Racer X Race Report:  Grand Prix of Bulgaria

Racer X Race Report Grand Prix of Bulgaria

April 23, 2012 9:40am
There were a couple of ‘firsts’ at the Grand Prix of Bulgaria and the second round of the FIM Motocross World Championship. Gautier Paulin, one of the most naturally talented motorcyclists in the GP pack, grabbed his first overall MX1 victory in factory Kawasaki colours (the first for the team since 2008), Christophe Pourcel opened his 2012 account after a lacklustre race in the Dutch sand two weeks ago, Belgian Joel Roelants continued the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki ‘party’ with a maiden moto win in MX2 while Brit Tommy Searle celebrated his first overall on the KX250F. Sevlievo seemed busier in terms of spectators (the locals obviously paying heed to the forecast and turning up in droves on a sunny Sunday compared to the scarce viewing banks on a showery Saturday) and the USA finally had a point of interest on the international stage with Michael Leib picking up the baton dropped by Zach Osborne and used the Virginian’s factory Yamaha to pretty decent effect (12th overall).

After just two Grands Prix in 2012 the depth of the MX1 class is clearly marking the category as the entertainment hub of the series even if the first victim of the season was claimed in the shape of Monster Energy Yamaha’s Steven Frossard who twisted his knee after clattering the rear of Evgeny Bobryshev’s works Honda in Saturday’s qualification heat. The Frenchman undergoes an operation on Monday morning supposedly on a damaged meniscus and could be back for round four in Mexico but with two races missing from his scorecard it will be hard for the 2011 runner-up to be in the frame for Tony Cairoli’s world title. Even without Frossard five different riders made a play for podium positions in the two motos run in fine early late spring temperatures in Bulgaria.

Paulin and Pourcel swapped moto wins, but Paulin would take the overall in Bulgaria.
Kawasaki photo

Cairoli himself was carrying a slight tweak to his knee after setting a comfortable pole on Saturday and his distaste of the circuit was also evident through irregular pace. Instead it was two superlative performances by the French: Pourcel his stylish, decisive best in Moto1 and Paulin untouchable in Moto2 that shared the spoils. Cairoli made the third step after Clement Desalle crossed-up the take-off to the finish line double and went down, needing to stop further around the lap to straighten the front end of the Rockstar Suzuki. Cairoli’s temporary team-mate Ken De Dycker was also barrelling through the field in the second moto but waved the Italian to third place when ‘222’ decided his rhythm was effective enough for a late race push.

Full credit to Bobryshev who braved the pain barrier and said he couldn’t test the new Showa Air suspension during the week for more than five laps due to the pain from the right thumb he dislocated in Holland two weeks ago. The Russian’s hands were a wreck of blisters and torn skin. His teammate Rui Goncalves indicated that some further work might be needed on the exotic prototype CRF450R with a (so far) unexplained mechanical problem giving the Portuguese a second moto DNF.

MX2 reproduced the podium trio from the Grand Prix of the Netherlands two weeks ago but there was no room for championship favourite Jeffrey Herlings in the spotlight as Roelants and then Searle were comfortable race winners. The Dutchman crashed in the qualification heat on Saturday and gave his peers a small advantage by filling 16th place in the gate. Searle – suffering with a cold – might have gone 1-1 but his early lead in the opening sprint eroded quickly to his teammate and then the Red Bull KTM rider when his front brake failed and he had to carefully negotiate the steep downhill drops of Sevlievo with a heavy degree of caution.

Tommy Searle closed the points gap on Herlings with his win over the weeekend.
Kawasaki photo

Elsewhere Frenchman and former European champion Valentin Teillet was lucky to escape a truly frightening ‘endo’ with just bangs and bruises and Leib finally put the stars and stripes in a GP gate.

The Californian answered a late call by the injury-hit Yamaha crew (all three principal MX2 riders are on the sidelines) just last week and, incredibly, first swung his leg over the YZ250F for the initial practice session as some unsurprisingly heavy English rain washed out a planned test session on Thursday. Leib made a hash of the first start by clicking a wrong gear and didn’t make the best getaway in the second outing but his pace was impressive considering the odds and the Yamaha bosses were pleased with the first of two planned outings for the 20 year old in Europe. Leib went 10-11 for 12th overall. Check out our interview with him later this week to see what he had to say.

