Race Report: MXGP of Italy

Race Report: MXGP of Italy

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Italian Grands Prix have seen some joyous scenes since the turn of the century and not all of them have involved premier class world champion Tony Cairoli. In fact, the mass celebrations of the Sicilian’s sixth victory this season were reminiscent of David Philippaerts’ title success in the final decider of the 2008 campaign at Faenza. This was still a big deal, though. The tenth round of the FIM MXGP series was stirring stuff for the 222 just when it seemed his form could be starting to dip after the costly mistakes that wrecked his French GP two weeks previously.

Maggiora was the surprise of the 2013 championship: atmospheric, challenging, picturesque and popular. The sophomore effort had plenty to build on but clashed with the weather. The contrast was stark between the blistering heat during the week and the heavy rain that arrived Saturday night. In spite of the damp and adversity, 35,000 fans (weekend figure) found space on the damp banking and hills. For many the fact that the “Azzurri” claimed victory in the first of their FIFA World Cup matches on Saturday night set the day up nicely for more local success.

It was Cairoli who delivered. Against a backdrop of marathon autograph sessions, relentless pressure and presence from the public (so much so that he had his own security detail), not to mention the personal bereavements and tragedy that had recently disrupted his life—which gave this 1-1 victory even more emotional resonance—the seven time world champ was unwavering in his 69th career success.

Tony Cairoli won on home soil to collect his 69th career win. Photo: Ray Archer
Tony Cairoli won on home soil to collect his 69th career win. Photo: Ray Archer

His nearest challengers in MXGP were again the fleet of Belgians. Jeremy Van Horebeek, immediately identifiable in the fine red and white factory Yamaha livery in honour of the Bartolini/Johansson YZM400F prototype that began the four-stroke revolution in 1997/1998 (Doug Henry also immortalised the bike in Las Vegas and outdoors), set out strong throughout Saturday. The Belgian was fastest in both sessions and cut through the top five in the Qualification Heat to throw the gauntlet in Cairoli’s face with his first ever Pole Position in MXGP. However, JVH crashed in the first moto and couldn’t hang onto Cairoli’s roost in the second. He still went 2-2 and is still waiting for the cigar. His nine consecutive podiums is reaching something of a record status in the premier class and could eclipse the achievement of a 100 percent top three season achieved by former mentor Stefan Everts in his retirement term of 2006.

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Steven Frossard gave Cairoli a hard push in terms of pace near the end of the first moto but the Frenchman was struggling with illness, so much so that he pulled out of the second race altogether. Rockstar Suzuki’s Kevin Strijbos endured average starts and arm-pump for a solid 4-3 and his fourth podium of the year. His teammate Clement Desalle, winner of two from the last three rounds, was shadowing Cairoli in Moto1 and poised to set-up a tense finale until a freak crash on a take-off dumped the Belgian on the ground and led to a painful left wrist. Desalle ended the day with 7-4, off the podium for only the third time this year and losing another 18 points to Cairoli in the standings; the gap now 38 at the top. With Desalle effectively blunted due to his small mistake, Cairoli had the Grand Prix to himself.   

Jeremy Van Horebeek went 2-2 to finish second behind AC.  Photo: MXGP
Jeremy Van Horebeek went 2-2 to finish second behind AC.  Photo: MXGP

There might have been exultation in the viewing areas but the race day clouds and greyness reflected part of the mood and subdued feeling in the paddock at Maggiora. Joel Roelants’ crash on the first low-slung double of the track seven minutes into timed practice on Saturday had devastating consequences. The Belgian was immediately airlifted to hospital after lacking sensation from the chest downwards. Roelants was assessed and apparently underwent an extensive operation to stabilise the damage and trauma on Saturday evening. Later, Honda Motor Europe staff delivered small updates with stern faces and the reparation to the injury of the seventh and eighth vertebrae was not looked upon in positive terms with regards to further and positive progress. As the Italian Grand Prix closed and the paddock packed up for the trip north to Germany the following weekend, it was still far too early to determine the rate of recovery for the 24-year-old and former factory Yamaha rider. With brand-mate Xavier Boog also nursing a back injury, MXGP had been dealt a very hard blow in the space of two meetings and seen yet further reduction of numbers in the gate. Roelants was not part of the leading Belgian elite but was attempting his second term in the premier class under the confines of his own awning, backed by his family and Honda. He is a friendly athlete, well known for his determination and work-rate. The crash was a shocking reminder of the lightening that can strike the sport and its stars at any moment.

Maggiora is weaving, narrow and steep with plenty of blind approaches. It was also unforgiving. Honda World Motocross had their full HRC lineup bashed again as a rider— believed to be Desalle—caught the protruding left leg of Evgeny Bobryshev on turn three of the second moto. The strong Russian pulled to the side of the track and collapsed in agony. The damage is a suspected broken tibia and fibula and Bobby’s season appears to be over. Teammate Max Nagl is trying to come back from a broken wrist but is still experiencing pain. At the next race in Germany, the factory CRFs could be vacant for the second time this year. Wilvo Forkrent KTM’s Jake Nicholls has a suspected broken knuckle, Tyla Rattray was again in the wars and a crash on Saturday saw the South African take another bang to the head; the last thing the Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna rider needed after his concussion in France. He also fell in the second moto and looked extremely bashed-up post-race and commented that he has spent more time crashing than actually riding this weekend. In MX2 Thomas Covington was also part of the walking wounded on his CLS Monster Kawasaki. The teenager from Alabama has a possible break in his left foot after a heavy landing on Saturday. He tried to ride on Sunday but to no avail.

