Jorge Prado claims the MX2 win – Mitch Evans third
The 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship kicked off at the MXGP of Patagonia-Argentina over the weekend, marking the fifth running at this location, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing claiming top honours across both MXGP and MX2 classes thanks to the efforts of Antonio Cairoli and Jorge Prado, who each won both of their races.
20-year-old Mitchell Evans from Far North Queensland in Australia also put in an extremely strong showing to the season, claiming third overall in the MX2 class thanks to a fifth place finish in Race 1 and claiming the final podium spot in Race 2. New Zealands Dylan Walsh also claimed a 13-18 result, netting 11 championship points to sit 15th in the standings.
When the time came to line up for the Qualifying Race Romain Febvre was first on the grid with the top time but when the gate dropped, he found himself in fifth. Meanwhile Tim Gajser was in the early lead followed by Julien Lieber.
When it came to the fnish line, Romain Febvre took an impressive win considering his last MXGP event was the MXGP of Turkey last season. The top five spots where filled out by the three Belgians of Julien Lieber, Jeremy Van Horebeek, and Clement Desalle, along with Brit, Max Anstie.
MXGP of Patagonia – Qualifying Top Ten
Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), 24:21.194
Julien Lieber (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:04.306
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Honda), +0:06.536
Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:10.377
Max Anstie (GBR, KTM), +0:13.962
MXGP Race 1
Antonio Cairoli was the favourite for the first MXGP round of 2019 but it wasn’t an easy weekend by any means for the nine-time champion. Saturday’s Qualifying races left the #222 on the far outside gate after not finishing due to a bike issue yesterday.
When the racing kicked off Cairoli’s KTM was back better than ever, but Julien Lieber took the Fox Holeshot. The lead for Lieber was short-lived as Cairoli took over on the first official lap.
Romain Febvre, who came into the race as the qualifying winner, was into second position by the end of the first lap leaving Lieber to fight for position with his teammate Clement Desalle and Tim Gajser. The pair also dispatched #33 pushing him to fifth.
During the next three laps Lieber dropped two more spots, first to Gautier Paulin and next to fellow Belgian Jeremy Van Horebeek on his Honda.
Tim Gajser was the rider on the move in race one though as he passed Desalle for second then reeled in Febvre and took second. With five laps remaining Cairoli was long gone in the lead but Gajser keep pushing to open a gap over Febvre.
The race win went to Cairoli in a dominating performance with Gajser, Febvre, Desalle, and Paulin rounding out the top five. Arminas Jasikonis and Pauls Jonass battled throughout the late stages of the race after both made it by Jeremy Seewer. Jasikonis eventually came out ahead of Jonass as the pair finished eighth and ninth and Seewer took the final spot in the top ten.
MXGP Round 1, 2019 – Race 1
Cairoli, Antonio ITA KTM 34:41.270
Gajser, Tim SLO Honda +0:06.253
Febvre, Romain FRA Yamaha +0:09.838
Desalle, Clement BEL Kawasaki +0:11.464
Paulin, Gautier FRA Yamaha +0:02.566
Van Horebeek, Jeremy BEL Honda +0:32.226
Lieber, Julien BEL Kawasaki +0:39.435
Jasikonis, Arminas LMSF Husqvarna +0:49.752
Jonass, Pauls LAT Husqvarna +0:50.285
Seewer, Jeremy SUI Yamaha +0:59.164
MXGP Race 2
MXGP Race 2 started with another Fox Holeshot from Julien Lieber while Cairoli came out of the first turn around 5th avoiding a crash that involved Paulin, Desalle, and Seewer. Seewer was the first get going coming across the first lap in 15th while Desalle was 16th and Paulin 19th. Lieber lost the advantage earned by his holeshot when he fell on the opening lap as well getting back up in 18th.
Febvre took over the lead from Lieber with Gajser giving chase and Cairoli closing in to the fight for the lead. Tommy Searle was in fourth but dropped a spot to Van Horebeek early in the race while Ivo Monticelli took 6th from Shaun Simpson.
Max Anstie took 6th from the Italian on the fifth lap and then sized up fellow Brit Tommy Searle for fifth position. Meanwhile the battle for the lead turned into an all-out but short-lived brawl as Cairoli miraculously passed both Gajser and Febvre in the same section.
With Cairoli taking the spot from Febvre the Slovenian of Gajser found a way past the Frenchman as well. On the 14th lap of 18 Febvre crashed out of the race in the roller section giving Van Horebeek third and moving Anstie and Searle into the top five.
Desalle and Paulin worked forward together throughout the race after the first turn crash with Paulin taking 5th from Searle with three laps to go while Desalle made a pass on the #100 in the last lap.
