What better way to wrap up the 2016 FIM Motocross World Championship than in the Golden State of California, USA, on one of the most incredible tracks in the world, Glen Helen Raceway, where good weather is promised, as is good racing.
As expected, the final gate drop of the 2016 season had the fans that were on site here at the Monster Energy MXGP of The USA, on their feet, and the fans that were back home, glued to their television sets, as Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac recovered from two bad starts and destroyed the field in both races for yet another perfect score and his second consecutive, and second ever, grand prix victory, while Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings had a fairytale ending to his MX2 career with a two wins for his first ever grand prix win on US soil.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tony Cairoli are two of the biggest names in motocross right now. Both riders shook off the effects of their mediocre qualifying results to lead the way in the main events yesterday. Tomac, in particular, was incredible. He takes lines that no one else takes, and just hits the throttle so much earlier than everyone else, and because of it, he cleaned everyone up once again to become the first American to win multiple grands prix in the same calendar year since Mike Brown back in 2000.
As for Tony, it was good to see him looking like his former self as he hung it out on the hills of Glen Helen for second overall. The eight-time champ was striving for his ninth world title this year, but couldn’t match the consistent strength of Slovenia’s motocross extraordinaire Tim Gajser. He did claim the silver medal though, and the impact of being the bridesmaid in terms of the championship was softened by the 10,000 euro cheque he was awarded by Fox Head Europe as the winner of the Fox Holeshot competition.
These days the podium doesn’t look right without Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser standing on one of the steps. The recently crowned world champion would have liked to have topped the box this weekend, but instead had to settle for third, which is not so bad considering he only qualified 14th after having a yard sale on the first lap of the qualifier. The champ went 4-3 yesterday to land on the box for the 16th time this season, which is an incredible feat on its own.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Team’s Max Nagl flew under the radar this weekend. The German was a rocket ship out of the gate and carried that same blistering fast momentum through both races to finish on the same points as Gajser. Because Gajser had the better result in the final race, he was awarded third while Nagl had to settle for fourth overall, but looking at the bigger picture, was happy to have cemented the bronze medal in the premier class this season.
After two shocking rounds, last year’s vice world champion, Team HRC’s Gautier Paulin, bounced back this weekend and nailed a top five finish.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre didn’t have the desired end to his season, but if you’re searching for positives you’ll hold onto the emphatic qualifying heat win he took Saturday. Sunday was a new day, and it wasn’t a good one for the Frenchman who had a bike issue in race one and binned it in race two. As a result, he only finished 15th overall, but we look forward to seeing him return to the front of the field next year.
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten: 1. Eli Tomac (USA, Kawasaki), 36:36.218; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:15.622; 3. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:28.537; 4. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:34.082; 5. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:36.509; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:38.664; 7. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:43.174; 8. Dean Wilson (GBR, KTM), +0:46.822; 9. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:50.421; 10. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:54.314.
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten: 1. Eli Tomac (USA, Kawasaki), 34:58.974; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:16.031; 3. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:19.041; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:25.660; 5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:27.302; 6. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:33.516; 7. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Kawasaki), +1:01.351; 8. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +1:04.094; 9. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +1:04.386; 10. Jordi Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:07.854.
MXGP Overall Top Ten: 1. Eli Tomac (USA, KAW), 50 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 44 p.; 3. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 38 p.; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 38 p.; 5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HON), 27 p.; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 24 p.; 7. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 23 p.; 8. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 23 p.; 9. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 22 p.; 10. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 21 p.
MXGP Championship Top Ten: 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 731 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 647 p.; 3. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 603 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 564 p.; 5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 545 p.; 6. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 536 p.; 7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 406 p.; 8. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 372 p.; 9. Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 352 p.; 10. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 343 p.
MXGP Manufacturers: 1. Honda, 767 points; 2. Yamaha, 697 p.; 3. KTM, 696 p.; 4. Husqvarna, 618 p.; 5. Kawasaki, 553 p.; 6. Suzuki, 377 p.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings is one of the heaviest guys on the line in the smaller bike class and while he typically races number #84, this weekend he rode with the number 1 plate, a number plate that often weighs heavy on a riders bike. The last thing Herlings needed was extra weight to carry up, especially against the lightweights like Austin Forkner and his Red Bull KTM team-mate Jorge Prado, but it didn’t give him any trouble whatsoever. The Bullet bossed it in both motos for two convincing wins, and his first ever grand prix win on US soil.
“To finish with a win is amazing,” said Herlings. It was my final ride in the 250 class and now I will move up to the 450, it’s been a hell of a ride, so many ups and downs, but I’m very grateful for what I have achieved and I hope to have the same success in the MXGP class.”
