MXGP of Qatar (Losail)

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Track map – Losail

So here it is, the first race of the new season. There are some big questions bouncing around the paddock going into this year. Can Cairoli bounce back from an injury hit seasons last year to retain his dominance at the top of the MXGP? Will Herlings, who has also been rocked by injury, return to dominate over the MX2 class? Or will Tim Gajser, following his MX2 title victory last season, make a successful transition from MX2 to the MXGP and put down his own challenge for the title? Only time will tell…

Qualifying

Well, with just one qualifying race of the season under our belt I may have already answered one of my pre-season question – Tim Gajser is here to play ladies and gentlemen. Although he couldn’t quite match Bobryshev and take pole position, he put in a phenomenal effort. Holding off the challenge of reigning champion Febvre to go on and even close the gap to the leader toward the end of qualifying. Unsurprisingly, Desalle (riding 12 days after undergoing surgery on his broken Radius) only managed to complete 2 laps. Brits Sean Simpson and Tommy Searle both had solid starts to the season qualifying in 8th and 9th respectively.

MXGP Qual

MXGP Qualifying race results

Moto 1

MXGPstartFri_MXGP_1_QAT_2016

Bobryshev takes the first holeshot of the 2016 season

Evgeney Bobryshev flew out of the gate in the first MXGP race of the season to take the holeshot. However, somewhat surprisingly, the man on his tail was once again the newcomer to the MXGP class Tim Gajser. The rookie sat patiently behind Bobryshev until the start of the 8th lap when he swooped up the inside to take the lead away and from there on in, never looked back. Further down the pack, in what could have been a horrific start to the season, Max Nagl almost took a ride on the back of Gautier Paulin as he attempted to jump past him in a battle for 10th place on lap 13. British rider Shaun Simson worked his way up from 8th to finish in 5th behind Jeremy Van Horebeek in 4th and Romain Febvre in 3rd.

 

Moto 2

In race two, Gautier Paulin surprised the pack by running around the outside to take the holeshot and lead heading into the first lap. His fun didn’t last very long though. After being passed by Gajser (who disappeared into the lead again) and Bobryshev who was trying his best to run with the leader, Paulin’s bike decided it had had enough and ended his race prematurely. Cairoli was having a solid race after returning from injury playing ‘yoyo’ with Febvre throughout the early stages. Febvre made the pass for 3rd before uncharacteristically over jumping and losing control going into the following corner. This allowed Cairoli to take the position back, but not for long. Febvre came back strong to finish the race in 2nd place, overtaking Bobryshev who himself had to pass Cairoli in order to finish in 3rd place. Simpson and Searle could once again only be separated by one position with Simpson coming home in 7th, just ahead.

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So, after the first round of the season, here’s how the riders championship stands:

MXGP R1

MXGP championship standings after round 1

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The red plate will be handed to Gajser after he crashed the MXGP party

 

I think it’s safe to say that Tim Gajser laid down a marker this week. Right from the off he has come into the main class as the reigning champion of the MX2 as if to say “Do not underestimate me, I want this as much as any of you guys!” In my opinion, what better way could you ask for the new season to begin? Two reigning champions finishing 1-2 and the 8 time world champion Antonio Cairoli returning from injuries to finish in a solid 5th overall. Throw in the likes of Bobryshev, Simpson and Van Horebeek and one things for sure, this season is going to be competitive!

 

MXGP podium

Tim Gajser takes the top spot on the podium ahead of Romain Febvre (2nd) and Evgeny Bobryshev (3rd)

 

MX2

Over In the MX2 class, Herlings led qualification from start to end, with Ferrandis settling comfortably into second place.. Herlings’ teammate, Pauls Jonass, qualified in 3rd to leave Ferrandis in the middle of a Factory KTM sandwich. British rider Max Anstie came in in 9th position whereas Ben Watson (who didn’t plan to race in Qatar) finished in a creditable 14th on his Hitachi Husqvarna.

start

Herlings looks to just edge ahead of the rest of the field down the start straight

As for the rest of the day, well it was pretty much deja vu.  Herlings’ return from injury went as plain sailing when he (probably unsurprisingly) dominated over the rest of the field to take home both moto wins. Dylan Ferrandis and Pauls Jonass also both finished each race as they had qualified for them, in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Great Britain’s Max Anstie managed a respectable 10th in race 1 before colliding with another rider in race 2, ripping the throttle tube from his bike and leaving it summed up nicely in his own words as “Game over”. Ben Watson on the other hand hauled his Husqvarna round for two sound 14th place finishes.

 

MX2 R1

MX2 championship standings after round 1

mx2 podium

Jeffrey Herlings takes the first round of the MX2 championship ahead of Dylan Ferrandis (2nd) and Pauls Jonass (3rd)

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