MXGP of Thailand (Suphan Buri)

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Track map – Suphan Buri

The MXGP returned to Thailand this weekend and for the third time in three years, the riders were greeted by a new circuit with the Suphan Buri circuit making its debut at the world championships. With an average temperature of 30°C and an average humidity of 72% (more than double of that in Qatar last week) the riders knew that this weekend was going to be no easy task. Some riders stayed the week in Thailand in an attempt to adapt to the conditions whereas Max Nagl for example, travelled home for the week to be comfortable. Rather controversially however, Ben Townley (multiple time world champion and American Supercross champion) had some very stern words about the circuit altogether. During the press conference after qualifying Townley stated that “Coming to these tracks, they’re just not good enough, Qatar and here aren’t the pinnacle of our sport. We are MXGP, the best riders in the world and these guys can’t sit here and honestly say it’s an amazing place to ride a motorcycle. We’re in a flat paddock in the middle of nowhere. This in my opinion is not good enough for the sport. I think that we deserve better.”

Qualifying

Cairoli for this time this season got off to a flier in the qualifying race on Saturday, taking the holeshot. It didn’t last for long however. Within two corners Febvre and Townley went either side to try and take the lead away. Townley successfully slotted up the inside of the KTM rider while Febvre lost traction flying around the outside, having to check up and settle with tucking back into 4th place behind Coldenhoff. It didn’t take Febvre long to make that position back up though, getting to the inside on the next corner and nudging Coldenhoff to the outside where he lost the front wheel and took a taste of the Thai mud – dropping all the way back to 14th. Tim Gajser had a quieter qualification this week, spending the whole race in 5th, relatively isolated. Febvre went past Cairoli on the 7th lap when the Italian failed to get the drive going into the wave section and then quickly set his sights on Ben Townley. He came close to taking the lead too just a couple of later, before losing all of his momentum when jumping off to the side of the finish line jump and running off the track. From then on in, Febvre settled for 2nd while Townley took pole position. Shaun Simpson qualified in 9th ahead of his British compatriot Tommy Searle who came in in 12th.

MXGP Qual

MXGP Qualifying race results

Moto 1

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Kei Yamamoto surprises everyone by taking the holeshot in moto 1

Surprising everybody at the start of Moto 1, Japanese rider Kei Yamamoto took his first ever holeshot in the MXGP but couldn’t hold onto the lead for long, running wide while exiting the corner. This left the inside wide open for a whole host of riders to take advantage. Most notably, Cairoli came through to take the lead, followed closely by: Gajser, Townley, Febvre and Bobryshev. By the end of the first lap, Yamamoto had already dropped back to 14th position and didn’t manage to improve again from there. Gajser looked to be running comfortably in 2nd place early on until he made an error completely out of the blue. Coming into the final corner of the track his front wheel washed away sending him forward and off of the bike. He didn’t however hit the ground, running alongside the bike, jumping back on and taking the position he lost to Townley back within seconds. Townley would quickly rue his missed chance when just a few turns later, Febvre pushed his way up the inside to take away 3rd place and instantly get on the back wheel of 2nd. From there it took just over a lap for Febvre to dispose of Gasjer, getting to the inside and forcing his

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Gajser loses control early in the moto

way past the points leader. He wasn’t letting off there though. Febvre, who was absolutely flying through the corners, was making his move on Cairoli within a lap – attempting to sweep around the outside before the finish line jump. Being an 8 time world champion however, Cairoli wasn’t going to give up the lead to the man currently holding what he believes to be his championship crown without a fight. Cairoli ran wide himself around the corner, taking away Febvre’s line and leaving him with no option but to slam on the brakes and re-group himself in 2nd place. Gautier Paulin was once again having a tough time of it back in 10th place after two disappointing results last week. With just over 10 minutes to go in the race, Tommy Searle was putting in some impressive lap times (only half a second down on the leaders) working his way up to 7th place. Townley then suffered a major setback on lap 9 as he came off the biked damage to his handlebars but more worryingly, his radiator. The loss of liquid causing him to have to pull off and retire from the race early. During the meantime, Febvre had moved back up to within touching distance of Cairoli and looked to be just studying his rival from behind. Until, with just 5 minutes to go, he made his move. Diving up the inside of Cairoli, Febvre got much better traction on the exit of the turn to almost cruise past along the wave section. Cairoli tried to fight back using the same technique on the following corner, but to no avail. Things then began to go from bad to

