The MXGP of Latvia kicked off today in Kegums for the 7th round of the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship. The beautiful Kegums circuit is set among pine trees and soft sandy soil and it is where the #84 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen had the first victory of the weekend.
In addition the EMX250 Championship had the first race of the 3rd round in which Josiah Natzke led every lap and cruised to a comfortable race win. Finishing behind Natzke was the Italian Morgan Lesiardo and F&H Racing Team’s Ruben Fernandez.
To finish out the day we had the first race of the second round of the EMX125 Championship Presented by FMF Racing. With a massive list of entries two qualifying groups were narrowed to one full gate and BUD Racing Monster Energy’s Brian Strubhart Moreau was the fastest after he went by Gianluca Facchetti for the win on lap 6. Facchetti eventually finished 3rd behind Kevin Horgmo.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings scored his first MXGP Qualifying Race win today after lining up on the inside of the start getting himself into second on the first lap. Herlings was over 3 seconds off the leader Max Nagl for the majority of the race but came on strong during the final laps eventually making the pass for the win with one lap remaining. In the press conference Herlings stated: “It’s been a while since I’ve won, it feels very good to be up here again… It will help me out tomorrow because at this track it is key to get a good start. I’m just going for race wins now”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Maximilian Nagl had his best showing of the season today. The German rider grabbed the holeshot and led every lap until he was past on the last by Herlings. Nagl had some of the fastest laps and sector time of the day and he will certainly be a podium competitor in tomorrow’s racing.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek knows how to ride in the sand and for the second week in a row he is proving it qualifying 3rd. 5th on lap one Van Horebeek showed some impressive riding on his way past his competitors; he is a threat for the win this weekend without a doubt.
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser started 3rd and he was under pressure the entire race by one rider or another as the top 7 were all quite close. Gajser kept his composure and lost only one position to Van Horebeek, ending qualifying 4th.
The other Team HRC rider Evgeny Bobryshev stayed right in line with his teammate starting one spot back of Gajser and finishing 5th.
Team Suzuki World MXGP’s Arminas Jasikonis came into Latvia positive after scoring his best overall result at the prior GP in Valkenswaard. Jasikonis has kept the good performances coming with a 6th in the Qualifying Race. Jasikonis in the qualifying press conference said: “I like the Kegums track, it’s nice and it feels almost like a home GP even if its not my in home country it’s nice to race here. I’m not going to put pressure on myself, I’m just trying to get more and more experience.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli started qualifying on the back end of the top ten. Cairoli did however battle his way past Paulin and Jasikonis. On the next to last corner Cairoli tried to muscle his way by the Russian Evgeny Bobryshev but instead he fell, losing a position back to Jasikonis, he ended qualifying in 7th place.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin, the overall victor of the last GP, had a decent start and was 7th on lap one, however the Frenchman would this time drop 2 positions. After battling the first half of the race, the 9th place will leave Paulin looking for more.
Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jordi Tixier returned from injury today though still in some pain he managed to qualify in 15th place. Tixier was invited in the qualifying press conference today and he sais: “So far I’m just taking it easy. We just have to take things race by race and go from there. I’m really happy to be back racing.”
MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 24:13.369; 2. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:02.519; 3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:12.188; 4. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:14.811; 5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:18.903; 6. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Suzuki), +0:23.419; 7. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:24.546; 8. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:31.002; 9. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:32.197; 10. Shaun Simpson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:33.297
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen was the best of the MX2 class today, getting the best timing in practice and winning the qualifying race for the second time this season. Olsen showed patience as he started in third and progressed his way forward. Olsen in the press conference stated: “I’m really happy with this race, I took my time in the beginning and I felt really good on my bike. I felt like I was riding good, I was riding like myself and had no small mistakes this time. We are getting better and better in the qualifying races, now we just need to do the same in the races tomorrow.”
Thomas Covington positioned his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing machine right behind his teammate for second in an impressive effort coming from 6th on the first lap. Covington seems to be feeling good here in Latvia and as we saw in Leon when Covington is feeling good he is contender for the overall.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass is the local hero in Latvia as it is his home GP. Jonass was looking for a top five in qualifying and accomplished 3rd setting himself up well to win at home. Jonass in the press conference said: “I feels good to be back home, I haven’t been home in a long time so I spent some time with family this week. It’s nice to see the many Latvian flags in the crowd… I really enjoy the fans cheering me on!”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado Garcia grabbed the holeshot and then lead the first 7 laps. Prado battled for the lead and had a near fall and impressive save before dropping to 4th position. Prado will be focused on minimizing mistakes and riding smooth when the gate drops tomorrow.
HSF Logistics Motorsport’s Calvin Vlaanderen finished a rather uneventful 5th place by starting 7th and then capitalizing on the mistakes of others.
Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer was off to a promising start to the weekend as he battled for the qualifying race lead against Prado. Seewer did eventually find his way by Prado but only a few seconds later he went down and dropped a handful of positions. Another error hindered him once again and in the end he finished 8th.
LRT KTM’s Julien Lieber will try to focus on anything but his 24th place finish in qualifying which was a result of a fall.
MX2 Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), 24:21.659; 2. Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:04.022; 3. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:05.997; 4. Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), +0:12.038; 5. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, KTM), +0:12.958; 6. Brian Hsu (GER, Husqvarna), +0:17.859; 7. Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +0:24.910; 8. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:25.952; 9. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +0:34.097; 10. Henry Jacobi (GER, Husqvarna), +0:36.807