The eleventh round of fifteen in the FIM Motocross World Championship took place at the rocky hillside-flanked Uddevalla circuit, but the splendid triple-set registered by Red Bull KTM riders Max Nagl (MX1), Rui Goncalves (MX2), and Stephanie Laier (Women’s series) was partially overshadowed by the circus surrounding the “unofficial” fourth member of the works Austrian team, Marvin Musquin. More on that later.
Incredibly, the fate of both world championship leaders looked shaky over the weekend. Tony Cairoli was rocked by the budget cutbacks and withdrawal of Yamaha’s support to his De Carli team, therefore instilling a little more freedom to move in the final year of his contract with the manufacturer. From July 1, Red Bull athlete Cairoli was effectively free to pursue other avenues, having not selected his Yamaha saddle of choice for 2010; realistically, only a seat with Italian archrival Yamaha Monster Motocross Energy was the option with a new fuel-injected YZ450F. With De Carli since 2004 and winners of two (possibly soon to-be-three) titles, Cairoli is understandably reluctant to jump ship, but with the Rome-based crew talking with Honda and KTM, it is currently unlikely they will be able to make an acceptable offer to retain the champion-in-waiting and hottest rider on the scene. Teka Suzuki, on the other hand, has the means and the backing necessary to snare the Sicilian and could run a new lineup for 2010, with Clement Desalle widely rumored to be wearing yellow next season.
“This week I will decide my future, and for sure by the time of the next GP, people will know my plans for 2010,” said Cairoli. “I have not been in Sicily since January, so we will go there for a week before some training in Lommel.”
Cairoli was squeezed into mid-pack rounding the first turn during the first moto and had to search for the few risk-free overtaking locations to advance to fourth place. Tony was crawling all over the back of LS Honda’s Clement Desalle for third in the final laps but hesitated due to the Belgian’s penchant for sudden and uncompromising warfare. Deciding for a slightly easier outing after lunch, the 23-year-old actually led Nagl into the second corner, and the outcome of the race was thereupon decided with little movement among the top five of Cairoli, Nagl, Philippaerts, De Dycker, and Desalle. The Yamaha rider’s ninth moto win from twenty-two helped toward second place behind Nagl (the second win for the German, who has now claimed half of the last ten motos) and a chip of only four points to his advantage in the standings.
Nagl was supreme to conquer Moto 1 after his usual flighty launch from the gate. Teka Suzuki’s Ken De Dycker was third for his fifth set of silverware this season. World champion David Philippaerts rued a lackluster first moto to finish fourth overall but was still missing an edge of fitness after his illness last week on the cusp of the Latvian GP. Desalle was once more Honda’s main and only hope with fifth. Josh Coppins was off-song and battled a slipping gearbox in Moto 2 to place seventh behind Tanel Leok.
“We got a gap over the other riders, and I thought we could have a little battle, but I knew with second that I had the GP,” said Nagl of his lonely second-moto run behind Cairoli.
In Musquin’s absence, the other standout rider of the category took another moment to shine. Teka Suzuki Europe World MX2’s Ken Roczen moved past Goncalves to win his first moto. The 15-year-old German – who sensationally owned his home Grand Prix at Teutschenthal two weeks ago – was denied a chance of more overall spoils when Goncalves swung across the Suzuki meters out of the gate and forcing the German deep into the throng. Roczen rode back to seventh but Goncalves, who has now won more GPs than anyone else in 2009, ran free ahead of Bud Kawasaki’s Gautier Paulin. The Frenchman crashed and finish seventh in Moto1 but was under pressure to capitalize on Musquin’s malaise, and his second-place finish was his highest since round three in Turkey.
Best career results were seen for teenagers Matiss Karro (seventh), Jake Nicolls (eighth), and Russian Evgeny Bobryshev (ninth, with a second-moto slot of sixth). “The girls are good but the track was better!” said Roczen. “When I shut off the gas on the jump, I could hear the fans cheering for me, and that was really cool.”
“It has been a strange championship,” commented Goncalves. “Many things have been happening, but now I am right back there, and it certainly isn’t over.”
So with 200 points and four races to go, how does the championship landscape appear? Cairoli still has breathing room of one Grand Prix with a 53-point margin over Nagl and 65 from Philippaerts. Desalle and Coppins both have mathematical chances, as they stare at gaps of 83 and 85 points, respectively. Musquin’s lead was clipped to 13 points over Paulin with Goncalves another 10 behind.
In other news, Youthstream’s Giuseppe Luongo announced that Sweden and Uddevalla would fill a slot on the world championship calendar for the next five years. He also made an impassioned plea to manufacturers not to slice their off-road racing budgets in order to compensate for shortfalls in other divisions of their business. Support for the existence of current teams was also a hot topic.
“We want less teams to be more professional, better financed and for better organization but we will offer big, big support to the current teams if someone new wants to come in,” Luongo said, later saying that the term support meant more in the allowance of entry and distribution of sponsors and power in the paddock.
Trips to Belgium, Czech Republic, Holland, and Brazil constitute the final stages of the world championship. The Grand Prix of Limburg in the devilish sand of Lommel on August 2 will follow a four-week summer break.
MX1 Race 1 top ten: 1. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), 39:02.962; ; 2. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Suzuki), +0:18.573; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Honda), +0:22.408; 4. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), +0:25.497; 5. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:46.418; 6. Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha), +0:50.709; 7. Tanel Leok (EST, Yamaha), +0:52.170; 8. Gregory Aranda (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:18.423; 9. Gareth Swanepoel (RSA, Kawasaki), +1:23.629; 10. Bryan Mackenzie (GBR, Honda), +1:30.245;
MX1 Race 2 top ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), 39:39.929; ; 2. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), +0:02.994; 3. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:06.508; 4. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Suzuki), +0:14.103; 5. Clement Desalle (BEL, Honda), +0:26.194; 6. Tanel Leok (EST, Yamaha), +0:39.085; 7. Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha), +0:59.922; 8. David Vuillemin (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:03.833; 9. Gareth Swanepoel (RSA, Kawasaki), +1:15.007; 10. Julien Bill (SUI, Aprilia), +1:17.891;
MX1 Overall top ten: 1. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), 47 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), 43 p.; 3. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Suzuki), 40 p.; 4. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), 36 p.; 5. Clement Desalle (BEL, Honda), 36 p.; 6. Tanel Leok (EST, Yamaha), 29 p.; 7. Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha), 29 p.; 8. Gareth Swanepoel (RSA, Kawasaki), 24 p.; 9. Julien Bill (SUI, Aprilia), 19 p.; 10. Bryan Mackenzie (GBR, Honda), 18 p.;
MX1 Championship top ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), 428 points; 2. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), 375 p.; 3. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), 363 p.; 4. Clement Desalle (BEL, Honda), 345 p.; 5. Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha), 343 p.; 6. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Suzuki), 338 p.; 7. Tanel Leok (EST, Yamaha), 299 p.; 8. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, KTM), 215 p.; 9. Gareth Swanepoel (RSA, Kawasaki), 175 p.; 10. Aigar Leok (EST, TM), 167 p.;