Race Report: MXGP of Sweden

Race Report: MXGP of Sweden

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The FIM Motocross World Championship headed to the extended light of northern Europe for the latest segment of the 2014 trail. The first of two back-to-back races in this entirely pleasant zone of the globe took place in Uddevalla, Sweden where the twelfth GP of seventeen rounded off a red letter (or orange?) weekend of results for the KTM empire. The World Champions, Tony Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings, doubled up in victory in MXGP and MX2 respectively for the seventh time this year, while over in the U.S., obviously Ken Roczen maintained a European hold on the AMA 450MX campaign.

Aside from Cairoli reasserting his control on MXGP with two fine holeshots and comfortable victories two weeks after a virus impeded his German Grand Prix (he didn't even make the podium at Teutschenthal), the other big news in the category involved Rockstar Suzuki’s Clement Desalle. Teammate Kevin Strijbos unintentionally and unwittingly tagged the Belgian, dropping him down into the first turn at the start of the second moto and sending him tumbling into the pack. It would be a vital moment in the 2014 MXGP Championship saga as Desalle – who has seen valid attempts to challenge Cairoli to the end of several seasons ruined by single moments of injury – suffered his first DNF of the year. Cairoli’s manageable 250-point  gap in the standings coming into Sweden now stretches to fifty-seven, and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek is now wedged in between as the Belgian racked up an eleventh consecutive podium result with second place overall.

Cairoli took another step toward the MXGP title over the weekend. Photo: MXGP
Cairoli took another step toward the MXGP title over the weekend. Photo: MXGP

That’s a large numerical loss for Desalle, but there are still five rounds and ten motos to run. The Suzuki man was given the all-clear in medical scans at the circuit, but was so stiff and painful around the lower torso that he could barely step into his motorhome post-race. He described the agony as a ‘burning sensation’ even though the skin on his back was relatively unscathed. After seeing Desalle rigid in anguish, it’s hard to imagine the 24-year-old in decent shape for round thirteen in six days time, and therefore, Cairoli’s case for a sixth successive crown in the premier class has become fortified further.

You cannot fault the club at Uddevalla. The same large voluntary force of staff year after year produces one of the slickest organised events of the calendar and a meeting that has been ever present since the turn of the century. The constant work and modifications show the pride and effort the crew members apply to their venue. The layout has already been reversed twice and modified extensively over the last fifteen years. This year saw more wholesale changes with another switch of direction, a new straight start, and first turn and other refinements. Despite the overhaul, Uddevalla is burgeoning at the seams to cope with a modern Grand Prix and the presence of three support classes. On this occasion it was EMX250 (the GP feeder series), EMX300, and the Veteran’s World Cup. Two access roads have trouble accommodating the inward traffic, and the paddock overflows into the adjacent quarry hungry for the smallest space. Oddly, it has no place on the 2015 provisional calendar released this week (neither does Southwick, which is rumoured), but this could be another manoeuvre in the negotiating stakes.

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

A cramped site is one thing, but Uddevalla has always had to deal with some strange dirt. The cosmetic tweaks for 2014 could not disguise the fact that this narrow and compact layout was still distinctly ‘old-school’. Once again starts were at a premium and riders griped about the lack of grip, lack of berms, and lack of ruts. It was stony and slick, and one factory racer said it was like “stones on asphalt.” By the second moto, it was littered with holes and edges. It was an acquired taste, then.

Cairoli made light work of the course and even described it as easy. Van Horebeek admits that he usually relishes this type of terrain but worked himself into a strength-sapping funk in the first moto where Desalle also struggled. Both were passed by a surging Strijbos who is really finding his stride and steering clear of his arm-pump issues in the second half of the season on the Suzuki. His second place to Cairoli in the first moto drew him close to his best chance of a first GP overall in seven years. Despite the position and pressure, he insisted his run-in with Desalle in the second moto was caused by another rider leaning into his space and forcing him across the lines towards the first corner apex.

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Steven Frossard appeared to be operating on the limit and that elusive first podium since 2012 remained so after he ejected into the advertising boards at one stage. Brand-mate Tommy Searle took pleasure in a rare decent start in the second moto and duly found the top five while standout privateer Shaun Simpson had a rear brake issue in the first moto and was held-up in the Desalle mess in the second. The Scot is still fifth in the world against the factory fleet on the Hitachi Construction KTM.

