MX2 Race 1
In what was the most predictable results in motocross history, Jeffrey Herlings did just what everyone expected in the first moto, leading from holeshot to chequers. Whilst it would be nice to say that anyone had the speed to match the KTM pilot, the fact that by the second lap he had a ten second lead was enough to show that he is the king of this circuit. But aside from this story, the race was an absolute triumph for the British riders, with five of our boys in the top eleven final positions.
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Images by Ray Chuss
It was Jake Nicholls who was right behind Herlings out of the first corner, keeping this slot for a brief while before Searle got by. Behind them, Van Horebeek was snapping at their heels, but he himself was being hotly pursued by Valentin Teillet and Joel Roelants. Last minute substitute Mel Pocock was having a storming race, starting in sixth and keeping round about this position for much of the duration. Jordi Tixier was fighting hard just outside the top five to start with but steadily improving every lap.
Out front, Herlings was floating round the track at a staggering pace and although Tommy was looking strong, the Kawasaki rider seemed in no mind to try to match the speed and risk valuable first round points. The order changed slightly as Roelants pushed hard to get past Nicholls and Van Horebeek with around six laps to go, but he was not close enough to go after Searle within the time. Nicholls was not fazed when he dropped back a little, his confident fifth place being probably far more than he might have wished for with his new team after his huge crash in qualifying.
Ride of the moto had to be the astounding charge by Max Anstie. The Honda rider had a terrible start, crossing the line on lap one buried in 28th position. Over the course of the next eighteen laps, Max managed to pull himself to a creditable 11th position.
By the time the flag dropped, Herlings took the top slot with Searle and Roelants taking the other two steps on the podium. With Van Horebeek in fourth, Nicholls kept a fantastic fifth place, ahead of Jordi Tixier and Alexander Tinkov. Pocock finished eighth, a strong result that must have delighted the Dixon squad.
MX1 Race 1
If the MX2 race went according to the script, it seemed likely that the 450 class would follow suit, and but for a few fleeting moments, this was indeed the case. Cairoli got the holeshot, and went about trying to build a quick lead as soon as possible, but Yamaha’s Steven Frossard had other ideas, chasing down the Italian and snatching the lead at the end of the first straight as he dived inside. It was looking like he could keep the pace ahead of Cairoli, right up to the point that he overshot the corner at the start of the pit lane, ploughing over the berm and gifting the lead to a close following No 222. After that, the World Champion was never really bothered, but behind him all kinds of battles were raging.
Bobreshev started well but was out of the race by lap 1. Frossard, DeSalle and Paulin were scrapping for territory throughout the moto, with mistakes from all of them altering positions on a lap by lap basis. Boog included himself into this gaggle of riders for a while before dropping back. The one rider that was having a fantastic race was Big Ken De Dycker. The new KTM boy pressed forward for the full moto, squeezing his way ahead of Kevin Strijbos for a fifth place finish.
At the flag, Cairoli took the honours with DeSalle staying just ahead of Frossard.
MX2 Race 2
The second outing for the MX2 boys saw business as usual, with Herlings checking out from the very start. Tommy was in a close second , but his team mate Roelants was pressuring hard and got past on the lap 4. Behind them and riding like a thing possessed was Max Anstie, holding his forth position for the whole race. Jake was going well to start with but a front end wash out at the far side of the circuit scuppered him getting a repeat result of race 1. Van Horebeek had to fight his way forward throughout the race after a poor start, eventually getting up to fifth behind Anstie.
At the end of the moto, the positions remained as Herlings, Roelants and Searle, the same positions as the overall podium.
MX1 Race 2
By the time the 450s came to the line for their final moto, the weather was firmly set for rain, and the race was always going to be an endurance test for the riders. Cairoli got a fantastic start, slicing across into his opponent’s line and even having time to check he was in the lead before the first corner. But it was Desalle who got out of the corner in the lead, with Antonio and Steven Frossard close behind.
Cairoli took five laps to bust his way round DeSalle, leaving the Suzuki and the Yamaha riders to tussle for a full forty minutes to try and get past each other, but they stayed in this formation till the end. Christophe Pourcel came out in forth and Simpson was an impressive fifth place for while at the start, but sadly neither could maintain enough pace to hang on to these positions for long. DeDycker was on the pipe again, and had it not been for a spill at the top of the circuit – beautifully captured by his live feed head-cam – would have recorded a higher final place than his eventual 5th. As the race marched on the rain became harder, forcing the enormous crowd under their umbrellas and all but the best riders to abandon their goggles and squint through the barrage of sand and water.
As the flag fell, Cairoli had got the win from DeSalle and Frossard, and as with for MX2, the overall classification matched the Race 2 result. Shaun Simpson finished in 8th, again matching his final GP placing.
Antonio Cairoli Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
“I like the track here, I had a good day. We had two good starts today. In Moto one I was riding carefully for the first few laps and Steven was going well so it took me a while to get past. On race 2 I got caught up on the first few corners – Pourcel braked hard and I had to stop too. The track was easy today so everybody had a chance to have good speed do well. I was looking forward to getting good points today and trying to be on the podium.”
Clement DeSalle Rockstar Energy Suzuki
“My speed was good today and I was just trying to concentrate on my own speed and to be safe. I had some good racing with Steven and Tony today. The track was bumpy today, maybe not like last year, there was a lot of bumps in the corners.”
Steven Frossard Monster Energy Yamaha
“In the first moto I wasn’t so good – I think I pushed too hard and made mistakes. I was very disappointed as I was riding like I did a few years ago. In the second moto it was better and I felt I rode well.”
Jeffrey Herlings Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
“It was really cool to win here – I was riding really well. I was surprised that they flattened the track for the second moto which made it pretty easy for everyone. In the second Moto I got a really bad jump out of the gate but I was able to get the lead in one or two laps and check out by about thirty seconds. I think I need to work on my starts for a couple of weeks before Bulgaria to get the holeshot – I know that when it cames to the next GP I’m going to need to get a good start. My riding was really good today so I’m happy with that.
It was good to hear all the fans screaming out my name in the final laps of the race, especially at the end of moto two, I’ve won here three years running. I have the Red plate now but it’s the last race of the season that counts.”
Words by Julian “I’m late” Challis