Fans and spectators literally piled in to make the most of their MXGP experience this weekend filling up the hillside and paddock here in Saint Jean d’Angely to witness the practice and qualifying races for round nine of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
Dominating the premier MXGP and MX2 classes from start to finish, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s duo of world champions Antonio Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings swept their races for first pick of the gate in today’s program.
Also joining the MXGP of France program, rounds four of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship and the European Championship EMX125 took place with Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe’s Brian Hsu winning the EMX125 after moving quickly into the lead on lap one and going on to take home a convincing win ahead of the red plate holder Red Bull KTM Racing’s Davy Pootjes and TMX Competition’s Dan Houzet.
Meanwhile in the WMX race one, fans couldn’t be more pumped for their star Team One One Four’s Livia Lancelot who took the holeshot and completely dominated here on her home turf for her second race win of the season. Yamaha Mx Fonta Racing’s Chiara Fontanesi rode a solid race for second while Team Dragon Moto’s Stephanie Laier rounded out the top three.
Right from the drop of the gate Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tony Cairoli had his orange KTM350SX-F pinned to claim the holeshot and the title of ‘the carrot’ while Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s Clement Desalle and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek took the tile of ‘the hares’ chasing the speedy Italian from start to finish in that order.
In one of the best qualifying races of the season, behind the trio that top the championship standings Cairoli, Desalle and Van Horebeek, all heck was breaking loose.
Initially Sebastian Pourcel occupied fourth place onboard his KTM, holding off a bunch of hotshots like CLS Kawasaki Monster Energy MXGP’s Tommy Searle, Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s Kevin Strijbos and Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Tyla Rattray.
Four laps in, Strijbos started a game of carnage dominoes when he moved into fifth and was pressuring Pourcel for fourth before coming into a corner too hot and dropping it. Later that lap, Pourcel who is a 2014 MXGP of France wild card, caught an edge just after the finish line and also binned it. Another lap on, Rattray had made an aggressive move on Searle to take over fifth and like the previous top fivers Strijbos and Pourcel, crashed.
Meanwhile, one of the French favorites Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Steven Frossard was feeding off of the energy of all his buzzing fans, charging hard to catch right up to the trio up front.
While back in the battle for fifth, which saw Searle, Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev and Hitachi Construction Machinery UK KTM’s Shaun Simpson all riding wheel to wheel, it was Simpson who threw all caution to the wind in a hair-raising move down one of the fastest hills to pass both Bobryshev and Searle within the space of about 30 meters.
As the race came to a close, the top four in the order of Cairoli, Desalle, Van Horebeek and Frossard remained tight yet none were close enough to make a move, while Simpson was the victor in the fifth place saga just ahead of Bobryshev who also found a way around the Brit Searle for sixth. Searle ended up settling for seventh with an amazing ride from Team 2B’s very own French star Milko Potisek for eighth.
MXGP Qualifying Race top ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 24:12.057; 2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:04.213; 3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:06.522; 4. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:09.654; 5. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:45.352; 6. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:45.599; 7. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:48.952; 8. Milko Potisek (FRA, Yamaha), +0:50.632; 9. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), +0:53.263; 10. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:55.703.
‘The Bullet’ Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings hauled out of the gate to take the holeshot only to surprisingly be passed by Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s local kid Romain Febvre. With Febvre nailing that factory Husqvarna up the inside of the red plate holder, Herlings responded impressively jumping the difficult double on the exit of turn two to take back the lead.
Having Herlings in the lead so early in the race is never ideal for the competitors in MX2 as the Flying Dutchman typically goes on to check out, which he did. Nevertheless the battle for second was still epic with Febvre and CLS Kawasaki Monster Energy’s Arnaud Tonus bickering for the position the entire race.
After battling neck and neck for second with a brief challenge early on from Standing Construct KTM’s Valentin Guillod, it was Tonus who managed to take the position on lap three and resist the persistent attack from Febvre.
In the end Febvre, despite his impressive effort, was forced to settle for third ahead of Standing Construct KTM’s Valentin Guillod and fellow French sensation Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jordi Tixier. The third of the three flying Frenchmen CLS Kawasaki Monster Energy’s Dylan Ferrandis crashed hard on the first lap but eventually recovered to bring home 17th.
MX2 Qualifying Race top ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 24:14.610; 2. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Kawasaki), +0:10.729; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:15.317; 4. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), +0:25.614; 5. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:27.757; 6. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:33.102; 7. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +0:53.947; 8. Damon Graulus (BEL, KTM), +0:59.691; 9. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +1:00.923; 10. Ivo Monticelli (ITA, KTM), +1:05.541.