The MXGP of Europe played host to the 6th round of the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship this weekend and it all started today. On the sandy and technical circuit of Valkenswaard it was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli and Pauls Jonass whose top notch riding in their respective qualifying races put them into pole position for Sunday.
We also saw the second round of the European Championship EMX250 start today with 88 entries, 8 of which were two strokes. KTM DIGA Junior Racing’s Miro Sihvonen wins Race 1, one week after his third position on the podium in Trentino. Behind Sihvonen it was F&H Racing Team’s Ruben Fernandez and the Dutch rider Nick Kouwenberg.
Alongside the EMX250 race 1, we had the first gate drop of the European Championship EMX125 Presented by FMF Racing. After the field was narrowed down from 85 entries, the 40 fastest 125CC 2t racers in Europe battled for 25 minutes and 2 laps. IceOne Racing Husqvarna’s Mikkel Haarup took the lead on lap 3 and never looked back winning race 1 followed by the battle for second between Tim Edberg and BUD Racing Monster Energy’s Brian Strubhart Moreau.
It was smooth sailing for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli today when he grabbed the Holeshot, lead every lap, and finished 12.6 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Cairoli looked well prepared and most of all smooth on the way to his qualifying win, only one week after the comeback of ages. In the press conference Cairoli said, “I like this kind of Valkenswaard, it’s very technical. Last weekend was a good race and it went well for me. It is great for the future motocross to have such hype in the media, it doesn’t matter if it was me or someone else.”
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek is no stranger to soft soil and it showed, the Belgian was on a mission in qualifying race today, taking no prisoners, while making passes left and right on his way to second place. Van Horebeek is looking fit and determined to make it on to the podium here in Valkenswaard.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin was another rider making passes, after starting in fifth he battled with several riders before landing the third gate pick for Sunday’s racing.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings tied his best result of the season so far with a 4th place in qualifying session. Not only is Herlings literally home in Valkenswaard, his form looks at home too. After a risky gate choice, the far inside, didn’t pay off for him, he came from back in 8th to 4th. The Dutch native has never lost here and with good starts tomorrow he is contention to keep it that way this weekend. Herlings in the press conference said, “There is a lot of good guys and a lot of potential in this class, everything needs to be 100%. I’m very surprised actually in both classes how everyone is on the same level and how fast things go. It’s been a lot of years back that I think the competition was so strong and in each time practice everyone is so close, there are many potential winners. I think it’s great for our sport but it’s hard for us riders, every detail counts!”
Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle has the starts down seeing he was right up front from the beginning of qualifying, something he has done many times this year. Desalle started in 2nd and he stayed there until lap 6 where he was passed by Van Horebeek, afterward he also lost spots to Paulin and Herlings. If the Belgian can step up his pace in the second half of the races he could battle for the win here on the sandy surface.
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser is a rider whose name often comes up when talking of which rider want to pass, the thing is very few seem to do so, unfortunately for him today a few did. After a good start Gajser struggled and would drop from 3rd to 7th before finishing in 6th. Perhaps Gajser was less concerned with the gate pick this weekend as it is uncommon for him to fade in race. Either way, you can count on the #243 to drop the hammer when it counts, don’t be swayed by his unfitting result in qualifying race as he will almost certainly be in the battle for the podium tomorrow.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff only lives 20 minutes from Valkenswaard track making this truly a home GP. In today’s qualifying Coldenhoff rode well from 9th on lap one, he worked his way up to 7th before a mistake by Bobryshev took them both down. Coldenhoff qualified 10th but looks to place higher in the points counting races of Sunday. The Dutch rider said in the press conference, “It’s always great to race here, I’m feeling really good this year and I must say that I feel much better than the years before. My starts are very good lately and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, I’m really motivated!
MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 25:05.071; 2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:12.637; 3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:18.723; 4. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:26.515; 5. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:28.163; 6. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:29.398; 7. Shaun Simpson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:31.629; 8. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Suzuki), +0:32.296; 9. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:46.199; 10. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:48.128.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass was the best of the MX2 riders in today’s qualifying race. Jonass crossed the Fox holeshot line in second and made it passed Julien Lieber on lap 2 for the lead. Jonass has mentioned his sand training recently appears to be working, he stayed in the lead all the way till the checkered flag and made his way through lapped riders better than anyone else. In the qualifying press conference Jonass said, “I got into the lead and controlled the race. We can still improve for tomorrow and I think we will be much better, I look forward to it”.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen was the main challenger to Jonass today, Olsen was nipping at the #41’s back tire throughout the race. If Olsen can get the Holeshot and ride consistent tomorrow he has the necessary speed to win.
LRT KTM’s Julien Lieber lead lap one of qualifying but as he was trying to gap the competition, he made a mistake and lost his spot to Jonass. Lieber’s error seemed to cause him to momentarily loose his focus as he was passed by Olsen the following lap. Lieber did have a resurgence later in the race but in the end he stayed in 3rd.
Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Vsevolod Brylyakov came into the day by putting in the fastest lap of Free Practice. The Russian followed it up by placing 4th in qualifying, his 4th gate pick is the best he’s had all season and seeing how comfortable he looks on the Valkenswaard circuit we may see his first podium this season.
Husqvarna Maurer-gép Racing Team’s Brian Hsu had the fastest lap in qualifying today with a 1:47.788 and it help propelled him to a 5th place finish today. The German looks good on the bike and with the top 5 qualifying result to match now he looks to do the same tomorrow.
For HRC MX2’s Lars Van Berkel this is not only a home GP but as a fill in rider for the HRC MX2 squad it the chance of a lifetime. Van Berkel impressed today, after only riding the bike twice before, with an 11th place. In the qualifying press conference he said, “It’s a very cool opportunity, I’ve ridden the bike twice this week and felt at home from the second corner, everything is really good, the bike is really good, the team is very professional, and it’s my home GP. I hope to have a better start tomorrow and we will see what happens from there.”
Riding for Team Ausio Yamaha in her MX2 debut this weekend is Kiara Fontanesi, she finished 39th in qualifying and in the press conference said, “I’m really happy about the opportunity I have, it’s really nice and it’s been my dream to one day race MX2. I really enjoy riding on the sand here and I can gain a lot of experience. I gained a lot of experience already today and will get more tomorrow. I think it was a good decision, it’s helping me to grow mentally and on the bike.”
Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer struggled today to say the least, after starting 8th he fell and found himself in 35th on lap 3. The Swiss rider didn’t give into to the misfortune though, he fought throughout the race eventually found his way up to 19th.
MX2 Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 25:27.062; 2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:00.944; 3. Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), +0:01.734; 4. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, Kawasaki), +0:12.005; 5. Brian Hsu (GER, Husqvarna), +0:17.556; 6. Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:27.509; 7. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:30.093; 8. Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:30.422; 9. Conrad Mewse (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:32.812; 10. Ben Watson (GBR, KTM), +0:33.216.