KTM still head-up the categories with Cairoli and Herlings holding onto the red plates but the difference is minimal with Paulin only nine points adrift in MX1 and Searle seven behind in MX2. The FIM Motocross World Championship keeps on the hard stuff and heads to Italy and the Fermo circuit next weekend before a small break introduces the South American leg of the series and trips to Mexico and Brazil.

MX1 Moto1

1. Christophe Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki), 39:09.159; ;
2. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:05.667;
3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:07.718;
4. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:08.467;
5. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:20.631;
6. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:21.770;
7. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:36.027;
8. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:44.249;
9. Rui Goncalves (POR, Honda), +0:44.410;
10. Gregory Aranda (FRA, Yamaha), +0:57.539;
11. Shaun Simpson (GBR, Yamaha), +1:01.820;
12. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, KTM), +1:04.228;
13. Cedric Soubeyras (FRA, Honda), +1:06.710;
14. Tanel Leok (EST, Suzuki), +1:07.600;
15. Sebastien Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:22.297;
16. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, Honda), +1:24.224;
17. Matiss Karro (LAT, KTM), +1:25.679;
18. Milko Potisek (FRA, Honda), +1:27.625;
19. Matteo Bonini (ITA, KTM), +1:30.968;
20. Dean Ferris (AUS, Kawasaki), -1 lap(s);

Even with a third place finish over the weekend, Cairoli still holds the MX1 points lead.
Ray Archer // KTMImages photo

MX1 Moto2

1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), 39:17.879; ;
2. Christophe Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:02.427;
3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:23.189;
4. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:26.379;
5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:29.251;
6. Sebastien Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:29.975;
7. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:31.978;
8. Tanel Leok (EST, Suzuki), +1:05.762;
9. Shaun Simpson (GBR, Yamaha), +1:07.483;
10. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, KTM), +1:08.192;
11. Davide Guarneri (ITA, KTM), +1:11.770;
12. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, Honda), +1:27.322;
13. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +1:35.970;
14. Cedric Soubeyras (FRA, Honda), +1:46.591;
15. Dean Ferris (AUS, Kawasaki), +1:50.364;
16. Milko Potisek (FRA, Honda), +2:07.556;
17. Matteo Bonini (ITA, KTM), -1 lap(s);
18. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), -1 lap(s);
19. Nathan Parker (GBR, KTM), -1 lap(s);
20. Herjan Brakke (NED, Yamaha), -1 lap(s);


MX1 Overall

1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), 47 points;
2. Christophe Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki), 47 p.;
3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 38 p.;
4. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), 32 p.;
5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), 29 p.;
6. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), 29 p.;
7. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), 24 p.;
8. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), 23 p.;
9. Shaun Simpson (GBR, Yamaha), 22 p.;
10. Sebastien Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki), 21 p.;
11. Tanel Leok (EST, Suzuki), 20 p.;
12. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, KTM), 20 p.;
13. Cedric Soubeyras (FRA, Honda), 15 p.;
14. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, Honda), 14 p.;
15. Rui Goncalves (POR, Honda), 12 p.;
16. Gregory Aranda (FRA, Yamaha), 11 p.;
17. Davide Guarneri (ITA, KTM), 10 p.;
18. Milko Potisek (FRA, Honda), 8 p.;
19. Dean Ferris (AUS, Kawasaki), 7 p.;
20. Matteo Bonini (ITA, KTM), 6 p.;


MX1 World Championship standings after 2 of 16 rounds

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 88 points;
2. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), 79 p.;
3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), 67 p.;
4. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), 63 p.;
5. Christophe Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki), 59 p.;
6. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, KTM), 51 p.;
7. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), 49 p.;
8. Shaun Simpson (GBR, Yamaha), 45 p.;
9. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), 44 p.;
10. Tanel Leok (EST, Suzuki), 42 p.;
11. Rui Goncalves (POR, Honda), 41 p.;
12. Steven Frossard (FRA, Yamaha), 40 p.;
13. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), 38 p.;
14. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, Honda), 26 p.;
15. Sebastien Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki), 24 p.;
16. Davide Guarneri (ITA, KTM), 22 p.;
17. Matiss Karro (LAT, KTM), 21 p.;
18. Cedric Soubeyras (FRA, Honda), 15 p.;
19. Marcus Schiffer (GER, Suzuki), 14 p.;
20. Matteo Bonini (ITA, KTM), 13 p.;

