GP Report: MXGP of Russia

GP Report MXGP of Russia

June 12, 2017 10:50am

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Clement Desalle displayed shrewd racecraft and management of appalling conditions in Russia to claim his second victory in a row and begin to show promising shoots of title form as the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship tipped into the second half of the campaign.

For the second time this year adverse weather wrecked MXGP’s first visit to a new circuit. Orlyonok was battered by heavy rainfall and while the conditions were not quite to the boggy depths of the Indonesian fixture three months earlier this was a real mudder in terms of the quantity of water, mud, technical demands, and stress on the machinery and entire paddock to survive and collect results.

MXGP has travelled far and wide to new circuits where the facilities and scenes awaiting the series have produced surprises. Sometimes the discoveries have been eye-opening—the MXGP of Argentina a strong example—and also challenging. There was some trepidation about the long trek for the teams to Russia for the first time in half a decade after the impressive but ultimately very temporary jaunt to Semigorje in 2012. Orlyonok was not a complete mystery after hosting the 2016 FIM Junior World Championship last summer, but still represented a 2000 mile trip from western Europe and was a hop north from the town of Sochi and the Russian home of Formula One. Compared to the remote location of Semigorje, Orlyonok was a suitable and welcoming environment for an FIM World Championship fixture and the undulating and rutty (but fast) hard-pack drew a general thumbs-up from the MX2 and MXGP fraternity (EMX300 and 250 support classes also along for the ride) on Saturday.

Due to the mud, the start was extra important in Russia.
Due to the mud, the start was extra important in Russia. KTM Images

Come Sunday and the tide had shifted. Starts were premium, goggle stops became prevalent and the onus was on the riders to remain upright and clean for the longest possible time.

“You have to be a good rider … but you also need a bit of luck,” said Rockstar Energy IceOne Husqvarna’s Gautier Paulin, who would come home in third place for the third meeting in a row and has the second highest haul of podium results this term with five trophies. Paulin went 5-3 and is currently vying with Desalle to be Red Bull KTM Antonio Cairoli’s closest foe in the standings: one point divides the old rivals and they stare at a 47 point gap to the Sicilian who was a cautious fifth through the Orlyonok ooze.

Desalle really shone in the second moto. The Belgian has profited from lively starts on the KX450F in what is just his second year in green after six with Suzuki and the package seems to be finally hitting some of the heights that #25 was frequently capable of in yellow. Desalle caught, stalked, and pounced on Monster Energy Yamaha’s Romain Febvre; the Frenchman leading a moto for the first time in 2017, which will help him regain some confidence after a hefty absence from the role of pacesetter. Febvre was sixth overall due to a top 10 finish in the first moto and will however be disappointed with his inability to avoid a slower and almost-lapped Jeffrey Herlings up the hill in the last minute of the second race that led to a crash and an invitation to his pursuer. 

Desalle's second victory in a row vaulted him into second place in the championship.
Desalle's second victory in a row vaulted him into second place in the championship. Monster Energy Media

Aside from Desalle’s progress the most watchable part of the second race was the determination of Herlings. The Dutchman passed a conservative Cairoli to grasp the first moto, but three crashes in the opening minutes of the second left him floundering in the mud. Herlings cleaned himself down in the best possible way and set-off to see what position he could reach. By the checkered flag it was eighth—good enough for the second step of the podium and his third runner-up distinction of the year. Once more Herlings was the liveliest, most dramatic and unpredictable figure in the pack. With a 90-point deficit to his teammate—he sits fourth in the table—the 22-year-old reigning MX2 World Champion might not follow Romain Febvre and Tim Gajser as the third rookie to own MXGP, but he has already made an impact.

Gajser was missing for the second race in a row due to a broken shoulder and the official HRC line is that the world champion is hopeful of a return for round 11 in Italy and thus another two weeks to get into sufficient shape to steer the CRF450R. Also on the injury list now is Jeremy Van Horebeek. The Belgian’s weekend screeched to a premature halt on Saturday with a broken and dislocated finger on his right hand. Brandmate Shaun Simpson has missed the last three events recovering from a snapped metacarpal in the same hand, but the Scot is another aiming to resume action on Italian soil.

A worthy mention in MXGP for Rockstar Energy IceOne Husqvarna’s Max Anstie. The Brit grabbed fourth overall for his best result yet in a rookie term on the 450 and where his technical acumen in the conditions paid off. Expect Anstie to be one of the first names on the list for the UK when it comes to naming the Nations team (set for Matterley Basin in England on October 1).

