Race Report: MXGP of Spain

Race Report MXGP of Spain

May 30, 2016 9:30am

On his favourite type of going it was hard to look past Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser for what would be his fifth win of the 2016 MXGP series. The 19-year-old Slovenian is rapidly losing his novelty factor in the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship and he convincingly controlled this ninth round of eighteen on the slate around the eternally undulating hard-pack of Cerro Negro in Talavera de la Reina (southwest of Madrid) for the Grand Prix of Spain. Gajser has rarely looked more comfortable and assertive and this Pole/1-1 was on the same level as his shock MXGP debut win in Qatar; a success that a great many considered as something of an anomaly. Hardly any MXGP followers and perhaps a good deal of the riders themselves would have imagined that the rookie leading the standings by 24 points by the halfway point has been an ever-present podium force.

The HRC rider has been a consistency good starter and around the narrow curves of Talavera this was an indispensable ingredient for spoils. Gajser did not claim a holeshot though. That distinction fell twice to Rockstar Energy IceOne Husqvarna’s Max Nagl who could do little about his new rival and was resoundingly beaten to a 2-2 scorecard, admitting after the race that he has to raise his game further to counter the threat that Gajser is currently bringing to the table.

Wilvo Virus Performance KTM’s Shaun Simpson (10th overall after a snapped chain in Saturday’s qualification heat banished him to the penultimate slot in the gate; he rode well to reach an 11-10) described the Spanish hard-pack as being “on point.” The motor club Talavera had prepared the ground well and were aided by heavy thunderstorm showers on Saturday that softened the terrain, raised the grip, dropped the speed and deepened the ruts. In a way Talavera was a little more forgiving compared to previous editions and some more riding options opened up on one of the tightest tracks for passing on the calendar.

Tim Gajser (center) took another MXGP win over Max Nagl (left) and Gautier Paulin.
Tim Gajser (center) took another MXGP win over Max Nagl (left) and Gautier Paulin. MXGP

The nature of Cerro Negro and the speed of the pace meant that the MXGP motos had little in the way of gripping action. The first eight positions barely changed during the first moto; Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Clement Desalle making a satisfying return to the top three with third and is still in the comeback phases from injury. HRC’s Gautier Paulin is treading a similar path and beat Red Bull KTM’s Tony Cairoli, his Honda teammate Evgeny Bobryshev and impressive Swiss (best scrubs of the weekend) Valentino Guillod. Behind Monster Energy Yamaha’s Jeremy Van Horebeek (riding with a hairline fracture in his left hand) was the world champion, Romain Febvre.

On Saturday a slightly controversial incident occurred when Febvre could not avoid Simpson, in fourth place, on the uphill double (the Scot’s chain having departed) and crashed. He was hit by Gautier Paulin and then put his left arm out to recover the Yamaha as Cairoli came up the inside line. The KTM rider could not avoid an impact and Febvre was diagnosed with a painful minor dislocation without any breakages. The Frenchman underwent physio for long stretches of the afternoon and evening with the aim of attempting the motos on Sunday and he soldiered through arm-pump and the pain barrier in the first race but was more like his usual attacking self in the second moto as he ran to fourth.

Febvre’s malaise had repercussions to the tune of 20 points for the championship chase at the midway stage and only days before he was due to star at St Jean D’Angely and his home Grand Prix. It was in France last year (Villars sous Ecot) that 461 shone to bag his very first MXGP triumph and it was the confidence-boosting springboard for what would eventually be world championship and Motocross of Nations glory. France is bound to be a different experience now for the 24-year-old who is expected to renew his Yamaha contract in the coming days and will have to do his best to keep close to Gajser until the two-weekend break at the beginning of July and a decent path of time to heal.

Cairoli attracted a degree of criticism on social media channels for the move and Febvre also was unimpressed, but the GoPro footage showed the Sicilian could not have seen the full melee on the ground and could have done little to avoid the sprawling limbs of the world champion. Cairoli was slightly off in Spain thanks to his starts and a second moto crash put him down to ninth. The Italian did not fare as badly as Kevin Strijbos who suffered falls in every outing on his Suzuki and when he was landed upon by Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Tommy Searle on the first lap of the second moto the Belgian (and the Brit) retired with a knock to the head and a sour taste of the Spanish mud.

Gautier Paulin made a welcome return to the box for the first time since the Grand Prix of Belgium last summer. He joked that he felt 80 years old after the press conference in which he admitted he was happy to be back in the winner’s circle and it had be a long trip to recover from the fractured rib and vertebra that cast his second (and most likely last) season with HRC to the reeds.

Local favourite (at least until teenager Jorge Prado matures to swell the crowds even further in a country where motorcycle racing champions almost seem to grow on trees; Prado took his second podium finish in the EMX250 series in what is his first year on a 250) Jose Butron was eleventh overall and provided glimpses of how the passionate Spanish would easily get behind a rider who was pushing for the pinnacle of a Grand Prix class.

