Race Report: MXGP of Trentino

Race Report: MXGP of Trentino

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A taste of irony at Arco di Trento for the Grand Prix of Trentino—a province in northern Italy hosting the fourth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship. The riders loathed and struggled with the short, compact, narrow layout and the bumpy and square-edge ruts and holes of the Italian terrain. It wasn’t enjoyable for the vast majority of the riders, but the public and TV viewers might disagree. When a seven-time world champion like Tony Cairoli can only finish fifth and crashes several times in one moto then you know the racing surface is not a breeze and anything can happen.

Rockstar Suzuki’s Clement Desalle made the fewest mistakes on the day to go 2-1 for his first win of 2014 and first since the British GP last year. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Gautier Paulin was left screaming in his helmet in pit lane during the MXGP second moto, as a convincing lead on the way to a second victory of the day and a clear overall went up in smoke, along with the engine of his works KX450F. A decent meeting for Suzuki was complete with Kevin Strijbos uncorking the podium champagne in third, while Yamaha’s Jeremy Van Horebeek is fast becoming the sleeper challenger for the 2014 title after his third trophy in a row with second overall. Belgium monopolised the podium in the premier class (and represented two thirds of the Nations winning team from last year), but Cairoli, Paulin, and Honda riders Evgeny Bobryshev and Max Nagl also played roles in the leading positions and stories of this race, where errors and accidents were costly. Paulin’s teammate and fastest qualifier Steven Frossard was taken to hospital after being smashed on the first lap of the first moto and knocked unconscious by Bobryshev. See the clip here. Thankfully he was okay. Bobryshev would later be used as an unwilling springboard by Van Horebeek in an equally dramatic incident that would leave tyre marks on his back and force a DNF and another hospital visit for the luckless Russian. Fortunately he too seemed to have escaped further repercussions.

Desalle is back in title contention following his win in Italy. Photo: MXGP
Desalle is back in title contention following his win in Italy. Photo: MXGP

Arco was bursting at the seams. Expanding TV coverage in Italy for MXGP has caught the public’s imagination and the continued success of Cairoli is turning him into a minor sports celebrity. Italian circuits are generally not famous for their appropriateness with regards to hosting large race events and with the first round of the European EMX125 (two-strokes) and second fixture for the women and WMX also descending on the tight venue, fitting everyone into the shadows of an epic mountain range was a tall order. The compact and squirrely track in particular felt the abuse of relentless sessions, heats and motos. The hard-pack rippled into a plethora of solid ruts and protruding edges and it was easy to tell that decent grip was a precious commodity.

It was sometimes rare to hear the full blast of 450cc engines as the riders had to exercise more throttle control and a degree of caution. Passing was also complicated. There were a fair few grumbles on Saturday and everybody was paying extra attention to their allotted start practice time as this would be an even bigger key to unlocking race success.

In the first moto, Cairoli was victim of a bars-tangle with Milko Potisek out of the gate that left his second-to-last around the first corner. Paulin was free and excellent while the champion was cheered all the way up to sixth. The second race saw four riders within three seconds of each other for most of the 30-plus 2. Cairoli pushed too hard, Paulin’s KX couldn’t last the distance, Van Horebeek stalled and was lucky not to be catapulted when he hit Bobryshev and Nagl suffered a few scares that forced him to back-off and run to fourth overall. Amongst it all Desalle was the steadiest and one of the bravest and after 7-2-2 overall finishes in Qatar, Thailand and Brazil, he’s trying to catch Cairoli in the points. The distance now stands at 17.

Van Horebeek (left) and Strijbos (right) would round out the MXGP podium. Photo: MXGP
Van Horebeek (left) and Strijbos (right) would round out the MXGP podium. Photo: MXGP

MX2 saw the return of world champion Jeffrey Herlings with reports that his fitness is around “70 percent” in recovering from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the Brazilian round two weeks ago. In an entertaining first moto where Swiss stars shone once more—2013 European Champion Valentin Guillod (who would see a personal best GP finish), Jeremy Seewer (highest ranking yet in just his fourth GP as a full-time member of the pack) and Brazilian victor Arnaud Tonus all inside the top six—Herlings was still able to make the difference. Honda’s Tim Gajser was another promising runner at the sharp-end. As Herlings racked up his fifth moto win of the year, it was Tonus who caught the eye after a mess with Petar Petrov into the first corner left him with practically the entire field to overtake. He came all the way back to second place. He later explained his precision was simply due to being one of the few that liked the course and found a good rhythm. Tonus also said the red plate brought its own pressure, but he did well enough grab second overall and actually extended his lead in the standings to six points over fellow podiumee Glenn Coldenhoff.

A bad start for Herlings in Moto2 allowed Coldenhoff to fight with the lively Guillod, and Romain Febvre also joined the leaders. By the chequered flag the Suzuki-mounted Coldenhoff, a Dutchman, had built a race-winning margin over Herlings and Tonus. These three athletes now appear to be the prime movers for the MX2 crown; even if Herlings still looks to have an edge in speed and confidence.

