Race Report: MXGP of Thailand

Race Report: MXGP of Thailand

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The sunshine set over the Si Racha circuit for the second ever Grand Prix of Thailand and the sky briefly turned orange … however this second round of the 2014 FIM Motocross World Championship had been bathed in the same colour all day. It wasn’t a case of complete domination—there were a few challenges here-and-there—but Red Bull KTM did enjoy their first clean sweep of the season thanks to defending champions Tony Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings going 1-1 in MXGP and MX2 respectively.

Cairoli had to deal with a resurgent Rockstar Suzuki’s Clement Desalle who kept true to his mantra that if he’s having fun on the bike then he’s a hard man to catch. Desalle shadowed an imperious seven-times number one in the first moto of the premier class but shot ahead quickly in the second and threatened to steal the show as Cairoli gave chase. It was inside the last ten minutes that Desalle started to feel a fade in the power output of the factory Suzuki’s motor and it was a freak and common occurrence in a weekend that saw typically high humidity and temperatures. Needless to say Cairoli capitalised and celebrated a 63rd career success and his first in the last six Grands Prix.

So what was going on with the Suzuki? It was the same condition that scuppered the Grand Prix for Kawasaki, affected Honda’s preparations and also blighted the likes of David Philippaerts and a number of riders on 250s in MX2. Worse off was CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tommy Searle whose 450 cut-out while negotiating arguably the longest double on the calendar. The Brit was lucky to escape the smash with no more than a broken wrist, which he stayed in Thailand to have fixed before he could travel home.

Cairoli is back in control of the points lead after a 1-1 finish in Thailand. Photo: MXGP
Cairoli is back in control of the points lead after a 1-1 finish in Thailand. Photo: MXGP

No solid explanation was confirmed for the performance issues but the fact that the malaise was striking a number of teams indicated that the special, one-off-for-the-event fuel taken to Thailand to pass revised and stricter customs regulations was bubbling away with the temperatures of the race-bikes. Naturally there was feeling of frustration among the factory crews and concerns for safety, as Searle had seemingly already become a victim. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Steven Frossard withdrew from the second moto in the formative stages worried about the ebbing power and mindful of his two seasons lost to injury. Kawasaki had already tested a sample of the fuel set for Thailand and had put it through dyno tests at their Dutch HQ. Back in Europe of course it was hard to find the ambient temperature under race conditions. Further evidence that the petrol was mostly likely culpable was the fact that KTM did not suffer any glitches. Technical co-ordinator Dirk Gruebel pointed out that the Austrians run the ‘old’ style fuel tank with the reserve split over the single strut frame compared to the ‘box’ unit used by most of the Japanese located centrally inside the twin-spar aluminium chassis. A measurement was made of Cairoli’s fuel post-race and only a three-degree temperature rise was found.

The factory Yamaha team also seemed to have found a solution as Jeremy Van Horebeek was fast, strong and consistent for the second GP in a row. After finishing fifth overall in Qatar the previous Saturday the Belgian MX of Nations team winner moved onto the podium for the first time in the premier class in just his second season in the category. After a few injury-blighted terms for the factory Yamaha team this was a first trophy since the opening round of the 2012 term.

Clement Desalle was back in form in Thailand. Photo: MXGP
Clement Desalle was back in form in Thailand. Photo: MXGP

Qatar winner Gautier Paulin was in the mire with the works Kawasaki and the likes of Kevin Strijbos was also left shaking his head at the lack of potential on the Suzuki. The factory Hondas of Max Nagl and Evgeny Bobryshev were unable to replicate that starting prowess seen under the lights at Losail largely due to being in the same boat but the German charged strong for a positive overall standing in fourth.

In MX2 Jeffrey Herlings stretched his unbeaten run to seventeen meetings although he faced opposition from Bike it Yamaha Cosworth’s Max Anstie on this occasion. The World Champion was off in the dust in the first race that saw Rockstar Suzuki’s Glenn Coldenhoff again, and unexpectedly, hold a mean pace in second. The Dutchman fended off CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Arnaud Tonus on the last two laps; the Swiss again showing his conditioning and determination. Teammate Dylan Ferrandis had beaten Herlings to pole position on Saturday on a track that was flatter and faster compared to the raft of ruts and braking bumps that saw the course well and truly battered by the second motos.

