The Qualifying races have concluded at Valkenswaard and with it the first day of actions for the MXGP of the Netherlands.
In MXGP, it was the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider, Arminas Jasikonis, who was victorious in the qualifying race, following an impressive performance that saw him battle with Red Bull KTM Factory rider, Jeffrey Herlings. Meanwhile in MX2, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2’s Jago Geerts continued his winning momentum from Matterley Basin, going on to win the MX2 qualifying race here in Valkenswaard.
Also joining the MXGP and MX2 riders in the deep sand of Valkenswaard was the supporting EMX250 and WMX classes. In EMX250 it was Bastian Boegh Damm of W-Z Racing who was dominant from start to finish, leading every lap of the opening European race. Following a flying start, the Dane rode comfortably in first, crossing the line with a 22.743 second lead over Isak Gifting who finished second. It was Jorgen-Matthias Talviku who was in second for the majority of the race, until lap 9 when Gifting made a move on the Estonian, pushing him down to 3rd where he finished. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider Kay de Wolf finished 4th, ahead of Lion Florian.
Also lining up in the European 250cc class was the EMX125 Presented by FMF Racing series leader, Liam Everts of Liamski KTM, who finished 7th in the group.
The Women’s Motocross World Championship race one saw a new winner, as Kiara Fontanesi rode her way to first position around the rough sand of Valkenswaard. A good start and a strong ride secured Fontanesi her first victory of the season. Close behind, 0.912 seconds to be exact, was home rider Nancy Van De Ven who tried her best to put on a great performance for her home fans, finishing in second, while Larissa Papenmeier followed in third position.
As the first EMX250 and WMX races concluded then it was time for the world championship riders to line-up for their qualifying races of the weekend.
In MXGP qualifying race it was the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP pilot Gautier Paulin with a flying start out of the gate, closely followed by Team HRC’s Tim Gajser and Red Bull KTM Factory rider Jorge Prado. Gajser made a quick pass on Paulin, moving into the lead a few moments later.
As Gajser led the way on the opening laps, Prado was in second after passing Paulin and battling with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider Pauls Jonass, who was being chased down by his team-mate Arminas Jasikonis.
By lap two, the racing in the top 6 was extremely close, with Herlings losing two positions to the two Husqvarna factory riders, Jonass and Jasikonis, meaning that there was no room to relax. But it wasn’t long before the Dutch rider reacted, passing both riders back and setting his sights on higher positions, with Prado and Paulin ahead.
On lap 6, disaster struck Honda’s Tim Gajser who was forced out of the race due to an electrical issue, meaning that he would have to line-up last on the gate for tomorrow’s races. This allowed the MXGP rookie Jorge Prado to take the lead, with Herlings on his tail pushing for the race win. Meanwhile Jasikonis was already moving quick, moving past his team-mate Jonass and then Paulin, to go after Herlings and Prado.
With the end of the race nearing, Herlings put a charge on for Prado, with both riders pushing each other to the limits on the pit-lane straight, but it was Herlings who came out on top. Sensing a good opportunity, Jasikonis moved swiftly to pass the Spaniard and follow Herlings in front.
With four laps to go the battle for the win was on, as just 1.407 seconds separated both riders. But Jasikonis was absolutely flying and it was clear that he was on a mission, passing Herlings just a lap later and becoming the new race leader.
In the end it was Jasikonis who secured his first qualifying race of the 2020 MXGP season, followed by Herlings in 2nd and Prado crossing the line 3rd. Jonass finished the race in a strong 4th, while Shaun Simpson of SS24 KTM MXGP had an impressive ride to finish 5th. Home rider, Glenn Coldenhoff of Standing Construct GasGas Factory MXGP finished 6th ready to battle for his first podium in Valkenswaard during tomorrow’s races.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory’s Arminas Jasikonis: “It’s been a long time since my last qualifying race win back in 2017, it’s just my second one but I’m really happy to see the hard work paying off already. It was a really fun race, it’s been a big mix up with some good battles, overall the track is not the easiest of the season and it’s quite rough, so it’s easy to make mistakes but I managed to ride quite good so I’m happy about that and let’s see how we do tomorrow”.