Thomas Covington, now the sole bearer of the Stars n’ Stripes in the Grand Prix paddock for the rest of 2014 and also next season, had to get to grips with his CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki KX250F in double quick time and had only a few outings this week in Holland to get dialled-in for Italy. The teenager—who explains all in his choice to tackle Grands Prix in an exclusive interview we’ll have here on Racer X in the coming days—didn’t have a good day and was off the pace as part of that hefty adaptation process. Covington was previously operating in MXGP with the loose expectations of a wild card. Now as part of the furniture, the rider from Alabama has to consider life on another continent, dealing with a team of multinationals and also getting his head around the diversity of terrain and circuit layouts that will come his way in quick succession.

Herlings returned from injury to capture the MX2 overall. Photo: MXGP
Herlings returned from injury to capture the MX2 overall. Photo: MXGP

The second fixture for the WMX saw Meghan Rutledge ruin her 100 percent record in the second moto with a crash that allowed defending number one Kiara Fontanesi to breathe again after a disappointing start to the year in Qatar. The Yamaha rider celebrated in front of her home fans but it is Ireland’s Natalie Kane who now leads the way in the six round contest. In the opening parry of the well-subscribed European EMX125 series, Dutchman and KTM supported Davy Pootjes was a clear winner.

Aside from the action, the first Grand Prix in Europe this year was full of hubbub and show. New liveries and 2015 prototype parts (that couldn't make the crates bouncing around Asia and South America) were rife. Suzuki in particular was of note for using a 2015 engine with an easier starting mechanism and also a lighter chassis. There was even a carbon-fibre 450 in MXGP with Alessandro Albertoni riding a CRM with flexible material ten times more expensive than normal carbon and a chassis made of the same composite for enormous losses in weight; the brown shade of the motorcycle tying in quite nicely with Easter week and the chocolate theme.

Next week, the second of back-to-back Grands Prix will take place at Sevlievo in Bulgaria; a fast and hard-pack layout with demanding ascents and bumpy downhills. It’s a place where Tony Cairoli has not tasted victory in the premier class to-date (Desalle and Paulin have lifted the winner’s garland the last four years). So, what next?

Arnaud Tonus is still in command of the MX2 red plate. Photo: MXGP
Arnaud Tonus is still in command of the MX2 red plate. Photo: MXGP

MXGP Moto1

1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), 35:15.959;
2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:02.310;
3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:04.616;
4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), +0:08.139;
5. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:09.826;
6. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:13.420;
7. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:26.871;
8. Joel Roelants (BEL, Honda), +0:51.761;
9. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), +0:53.405;
10. Xavier Boog (FRA, Honda), +0:56.941;

MXGP Moto2

1. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), 33:49.752;
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:00.801;
3. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:01.603;
4. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:11.113;
5. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), +0:34.395;
6. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:48.437;
7. Todd Waters (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:49.173;
8. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), +0:50.297;
9. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), +0:53.200;
10. Xavier Boog (FRA, Honda), +0:59.055;

MXGP Overall

1. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 47 points;
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 42 p.;
3. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 36 p.;
4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 34 p.;
5. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 33 p.;
6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 25 p.;
7. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 24 p.;
8. Xavier Boog (FRA, HON), 22 p.;
9. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), 22 p.;
10. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 21 p.;

MXGP World Championship standings after 4 of 18 rounds

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 175 points;
2. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 158 p.;
3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 154 p.;
4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 144 p.;
5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 137 p.;
6. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 109 p.;
7. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 89 p.;
8. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 81 p.;
9. Joel Roelants (BEL, HON), 76 p.;
10. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 72 p.;

MX2 Moto1

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 33:54.254;
2. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Kawasaki), +0:02.818;
3. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:11.277;
4. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), +0:13.188;
5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:20.052;
6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:22.015;
7. Romain Febvre (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:24.788;
8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +0:25.139;
9. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +0:36.305;
10. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:40.523;

MX2 Moto2

1. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), 34:08.866;
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:02.787;
3. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Kawasaki), +0:04.355;
4. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), +0:19.297;
5. Romain Febvre (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:27.905;
6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:31.225;
7. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +0:33.543;
8. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +0:43.821;
9. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:44.897;
10. Petar Petrov (BUL, Yamaha), +0:51.304;

MX2 Overall

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 47 points;
2. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 42 p.;
3. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 38 p.;
4. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 36 p.;
5. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 30 p.;
6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 30 p.;
7. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 30 p.;
8. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 28 p.;
9. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 26 p.;
10. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 20 p.;

MX2 World Championship standings after 4 of 18 rounds

1. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 154 points;
2. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 148 p.;
3. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 144 p.;
4. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 126 p.;
5. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 118 p.;
6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 107 p.;
7. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 107 p.;
8. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 100 p.;
9. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 95 p.;
10. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 93 p.;

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