in the series setting new landmarks. Yamaha Red Bull De Carli’s Tony Cairoli reached 28 victories to become the most successful Italian to have ventured into motocross, while teenage sensation Ken Roczen started out on what will no doubt be a trophy-laden career by winning his home event in MX2 in just his fifth world championship appearance.
By going 2-2 this ‘Mini Cairoli’ set a number of benchmarks: the youngest GP victor ever at 15 years and 54 days, giving Suzuki their first MX2 win with the RM-Z250, being the first German to conquer an MX2 event and finally delivering his fledgling and faithful team Teka Suzuki Europe with their maiden winner’s experience in MX2 that actually prompted tears of emotion.
On Saturday Youthstream tied up another long-term contract for the GP series with Teutschenthal pegged until 2015 and with the 2013 Motocross of Nations thrown into the bundle. This means the biggest race of the year is now unofficially sorted for the next five editions, visiting Italy, USA, France, Belgium and Germany.
And after a two-week hiatus the first murmurs of the silly season were only just starting to gather momentum and there will be news to digest for what will be a busy period of the season for managers, agents, concerned riders and even more stressed representatives from the manufacturers who will try to hold the paddock together in a similar state. The reality is that precious few teams and brands will be able to offer contracts to which riders have been accustomed in the last few seasons. The power is very much with the teams at the moment as their staff will have to come to terms with reorganized budgets and companies striving to exist but also trying to preserve value.
Naturally Cairoli’s destination-choice as the final term of his Yamaha deal will signify a lot for the Japanese in terms of how they can organize their motocross effort. With another title looking likely both for riders and manufacturers, the depth of their involvement for 2010 will be interesting to see. It is widely acknowledged that Suzuki, thank to their principal sponsor Teka, and KTM have the biggest carrots to dangle while the Austrians are also rumored to be fielding Rui Goncalves on their new 350cc four-stroke linked machine in ’10.
As the talking started, the racing continued. In MX1 Red Bull KTM’s Max Nagl roused the crowd’s vocal ability by holding off a last-lap charge by Cairoli to win Moto1, for what was his fourth successive checkered flag. It was an exciting finale and the extra push the German made on his works machine to win by half-a-second counted against him in Moto2 when Cairoli was able to control proceedings from the start and the KTM rep, slightly fatigued, had to accept third behind an improved Ken De Dycker for second overall. Teka Suzuki’s De Dycker made the final step of the box after a lackluster first moto outing to seventh that was hampered also by a faulty goggle lens.
Cairoli collected his third win this season and first for three races. The checkered flag at the end of the afternoon was also his seventh from eighteen motos. The 2010 MX1 rookie has now etched four victories in the category with the YZ450F in just ten outings.
“I have kept a bit quiet in the last two races because there were rumours saying that I was riding too aggressive,” he admitted. “I slowed down a little bit and had to deal with the injuries anyway. Now I am trying to pass where I can and when I want and to have fun.”
“It was an amazing feeling,” said Nagl of his first moto spoils. “I felt tired in both motos but the cheering just picks you up somehow and over the limit. It has been a long time since Germany had good riders for the people to support so I hope this will bring some TV and media attention back to motocross.”
World Champion David Philippaerts battled set-up problems and also two restrictive starts to place fourth overall with resurgent teammate in the Yamaha Monster Energy squad Josh Coppins triumphing through a thrilling last-three-corners duel with LS Honda’s Clement Desalle for fifth in Moto2.
Former double 250cc world champion Mickael Pichon ended his brief tenure as factory Honda sub for the Martin team with a ninth position to compliment the sixth and seventh he gained in Britain and France. His tussle with David Vuillemin in Moto1 was a pleasing spectacle; watching the two veterans displaying the same thirst for superiority despite their combined age reaching into pensioner status.
“I was happy to do the GPs in this way but I am not done yet! Maybe next year at the French GP, I do not know yet. I am happy because I was not so far from the top five and enjoyed being with the team again; it was fun,” said the 33-year-old who will compete in an enduro race next week and has also been indulging in Supermoto recently.
Honda’s injury misery continued in Teutschenthal as Billy Mackenzie used the four good fingers on his right hand to throw in the towel after the dislocated thumb ligament got the better of the Scot on the heavy downhills and bumps. The British Champion is now expected to miss two-to-three GPs for an operation, leaving his cousin Bryan the only factory rep for the red brand.
With ninth, fourth, ninth and fifth in his first four MX2 Grand Prix events, a top four slot in just his second world championship moto, a second position in just his fourth moto, and holding the distinction of not being overtaken for his first six outings as a GP rider, Ken Roczen further embellished his career resume with a feat that other riders spend their whole career striving towards.