Another GP, another Jeffrey Herlings overall win.Photo: MXGP
Another GP, another Jeffrey Herlings overall win.Photo: MXGP

The final MX2 sprint of the day saw Anstie—who’d given a ballsy interview to Vurbmoto earlier in the week and in the wake of his bad luck in Qatar regarding his potential against former junior foe Herlings—set the pace. When Herlings moved into second the dice had the backstory of the KTM rider offering a few tasty quotes of his own about wishes for domination and maybe even humiliation. Anstie fended off the KTM as long as he could (they each led half of the moto) and a couple of handbags thrown in two of the corners was not enough for the #84 to be denied. The pair slapped each other on the back at the chequered flag and it was all good-natured, although Anstie showed that he could provide some trouble (and therefore motivation) for Herlings and give him something he missed in 2013 where he mostly raced himself. Anstie scaled the box for the third time in his career and the first with Yamaha. Hats off to Coldenhoff as well who put the works Suzuki back on the podium for the first time since a certain Ken Roczen back in 2010. 

After such an impressive debut at Qatar last week Pro Circuit’s Thomas Covington saw his front wheel clip a whoop of reality at Si Racha as the diversity of the tracks and environments in Grand Prix threw up another challenge. Covington liked the layout and even compared it to some American circuits and the climate was certainly familiar to some of the air found in his native Alabama. Covington’s annex of the Monster Energy Kawasaki racing team couldn’t quite optimise his KX250F on Saturday and a crash in the qualification heat meant he was buried down in the gate for the motos. Cue a day of fighting through from the rear and he collected eleventh by the culmination of just his second Grand Prix. “It has been one of those weekends for me, you know,” he said. “You cannot be perfect in them all. It has been a good learning experience for me and I’ve realised how important qualifying is; a lot of this guys go crazy for their lap-time and I can see why. I learned a lot and now it’s time to go home and train for two weeks before we try Brazil.”

Max Anstie finished third overall. Photo: MXGP
Max Anstie finished third overall. Photo: MXGP

Livia Lancelot took to the start gate after the FIM scrapped the 108 percent qualification lap-time rule for 2014 (this wasn’t the case when the Frenchwoman tried to make the cut in 2013) but was some 20-25 seconds down on the fastest lap-times. Despite the heavy odds Lancelot did manage persist and was rewarded with the milestone of being the first women ever to score GP points in the mens’s series with a 20th place finish in the second moto.

Grand Prix teams will be able to replenish stock at their European bases with a two-weekend break ahead. A hike to a traditionally sold-out event at Beto Carrero in Brazil (for the first of two visits in 2014) comes at the end of March.

MXGP Moto1

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 34:26.300; 2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:14.798; 3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:31.856; 4. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:37.008; 5. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:44.884; 6. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), +0:50.347; 7. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:56.111; 8. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), +1:09.408; 9. Xavier Boog (FRA, Honda), +1:10.985; 10. Todd Waters (AUS, Husqvarna), +1:13.856; 11. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +1:30.022; 12. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:36.228; 13. Tanel Leok (EST, TM), +1:41.030; 14. Joel Roelants (BEL, Honda), +1:45.334; 15. Rui Goncalves (POR, Yamaha), +2:24.989; 16. Pascal Rauchenecker (AUT, Husqvarna), -1 lap(s); 17. Augusts Justs (LAT, Husqvarna), -1 lap(s); 18. Klemen Gercar (SLO, Honda), -1 lap(s); 19. Jens Getteman (BEL, Honda), -2 lap(s); 20. Arnon Theplib (THA, Honda), -2 lap(s)

MXGP Moto2

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 35:05.060; 2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:13.336; 3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:30.809; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), +0:47.127; 5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +1:00.667; 6. Todd Waters (AUS, Husqvarna), +1:01.753; 7. Rui Goncalves (POR, Yamaha), +1:03.518; 8. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), +1:07.127; 9. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:11.149; 10. Xavier Boog (FRA, Honda), +1:22.690; 11. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +1:28.405; 12. Joel Roelants (BEL, Honda), +1:42.364; 13. Matiss Karro (LAT, KTM), +1:53.370; 14. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +2:16.381; 15. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), -1 lap(s); 16. Pascal Rauchenecker (AUT, Husqvarna), -1 lap(s); 17. Augusts Justs (LAT, Husqvarna), -1 lap(s); 18. Tanel Leok (EST, TM), -1 lap(s); 19. Klemen Gercar (SLO, Honda), -1 lap(s); 20. Arnon Theplib (THA, Honda), -2 lap(s);

MXGP Overall result

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 50 points; 2. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 44 p.; 3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 40 p.; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 33 p.; 5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 30 p.; 6. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 26 p.; 7. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 26 p.; 8. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), 26 p.; 9. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 24 p.; 10. Xavier Boog (FRA, HON), 23 p.; 11. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 23 p.; 12. Rui Goncalves (POR, YAM), 20 p.; 13. Joel Roelants (BEL, HON), 16 p.; 14. Tanel Leok (EST, TM), 11 p.; 15. Pascal Rauchenecker (AUT, HUS), 10 p.; 16. Steven Frossard (FRA, KAW), 9 p.; 17. Matiss Karro (LAT, KTM), 8 p.; 18. Augusts Justs (LAT, HUS), 8 p.; 19. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), 6 p.; 20. Klemen Gercar (SLO, HON), 5 p.

