Jasikonis and Covington Top Qualifying in Portugal
The MXGP of Portugal is off and running in Agueda after today’s racing. Team Suzuki World MXGP’s Arminas Jasikonis took his first win of any kind in the FIM Motocross World Championship today, qualifying pole in MXGP, while in MX2 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington took his 3rd qualifying race win of the season.
Aside from MXGP and MX2 the European Championship classes of Honda EMX150, EMX125 Presented by FMF Racing, and EMX250 were taking place too. In Honda European 150 Championship Andrea Adamo took his 3rd straight race win making him undefeated this season while Anton Nordström Graaf, and Luis Outeiro rounded out the podium. EMX125 Presented by FMF Racing was filled with battles but IceOne Husqvarna Racing’s Mikkel Haarup won his 3rd race in a row ahead of points leader and BUD Racing Monster Energy rider Brian Strubhart Moreau. The last race of the day was EMX250 Race 1, where BUD Racing Monster Energy Kawasaki Teammates Tristan Charboneau and Marshal Weltin went 1st and 3rd split by Team SM Action’s Simone Furlotti.
Team Suzuki World MXGP’s Arminas Jasikonis has been showing flashes of brilliance since Valkenswaard but today he was able to accomplish a Qualifying race win. The win marks the first in his career but also the first win for a Lithuanian in MXGP. Jasikonis moved into the lead on the opening lap and held it for the remainder of the race. In the press conference Jasikonis said: “The start wasn’t great but eventually on top of the hill I took the lead. My decision was to ride calm and not to make many mistakes, I found good lines and winning this qualifying was really amazing for me as it was the first ever. For tomorrow I wish to improve my start and then enjoying my riding”.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl was fast the entire qualifying race even putting in the races fastest lap time of 1:50.576 on his way to a second place finish. Nagl made a charge in the final stages of the race but Jasikonis responded eventually finishing 6 seconds ahead.
The fastest rider in MXGP’s time practice was Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre. Febvre started the qualifying outside the top 5 but he used his speed to get into it by the first official lap. From 4th he battled to third and then lose the position but on the last lap capitalized on another rider’s mistake. Finally finishing 3rd, Febvre is well set for a chance to win tomorrow.
Points leader and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli struggled after the start losing positions as he tried to find a rhythm on the slick surface. From 6th Cairoli got in a groove and started working his way forward eventually finding his way onto the back wheel of Nagl for second. In a last ditch effort Cairoli fell while trying to pass Nagl on the final lap, his mistake would cost him one position finishing 4th.
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser had a strong first three laps running 3rd but a mistake took him off track, quite literally, he lost 2 positions dropping to 5th which is also where he finished. Gajser qualifying race is good enough for the 5th gate pick Sunday on a start in which the inside gates are preferable.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings worked his way forward from a mid pack start to finish just outside the top five in 6th place.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Anstie came into qualifying confident after a 3rd overall at Lombardia, but finished 12th today. Anstie in the press conference said: “It’s a difficult track. I rode strong at the end and had a good battle at the end right to the finish, I would like to be battling further up tomorrow but it was a good race, a fun race, it doesn’t matter where you are your always in a good battle with someone.”
8Biano Racing Husqvarna’s Rui Goncalves qualified 20th at his home GP and in the press conference said: “It’s since 2013 I haven’t raced here and it’s pretty nice to be here riding at home. Today I tried to push hard and be in the front but it didn’t happen so for tomorrow I will need to find some good lines and a good rhythm.”
MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Suzuki), 24:04.032; 2. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:06.018; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:10.033; 4. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:11.122; 5. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:14.978; 6. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:20.141; 7. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:26.464; 8. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:31.059; 9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:32.402; 10. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:32.898.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington feels at home on the hard pack surface and it shows. The American moved into the lead early in qualifying and he didn’t look back. Covington takes pole for the second weekend in a row and the third time this season. In the press conference he said, “I felt really good today from the start of free practice. I had a good start just behind Jonass, he ended up making a mistake and I got by, after that I pushed and got a gap and then it was smooth sailing from there.”
MX2’s consistent points leader Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass put in yet another strong performance today. Jonass grabbed the holeshot and led the first few laps before a slight bobble let Covington by. Jonass will look to grab yet another Fox Holeshot tomorrow on a track where the start is crucial to a good result.
HSF Logistics Motorsport’ Brian Bogers was continually apply pressure to second place whether it was Covington or later Jonass. Bogers finished third and looked comfortable on the Agueda circuit for tomorrow looking to score his second podium of the season.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen is maintaining his seasons top five form, finishing 4th in today’s qualification TKO is a searching for another podium if not a win on red clay of Portugal.
Team Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer is the main threat to Jonass and his title hopes. The Swiss rider finished 5th today but is known to consistently out perform his qualifying result come Sunday.
HRC’s MX2 rider Anthony Rodriguez was in a five way battle for 7th throughout qualifying, swapping between 8th and 7th with Hitachi KTM UK’s Ben Watson, Rodriguez took 8th a welcomed improvement from his prior weekend’s last gate pick. Rodriguez in the press conference said: “This week I had some more preparation, I was already more focused and comfortable on the bike. Me and Watson had a crazy battle the whole race, and I thought it was pretty fun, I enjoyed it.”
MX2 Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), 24:17.202; 2. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:03.632; 3. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:05.109; 4. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:06.817; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:08.505; 6. Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), +0:28.202; 7. Ben Watson (GBR, KTM), +0:33.592; 8. Anthony Rodriguez (VEN, Honda), +0:35.389; 9. Alvin Östlund (SWE, Yamaha), +0:36.901; 10. Henry Jacobi (GER, Husqvarna), +0:37.443