MXGP’s 16th round of the year is underway after today’s Qualifying races in Frauenfeld-Gachnang, Switzerland for the 2018 MXGP of Switzerland presented by iXS. Taking patient and impressive qualifying wins were Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli and his younger MX2 teammate Jorge Prado.
The unique venue of the event boast amazing viewing for fans via massive grandstands. Today’s spectators were treated to some of the most interesting qualifying races of the year along with the European Championship racing of EMX125 presented by FMF Racing and EMX250. The penultimate round of the 125cc racing left the possibility for Yamaha Europe EMX125’s Thibault Benistant to take the title but only via double race wins. Benistant’s teammate Rick Elzinga returned from injury this weekend and gifted no team favors on his way to second while Benistant took 5th. Team VRT’s Tom Guyon came from 5th to take the win as Team Maddi Racing Husqvarna’s Mattia Gaudagnini and RD10’s Raivo Dankers took 3th and 4th respectively.
In EMX250 the race was first led by the round 1 winner from RedSand, BUD Racing Monster Energy’s Pierre Goupillon. Goupillon quickly lost the lead to Team DIGA-Procross’ Dylan Walsh. Walsh dealt with pressure from Honda RedMoto Assomotor’s Mathys Boisrame who fell and eventually finished 6th. Goupillon’s BUD Racing Monster Energy Teammate Brian Moreau took 2nd from his fellow Frenchman on lap 8. Walsh scored the win with Moreau, Goupillon, Boisrame, and Yamaha SM Action MC Migliori’s Maxime Renaux rounding out the top 5.
MXGP Qualifying heat was off to a wild start with Team HRC’s Tim Gajser and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings leading the pack through the first corner. By the exit of turn 2 however Herlings was down and picked his bike up in dead last position.
Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle took the second spot after the fall from Herlings leading Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Anstie, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli and home GP star from the Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP team, Jeremy Seewer.
Herlings, though in 37th off of the start, was already up to 20th by the end of the first official lap. Cairoli took 3rd from Anstie on lap 2 before closing on Desalle. Cairoli played the patient game and even though he struggled to find a way past at first, he eventually got past the Belgian on 8 then only took one more lap to pass Tim Gajser for the lead.
At that point Herlings just broke into the top ten with a pass on BOS GP’s Evgeny Bobryshev, continuing his moves forward the Bullet took 9th from BIKE IT DRT Kawasaki’s Tommy Searle before catching Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Jeremy Van Horebeek.
Van Horebeek’s Monster Energy Yamaha teammate Romain Febvre was in a battle with Seewer earlier but just after he passed the Swiss rider the #91 fell and dropped to 7th. Febvre continued to push forward even putting in the fastest lap of any rider in the race.
Gajser meanwhile was fading quickly and dropped from leading the race to 5th in a single lap. Febvre took full advantage and moved from 5th to 2nd in the next 3 laps. Herlings picked off a few more positions including 2 on the last lap from Seewer and Gajser.
At the finish it was a win from Antonio Cairoli with Romain Febvre 2nd, Clement Desalle 3rd, Max Anstie 4th, and his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Teammate Gautier Paulin 5th.
Antonio Cairoli: “My goal, for sure it is difficult, but it is to stay in the front and try to win as much as possible. The points gap is not that big and I knew that last race would be difficult in Lommel because Jeffrey is very fast on that kind of track but from now on I will try to stay closer and try to stay in front as much as possible. I will do everything I can to stay in front, I still have some races to go so I will see what happens.”
Jeremy Seewer: “It feels amazing to race at home, I’m living not far from here and for Switzerland this is a big event. I felt really good all day, I enjoyed it and had a lot of fun. I made a small mistake in the Qualifying race where I lost some positions but I was behind Tony before which was good and I enjoyed it.”
Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s Arnaud Tonus has begun riding again but took part in his home GP as a spectator saying: “I have been back on the bike the last few days which is good because I was off it for a while. It is home here and it is hard to come here and not be racing but I hope for some good racing tomorrow and that the fans enjoy it.”
MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 24:46.322; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:03.479; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:04.552; 4. Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:07.604; 5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:12.864; 6. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:14.678; 7. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:15.454; 8. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:15.592; 9. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:24.309; 10. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:29.298.
MX2 Qualifying race was off to a more typical start than that of MXGP with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado taking the Holeshot. Looking comfortable for the first time in many races was Honda 114 Motorsport’s Hunter Lawrence who was second with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington 3rd.
Covington’s teammate Thomas Kjer Olsen was 4th but under pressure from the other Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Pauls Jonass. By the end of the 3rd lap Jonass had taken 4th from Olsen as Covington continued to pressure Lawrence. The pressure didn’t seem to hinder Lawrence however who instead took advantage of a fall from Prado to get into the lead.
Prado’s fall only cost him the lead as he got up just ahead of Lawrence but didn’t have the momentum necessary to clear the next jump. Lawrence’s lead lasted for 3 laps before he made a mistake and seemingly stalled his bike losing both his momentum and the lead.
Kemea Yamaha Official MX2 Team’s Ben Watson took his Yamaha from 8th on the first lap up to 6th while his teammate Jago Geerts crashed out of the race and was helped off the track by medical personnel.
At the finish of the race it was Jorge Prado who took the win even after his fall with Hunter Lawrence 2nd, Thomas Covington 3rd, Pauls Jonass 4th, and Thomas Kjer Olsen in 5th.
Jorge Prado: “It was a good qualifying race, I had good start, made a small gap but then I made a small mistake and crashed so it took a bit to get back in my rhythm but then was able to put in some good laps.”
MX2 Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 25:00.079; 2. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Honda), +0:01.786; 3. Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:08.532; 4. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:14.127; 5. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:19.061; 6. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:25.074; 7. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Honda), +0:36.141; 8. Michele Cervellin (ITA, Yamaha), +0:44.114; 9. Stephen Rubini (FRA, KTM), +0:48.452; 10. Marshal Weltin (USA, Kawasaki), +0:52.015.