MXGP World Championship standings after 2 of 18 rounds

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 92 points; 2. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 76 p.; 3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 75 p.; 4. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 72 p.; 5. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 71 p.; 6. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 51 p.; 7. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 50 p.; 8. Steven Frossard (FRA, KAW), 49 p.; 9. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 43 p.; 10. Joel Roelants (BEL, HON), 38 p.; 11. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), 35 p.; 12. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 34 p.; 13. Xavier Boog (FRA, HON), 31 p.; 14. Tommy Searle (GBR, KAW), 29 p.; 15. Rui Goncalves (POR, YAM), 28 p.; 16. Tanel Leok (EST, TM), 24 p.; 17. David Philippaerts (ITA, YAM), 17 p.; 18. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), 16 p.; 19. Matiss Karro (LAT, KTM), 14 p.; 20. Pascal Rauchenecker (AUT, HUS), 10 p

MX2 Moto1

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 97 points; 2. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 74 p.; 3. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 69 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 66 p.; 5. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 65 p.; 6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 59 p.; 7. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 58 p.; 8. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 50 p.; 9. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, KAW), 42 p.; 10. Max Anstie (GBR, YAM), 41 p.; 11. Thomas Covington (USA, KAW), 33 p.; 12. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 33 p.; 13. Christophe Charlier (FRA, YAM), 32 p.; 14. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 29 p.; 15. Mel Pocock (GBR, KTM), 23 p.; 16. Maxime Desprey (FRA, HON), 22 p.; 17. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 21 p.; 18. Petar Petrov (BUL, YAM), 18 p.; 19. Julien Lieber (BEL, SUZ), 18 p.; 20. Magne Klingsheim (NOR, YAM), 11 p

MX2 Moto2

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 35:13.794; 2. Max Anstie (GBR, Yamaha), +0:07.774; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:17.075; 4. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +0:20.185; 5. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:26.701; 6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:30.492; 7. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), +0:48.060; 8. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +0:54.571; 9. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Kawasaki), +0:59.486; 10. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +1:04.789; 11. Maxime Desprey (FRA, Honda), +1:12.072; 12. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +1:15.804; 13. Thomas Covington (USA, Kawasaki), +1:45.325; 14. Mel Pocock (GBR, KTM), -1 lap(s); 15. Roberts Justs (LAT, Husqvarna), -1 lap(s); 16. Magne Klingsheim (NOR, Yamaha), -1 lap(s); 17. Anton Lundgren (SWE, Yamaha), -1 lap(s); 18. Christopher Valente (SUI, TM), -1 lap(s); 19. Thanarat Penjan (THA, Kawasaki), -2 lap(s); 20. Livia Lancelot (FRA, Kawasaki), -4 lap(s);

MX2 Overall result

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points; 2. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 40 p.; 3. Max Anstie (GBR, YAM), 37 p.; 4. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 34 p.; 5. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 32 p.; 6. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 32 p.; 7. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 31 p.; 8. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, KAW), 27 p.; 9. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 27 p.; 10. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 19 p.; 11. Thomas Covington (USA, KAW), 13 p.; 12. Mel Pocock (GBR, KTM), 13 p.; 13. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 11 p.; 14. Christophe Charlier (FRA, YAM), 11 p.; 15. Maxime Desprey (FRA, HON), 10 p.; 16. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 10 p.; 17. Magne Klingsheim (NOR, YAM), 9 p.; 18. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 9 p.; 19. Julien Lieber (BEL, SUZ), 7 p.; 20. Roberts Justs (LAT, HUS), 6 p

MX2 World Championship standings after 2 of 18 rounds

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 97 points; 2. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 74 p.; 3. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 69 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 66 p.; 5. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 65 p.; 6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 59 p.; 7. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 58 p.; 8. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 50 p.; 9. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, KAW), 42 p.; 10. Max Anstie (GBR, YAM), 41 p.; 11. Thomas Covington (USA, KAW), 33 p.; 12. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 33 p.; 13. Christophe Charlier (FRA, YAM), 32 p.; 14. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 29 p.; 15. Mel Pocock (GBR, KTM), 23 p.; 16. Maxime Desprey (FRA, HON), 22 p.; 17. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 21 p.; 18. Petar Petrov (BUL, YAM), 18 p.; 19. Julien Lieber (BEL, SUZ), 18 p.; 20. Magne Klingsheim (NOR, YAM), 11 p

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