It has been a consistent opening day for round three of the MX1 World Championship at the GP of the Netherlands, with Evgeny Bobryshev taking fifth in the qualifying race in Valkenswaard.
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With the new reversed track layout at the sandy Dutch track, it was a difficult first session in the morning, with the ground still frozen and hard underneath but still loose on top. Bobryshev took third in pre-qualifying, just 0.293 seconds from pole, with teammate Max Nagl – who is playing catch-up this weekend following sickness and injury – taking eighth position.
Conditions hadn’t improved greatly for the 20-minute plus two-lap qualifying heat as it attempted to snow throughout the afternoon. Neither rider got the best of starts, although Bobryshev settled into fifth place behind Gautier Paulin.
The Russian star tried to make ground, but decided to concentrate on a good rhythm and settle for a good gate pick with no risks ahead of tomorrow’s Grand Prix.
Nagl was 14th at the end of lap one and looked to be making progress, although he was struck by a sliding Boog and went down, to remount in 20th position. Like Bobryshev, the German racer found it tough to make passes, but came through to 16th position at the chequered flag.
Evgeny Bobryshev #777: fifth place
“The cold this morning certainly made things more difficult. I just spent some time getting the feeling with the track in the opening practice, but it was really tough with the ground being frozen and hard to push, as it was so slippery. In pre-qualifying I found it hard to get a good time, as I was making mistakes and trying to find the limit with the ground. I was finding that the front was washing out and the back sliding around, but I finished third and I was happy with that. It was only a small gap to pole position in the end. In the qualifying race I had a top five start, which was okay, but I was struggling to pass Paulin. The track had only one good line, and when I made a small mistake while trying to make a pass I, lost a lot of time. I decided to ride smart and not push too hard, as fifth is good for the gate tomorrow. The change in direction in the track was something different, but the track itself wasn’t so great for me . There’s a tight chicane off the start, so that’s going to make it interesting tomorrow. My goal is just to get a good start, ride my own race and be safe on the bike.”
Max Nagl #12: 16th place
“Coming to Valkenswaard I was feeling positive, as although I’ve missed a lot of riding, we’ve had some good training and testing leading into this weekend. Today the first two sessions went well, and although I know I can’t get the speed where I want it at the moment, I was happy with the positions. In the race I had a bad start; I had a wheelie off the line, so I had to close the throttle a little bit, and I was pretty far back. I got my head down to fight for some positions, but then in one turn Boog made a mistake and he hit me when he was sliding, so then I crashed. I couldn’t do anything, and I was stuck for quite a long time behind Rui Gonçalves and Davide Guarneri, but as soon as I got past them I could find a nice rhythm with some strong lap times. It was made a bit harder with the crash, because my throttle was stuck, so my right arm was tired in the race. At the moment I can’t do any more; we are going to look a little at improving the gate jump and the solution to keeping the front down. I want to make a good start tomorrow and ride at whatever level I can. I know I can’t push for the front, so we just have to do everything possible in the situation we are in.”
Marcus Freitas: Honda World Motocross chief technician
“Today the rider performance is pretty much as expected for us, although neither of them got a good start in the race. In the middle of the race Max crashed after being hit by another rider and in the condition he has, it was tough for him to keep the speed of where he wants to be, but the lap times were good towards the end. Bobby could have pushed more than he did, but he played it safe today. We have some improvements to make in the front fork set-up, but together with Showa we already have a solution for this tomorrow. The ground is quite difficult here for tyre choice, as it’s loose on the top but really hard underneath, so it’s difficult to find something for controlling the back wheel. For Max tomorrow it’s just damage limitation, but if he can improve the start then that will help him. With Bobby we just need him to be consistent and top five results are the main goal.”