The FIM Motocross World Championship’s best riders returned to challenging Loket, Czech Republic circuit today for the first of the 2 day MXGP of Czech Republic. The two Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders who lead the championship points, Antonio Cairoli in MXGP and Pauls Jonass in MX2, claimed todays qualifying race wins.
In addition to MXGP and MX2, EMX65, EMX85, and the FIM Women’s Motocross Championship took to the track. The first race of the 4th round of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship started out with Shana Van der Vlist leading the way but she quickly dropped positions to the heavy hitters and title contenders. In the end Courtney Duncan made a pass on Kiara Fontanesi only two corners before the finish to win. Following the top two with third was Nancy Van De Ven while Van der Vlist took 9th.
In the EMX65 two dutch youngsters, Ivano Van Erp and Damian Knuiman battled for the lead after the early race leader, Jaka Peklaj fell. Van Erp took the race win ahead of Knuiman and Mads Fredsoe Sorensen.
In EMX85 free/timed practice was taken by Eddie Wade with Noel Nilsson second and Jett Lawrence third. EMX85 race 1 was immediately cancelled after a red flag incident which resulted in the loss of the young Moldovian rider Igor Cuharciuc.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli started qualifying strong, nearly grabbing the holeshot but was just beat out by Team HRC’s Tim Gajser. With Gajser in the lead Cairoli latched on but was surprisingly passes by last years overall winner, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl.
While Cairoli and Nagl battled Gajser pulled a slight gap over the pair. Behind the top three was the other Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders, Glenn Coldenhoff and Jeffrey Herlings. Coldenhoff started the in 5th but moved into fourth after Suzuki World MXGP’s Arminas Jasikonis fell out of the position. Jasikonis would remount but only make it back to 18th.
Herlings didn’t have quite the start as Coldenhoff but made up for it with a late charge. Herlings managed to pass for three positions in the last three laps first on Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team’s Romain Febvre, then Rockstar Energy Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin, and finally Coldenhoff for 4th.
Back at the front Cairoli found a way around Nagl on lap 7 and quickly closed on Gajser. Gajser eventually left the door open and Cairoli took the lead on lap 9 which he would grow to over 5 second by the finish 5 laps later. Cairoli in the press conference said : “ Today was better than years before there were more berms and you could make some different lines. It’s nice to have a good start and it’s also really important on this track. We are starting to the look at the championship so it is really important to get good points and we know it is not always possible to win, but will try to take as many points as possible tomorrow.”
Team Suzuki World MXGP’s Kevin Strijbos is back in action after suffering some injuries recently. The injuries however didn’t show as he had a strong start and finished 10th. Strijbos in the press conference said: “It was not easy but I got a good start in the qualifying race, I was in 6th and ended in the top ten. I like the track every time I come here, hopefully I will have a good race and get in the top 10 or even the top 5 tomorrow.”
MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 25:12.952; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:05.438; 3. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:07.923; 4. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:09.109; 5. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:10.399; 6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:11.225; 7. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:15.774; 8. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:16.817; 9. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +0:25.360; 10. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:28.882
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass came across the finish line in first every one of the 13 laps. Jonass’ good start allowed him to focus and gap the competition by 11.5 seconds. Jonass in the qualifying press conference said, : “Last year I had a big crash here, but overall I enjoy this track, I like riding here. Feeling was good today, I just could ride my own lines and was able to try some new lines for passing tomorrow.
While Jonass led, his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Teammate Jorge Prado Garcia was right in tow and fending off the relentless Rockstar Energy Husqvar Factory Racing rider, Thomas Covington.
The American, Covington wasn’t alone either at first it was his fellow countryman, Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Darian Sanayei.
In his first race back since Ottobiano, Sanayei had a strong performance even after being passed by Kemea Yamaha Official MX Team’s Benoit Paturel.
Across the finish and past the checkered it was Prado who withstood the charges of Covington to finish 2nd followed by the American, Paturel, and Sanayei.
LRT KTM’s Julien Lieber was initially battling in the top three but made a mistake and went off track and he finished 15th.
The winner of the last 2 GPs, Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer suffered a bad start in outside the top 20, then made a mistake dropping him even further to 31st before coming back to finish in the 21st position.
MX2 Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 23:42.845; 2. Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), +0:11.512; 3. Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:13.182; 4. Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:21.032; 5. Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +0:26.198; 6. Conrad Mewse (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:27.791; 7. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:28.790; 8. Ben Watson (GBR, KTM), +0:33.166; 9. Bas Vaessen (NED, Suzuki), +0:37.872; 10. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, KTM), +0:40.596