The MX2 class was first into the melee Sunday and into a state that prompted Spaniard Jorge Prado to describe the track more like “water” than mud. Somehow Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Thomas Kjer Olsen and Team Suzuki’s Jeremy Seewer found the checkered flag first—the Swiss looking particularly inspiring in his (drier) second moto flight to lap all but second-place HSF Logistic KTM’s Brian Bogers, a feat not seen since Jeffrey Herlings’ amazing performance in the sand of Lierop in 2012.

Jonass (front) was consistent in the mud to take the overall.
Jonass (front) was consistent in the mud to take the overall. KTM Images

After all the chaos, it was Red Bull KTM’s Pauls Jonass who triumphed with a 2-3 and maintained his 50 percent win ratio with his fifth success, permitting a gap of 45 points from Seewer as the Austrians massage a decent grip on the red plates of both categories. Bogers helped erase memories of an abject 2017 so far with his first podium appearance of the year and Sweden’s Alvin Östlund notched a personal best with fifth overall. Olsen, who crashed and DNFed the second moto is nevertheless third in the championship standings and continues to shine in his maiden Grand Prix contest.

Until the revitalised Grand Prix of USA in September, MXGP will operate in western European boundaries and a fortnight splits the return from Russia until the Italian stop of the schedule in Ottobiano sand for round 11.

MXGP Results

1st Clement Desalle 20 25 Kawasaki
2nd Jeffrey Herlings 25 13 KTM
3rd Gautier Paulin 16 20 Husqvarna
4th Max Anstie 18 16 Husqvarna
5th Antonio Cairoli 22 12 KTM
6th Romain Febvre 11 22 Yamaha
7th Arnaud Tonus 12 18 Yamaha
8th Arminas Jasikonis 14 14 Suzuki
9th Glen Coldenhoff 9 15 KTM
10th Max Nagl 13 10 Husqvarna
11th Alessandro Lupino 15 7 Honda
12th Evgeny Bobryshev 8 11 Honda
13th Ken de Dycker 7 9 Honda
14th Jaromir Romancik 5 5 KTM
15th Rui Goncalves 6 4 Husqvarna
16th Evgeny Mikhaylov 10 0 Husqvarna
17th Tanel Leok 1 8 Husqvarna
18th Jose Butron 0 6 KTM
19th Viacheslav Golovkin 3 3 KTM
20th Daamon Graulus 4 1 Honda

MX2 Results

1st Pauls Jonass 22 20 KTM
2nd Jeremy Seewer 14 25 Suzuki
3rd Brian Bogers 15 22 KTM
4th Benoit Paturel 20 9 Yamaha
5th Alvin Östlund 13 15 Yamaha
6th Hunter Lawrence 18 10 Suzuki
7th Julien Lieber 10 16 KTM
8th Thomas Kjer Olsen 25 1 Husqvarna
9th Jorge Prado 6 18 KTM
10th Ben Watson 9 14 KTM
11th Iker Olano Larranaga 7 12 Husqvarna
12th Bas Vaessen 16 2 Suzuki
13th David Herbreteau 11 6 Kawasaki
14th Thomas Covington 12 5 Husqvarna
15th Magne Klingsheim 2 13 Kawasaki
16th Conrad Mewse 8 4 Husqvarna
17th Giuseppe Tropepe 0 11 Husqvarna
18th Darian Sanayei 3 8 Kawasaki
19th Freek van der Vlist 4 7 KTM
20th Michele Cervellin 5 0 Honda

MXGP Championship Standings

1st Antonio Cairoli 381
2nd Clement Desalle 334
3rd Gautier Paulin 333
4th Jeffrey Herlings 291
5th Tim Gajser 261
6th Jeremy Van Horebeek 261
7th Romain Febvre 242
8th Evgeny Bobryshev 233
9th Max Nagl 223
10th Arnaud Tonus 202
11th Glen Coldenhoff 200
12th Max Anstie 180
13th Arminas Jasikonis 171
14th Shaun Simpson 123
15th Tanel Leok 110
16th Jose Butron 91
17th Kevin Strijbos 90
18th Alessandro Lupino 74
19th Rui Goncalves 68
20th Jordi Tixier 61

MX2 Championship Standings

1st Pauls Jonass 414
2nd Jeremy Seewer 369
3rd Thomas Kjer Olsen 317
4th Julien Lieber 308
5th Benoit Paturel 294
6th Jorge Prado 230
7th Thomas Covington 225
8th Hunter Lawrence 199
9th Brian Bogers 184
10th Brent Van doninck 174
11th Darian Sanayei 168
12th Michele Cervellin 154
13th Calvin Vlaanderen 133
14th Vsevolod Brylyakov 129
15th Samuele Bernardini 111
16th Ben Watson 104
17th Alvin Ostlund 103
18th Conrad Mewse 90
19th Vas Vaessen 74
20th Adam Sterry 72