After Pole Position on Saturday – his first since the 2013 Grand Prix of Brazil and second in factory Honda colours – Max Nagl could be forgiven for feeling optimistic about his chances of a second podium result at Sevlievo last weekend.
What transpired for the German was an extraordinary sequence of events at the MXGP of Bulgaria that saw the 26-year-old finally classify ninth overall with two understated top ten finishes.
Nagl suffered largely blameless run-ins with at least three different riders across the two motos, run in the dry and then a heavy shower that caused the Bulgarian ruts and bumps to become long, deep and very technical.
The Honda man explains: “I had a great Saturday and was feeling good all day. I liked the track and had the pole from the qualifying race. So I was hopeful for Sunday.”
“On the first lap [Steven] Frossard crashed in front of me in a deep rut and I had no chance to move. We were stuck with a lot of bikes and it took twenty or thirty seconds to get free, so everybody was gone.”
“We had big rain for the second Heat and my start was a bit better,” he continues. “I was top five but when I came across the finish line jump Shaun Simpson had fallen off in the rut in front of me and I jammed into his rear wheel.
“It meant I lost another load of time. It was difficult to ride and then on the last lap – heading down the hill – I took the outside line because it was the safest. Tyla [Rattray] was behind me and he went way too fast and lost control of the bike. He wiped me off the track big-time. I’m lucky I did not get hurt. I lost another few positions so it was a terrible day for us.”
Nagl is currently fifth in the championship standings and still searching for his second silverware of the year after being runner-up at Qatar for round one. He has stayed injury free and the Honda World Motocross team have been working and testing to give the famously fast-starter a more effective CRF450R out of the start gate.
The combination worked on Saturday but Sunday was a different day. “There is not so much we can do about weekends like this,” he summarised. “It is not an issue with the bike or with me; it is just bad luck! How can you explain that four times in two races you get stuck behind somebody who has crashed in front of you! You cannot do anything. Just wait there until the guy gets up and takes his bike again.”