After a couple of weekends of rest and recovery, or testing and training, the championship which has already exceeded most of the high expectations laid upon it, 2015 FIM Motocross World Championship, is set to put round 15 in the books this weekend in Mantova, Italy.
While we have already stopped off in this motocross mad country a couple of times this year, fear not, this weekend’s circuit is in complete contrast to the previous two which took place at the iconic clay based and heavily elevated circuits of Pietramurata and Maggiora as the MXGP rounds of Trentino and Italy.
Mantova, located in the north of Italy, is a flat and sandy circuit with a series of man-made jumps. In terms of the sand, it is a different grain to that of Lommel as it is firmer which means it won’t be as deep.
This weekend will be the seventh time a round of the FIM Motocross World Championship will grace the venue, with the first being back in 1991 when American Trampas Parker won, and the most recent being in 2010, when fan favourite Antonio Cairoli took the win in the premier class while Marvin Musquin won in MX2.
If the track shapes up deep and sandy, Hitachi Construction Machinery KTM’s Shaun Simpson, the ‘dark horse’ of MXGP, will go about fifty shades lighter and will probably be pinned for the win. The Scot’s dominating performance in Lommel was exceptional and demonstrated exactly what he is capable of, if he can carry that same speed and confidence through to this weekend there is no reason why he won’t be on the box, the top step even.
Team HRC’s Gautier Paulin is always a threat to the throne, more or less dependent on his own mind set. With 86 points being the difference between him and the championship leader, Romain Febvre, it is essential for him to remain in front of his fellow countryman in order to keep the title in sight.
Speaking of the championship leader Yamaha Factory Racing Yamalubes’s Romain Febvre, he hasn’t been off the podium since round six in Spain, which proves just how deserving he is of the title. All he has to do is keep that same momentum going and the bike rubber side down and it should be smooth sailing from here.
Meanwhile Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev has edged his way into third in the championship standings 40 points shy of team-mate Gautier Paulin and 7 points clear of Tony Cairoli, who will not be racing. Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl is a further 63 points back in fifth and will finally make his return to racing after a five round hiatus due to an ankle injury.
DP19 Yamaha Racing’s David Philippaerts will also be back on the line after a ridiculously ugly crash in Loket left him sidelined for one round, the MXGP of Belgium. As for the Belgians, Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Kevin Strijbos and Yamaha Factory Racing Yamalube’s Jeremy Van Horebeek, they’ll also be a pair of hard chargers in the sand this weekend.
MXGP Championship Top Ten: 1. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 547 points; 2. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HON), 463 p.; 3. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 423 p.; 4. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 416 p.; 5. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 360 p.; 6. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 356 p.; 7. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 331 p.; 8. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 324 p.; 9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 290 p.; 10. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 287 p.
MX2 is so stacked, but the odds for the win this weekend given the way he is performing of late, definitely fall in favor of Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Max Anstie who has proven he’s the second fastest rider in the sand, bar the injured Jeffrey Herlings, with his faultless and impressive acts in Kegums and Lommel where he went unbeaten in both qualifiers and all four races.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass will be rolling out as the fresh new target after taking the red plate at the last round. The young Latvian said in the press conference in Lommel, “I never imagined that I would have the red plate in my hands so soon, I thought maybe in two or three years”, he now leads Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser by 4 points with the next threat being Standing Construct Yamaha Yamalube’s Valentin Guillod who is a further 25 points back in fourth.
Meanwhile, Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Petar Petrov is beaming confidence at the moment. The Bulgarian has finally found his mojo and despite crashing in Lommel, managed to land his first ever podium finish. He has since gone on to dominate the latest rounds of the local races he competes in and will be trying to keep that same flow going this weekend.
Another sand race is going to fall in favor of Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarana Factory Racing’s wildcard Harri Kullas who was the cat amongst the pigeons in the sand of Latvia with his first ever podium finish and then again with his fifth at the MXGP of Belgium in Lommel, while fourth in Lommel was wrapped up by Standing Construct Yamaha Yamalube’s Julien Lieber who is also capable of shaking things up from time to time.
MX2 Championship Top Ten: 1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 433 points; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 429 p.; 3. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 423 p.; 4. Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 408 p.; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 395 p.; 6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KAW), 393 p.; 7. Max Anstie (GBR, KAW), 387 p.; 8. Julien Lieber (BEL, YAM), 340 p.; 9. Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 262 p.; 10. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 259 p.
Saturday: MX2 Free Practice 10:15; MXGP Free Practice 10:45; MX2 Time Practice 14:00; MXGP Time Practice 14:35; MX2 Qualifying Race 16:10; MXGP Qualifying Race 17:00
Sunday: MX2 Warm up 11:10; MXGP Warm up 11:30; MX2 Race 1 13:15; MXGP Race 1 14:15; MX2 Race 2 16:10; MXGP Race 2 17:10.