There is one simple mission in MX2, BEAT JEFFREY HERLINGS! Last weekend America’s national Lites champion Cooper Webb managed to do it, and is the first rider to beat The Bullet fair and square for the overall since Tim Gajser did it in Maggiora, at the MXGP of Italy, last year. Interestingly, all three riders Webb, Herlings and Gajser will go head-to-head on 450cc bikes in the MXGP class at the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations in two weeks time. As for the racing, the hope of the American fans lied in the hands of their two most touted riders, Geico Honda’s Jeremy Martin and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner.
How do you handle super gnarly hills? Ask the Americans. A host of American riders schooled some of the best MX2 riders in the world at Glen Helen Raceway in Race 1 with Geico Honda’s Jeremy Martin being the most successful representative of the stars and stripes in this class. Martin was the talk of the town heading in, mainly because he changed brands, from Yamaha to Honda, and was making his debut earlier than most riders normally do. J-Mart went 2-2 for second overall, a huge result for the American kid who had only had one week on the bike heading into his first ever MX2 grand prix, and actually missed warm-up this morning due to a mix up of Timetables.
Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha’s Mitchell Harrison is actually from Michigan, although he has adopted California as his home and actually rides at Glen Helen Raceway every week. Knowledge of a track doesn’t always transpire into good results, so you have to take your hat off to Harrison this weekend. He was on rails and after cutting his teeth on the grand prix scene at the Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend where he finished seventh, he rolled out Sunday and nailed a pair of fifths for third overall.
“I wasn’t expecting to be on the podium, I was just hoping to get a top five this weekend and progress,” said Harrison. “I got a top 10 last weekend. Third overall is incredible for me, so I am excited about it.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Anstie finished third overall in the FIM MX2 World Championship last year and was hoping to either defend that position if not better it. After what has been an up and down year Anstie had to relinquish his bronze medal to Kemea Yamaha’s Benoit Paturel, who was the most consistent rider this year. Comparing the stats, Anstie led 61 laps this year, while Paturel led 20. Anstie won one Qualifying Race, four Races and two Grands Prix, while Paturel didn’t win any races or grands prix. While Anstie’s stats look better on paper, Paturel is the perfect example of why consistency is sometimes more important.
Going into race day, Anstie was 12 points down on Paturel, he managed to claw back four points with his fourth place finish at the Monster Energy MX2 Grand Prix of The USA, compared to Paturel’s sixth place, but it was Paturel who took home the bronze medal.
Team Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer didn’t have anything other than pride to race for as he had already wrapped up the silver medal in the championship last weekend, and the gold medal was out of reach as well. After a lackluster performance in Race 1 where he tangled with his team-mate and just had a bad time out on the track for 11th, the Swiss star bounced back in Race 2 to finish a hard-fought third and fifth overall.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner finished third in Race 1, but after a bad start, crashed out of Race 2 while charging through the pack.
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:43.854; 2. Jeremy Martin (USA, Honda), +0:10.160; 3. Austin Forkner (USA, Kawasaki), +0:16.613; 4. Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:28.544; 5. Mitchell Harrison (USA, Yamaha), +0:31.308; 6. Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:36.274; 7. Chris Alldredge (USA, Kawasaki), +0:48.628; 8. Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:55.383; 9. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:55.761; 10. Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +0:58.166.
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 35:33.376; 2. Jeremy Martin (USA, Honda), +0:07.571; 3. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:11.139; 4. Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:31.811; 5. Mitchell Harrison (USA, Yamaha), +0:34.253; 6. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +0:55.261; 7. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +1:00.631; 8. Justin Hoeft (USA, KTM), +1:02.893; 9. Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +1:08.677; 10. Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), +1:13.292.
MX2 Overall Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points; 2. Jeremy Martin (USA, HON), 44 p.; 3. Mitchell Harrison (USA, YAM), 32 p.; 4. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 31 p.; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 30 p.; 6. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 27 p.; 7. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 26 p.; 8. Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 25 p.; 9. Chris Alldredge (USA, KAW), 24 p.; 10. Austin Forkner (USA, KAW), 23 p.
MX2 Championship Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 739 points; 2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 625 p.; 3. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 512 p.; 4. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 504 p.; 5. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 403 p.; 6. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 398 p.; 7. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 378 p.; 8. Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), 377 p.; 9. Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 351 p.; 10. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, YAM), 320 p.
MX2 Manufacturers: 1. KTM, 835 points; 2. Kawasaki, 641 p.; 3. Suzuki, 636 p.; 4. Yamaha, 631 p.; 5. Husqvarna, 621 p.; 6. TM, 377 p.; 7. Honda, 341 p.