Race Report: MXGP of Lombardia

Race Report MXGP of Lombardia

August 24, 2015 1:45pm

Just three rounds remain in the 2015 FIM World Motocross Championship, and one class is firmly in the home straight while the other will likely go down to the last. And, hopefully, this 250 title will go to the wire without any mechanical trouble in sight…. 

This weekend in a nutshell? Yamaha Factory Racing Yamalube’s Romain Febvre throwing his imperious cloak over almost all of the premier class with a sixth victory and tenth consecutive podium finish to open up a 101-point gap over HRC’s Gautier Paulin with just 150 left to grab. Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Max Anstie earning his third shutout of the season and emerging as a (greenish) dark horse in the narrowing four-rider grapple for the 250 crown. 

The hastily arranged Grand Prix of Lombardia—MXGP’s third visit to Italy this year—was an easy fix for the hole in the calendar left by the cancelled trip to Brazil. The compact and flat Mantova course always provides a supercross “feel” due to its location in a park in the town center, shallow spectator banking around the periphery of the course, and the relentless nature of the jumps. This was not sand like Lommel, but the Grand Prix did benefit from the “normal” racing timetable that involved only the principal MXGP and MX2 divisions without a heavy schedule of European Championship support categories. 

The battle for the top of the MX2 class is tight.
The battle for the top of the MX2 class is tight. photo: MXGP

“Without the European riders, the bumps are much faster and safer for us,” said the returning Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna rider Max Nagl, who managed to take pole position on Saturday but admitted he was lacking fitness after just five days of riding in recovery from a broken ankle in June.

“The track is unbelievably good. It has been prepared well by being ripped and watered, and there are three or four lines every corner,” the German added. 

A slightly more laidback Grand Prix then, but the injury list continued to thrive. Rockstar Suzuki found themselves without a rider on full works machinery, as a heavy landing by Kevin Strijbos on Saturday led to a broken right thumb ligament and ended the Belgian’s season (that’s also a blow to the Belgian Motocross of Nations effort). With Clement Desalle recovering from an injured shoulder, Glenn Coldenhoff was the only Suzuki rider, and the Dutchman—who is rumoured to be on his way to Red Bull KTM for 2016—placed sixth overall on Sunday. MX2 World Champion Jordi Tixier crashed and dislocated his right wrist and also, painfully, waved goodbye to 2015. The Frenchman’s imminent operation reduced the list of contenders in MX2. Then there was the mistake and fall from Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Steven Frossard in the opening phases of the MXGP moto that required the Motocross of Nations winner to be helicoptered from the circuit for an alleged procedure on a fractured vertebra. 

The search and anguish over the attrition level of MXGP go on with fingers pointed at the bikes, the tracks and even the riders Some regulatory action is coming in the near future, but where it will be directed is anybody’s guess. Tixier crashed on a 250, not a 450. Mantova was not battered by countless sessions on the track and a lack of maintenance time or resources. That leaves the riders then, and who is going to tell an ambitious and dedicated athlete not to push the envelope? This one will rumble on, but there is a desire to find some sort of fix.

Shaun Simpson got fourth overall on the factory KTM.
Shaun Simpson got fourth overall on the factory KTM. photo: KTM

Someone comfortably edging boundaries is Febvre. The 23-year-old has barely shown a sign of weakness for four months, and his dispatch of Evgeny Bobryshev (back on the podium for the third time this year and still capable of demoting teammate Paulin, who again failed to shine while also failing to totally drop the ball) in the first moto was swift. In the second race, he sprinted clear of teammate Jeremy Van Horebeek to head a Yamaha 1-2 for the second time this season. 

“We are getting close now to the end [of the season] and the title can be won next weekend,” he smiled. “We will see. I think next weekend will be even sandier and it will be easy to make a mistake. We need to stay on two wheels and keep pushing.” 

Hitachi Construction Machinery Revo KTM’s Shaun Simpson was given a works 2016 450SX-F to substitute the ’15 model he had been using thanks to his progress this season, led by the GP win at Lommel and decent showing in New York at the Unadilla National. There were plenty of bikes to spare, with Red Bull KTM decimated through injury and just one of their six-rider roster in action across both classes. The Scot had just recovered from illness coming into the round, and it caught him in the first moto where he tired in the last two laps and was passed by Van Horebeek and Paulin. He was dogged in the second outing, however, and took a decent third position on a bike he’s barely ridden while dealing with attention from Bobryshev, Nagl, Coldenhoff, and Paulin. Simpson’s fourth overall was good enough for top five in the MXGP championship standings, and with Tony Cairoli likely to miss the coming two meetings and only return for Glen Helen, the British Champion is just 25 points from a lofty fourth. Simpson gained fifth and a few more points over Nagl thanks to the German’s last-lap fall in the second moto that bumped him from fifth to tenth.

In MX2, Anstie was as resolute as Febvre—only a brief first-moto fall blotting his day—but a deeper story in the competition involved Red Bull KTM’s Pauls Jonass (aping teammate Jeffrey Herlings in the best way by leading the championship at the age of 18 in just his first term as a works rider and full-time in MX2) and HRC Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser. The latter enjoyed some noisy support from a large Italian fan club and a hoard of Slovenians that dropped down across the border to cheer on #243. The teenagers sandwiched Anstie on the box and kept the distance between each other to 4 points, scratching another event from the list and cranking up the tension a notch further. Jonass was consistent, Gajser attacking after also crashing like Anstie and suffering a bad start in the second moto.