At the finish it was Cairoli who managed to hold of a consistently fast Gajser for the first MXGP overall victory of 2019 and his 16th consecutive season with a GP victory. Gajser’s pair of second place finishes took him to the podium as well while Van Horebeek surprised many with his 6-3 race finishes to earn third and his first podium since the 2017 season where he finished third at MXGP of Europe in Valkenswaard and second at this same venue prior.
Tony Cairoli – P1
“I’m really happy about this race because we unfortunately had a problem yesterday and on this track the start is really important because there is not much difference between the riders and the lap-times. I did my best to get to the front both times and it worked; I was in the top ten and could manage to work my way through. It was a nice race and nice event. So many fans, it is like being in Italy for me!”
Tim Gajser – P2
“I’m really happy to start the season strongly with a podium, and to feel really good on the track. In the first race I didn’t get the best of starts and it took me a couple of laps to find a good rhythm and to find the nice lines but once I did that, I passed a lot of the guys in front of me and finished in second. That was a great way to start the season off. Then in second moto, it was even better as I almost took the holeshot and I led for a lap but I was riding tight and not enjoying my riding so Romain (Febvre) and Toni (Cairoli) passed me. After this, I found my rhythm and found the flow around the track and was able to move into second and just start enjoying riding again. Two second places is a good start to the season and I’m really looking forward to the next races. A big thanks to the whole team around me, who help me out and put together this amazing CRF450RW.”
Jeremy Van Horebeek – P3
“It is still unbelievable, until two weeks ago I didn’t know we would be here so it has been a crazy ride since last year. I am so thankful to this team for giving me the chance. I am thankful and I am going to keep on working to make this a great season.”
Clément Desalle – P4
“It was a solid weekend and it was great to be back racing GPs as you can’t find these conditions when you train. We saw that we have a great new bike and Julien proved the performance at the starts. I scored a fourth position in the first moto; the rhythm was really high and I finished not so far from the top three. I’m just disappointed with the second start; I had a good jump off the gate but they ripped the ground in the first corner and I was surprised in a rut and touched handlebars with another rider. I was last but I came back to sixth, which is not so bad as my front brake lever was bent in the crash. It’s good to be going back home fourth in the series; we now have three weeks to work on small details we have learnt at this first GP.”
Gautier Paulin – P5
“The bike was working good today. We have been working hard this winter and we had to put the bike in the crate even with some more things to work on. But today, I just had to put my helmet on and go racing. We know there are things we still need to improve but it is what it is. The bike is working really good. The chasis is awesome on the Yamaha, I really enjoy it, and the engine too. With the little improvements we can make, I am really looking forward to it, and I need to keep working myself also. I feel like I had a good weekend, just had bad luck with another rider hitting me in the first turn. I think his bike hit my bike and I went over the ‘bars big time. But overall I feel strong and fifth place to start the season, close enough to the podium is a good start. I really enjoyed the racing.”
MXGP Round 1, 2019 – Race 2
Cairoli, Antonio ITA KTM 34:56.475
Gajser, Tim SLO Honda +0:02.386
Van Horebeek, Jeremy BEL Honda +0:37.829
Anstie, Max GBR KTM +0:42.332
Paulin, Gautier FRA Yamaha +0:43.070
Desalle, Clement BEL Kawasaki +0:47.509
Searle, Tommy GBR Kawasaki +0:49.602
Jasikonis, Arminas LTU Husqvarna +0:58.810
Simpson, Shaun GBR KTM +1:01.941
Tonus, Arnaud SUI Yamaha +1:03.513
MXGP Round 1, 2019 – Standings
Cairoli, A. ITA KTM 50
Gajser, Tim SLO HON 44
Van Horebeek, J. BEL HON 35
Desalle, C. BEL KAW 33
Paulin, G. FRA YAM 32
Jasikonis, A. LTU HUS 26
Searle, Tommy GBR KAW 22
Simpson, Shaun GBR KTM 22
Seewer, Jeremy SUI YAM 21
Jonass, Pauls LAT HUS 21
MX2’s qualifying racing was just as exciting as the MXGP, if not more so, with an epic three-way battle for the win. The early practice sessions were dominated by Thomas Kjer Olsen while reigning MX2 World Champion, Jorge Prado had the fifth fastest times in each.
As the qualifying race came to life with the MX2 field barreling into the first corner it was the 2018 Fox Holeshot winner Jorge Prado leading. Prado was chased by his new teammate Tom Vialle and Henry Jacobi.
Olsen had a front row seat just behind the two leaders and took advantage with a quick pass on Prado as the finish neared, while the Dane continued his charge and got Jacobi with three laps to go. Prado was still in the hunt however and took Jacobi wide on the final lap to finish second. Behind Prado and Jacobi it was Ben Watson and Calvin Vlaanderen.
