MXGP has set sail for Spain as the 3rd round of the 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship moves from the cool climate of the Valkenswaard to the warmth of Red Sand. The MXGP of La Comunitat Valenciana will be the first ever MXGP to take place at Spain’s Red Sand MX & Enduro Track, a facility that is a training favorite for many MXGP and MX2 teams situated in Valencia Region. Last time the FIM Motocross World Championship was set to take place in Spain it was back in 2016 at the circuit of Talavera de la Reina.
The new stop on the calendar will also host the first round of the European Motocross Championship’s EMX250 series along with the second round of EMX300 Presented by FMF Racing. The weekend will be full of action with 92 riders entered into the EMX250 class, 39 in EMX300 presented by FMF Racing, and 79 between the two premier classes of MXGP and MX2 including MXGP and MX2 Red Plate holders Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings and Pauls Jonass.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings has 2 overall wins in 2 races during 2018 but teammate and reigning MXGP Champion Antonio Cairoli has been right alongside. This weekend we may very well see another great battle between the front two although Herlings may have the slight advantage as he has trained on the sandy circuit while for Cairoli it will be a new experience.
One rider for the pair to watch out for is Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Jeremy Van Horebeek who had impressive speed in both Argentina and last week before a crash ended his weekend finishing 10th overall.
Van Horebeek’s Monster Energy Yamaha MXGP teammate Romain Febvre has been consistent so far with two top 5 finishes. In a season that has started much better than last one, Febvre will be shooting for a podium come Sunday.
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser, who was the winner of the 2016 edition of the MXGP of Spain, will compete in his second race back from injury after he showed impressive speed after a month off in Valkenswaard along with pure grit following two crashes finishing 9th and 13th for 9th overall.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin appears determined to battle with the likes of Herlings and Cairoli after his first podium at the MXGP of Europe. While Paulin along with many others struggled not to make mistakes at the trying Valkenswaard circuit, he will need to find a faster pace if he wants to contend for the win.
Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle is another rider who has been consistent and currently sits third in the points. Desalle has yet to find the podium but with his speed and ability to have consecutively strong finishes it is not a matter of if but when and the Belgian could very make it happen this Sunday.
Last but not least Marchetti Racing Team KTM’s Jose Butron will join 920 Fly Group’s Ander Valentin as the only MXGP riders to call La Comunitat Valenciana a home GP.
MXGP Championship Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 97 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 91 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 67 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 65 p.; 5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 64 p.; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 55 p.; 7. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 54 p.; 8. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 45 p.; 9. Shaun Simpson (GBR, YAM), 39 p.; 10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 38 p.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass has won every points paying race so far this year and led every lap after double holeshots at the MXGP of Europe last weekend. With 100 points to his name he already has an 18 point lead in the standings after just 2 rounds.
The young Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate of Jonass, Jorge Prado, challenged the #41 last week and only finished 3 tenths of a second after Jonass in Race 2. Prado would like nothing more to win at Red Sand and will definitely have the fans on his side this weekend in what will be his first ever home GP.
Second in the MX2 standing after two consistent weekends of racing with a second in Patagonia and a 3rd in Europe is Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen. Olsen has one GP win to his name but it came last year on a similar surface, the sand of Latvia’s Kegums circuit.
Honda 114 Motorsports’ Hunter Lawrence had an impressive season opener but struggled to find the speed necessary to compete for a podium or even a top five last week. Lawrence remains a rider highly capable of the win in Spain but it will be interesting to see how performs after last weekend’s subpar finish.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington admitted to struggles at the start of the season but managed to put together a strong qualifying race at Valkenswaard only days ago. Covington’s and his team have trained and tested at the Redsand circuit over the winter and may surprise again when the gate drops.
Others to watch out for are the pair of Kemea Yamaha Official MX Team riders, Ben Watson and Jago Geerts, both had strong result so far this year for Watson a 4th in Argentina and Geerts took 4th in race 1 at Valkenswaard.
The Spanish Delegation in MX2 is more than attractive with 3 other Spaniards joining Jorge Prado in their home GP, F&H Racing Team’s Ruben Fernandez, Husqvarna 8Ottobiano Motorsport’s Iker Larranaga, and Team Ausio Yamaha Yamalube Maxxis’ Jorge Zaragoza.
MX2 Championship Top Ten: 1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 100 points; 2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 82 p.; 3. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, HON), 67 p.; 4. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 63 p.; 5. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 61 p.; 6. Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), 51 p.; 7. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 46 p.; 8. Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 44 p.; 9. Jed Beaton (AUS, KAW), 44 p.; 10. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, YAM), 42 p.
Saturday: EMX300 Free/Time practice 09:00; EMX250 Group 1 Free/Time Practice 09:45; EMX250 Group 2 Free/Time Practice 10:30; MX2 Free Practice 11:30; MXGP Free Practice 12:00; EMX250 Last Chance Qualifying Race 13:00; MX2 Time Practice 14:00; MXGP Time Practice 14:40; EMX300 Race 1 15:25; MX2 Qualifying Race 16:25; MXGP Qualifying Race 17:10; EMX250 Race 1 17:55.
Sunday: EMX300 Race 2 09:45; MX2 Warm up 10:25; MXGP Warm up 10:45; EMX250 Race 2 11:30; MX2 Race 1 13:15; MXGP Race 1 14:15; MX2 Race 2 16:10; MXGP Race 2 17:10.