With Anstie's win in Italy, he sits third in the championship standings.
With Anstie's win in Italy, he sits third in the championship standings. photo: MXGP

A thought spared for the Swiss. Rockstar Suzuki’s Jeremy Seewer went down in both motos. The second involved a spectacular multi-rider pileup on the start straight that caught countryman and Standing Construct Yamaha Yamalube rider Valentin Guillod. Seewer, a three-time GP winner this year, had also fallen from the leading group to fifth (eventually fourth) in the first moto, and while recovering to the top ten in the second, had an epic crash trying to scrub the largest leap on the track. He somehow picked up a mangled YZ250F—unhurt—to continue. With his DNF in the second outing in Belgium three weeks prior and more damage to his points in Italy, the 42-point gap to Jonass might now be too much to bridge. 

A name to watch is former double Junior World Champ Brian Hsu. The teenage German made his GP debut with an eye-catching eighth place in the first moto on the Rockstar Suzuki. He too was a victim of the incident at the start of the second sprint, and a wrecked RM-Z250 ended any chance of a memorable overall classification. The diminutive athlete—contesting the EMX250 European Championship and riding a 250F for the first time this year—is stylish and still growing.

From Italy to Assen. The famed MotoGP facility will host its first GP with an elaborate temporary construction across a section of the historic asphalt. Round sixteen takes place this coming weekend before MXGP boxes up for the Americas in September.

FIM World Motocross Championship

Round 15 - Lombardia - Mantova

MXGP Overall
1. Romain Febvre 25-25 Yam
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek 20-22 Yam
3. Evgeny Bobryshev 22-18 Hon
4. Shaun Simpson 16-20 KTM
5. Gautier Paulin 18-15 Hon
6. Glenn Coldenhoff 15-16 Suz
7. Dean Ferris 14-13 Hus
8. Max Nagl 13-11 Hus
9. Tyla Rattray 11-12 Kaw
10. Todd Waters 12-10 Hus
11. Christophe Charlier 5-14 Hon
12. Davide Guarneri 10-9 TM
13. Jose Butron 9-8 KTM
14. Filip Bengtsson 8-7 Hon
15. Angus Heidecke 6-4 KTM
16. Nathan Watson 7-0 Hus
17. Pier Bertuzzo 0-6 Yam
18. Klemen Gercar 3-3 Hus
19. Mike Vanderstraeten 0-5 Yam
20. Matevz Irt 4-0 Yam
MX2 Overall
1. Max Anstie 25-25 Kaw
2. Tim Gajser 20-22 Hon
3. Pauls Jonass 22-20 KTM
4. Benoit Paturel 15-18 Yam
5. Valentin Guillod 18-7 Yam
6. Brent Van doninck 10-13 Yam
7. Petar Petrov 14-9 Kaw
8. Henry Jacobi 8-12 KTM
9. Damon Graulus 16-4 Yam
10. Adam Sterry 11-8 KTM
11. Jens Getteman 0-16 Hon
12. Julien Lieber 6-10 Yam
13. Thomas Covington 0-15 Kaw
14. Brian Bogers 0-14 KTM
15. Jeremy Seewer 12-2 Suz
16. Brian Hsu 13-0 Suz
17. Ivo Monticelli 0-11 KTM
18. Ben Watson 7-3 KTM
19. Samuele Bernardini 9-0 TM
20. Micha-Boy De Waal 3-5 Kaw
MX2 Series Standings
1. Pauls Jonass 475pts KTM
2. Tim Gajser 471pts Hon
3. Max Anstie 437pts Kaw
4. Valentin Guillod 433pts Yam
5. Jeffrey Herlings 423pts KTM
6. Jeremy Seewer 409pts Suz
7. Jordi Tixier 393pts Kaw
8. Julien Lieber 356pts Yam
9. Benoit Paturel 292pts Yam
10. Petar Petrov 285pts Kaw
11. Brian Bogers 257pts KTM
12. Aleksandr Tonkov 256pts Hus
13. Brent Van doninck 212pts Yam
14. Dylan Ferrandis 205pts Kaw
15. Thomas Covington 204pts Kaw
16. Roberts Justs 181pts KTM
17. Vsevolod Brylyakov 170pts Hon
18. Ivo Monticelli 154pts KTM
19. Jens Getteman 129pts Hon
20. Ben Watson 109pts KTM
MXGP Series Standings
1. Romain Febvre 597pts Yam
2. Gautier Paulin 496pts Hon
3. Evgeny Bobryshev 463pts Hon
4. Antonio Cairoli 416pts KTM
5. Shaun Simpson 392pts KTM
6. Max Nagl 384pts Hus
7. Jeremy Van Horebeek 366pts Yam
8. Clement Desalle 331pts Suz
9. Glenn Coldenhoff  321pts Suz
10. Todd Waters 300pts Hus
11. Kevin Strijbos 287pts Suz
12. Dean Ferris 235pts Hus
13. Tyla Rattray 227pts Kaw
14. David Philippaerts 185pts Yam
15. Christophe Charlier 183pts Hon
16. Jose Butron 172pts KTM
17. Ken de Dycker 155pts KTM
18. Steven Frossard 128pts Kaw
19. Ryan Villopoto 124pts Kaw
20. Davide Guarneri 112pts TM