Sending our best to Joel Roelants. Photo: MXGP
Sending our best to Joel Roelants. Photo: MXGP

It was interesting to hear Cairoli speaking post-race about a new effort for riders to contribute to track recommendations and views on safety through a meeting with the FIM and Youthstream at each event. The champion suggested that a top rider would represent each brand or team in the discussions, which is an entirely positive and overdue manoeuvre. 

As in 2013 the MX2 class is becoming a ritual once again. Jeffrey Herlings invites hardly any more superlatives. The list has become exhausted since he last lost a Grand Prix in which he competed at the end of 2012. Maggiora gave the Dutchman his fifth double and ninth success of 2014 and he was peerless again. New Pro Circuit recruit for 2015 and 2016, Arnaud Tonus, took his CLS Monster Kawasaki to a seventh podium and was part of an entertaining dice in the second moto with Jordi Tixier, Tim Gajser, Romain Febvre and Dylan Ferrandis; the latter surely podium material but a crash in Moto1 meaning his 7-2 wasn’t good enough to dislodge the Swiss. Herlings’ Red Bull KTM teammate Jordi Tixier is the source of rumour that he will leave the Austrians for 2015 but notched his second rostrum appearance in a row in Italy. The depth is there in MX2 but Herlings remain aloof. He was already talking of wanting to wrap-up his third title in the sand of Lommel at the Grand Prix of Belgium in August for the fifteenth fixture of the year.

Next up, the 2013 Motocross of Nations site Teutschenthal, which assumes Grand Prix duties once more for the German stop on the FIM calendar. Round eleven takes place this coming weekend and precedes a stint across northern Europe taking in trips to Sweden and Finland.

Jeffrey Herling continues to be a step above the rest in MX2. Photo: Ray Archer
Jeffrey Herling continues to be a step above the rest in MX2. Photo: Ray Archer

MXGP Moto1

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 34:47.796;
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:04.109;
3. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:10.121;
4. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:20.361;
5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:23.524;
6. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:41.674;
7. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:45.162;
8. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:45.566;
9. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:50.193;
10. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), +1:10.566;

MXGP Moto2

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 34:39.495;
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:04.774;
3. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:05.986;
4. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:24.914;
5. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:31.560;
6. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:34.934;
7. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:48.210;
8. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), +0:49.759;
9. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:51.107;
10. Gregory Aranda (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:51.136;

MXGP Overall

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 50 points;
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 44 p.;
3. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 38 p.;
4. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 32 p.;
5. David Philippaerts (ITA, YAM), 28 p.;
6. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 28 p.;
7. Tommy Searle (GBR, KAW), 27 p.;
8. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), 24 p.;
9. Steven Frossard (FRA, KAW), 20 p.;
10. Gregory Aranda (FRA, KAW), 19 p.;

MXGP FIM World Championship standings after 10 of 17 rounds

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 443 points;
2. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 405 p.;
3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 402 p.;
4. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 314 p.;
5. Steven Frossard (FRA, KAW), 217 p.;
6. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 211 p.;
7. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 205 p.;
8. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 184 p.;
9. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 166 p.;
10. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), 163 p.;

MX2 Moto1

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:59.483;
2. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Kawasaki), +0:16.222;
3. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:29.958;
4. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:32.756;
5. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +0:36.815;
6. Romain Febvre (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:37.753;
7. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:38.583;
8. Max Anstie (GBR, Yamaha), +0:43.364;
9. Petar Petrov (BUL, Yamaha), +1:06.588;
10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +1:18.881;

MX2 Moto2

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:18.701;
2. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:32.011;
3. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:35.589;
4. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Kawasaki), +0:36.284;
5. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:37.154;
6. Romain Febvre (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:38.568;
7. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), +0:47.649;
8. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:50.646;
9. Julien Lieber (BEL, Suzuki), +0:57.312;
10. Damon Graulus (BEL, KTM), +1:00.811;

MX2 Overall 

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points;
2. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 40 p.;
3. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 40 p.;
4. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 36 p.;
5. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 34 p.;
6. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 30 p.;
7. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 24 p.;
8. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 24 p.;
9. Petar Petrov (BUL, YAM), 22 p.;
10. Julien Lieber (BEL, SUZ), 20 p.;

MX2 FIM World Championship standings after 10 of 17 rounds

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 444 points;
2. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 389 p.;
3. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 331 p.;
4. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 327 p.;
5. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 314 p.;
6. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 269 p.;
7. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 240 p.;
8. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 223 p.;
9. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 213 p.;
10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 192 p.;

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