Red Bull KTM Factory, Jeffrey Herlings: “Arminas was really fast. Also this morning in time practice I had to make a few attempts to get to the pole position and then into the race straight, because in the morning I didn’t really warm up too good and by qualifying I just got arm-pump straight away in the second lap, I think maybe my suspension was a bit too hard, so overnight we will make some changes and tomorrow will be a bit better. It was good to get second and I’m happy about my riding, but I’ve got to be honest AJ [Arminas Jasikonis] was faster”
“Tomorrow we go for 9 wins here in Valkenswaard, that’s our goal but the other 39 riders next to me will be with the same goals so it will be difficult but hopefully it’s going to be a good day”.
Standing Construct GasGas Factory MXGP, Glenn Coldenhoff: “It’s a shame because in 2018 I had the same points as the third and that’s definitely disappointing as I’ve never reached the Podium here, I want to change that around this weekend and get a podium, I felt good out there but I got out of balance and my start wasn’t good, I think I had to start from like 15th place and managed to come back to 5th and in the last lap had a small issue with Pauls Jonass, I went down and lost a position but in the end I finished 6th, it’s good for the races, I felt good, I felt strong so I’m looking forward to tomorrow”
MXGP Qualifying Race – Top 10 Classification: 1. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Husqvarna), 24:57.401; 2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:01.155; 3. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:18.997; 4. Pauls Jonass (LAT, Husqvarna), +0:20.402; 5. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:25.324; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, GASGAS), +0:30.564; 7. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:32.631; 8. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Honda), +0:36.289; 9. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:40.917; 10. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:46.861.
MX2 qualifying race saw Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2’s Jago Geerts out in front, as he got a fantastic start and led the way from early in the race. Out of the start he was closely followed by F&H Kawasaki Racing’s Roan Van de Moosdijk, Red Bull KTM Factory rider Tom Vialle and Hitachi fuelled by Milwaukee rider Bas Vaessen.
Van de Moosdijk came under pressure early in the race, with a mistake from the Kawasaki rider allowing Vaessen to move through into 3rd. As Geerts continued to lead, with Vialle on his tail, the two had already made a run for it, gapping the Vaessen and Moosdijk.
Team Maddii Racing Husqvarna rider Alberto Forato had an unlucky race as he crashed out of 12th and would not re-join the race.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory MX2 rider Jed Beaton was on a charge, as he passed Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Rene Hofer and then Van de Moosdijk to move into 4th place. Unfortunately, just a few laps later the Australian crashed, dropping down to 7th place, where he would also finish the race. His team-mate Thomas Kjer Olsen also didn’t have the best of luck, as he crashed out of 8th place and did not carry on with the qualifying race.
Meanwhile Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 rider Ben Watson was making his way through the field following a mid-field start as he passed F&H Kawasaki Racing’s Mikkel Haarup for 9th place, ahead of BUD Racing Team’s Mitchell Harrison and F&H Racing’s Mathys Boisrame.
With 3 laps to go, Hofer moved past Van de Moosdijk to secure P4 in the race. But in the end it was Geerts who took the his first qualifying race win of the season, finishing an impressive 14.408 seconds ahead of Vialle and Vaessen who rode strong to P3. Hofer followed in 4th after making a pass on Van de Moosdijk with a few laps to go.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2’s Jago Geerts: “I felt good on track all day and in the qualifying I got the holeshot. I rode a solid race for the whole thing and I won the qualifying, it’s my first qualifying heat win and I’m really happy with that and really looking forward to battle tomorrow. I just want to do good tomorrow, a couple of good starts and we’ll see, I just want to ride good and hopefully we end up on the podium again”.
F&H Kawasaki Racing, Roan Van de Moosdijk: “Last week it was quite tough, I didn’t have the feeling on the track all day but it’s my first full season, so I want to keep improving each weekend. Last weekend I was 8thand now I was 5th in the qualifying race so I just go race by race and give it all. I didn’t race here [Valkenswaard] for 4 or 5 years so it’s nice to be back and of course podium will be great tomorrow, but I will be happy with top 5”.
MX2 Qualifying Race – Top 10 Classification: 1. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), 25:01.872; 2. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), +0:14.408; 3. Bas Vaessen (NED, KTM), +0:18.592; 4. Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), +0:25.977; 5. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, Kawasaki), +0:28.003; 6. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:28.979; 7. Jed Beaton (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:34.953; 8. Alvin Östlund (SWE, Honda), +0:50.818; 9. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, Kawasaki), +0:59.728; 10. Mitchell Harrison (USA, Kawasaki), +1:18.975;