Antonio Cairoli wins the Valencia MXGP & red plate
Pauls Jonass continues dominant MX2 title defense
Lawrence fifth, Beaton seventh overall in MX2
The 2018 RedSand MXGP in Valenciana became one for the record books, as it saw the first MXGP event on the vibrant soil, while a weekend of epic racing saw Tony Cairoli and Pauls Jonass dominate the proceedings for KTM. Cairoli took his first overall win of the season, as well as the red plate, while Jonass continued his title defense.
MXGP – Race 1
At the drop of the gate for MXGP’s Race 1 the thousands of fans in attendance were on their feet from the grand stands. Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Romain Febvre ignited the Fox Holeshot flames as he charged through the first corner.
Just behind the former MXGP Champion from France was Italy’s Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli. Monster Energy Kawasaki Factory Racing’s Clement Desalle followed Team HRC’s Tim Gajser on the first lap but on lap 2 Desalle took third away.
However it wasn’t just Desalle taking advantage as Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s Jeremy Seewer and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings also took positions from the Slovenian on lap 2.
For seven laps Febvre led the field of MXGP riders until Cairoli finally made a move for the lead. Meanwhile Jeffrey Herlings had found his way into 4th past Seewer and only 1 lap after Cairoli took the lead, Herlings took 3rd from Desalle.
The second half of the race Herlings was in full attack mode even gaining 2 seconds on both Cairoli and Febvre in a single lap. It wasn’t until lap 14 of 18 that Herlings found a way past Febvre. Taking the win was Cairoli as Herlings finished 4.6 seconds later followed by Febvre and Desalle.
A few positions back Gajser passed Seewer along with Lieber in what was a 3 way battle for 5th. At the finish Lieber took the final spot in the top five while Seewer finished 6th and Gajser 8th, who crashed on the final lap, split by Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin.
Race 2 started with a FOX Holeshot from Cairoli but Paulin took the lead from the race 1 winner before the end of the first official lap. Desalle was off to another good start in 3rd along with Gajser in 4th.
The #84 of Herlings was left picking up his bike after falling on the opening lap. At the conclusion of the first complete lap Herlings was in 9th position behind Marchetti Racing Team KTM’s Jose Butron. By lap 4 Herlings made his way past Butron, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Jeremy Van Horebeek, his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Teammate Glenn Coldenhoff, and Tim Gajser.
One lap later Cairoli reclaimed the lead from Paulin while Desalle and Febvre had a massive bar banging battle for 3rd. Febvre at one point made a pass on Desalle but an immediate retaliation from the Belgian pushed Febvre into the grasp of Herlings.
Herlings passed Febvre on lap 7 and Desalle on the following, five laps later Paulin was also moved back by the “Bullet”. In the final 6 laps Herlings tried to close on Cairoli but just as in race 1 it was too little too late. Cairoli took the win 1.8 second ahead of Herlings while Paulin was another 21.6 second behind in third.
The overall win clearly went to Cairoli with his 1-1 finishes ahead of Herlings 2-2 and Desalle’s 4-4. Cairoli assumes the red plate from Herlings, though both are tied in race wins and points Cairoli has an upper hand with the most recent race win to his name.
“I’m really happy about the weekend. We made some changes to the bike for improvement and I was very pleased to get back from a bad start to second on the first lap of the first moto. I struggled a bit to pass Romain. I had the better speed but took a while to make it happen. It was good to win. A holeshot in the second moto and Paulin was aggressive and with a good rhythm but I could pass him and control the situation. I knew Jeffrey was coming back strong but we could respond with some good lap-times. Everything went well and I’m really happy to win here in Spain. It is my 84th win; it’s really nice and the season is going good. I’m happy to fight with Jeffrey and the other guys. The red plate doesn’t matter too much at the moment. It is about trying to improve and we are trying different things but we have a good set-up.”
“It wasn’t a good weekend and I came to this track aiming to win but I messed up both starts; the second one wasn’t too bad but I crashed on the first lap and had to come back from somewhere around fifteenth and was still able to fight my way up to Tony. The bike we have is really solid but we might have some new parts to try for the starts and hopefully we can improve with that. Once the starts are better – and I also need to look at what I am doing on the bike – then we’ll be able to put ourselves in a much better position. The competition is strong here and it is tough to come through the pack; every weekend has been like this and I either barely make it or run out of time. I have a great team behind me and we’ll be working on it in the coming weeks.”
“It’s positive to get this podium, as yesterday the feeling was not so good. We changed our strategy for today and that helped me a lot, especially for the starts; if you don’t get a good start it’s difficult to get a good result as the class is really competitive. I’m happy as I got a good start in race one and I was fighting all race to finish in fourth place; my second start was not quite so good but I had a good feeling and made many strong passes during the first two laps to come back to third. I again finished fourth; I had a strong battle with Febvre for most of the race but he couldn’t pass me and it’s good to have a second podium since the beginning of the season. Now we will continue to work hard; third is good but my goal is to win.”
Gautier Paulin enjoyed a highly positive weekend at the GP of La Comunitat Valenciana. Securing third in the qualifying race, Gautier’s highlight of the weekend was the early stages of the second moto. Making a smart move on Tony Cairoli before the end of lap one, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider found himself leading the race for the first five laps. Collecting 7/3 results, the Frenchman placed fifth overall.
“Overall, I am pretty happy with how things went at this GP. The team have been doing an awesome job with the development of my FC 450 and it all pays off at the races. In the opening moto I got a good start and was battling for the top three but a crash dropped me further back. I got up pretty quick and managed to put myself back into the top five, but after a second small crash I finished the race in seventh place. My second moto was a lot better and it felt great to lead for the first few laps. If it wasn’t for my crashes in the opening moto, the overall podium was well within our reach this weekend.”