WHIP

Febvre (1st), Cairoli (2nd) and Gajser (3rd)

worse for the Italian. Within one lap, Gajser had closed the gap to the leading pair, showing a wheel up the inside of a Cairoli meaning the front 3 were now separated by just 2 seconds. Meanwhile, further back in the pack, Paulin was granted 7th place with a few laps remaining when Nagl was forced to pull off with mechanical problems. Shaun Simpson was battling with Kevin Strijbos over 9th. Back at the front with just 4 laps to go, Gajser pulls off an incredible scrub allowing him to carry all of his speed into the following corner and run all the way around the outside of Cairoli for 2nd place. Once again though, Cairoli showed signs of returning to his best form, squeezing back up the inside to take the position back just a few corners later. The rest of the race then ran fairly straight forward, with the riders seeming to settle for what they had (finishing 5 seconds apart) and try to retain as much as energy as they could for the 2nd moto. Brit Tommy Searle had a fantastic yet rather simple race, carving his way to 6th place early on and settling there for the remainder. Shaun Simpson on the other hand was made to work hard for his 9th place finish. Kei Yamamoto, who took the holeshot, finished back in 18th behind Clement Desalle who placed in a respectable 16th considering the broken arm he is currently battling against.

 

MXGP race 1

MXGP race 1 – results

Moto 2

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Coldenhoff being caught out by a bouncing gate

Believe it or not, the start of race 2 was even more exciting than that of race 1. Glenn Coldenhoff seemed to misanticipate the gate drop, being thrown over the handlebars and into the dirt. There was also another surprise for the holeshot, MXGP rookie Valentin Guillod beat everybody into the first corner – but was soon shuffled back to 4th place after being passed by Febvre, Nagl and Simpson. Cairoli this time didn’t get quite the start he was looking for, having some trouble and ending up way back in 16th position. Gautier Paulin’s run of bad luck continued later in the lap when Van Horebeek’s loose back end swept across to take out his front wheel, leaving Paulin back down the field yet again, accompanying Cairoli just ahead of Desalle. Simpson, who was having a much better ride this time round, soon found his way around Nagl for 2nd place. He could only hold on to the position for a couple of laps however as Ben Townley (who was on a mission after his earlier DNF) flew past Nagl before taking Simpson later in the same lap. Just two laps later again however, Nagl crept up the inside of Simpson to take away both 3rd in the race, and overall. By now, Simpson looked to be struggling to keep up with the pace when Van Horebeek was right on his tail by  lap 9 with

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Cairoli battling with Coldenhoff over 13th

Gajser closing in behind from 6th. All three were soon locked together when Van Horebeek made a slight mistake leaving the three separated by just 2 seconds. Further Back, Cairoli couldn’t keep tabs with Gautier Paulin as the Honda rider worked his way up to 9th place. Leaving Cairoli back in 12th, unable to work his way past Kevin Strijbos. During the next two laps Simpson was passed by both Van Horebeek and Gajser before settling into his rhythm and surviving a late charge from Bobryshev to finish in 6th place. Tommy Searle struggled in the latter half of the race, dropping from 9th to cross the line in 14th position. With just 6 minutes +2 laps remaining, both Gajser and Van Horebeek pushed on to close the gap to Nagl but neither could get a pass made before the chequered flag. They crossed the line in 5t, 4th and 3rd respectively, behind Townley in 2nd and the comfortable victor Febvre who cruised round the last couple of laps to win by 6 seconds.