“I don’t know what to say; this is amazing for me,” remarked Roczen, who contentedly sat surfing the net and playing games in the media centre in the hours after the race, appearing to have taken the most emphatic moment of his ridiculously young career-to-date completely in his stride. “After my first two GPs I saw that the podium was possible. I always do my best and I hoped for a podium here, with a bit of luck, but didn’t expect the win. [Marvin] Musquin was going fast but I thought I could pass him. Towards the end I knew that second place would give the overall so I rode safe. All the attention has come quickly and it isn’t always easy to give people what they want but I try to do what I can!”
The motos were won by CLS Kawasaki’s Steven Frossard (who claimed his second win of the season but crashed twice in Moto2, still managing to equal his career-highest with the second step of the podium) and Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin. The Frenchman toiled with Roczen in Moto2 but lost the lead under pressure from Frossard in the opening sprint with his first mistake since wearing orange (some might say the second mistake, particularly at Honda where apparently a legal ruling will be made on the contract situation this week) as the bike twisted and threw him over the high-side on a descending exit to a banked turn.
“It was difficult for me to come back after that but sixth was OK for the points,” he said, taking third at the end of the day for his fourth podium from the last six. “Roczen was fast in the second moto so I backed off and let him through so I could see his lines. The track was slippery with many bumps.”
Spare a thought for Roczen’s team-mate Xavier Boog who took a strong third in moto1 but then lost the chance of a podium with a mechanical problem in Moto2. Bud Racing’s Kawasaki’s Gautier Paulin was fourth and really needs to fine-tune his starts if he is to threaten Musquin’s Honda-KTM-fuelled charge to the title.
American Zach Osborne should be able to steer his Utag.com Yamaha in anger in less than a week after coming through practice sessions unscathed this week. The Turkish Grand Prix winner’s left scaphoid healed sufficiently to attempt a valid return to the fray before apparently jetting home for some AMA outings in the world championship summer break.
With just six Grand Prix remaining and a lead of almost one round, the 43-point gap by Cairoli is becoming more significant by the passing week. Philippaerts will swiftly need to usurp his countryman to gain precious numerical and psychological ground. Nagl is floating in third while Coppins just about keeps his hand in the game with fourth-place and a 74-point deficit. Musquin has 38 over Paulin with Davide Guarneri consistent but still waiting for the podium in third and 60 points from the lead.
Desperately bad news for Women’s World Champion and Kawasaki’s principal hope for a 2009 title Livia Lancelot as the leader of the FIM series crashed and dislocated her shoulder during the week. The French woman could manage only several laps of Moto1 on Saturday before her popping limb forbade any further participation. With the surgeon’s knife being cleaned for the factory Kawasaki rep, KTM’s Steffy Laier was free to win her home Grand Prix in front of two other German girls in Larissa Papenmeier and Maria Franke. Laier, no stranger to injury frustration herself, was also the grateful recipient of the red plate in front of appreciative public.
The world championship continues apace with the tenth round of fifteen taking place in Latvia for the first time in the history of the series. The Grand Prix at Kegums will be followed hard upon by the annual July trip to Uddevalla in Sweden before a three week break will allow some of the injured to convalesce and the absent to speed up their recovery programs.
MX1 Race 1 top ten: 1. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), 40:30.499; ; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), +0:00.584; 3. Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha), +0:20.172; 4. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:23.357; 5. Clement Desalle (BEL, Honda), +0:24.782; 6. Tanel Leok (EST, Yamaha), +0:27.502; 7. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Suzuki), +0:39.118; 8. David Vuillemin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:41.714; 9. Mickael Pichon (FRA, Honda), +0:44.450; 10. Gregory Aranda (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:04.246.
MX1 Race 2 top ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), 41:07.118; ; 2. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Suzuki), +0:06.415; 3. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), +0:10.703; 4. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:14.935; 5. Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha), +0:16.036; 6. Clement Desalle (BEL, Honda), +0:16.048; 7. Tanel Leok (EST, Yamaha), +0:22.632; 8. Mickael Pichon (FRA, Honda), +0:43.285; 9. Aigar Leok (EST, TM), +1:03.054; 10. Julien Bill (SUI, Aprilia), +1:07.557.
MX1 Overall top ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), 47 points; 2. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), 45 p.; 3. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Suzuki), 36 p.; 4. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), 36 p.; 5. Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha), 36 p.; 6. Clement Desalle (BEL, Honda), 31 p.; 7. Tanel Leok (EST, Yamaha), 29 p.; 8. Mickael Pichon (FRA, Honda), 25 p.; 9. Aigar Leok (EST, TM), 21 p.; 10. David Vuillemin (FRA, Kawasaki), 20 p.
MX1 Championship top ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), 338 points; 2. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), 297 p.; 3. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), 293 p.; 4. Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha), 274 p.; 5. Clement Desalle (BEL, Honda), 268 p.; 6. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Suzuki), 264 p.; 7. Tanel Leok (EST, Yamaha), 252 p.; 8. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, KTM), 215 p.; 9. Aigar Leok (EST, TM), 139 p.; 10. David Vuillemin (FRA, Kawasaki), 137 p..