On the MXGP of Patagonia track that is raved over by the riders, for it’s width, smooth soil and fun yet challenging layout, Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings lit the first set of candles this weekend with their Qualifying Race wins.
The opening laps of the MXGP Qualifying Race were some of the most epic and action packed laps that we’ve ever seen.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s duo of Glenn Coldenhoff and Tony Cairoli were neck and neck over the holeshot line with Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre and Wilvo Virus Performance KTM’s Shaun Simpson all over them, eager to lead the pack.
Coldenhoff took a cruddy line a few turns in and was dropped back to fourth by Cairoli, Gajser and Febvre, in that order.
Bravely Febvre got on the rear wheel through the waves and launched between Cairoli and Gajser to take the lead for half a breath before getting passed by Gajser.
Gajser’s move up the inside of Febvre pushed the Frenchman wide, which allowed Cairoli to capitalise but as expected there would be no rest for the wicked thereafter.
Also adding to the craziness of the opening lap, the pace setter in Timed Practice, Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev crashed and left Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle with nowhere to go but straight into him and over the bars.
Meanwhile, Cairoli got a little loose on a slick spot with Febvre hot on his heels. Febvre was committed to his line and had nowhere to go except straight into the side of him, which put both on the deck. Coldenhoff then took second place but found himself feeling the heat from Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl, who both pulled the trigger in the laps that followed.
Nearing the end of the moto, it was Romain Febvre who had everyone saying, “Wait! What?” as he barged his way past eight of MXGP’s finest, and chopped down the lead of Gajser to make for a last lap sprint between the two champions.
While Febvre’s effort was impressive, Gajser’s was the equivalent as he rode immaculate for his first MXGP Qualifying Race win of the year.
Febvre crossed the line for a hard-earned second place while his team-mate Van Horebeek rounded out the top three. Nagl rode cool and collective for fourth ahead of Cairoli who had rebound for fifth.
MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), 25:05.502; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:05.054; 3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:08.188; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:11.717; 5. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:19.319; 6. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:25.581; 7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:26.876; 8. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:30.992; 9. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:31.814; 10. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:35.868.
The roar of the rowdy crowd when the gates fell was off the scale as Wilvo Standing Construct Yamaha Racing’s Aleksandr Tonkov led the way around turn one.
As expected, Jeffrey Herlings wasted no time in twisting his right hand and took the lead almost instantly.
Just as he does time and time again, The Bullet on board his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing beast checked out while the best of the rest went at it for second.
The initial big brawl was between Tonkov, TM Racing Factory Team’s Samuele Bernardini and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass before Bernadini excused himself from the battle when he bobbled heading into the waves which opened the door for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Anstie.
A turn of luck for Anstie, who was cartwheeling all over the place at the last round in Valkenswaard, inherited fourth.
Jonass then buried the front of his KTM in the volcanic loam and handed the Brit third, and as if that wasn’t enough, Tonkov did the same thing a lap later, which escorted him into second.
In the latter stages of the race most of the riders had settled into their positions, except for Jonass who managed to muster a final surge of energy to pass Anstie on the last lap.
Herlings threw a tidy whip over the line to celebrate his fourth consecutive pole position while Jonass came home in second ahead of Anstie, Tonkov and Team Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer.
MX2 Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 25:02.267; 2. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:25.298; 3. Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:26.952; 4. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Yamaha), +0:33.826; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:37.142; 6. Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:39.619; 7. Davy Pootjes (NED, KTM), +0:40.255; 8. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, Kawasaki), +0:42.160; 9. Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), +0:44.388; 10. Alvin Östlund (SWE, Yamaha), +0:45.211
Sunday: MX2 Warm up 10:20; MXGP Warm up 10:40; MX2 Race 1 12:15; MXGP Race 1 13:15; MX2 Race 2 15:10; MXGP Race 2 16:10.
MXGP Live Timing
Catch up throughout the day with the MXGP Live Timing.