Herlings finished second overall in Bulgaria.
Ray Archer // KTMImages photo

MX2 Moto1

1. Joel Roelants (BEL, Kawasaki), 39:43.795; ;
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:09.286;
3. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:17.680;
4. Jeremy van Horebeek (BEL, KTM), +0:24.904;
5. Harri Kullas (FIN, Suzuki), +0:39.615;
6. Max Anstie (GBR, Honda), +0:44.290;
7. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), +0:50.642;
8. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:53.251;
9. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:54.123;
10. Michael Leib (USA, Yamaha), +1:09.346;
11. Alexander Tonkov (RUS, Honda), +1:14.335;
12. Petar Petrov (BUL, Suzuki), +1:16.367;
13. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +1:20.415;
14. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Husqvarna), +1:30.363;
15. Nikolaj Larsen (DEN, Suzuki), +1:53.499;
16. Romain Febvre (FRA, KTM), -1 lap(s);
17. Mel Pocock (GBR, Yamaha), -1 lap(s);
18. Kevin Fors (BEL, Yamaha), -1 lap(s);
19. Ivo Monticelli (ITA, Suzuki), -1 lap(s);
20. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), -1 lap(s);


MX2 Moto2

1. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), 39:24.388; ;
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:02.231;
3. Jeremy van Horebeek (BEL, KTM), +0:43.372;
4. Joel Roelants (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:52.201;
5. Max Anstie (GBR, Honda), +0:59.616;
6. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Husqvarna), +1:18.428;
7. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +1:23.833;
8. Alexander Tonkov (RUS, Honda), +1:26.744;
9. Harri Kullas (FIN, Suzuki), +1:29.499;
10. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:29.660;
11. Michael Leib (USA, Yamaha), +1:37.411;
12. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), +1:41.665;
13. Petar Petrov (BUL, Suzuki), +1:44.471;
14. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +1:46.104;
15. Mel Pocock (GBR, Yamaha), +1:58.062;
16. Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), -1 lap(s);
17. Andrea Cervellin (ITA, TM), -1 lap(s);
18. Alessandro Battig (ITA, Yamaha), -1 lap(s);
19. Jens Getteman (BEL, Suzuki), -1 lap(s);
20. Roberts Justs (LAT, Honda), -1 lap(s);


MX2 Overall

1. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), 45 points;
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 44 p.;
3. Joel Roelants (BEL, Kawasaki), 43 p.;
4. Jeremy van Horebeek (BEL, KTM), 38 p.;
5. Max Anstie (GBR, Honda), 31 p.;
6. Harri Kullas (FIN, Suzuki), 28 p.;
7. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), 24 p.;
8. Alexander Tonkov (RUS, Honda), 23 p.;
9. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), 23 p.;
10. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Husqvarna), 22 p.;
11. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 22 p.;
12. Michael Leib (USA, Yamaha), 21 p.;
13. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 19 p.;
14. Petar Petrov (BUL, Suzuki), 17 p.;
15. Mel Pocock (GBR, Yamaha), 10 p.;
16. Nikolaj Larsen (DEN, Suzuki), 6 p.;
17. Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), 5 p.;
18. Romain Febvre (FRA, KTM), 5 p.;
19. Andrea Cervellin (ITA, TM), 4 p.;
20. Alessandro Battig (ITA, Yamaha), 3 p.;


MX2 World Championship standings after 2 of 16 rounds

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 94 points;
2. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), 87 p.;
3. Joel Roelants (BEL, Kawasaki), 85 p.;
4. Jeremy van Horebeek (BEL, KTM), 74 p.;
5. Max Anstie (GBR, Honda), 57 p.;
6. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), 51 p.;
7. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 48 p.;
8. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), 48 p.;
9. Harri Kullas (FIN, Suzuki), 43 p.;
10. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Husqvarna), 38 p.;
11. Alexander Tonkov (RUS, Honda), 38 p.;
12. Mel Pocock (GBR, Yamaha), 32 p.;
13. Petar Petrov (BUL, Suzuki), 24 p.;
14. Valentin Teillet (FRA, Kawasaki), 23 p.;
15. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 22 p.;
16. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 21 p.;
17. Michael Leib (USA, Yamaha), 21 p.;
18. Nikolaj Larsen (DEN, Suzuki), 15 p.;
19. Romain Febvre (FRA, KTM), 11 p.;
20. Roberts Justs (LAT, Honda), 8 p.;