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 34:52.260
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:04.693
Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:12.061
Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:14.076
Julien Lieber (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:25.080
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:26.294
Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:35.890
Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:41.653
Maximilian Nagl (GER, TM), +0:47.206
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:53.029
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 34:23.638
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:01.830
Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:23.498
Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:28.612
Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:29.971
Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:43.888
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:48.158
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:50.046
Julien Lieber (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:57.229
Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Honda), +1:15.708
MXGP Overall Top Ten
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 50 points
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 44
Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 36
Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 36
Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 34
Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 28
Julien Lieber (BEL, KAW), 28
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 24
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 24
Maximilian Nagl (GER, TM), 22
MXGP Championship Top Ten
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 141 points
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 141
Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 103
Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 101
Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 98
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 79
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 78
Maximilian Nagl (GER, TM), 60
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 59
Julien Lieber (BEL, KAW), 54
While the MXGP class is full of biggest stars in World Motocross the local fans were cheering the loudest during the MX2 class. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Pauls Jonass was the winner but his young teammate from Spain, Jorge Prado, was the focus of the fans.
Race 1 started with a FOX Holeshot from STC Racing Husqvarna’s Henry Jacobi who barely surpassed Hitachi KTM UK’s Conrad Mewse to the chalk. Right behind the pair was Jonass who quickly took over the lead.
Prado had a good start as well in 4th after the first lap just ahead of Honda 114 Motorsport’s Hunter Lawrence. TM Factory Racing’s Samuele Bernardini passed Lawrence for 5th on lap 2 and 2 laps later both himself and Lawrence overtook Jacobi.
Lawrence also moved into 4th ahead of Bernardini in the process. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen was next to take a spot from the TM rider and five laps later Olsen would do the same to Lawrence.
With Olsen pressuring Prado both the Spaniard and Dane found the speed to pass Mewse for second only two laps before the finish. At the line Jonass won with Prado, Olsen, Mewse, and Lawrence rounding out the top 5.
Race 2 started with a Fox Holeshot from the local superstar but again Jonass took the lead nearly instantly. Olsen had a much improved start for race 2 and also passed Prado before the first lap was complete.
Bike IT DRT Kawasaki’s Darian Sanayei was fast all weekend and after coming from 13th to finish 6th in race 1 the American started race 2 in 4th after lap 1 with Lawrence behind him.
In the 8 laps of race 2 the top seven remained the same but on lap 9 a mistake from Olsen and pass from Sanayei on Prado put Sanayei second and Olsen 5th with Prado and Lawrence between them.
After 3 more laps Olsen had refocused and passed Lawrence for 4th. In the remaining 7 laps again no position changes occurred in the top 6 but Sanayei made several attempts at the lead.
At the finish Jonass won his 6th race of 6 this year for his 3rd overall victory, with Sanayei, Prado, Olsen, and Lawrence finishing the top 5. In the overall standings Jonass scored the perfect 50 points ahead of Prado with 42 and Olsen with 38 for his 3rd podium of 2018.
“It is nice to start the season with six wins from six motos but motocross is never easy! Many people at home have been saying ‘that looked like an easy race for you…’ but every moto is difficult. You need to stay focussed. This weekend was not easy because Jorge was there in the first moto all the time and in the second Darian, Jorge and Thomas were close! I tried not to make any big mistakes and stayed calm to control the race. I enjoyed the track today.”
“It was a good weekend and I am happy with my second place. The first moto was good, the second I struggled a bit but we’ve been working hard so I’m pleased. For sure everybody wants to win here and Pauls is difficult to beat! Lately he has been riding even better than usual. So we’ll keep trying!”
Bouncing back from a mediocre race one start, Kjer-Olsen continue pushing hard to wrap up the opening MX2 moto in third position. Despite suffering a fall while battling for the lead in moto two, the young Dane claimed a fourth-place result to end a positive weekend in Spain by securing his third podium result of the series.
“There are lots of positives to take from this GP and I’m happy with the progress we’ve made. I felt good all weekend here in Spain. I didn’t get the best of starts in the opening moto and this made everything harder for me. Fortunately, my start was a lot better in moto two and I could really show my speed. I am a little bit disappointed I went down while I was running second. I was in a very good position to push Jonass for the lead. Overall, my speed was really good this weekend and my fitness as well. We continue working hard and I’m looking forward to the following round in Italy now.”
Team Honda 114 Motorsports’ Hunter Lawrence took fifth overall, after two fifth place moto results on a track that didn’t really favour the Australian. He sits in fourth place in the championship as the series now has a weekend off before the MXGP of Trentino.
“I was feeling a bit better than at Valkenswaard despite the track being so fast and wide open. It seems to be a bit of a weakness of mine, these type of tracks, but after struggling in timed qualifying we made some improvements and I thought were much better for the races. I don’t think I’m back to 100% yet and I’m still lacking those explosive bursts that I need to challenge the top guys but I’ll keep working and the next round in Italy should be good.”
Jed Beaton of F&H Racing put a second Kawasaki in the first seven overall after two solid races to eighth and sixth; the Australian holds seventh in the championship. His teammates Adam Sterry and Ruben Fernandez also each scored championship points in each moto, the Englishman taking a first race tenth on his way to eleventh overall while the young Spaniard was twelfth in race two to finish fifteenth on the day.
“The weekend started pretty slow on Saturday but I enjoyed racing the long motos. I didn’t really get great start which didn’t help me but all in all it was a decent weekend. I never gave up and charged hard during the first few laps each time to come back into the leading group; it was pretty easy to pass during the first couple of laps when everyone was close together, but later there was mainly one good line and that make it difficult to make more passes. I’m happy to finish once more in the top ten; that’s my goal and we’ll keep on working to be closer to the top five.”
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