Herlings is still perfect in MX2.
Herlings is still perfect in MX2. Ray Archer

MX2 ruffled the pages of the script but didn't change the order. Red Bull KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings might have lost the perfect season in terms of motos (almost impossible anyway with MXGP planting 17-18 round schedules for the last four years) but his Grand Prix record is still intact and he’ll be looking to better his haul of 15 of 17 from 2013 (he missed two due to injury). Pole Position in Spain went to Monster Energy’s Dylan Ferrandis with Herlings a quiet fourth on Saturday and admittedly through some of the wettest and slipperiest conditions of the weekend. Ferrandis set the pace in the first moto before Herlings built his speed, took the lead and went on to forge another twenty-second margin of victory. In the second moto he briefly had to deal with another impressive Frenchman, Kemea Yamaha’s Benoit Paturel, who finished second overall for his second career podium result, while other Red Bull KTM rider, Pauls Jonass, got the better of Jeremy Seewer for third and the last step on the MX2 box.

Herlings is now the authority in the competition to the tune of 122 points and almost five GP motos. In Spain a number of names popped up nearer the front of the field and hinted at some of the future of the division: Samuele Bernardini, Adam Sterry, Michele Cervellin and Brian Bogers.

A relatively short haul for MXGP now happens this week with St Jean D’Angley prepped for its first Grand Prix since 2014 and the circuit near the west coast of France will provide another hard and hilly test for the world championship select.

FIM World Motocross Championship

Round 9 - Talavera De La Reina - Spain

MXGP Overall
1. Tim Gajser 25-25 Hon
2. Max Nagl 22-22 Hus
3. Gautier Paulin 18-20 Hon
4. Clement Desalle 20-15 Kaw
5. Evgeny Bobryshev 15-16 Hon
6. Romain Febvre 12-18 Yam
7. Antonio Cairoli 16-12 KTM
8. Jeremy Van Horebeek 13-14 Yam
9. Valentin Guillod 14-13 Yam
10. Shaun Simpson 10-11 KTM
11. Jose Butron 9-9 KTM
12. Jordi Tixier 6-8 Kaw
13. Tommy Searle 11-0 Kaw
14. Glenn Coldenhoff 0-10 KTM
15. Alessandro Lupino 5-4 Hon
16. Tanel Leok 7-2 KTM
17. Jake Nicholls 8-1 Hus
18. Christophe Charlier 0-7 Hus
19. Rui Goncalves 2-5 Hus
20. Milko Potisek 0-6 Yam
MX2 Overall
1. Jeffrey Herlings 25-25 KTM
2. Benoit Paturel 18-22 Yam
3. Pauls Jonass 20-20 KTM
4. Dylan Ferrandis 22-16 Kaw
5. Aleksandr Tonkov 15-15 Yam
6. Brian Bogers 16-13 KTM
7. Jeremy Seewer 10-18 Suz
8. Samuele Bernardini 11-14 TM
9. Michele Cervellin 14-11 Hon
10. Max Anstie 13-9 Hus
11. Roberts Justs 7-10 KTM
12. Vsevolod Brylyakov 12-3 KTM
13. Ivo Monticelli 8-6 KTM
14. Adam Sterry 0-12 Yam
15. Iker Larranaga Olano 4-7 KTM
16. Alvin Ostlund 9-2 Kaw
17. Petar Petrov 6-4 Yam
18. Dakota Alix 0-8 Hon
19. David Herbreteau 5-0 Kaw
20. Freek van der Vlist 3-0 Yam
MXGP Series Standings
1. Tim Gajser 385pts Hon
2. Romain Febvre 361pts Yam
3. Antonio Cairoli 338pts KTM
4. Max Nagl 317pts Hus
5. Evgeny Bobryshev 295pts Hon
6. Jeremy Van Horebeek 274pts Yam
7. Shaun Simpson 210pts KTM
8. Kevin Strijbos 204pts Suz
9. Valentin Guillod 180pts Yam
10. Glenn Coldenhoff 156pts KTM
11. Tommy Searle 150pts Kaw
12. Christophe Charlier 142pts Hus
13. Ben Townley 119pts Suz
14. Clement Desalle 117pts Kaw
15. Jose Butron 112pts KTM
16. Tanel Leok 99pts KTM
17. Milko Potisek 98pts Yam
18. Gautier Paulin 87pts Hon
19. Alessandro Lupino 68pts Hon
20. Jake Nicholls 49pts Hus
MX2 Series Standings
1. Jeffrey Herlings 447pts KTM
2. Jeremy Seewer 325pts Suz
3. Pauls Jonass 300pts KTM
4. Benoit Paturel 251pts Yam
5. Aleksandr Tonkov 240pts Yam
6. Petar Petrov 210pts Kaw
7. Max Anstie 205pts Hus
8. Samuele Bernardini 204pts TM
9. Dylan Ferrandis 200pts Kaw
10. Vsevolod Brylyakov 197pts Kaw
11. Brent Van doninck 142pts Yam
12. Alvin Ostlund 141pts Yam
13. Roberts Justs 126pts KTM
14. Brian Bogers 123pts KTM
15. Calvin Vlaanderen 102pts KTM
16. Jorge Zaragoza 90pts Hon
17. Thomas Covington 70pts Hus
18. Michele Cervellin 69pts Hon
19. Henry Jacobi 55pts Hon
20. David Herbreteau 54pts Hon