Jordi Tixier strengthened his hopes of successfully defending the FIM World MX2 Motocross Championship title for the Monster Energy Kawasaki MX2 Racing Team with third place in the Czech Republic.
The Frenchman started the weekend superbly by posting the fastest time in practice around the tricky Loket track, but in the Qualifying race he suffered two crashes, the first of which forced him to go to hospital for stitches in his arm, and an unsettling second crash when he was unable to avoid the fallen championship leader Jeffrey Herlings during the Qualifying race.
Even though Jordi was completely absolved from any blame for the incident which left the series leader with a fractured thigh he needed to display tremendous professionalism to return to the track the next day to end the weekend on the podium after finishing third and fifth in the two 35-minute motos.
His 36 points haul has also brought him to within just 29 points of the effective points leaders in the series with five rounds remaining despite the misfortunes, which beset him during the early rounds.
Team-mate Petar Petrov was also impressive on his return to action after missing the last two GPs through injury; the Bulgarian finished sixth in each moto to earn fifth on the day despite a crash on the final lap of the opening moto when he missed a gear as he went for a pass which would have given him fourth place. Petar now has his sights on a world top-10 ranking as the results have lifted him to within 12 points of that goal despite missing several rounds of the series.
Max Anstie, winner of the previous GP in Latvia two weeks ago for the Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki Team, appeared to be on his way to a repeat victory in the Czech Republic as he swept confidently to the front of both the Qualification race and the opening GP moto to take his run of success to five consecutive races.
The Englishman again moved quickly to the front in the second GP moto and appeared to be on his way to another perfect weekend until he lost control in a tricky section of the track, damaging his bike and winding him too badly to continue. Nevertheless he maintains his own title challenge; although only seventh in the points chase, Max is just 62 points behind the effective points leaders and is looking forward confidently to the upcoming rounds on his favourite sandy surface.
Thomas Covington had his back to the wall in both GP motos after crashes left him with the final choice of gate, but the US teenager never gave up to finish 24th and 17th in the points-scoring races. He is now 16th in the series standings.
“The weekend started well with the pole position in the timed practice session, but then in the qualifying race I crashed and opened a wound on my arm,” Jordi Tixier said. “Later I hit Jeffrey [Herlings] as he was on the ground with no yellow flags. I could finish only 19th, and after the race I went to the hospital to have stitches in my arm.
“In the first GP race I moved to second behind Max [Anstie] and we had a good speed; I was pretty happy to finish third place even though I lost a place on the final lap. In the second race I could never find a place to pass Jonass so I was a little unhappy with my riding, even if I’m finally back on the podium.”
“I just came back from injury and took it easy,” said Petar Petrov. “I didn’t really know what to expect as I had only spent a few hours back on the bike before coming here. I finished fifth overall and that’s pretty good, I feel that I had the speed for a podium result but in the first race my start was not so good and it took me several laps to find a good rhythm.
“On the last lap I was looking for a place to pass Jonass for fourth, but I hit a neutral and had a big crash. I had a lot of pain but still managed to finish sixth, and in the second moto I tried to be fit for the race but it was painful. My start was okay, then I was able to push and scored another sixth position which is not so bad for a comeback.”
The always optimistic Max Anstie commented: “I will leave Loket really positive. I was having an awesome weekend again until my crash as we made some big steps on the hard pack and I won both the qualifying race and the first GP moto.
“In the second race I was riding really well, feeling really good and controlling the race, but in the waves my hand came off the handlebars and I crashed. It’s a shame, but I’m still feeling positive about the weekend because we had solid riding and next week I will be back to do the business at Lommel where I was strong last year to win the first GP of my career.”
“It was a really bad weekend for me, I crashed in the first corner of the qualifying race on Saturday, and later crashed again after catching up to some riders,” said Thomas Covington. “I was at the very outside of the gate for the races and had to come from behind in both races, but never felt good on this track. We will try to come back stronger next weekend in Lommel.”