 

MXGP race 2

MXGP race 2 – results

So, as it stands, reigning champion Romain Febvre will take back the red plate for the next round in Valkenswaard. However, Tim Gajser showed once again that he is up for the challenge of racing in the MXGP this season with another solid set of performances to take away 2nd overall. Cairoli will be disappointed with the result of the second race but can take away a lot of confidence from his 2nd place finish in moto 1, where we saw a real glimmer of him returning to top form. Shaun Simpson once again picked up a solid points total and will be looking forward to build upon that. One man who will not be hoping for much of the same is Gautier Paulin; the French rider has so far had no luck this season but will surely put in some top class performances over the coming weeks.

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Romain Febvre takes his first overall of the season with a maximum 50 points ahead of Tim Gajser in 2nd (36 points) and Van Horebeek in 3rd (34 points)

MXGP championship standing

MXGP championship standing after round 2

MX2

I wonder what the odds are of Jeffrey Herlings winning the overall at each round this season?  The man looks to be on a completely different level to everybody else and realistically, I believe the rest of the MX2 line-up will be setting 2nd place as their target week in, week out. Once again this weekend he dominated from start to finish, taking pole position in qualifying and then going on to lead all but 3 laps throughout the weekend. As if that wasn’t enough, his smallest margin of victory was by a solid 20 seconds, setting the fastest lap of the weekend by 2.1 seconds to his closest rival. Back in the rest of the pack however, nothing is quite so easy to call. Benoit Paturel improved massively on his 13th overall finish last week to qualify in 2nd position, ahead of Brit Max Anstie in 3rd. The best ride of qualifying however had to go to Jeremy Seewer. After falling early in the race, he picked himself up to work his way from 16th and eventually qualify in 5th. Dylan Ferrandis suffered a crash in the wave section early in qualifying, dislocating his shoulder and bringing his weekend to a painful end. Ben Watson had a tough time of it,

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Jeffrey Herlings spent most of the weekend riding in isolation at the front of the pack

qualifying back in 22nd position. Moto 1 got off to a crazy start with two riders going down in first corner as Jeffrey Herlings swooped round to take the holeshot. Just seconds later, yet another rider was down. This time Pauls Jonass, who was running in 5th, collided with Samuele Bernardini and was violently thrown over the handlebars. He dider work his way back up to finish in 9th position. Max Anstie’s bad luck continued when he fell at the end of lap 1, crashing into the UFO advertisement on the side of track and for the second time in two weeks, ending his race prematurely. Paturel and Tonkov battled over 2nd place before Jeremy Seewer came with a late charge to take 3rd away and push Paturel back into 4th. British rider Ben Watson couldn’t improve upon his qualification and finished race 1 in 22nd.

 

 

Somewhat surprisingly, Jeffrey Herlings didn’t have everything his way at the start of moto 2. Pauls Jonass took the holeshot as Herlings got squeezed to the inside back in about 6th position. It didn’t take long however for Herlings to work his way to the front; overtaking Bernardini for 2nd position on lap 3 and then his teammate, Pauls Jonass, one lap later for the lead. Tonkov, who was running in 3rd on the tail of Jonass, dropped all the way back to 9th when he looked to have stalled the bike on lap 7. The second half of the race ran a lot smoother for the Yamaha rider though, working his way back up to finish in 4th. Max Anstie put the troubles of moto 1 well and truly behind him in race 2. After getting off to a poor start and running outside of the top 10, the Brit carved his way through the pack to sweep around the outside of Jeremy Seewer on the final lap and record a fantastic 2nd place finish. Ben Watson also showed good improvement in the second race to cross the line in 14th position.

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Jeffrey Herlings once again takes the top step of the podium with a maximum 50 points ahead of Jeremy Seewer (2nd) and Aleksandr Tonkov (3rd) who tied on 40 points


MX2 championship standing

MX2 championship standings after round 2

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