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

MX2 was a formality. And will likely continue to be so for the rest of the season and across 2015. Soon, American audiences will get to see the Herlings show up close when he comes to Unadilla in August. Appreciate it, as the Dutchman is a wonder on that 250SX-F. He was again untouchable and undefeatable, as he has remained so all this year, last year and since the end of 2012. His race time was actually twenty seconds faster than Cairoli’s after the first moto.

Outgoing teammate Jordi Tixier (in the press conference, the Frenchman did not want to disclose the reasons for his departure from the Red Bull crew) was a firm second overall, and teenager Tim Gajser on the factory Honda—the brightest hope of a challenge for Herlings for 2015—grabbed a third trophy of the year—and his career—with some bold and creative riding on the CRF250RW.

Sweden has always been an event where —if you listen carefully—the first shuffling of contract papers for the following season start to happen. The news leaking into the paddock, as it took shape on Friday, was Gautier Paulin’s transfer to HRC from the bosom of his Monster Energy KRT squad. This leaves a gaping and welcoming green hole for Ryan Villopoto and Kawasaki to realise an overly rumoured switch to Grand Prix. Watch this space.

Shallow sand of Hyvinkaa in Finland welcomes MXGP next weekend. Then, more stones and hard-pack of Loket in Czech Republic at the end of the month before the quicksand-ish sand of Lommel precedes a rare summer break for the FIM calendar in August. During the spell, Jeffrey Herlings will jet out to Unadilla to attack 250MX. The Dutchman already has 42 victories at the age of nineteen and no other motocrosser in the world can match his current trophy trawl.

Tixier (left) and Gajser (right) made up the MX2 podium. Photo: MXGP
Tixier (left) and Gajser (right) made up the MX2 podium. Photo: MXGP

MXGP Moto1

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 35:22.421;
2. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ) +0:03.481;
3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:07.712;
4. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), +0:11.653;
5. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:15.019;
6. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:37.196;
7. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:39.063;
8. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:42.436;
9. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), +0:50.853;
10. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +1:03.013;

MXGP Moto2

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 33:52.052;
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:04.201;
3. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), +0:09.408;
4. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), +0:14.361;
5. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:22.638;
6. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), +0:38.631;
7. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:40.791;
8. Matiss Karro (LAT, KTM), +0:42.619;
9. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:44.496;
10. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:46.857;

MXGP Overall result

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 50 points;
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 42 p.;
3. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 40 p.;
4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 32 p.;
5. Tommy Searle (GBR, KAW), 31 p.;
6. Steven Frossard (FRA, KAW), 28 p.;
7. David Philippaerts (ITA, YAM), 25 p.;
8. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 25 p.;
9. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), 24 p.;
10. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), 22 p.;

MXGP World Championship standings after 12 of 17 rounds

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 527 points;
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 482 p.;
3. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 470 p.;
4. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 390 p.;
5. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 267 p.;
6. Steven Frossard (FRA, KAW), 265 p.;
7. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 237 p.;
8. David Philippaerts (ITA, YAM), 210 p.;
9. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), 207 p.;
10. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 205 p.;

 

MX2 Moto1

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 35:00.721;
2. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:43.692;
3. Romain Febvre (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:50.859;
4. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:53.496;
5. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), +0:54.640;
6. Julien Lieber (BEL, Suzuki), +0:55.972;
7. Christophe Charlier (FRA, Yamaha), +0:58.803;
8. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +1:00.791;
9. Max Anstie (GBR, Yamaha), +1:01.535;
10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +1:07.030;

MX2 Moto2

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 35:06.319;
2. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:42.354;
3. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:45.082;
4. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +0:46.541;
5. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), +0:49.060;
6. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:49.830;
7. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +0:50.272;
8. Christophe Charlier (FRA, Yamaha), +1:01.822;
9. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +1:15.003;
10. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, Honda), +1:18.202;

MX2 Overall result

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points;
2. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 40 p.;
3. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 37 p.;
4. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 32 p.;
5. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 30 p.;
6. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 29 p.;
7. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 28 p.;
8. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 27 p.;
9. Christophe Charlier (FRA, YAM), 27 p.;
10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 23 p.;

MX2 World Championship standings after 12 of 17 rounds

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 544 points;
2. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 409 p.;
3. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 389 p.;
4. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 388 p.;
5. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 372 p.;
6. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 350 p.;
7. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 288 p.;
8. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 284 p.;
9. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 265 p.;
10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 234 p.;

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