MX2 of Patagona – Qualifying Top Ten
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), 24:24.613
Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:02.267
Henry Jacobi (GER, Kawasaki), +0:03.547
Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:18.925
Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Honda), +0:26.119
Mitchell Evans (AUS, Honda), +0:28.658
Adam Sterry (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:33.941
Alvin Östlund (SWE, Husqvarna), +0:35.687
Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), +0:36.072
Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:38.221
MX2 Race 1
MX2 Championship racing kicked off the day as an early unexpected turn of events happened with Tom Vialle taking the Fox Holeshot in his first ever FIM Motocross World Championship race.
Vialle’s lead quickly went to the defending MX2 World Champion but the young French rider held his own as the race progressed. Henry Jacobi took second during lap 2 and then worked to catch Prado.
Saturday’s Qualifying winner, Thomas Kjer Olsen, spun off the gate and fought his way forward from outside the top five in the early stages of the race. Between Vialle in third and Olsen was Mitch Evans, Calvin Vlaanderen, and Jago Geerts.
However, in only five laps Olsen moved up four positions to just behind Jacobi who was in second. During this time Prado had done damage to anyone else’s chance of winning by putting in three consecutive fastest laps of the race and growing a massive gap.
It took three laps for Olsen to make a pass on Jacobi stick as the Kawasaki rider didn’t let the spot go easily. Prado’s gap proved to be too big for Olsen to overcome and the Spaniard took the race win, while Jacobi finished third, Vlaanderen fourth, and MX2 rookie Mitch Evans took fifth.
Race 2 was another Red Bull KTM holeshot but this time it went to Jorge Prado with Evans running in second and Olsen third. Ben Watson was off to a good start as well, but a handful of mistakes dropped him from fourth to outside the top ten early.
Vlaanderen took over the fourth position vacated by Watson, while Vialle moved to fifth and at the front Prado again pulled a gap. Olsen was able to get by the #43 of Evans and closed slightly on Prado but was still several seconds in arrears.
Adam Sterry and Henry Jacobi were making progress, as Sterry took fifth from Vialle who then dropped another spot to Jacobi. Sterry stayed in fifth for nearly five laps but crashed just before the challenging wave section. The fall gave Jacobi fifth but dropped Sterry to ninth where he would finish.
At the finish line it was Jorge Prado who took the overall win and 50 points allowing him to retain the red plate earned last season. Olsen took second overall matching his 2018 result in Patagonia while Australia’s Mitch Evans took third overall in what was his first ever MX2 race!
Jorge Prado – P1
“It’s great to be back at the GPs and I had a lot of fun. I had two really good starts and that was important for the racing here. The priority was to get this first race done with good points and to be healthy and in the end we managed a win in both motos. I felt very good on the bike today and physically very strong. I couldn’t start the season in a better way. We’ll keep working hard up to the next round in England.”
Thomas Kjer-Olsen – P2
“I’m quite happy to start this season with a second-place overall result here in Argentina. As a racer I’m always looking for race wins, but it is really good to start the season on the podium. In the first moto I spun out of the gate and gave myself some work to do. I managed to get up to second on lap 10, so I was pleased with that. The second moto went well. I moved from third to second and spent the whole race there. It’s going to be a long year with plenty of racing to be done, so I am happy to head back to Europe second in the championship. The plan now is to get back to work. I want to make the most of this short break in the series and continue working before the next round at Matterley Basin.”
Mitch Evans – P3
“I couldn’t be any happier, I didn’t really know what to expect being my first GP. I enjoyed every moment of it, it was awesome being here, the fans were awesome so I really enjoyed it. I knew the work that we put in during the off season and the preseason races that we had if I got good starts I could run with these boys.”
“It was a solid and consistent day today. I’m reasonably happy with how it went and obviously I want to be on the podium at the end of the day but we’ll take fourth overall and it’s a good base for the season. It’s important to come out of the first round healthy and get rid of the nerves and just ease into the season after all the hype that comes with round one. I had two pretty good starts on my CRF250RW and could ride quite comfortably at the speed I was going and although I was a little bit off the speed of the first three guys, I feel like that will come on a different track. Overall I’m happy with how the day went and it’s a good weekend to build from.”
“I think it was a really good weekend for me, especially as you never know where you really are before the first GP. To start the season like this is really good. I’m OK with the result, even if I am a little bit disappointed after the race to miss the podium so narrowly; we were all close in the points but we have still eighteen rounds to get podiums. I’m happy with the entire weekend; I was so close here, even though I don’t particularly like this tricky track. I was just surprised in race two when the gate dropped so fast; usually I count to three when they show the five seconds board and then focus on the gate, but after three the gate was already down. After that I was actually riding better in the second race than in the first one, but I lost too much time at the start.”
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