The 2019 MXGP of Russia saw warm Orlyonok weather on a tricky track that demanded the most out of even the world’s best with Tim Gajser and Jorge Prado solidifying their MXGP and MX2 standings, as both now hold the Championship leader’s red plates after another weekend at the top step of the podium.
In MX2 in Race 1 Mitch Evans led the Aussies with a fifth place result, while Jed Beaton came home 12th, with Dylan Walsh 17th. Race 2 saw a turn-around with Jed Beaton seventh, while Mitch Evans was 10th and Dylan Walsh 13th. This left Mitch Evans fifth overall for the round and Jed Beaton tenth. In the overall standings Evans holds sixth, while Beaton is 14th. Walsh is 17th.
The weekend’s warm weather and blue skies was matched by the blue water of the Black Sea and warm welcome of Russia’s motocross fans. The picturesque location of the venue and the beautiful Russian community of spectators combined with the unexpected results made for an unforgettable weekend of racing.
Following yesterday’s qualifying results Romain Febvre lined up to the gate in pole position and when the gate dropped for today’s Race 1 the Frenchman scored his second Fox Holeshot of the year. Team HRC’s Tim Gajser shot past the #461 almost immediately after they crossed the chalk and was into the lead as the opening lap kicked off.
Clement Desalle got into second with a pass on Febvre along with Arnaud Tonus. The #84 KTM Factory Racing machine of Jeffrey Herlings was in fifth while Antonio Cairoli was way back outside the top 15.
Evgeny Bobryshev lost control of his Kawasaki on the main downhill section on the opening lap and crashed hard ending not only the race but his home GP. Tonus gained a spot as Desalle fell in a corner while Tonus’ teammate, Gautier Paulin, crashed out of the top ten damaging his front causing him to fall again before making his way into Pit Lane and eventually the paddock.
Herlings then found himself in fourth after the fall of Desalle with Pauls Jonass and Jeremy Seewer applying pressure. Seewer first passed Jonass but then Desalle surged past both Jonass and Seewer to take over fifth.
Alessandro Lupino had a big crash and was unable to continue while fellow Italian and his friend Antonio Cairoli was stuck in 15th for 12 laps before finally making a pass on Jordi Tixier. Desalle was ejected from his bike at the end of pitlane straight with only four laps to go and was unable to rejoin the racing. Seewer took over the fourth spot while Gajser took the race win ahead of Tonus, Febvre, and Herlings. Cairoli gained two more spots in the closing laps to finish 12th.
The second and final race of the MXGP weekend started with a season first holeshot for Glenn Coldenhoff with Gajser and Tixier just behind. Tonus was quick to move past Tixier along with Seewer. Seewer’s teammate Febvre fell in the early portion of the race from 7th costing him 6 positions with his former 7th place spot going to Cairoli.
Jonass passed Julien Lieber to get into the top 5 behind his former MX2 rival Seewer. On lap 7 Jonass lost his top five spot to Lieber as Cairoli also went by into 6th before making it past Lieber the next lap, at the same Gajser finally made his way around Coldenhoff for the lead.
Coldenhoff lost the 2nd spot to Tonus immediately before losing a handful of other spots in the following laps to Seewer, Cairoli, Lieber, Jonass, Herlings, Paulin, and Febvre. Tonus then closed in right to the back wheel of Gajser and made an attempt to take the lead but clipped a trackside haybale and fell instead.
The fall of Tonus didn’t lose him any positions, only time to Gajser that he could not recover. At the finish Gajser took his 3rd MXGP Overall in 3 rounds via double race wins, the MXGP Championship leader’s red plate, and the first ever Russian Overall GP victory for Honda.
Tonus took second overall with his 2-2 finishes and Seewer scored his career first MXGP podium overall, best MXGP race finish, and put not only the second Yamaha on the podium but also joined his Swiss compatriot Tonus to make history as the first time two Swiss riders have stood on the podium in the premier category of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
“I’m feeling really good about this weekend. It wasn’t easy out there, as both motos were tough because Arnaud (Tonus) was really fast and he was always behind me pushing hard. The first race I held him off all race, and then in the second race it was the same again but with 10 minutes to go he made a mistake and that gave me the gap I needed to control the race and take the victory. The track wasn’t so bumpy but it was still tough because it was so hard and it was easy to make a mistake. Overall I’m happy, and a huge thanks to everyone at Honda, as the CRF450RW is amazing and let’s hope we can continue this run of form. Three races ago I was 40 points behind in the championship and now I have the red plate so I’m really happy about these past few weeks have gone and although it’s still early in the season and there is plenty of races ahead of us, it’s still a great feeling and I can’t wait to see the red plate on my bike in Latvia.”
“It wasn’t easy to fight for the lead. I was happy I had some good starts so at the beginning I was already close to Tim. There were not too many opportunities to pass on this track, so I came close, and I went for it, but I ended up making a small mistake. I am happy I tried and was able to recover and still finished second. I am still super thankful to be up here on the podium three times in a row.”
“It’s amazing to make it onto the MXGP podium. It feels like it is much harder to get here, much harder that even some of my MX2 wins. It is a lot of work to get here, there are a lot of fast guys and especially on a track like we had today where there are a lot of guys riding a similar speed. I feel like it takes time to move from the 250cc to the 450cc and to get comfortable on the bike, but in the past few weeks I have been feeling good. My crew on the Yamaha Factory team have done an amazing job, and I owe a big thanks to them for making it happen. It feels like we are moving in a really good direction.”
“I had a serious injury and it has been tough to get back here, mentally and physically, and with a lot of pain for a long time. I did not expect this result here today especially on this track. So to be close to the podium again feels pretty beautiful. I like the track in Latvia but I don’t have any firm expectations and I will not forget where I have come from to get to this point. Having said that we’ll always try to fight for a podium spot when we can!”
“The weekend was good. Yesterday was really good to win the Qualifying Race. Last week I could not ride because I was really sick. I was lucky to feel better when I got here. In the first race I got the holeshot but I made some mistakes. I got back to third, but I hit my ankle and felt some pain, so I just secured third. In the second race I crashed and then stalled the bike and lost a lot of positions. I came back to nine, so the speed was good, but two mistakes on this type of track, I could not do better.”
“I was looking forward to coming here to Russia because I won a couple times in MX2, so I have good memories. I felt good on the track all weekend, my speed was where I wanted it to be. The track is super-fast and slick and hard to make a lot of time up, so when everyone is pushing hard it’s easy for mistakes to happen. I guess I tried to be aggressive but sensible at the start of both races. I didn’t get the best of starts, but they weren’t bad either. I made some good, quick passes and was pleased to be running in fifth for several laps in the opening moto. But I felt like the second moto was better – I kept fighting to finish sixth, which was a great way to end the GP.”
“A very difficult weekend and of course the crash from yesterday did not help as it meant I was totally on the outside for the gate pick. I was riding very stiff and by missing the start it is almost impossible to make a good result on this track; everybody is riding at a similar speed. We lost the red plate but the positive is that I’m not badly injured, and we saw some big crashes today. We walk away a bit banged-up but we will re-group and look to Latvia, which is a nice track, and to regain some points.”
“Not the GP I was hoping for at all and I wasn’t riding like I can or should have been. I don’t know why but I couldn’t find a good rhythm with the track, which meant that I was riding too hard, being too physical, in both races. Because I was riding too physically, I really felt the heat in the second moto. I gave my all but not at all what I wanted, but racing can be like this sometimes. We move on to the next GP and look to do better.”
Jorge Prado took pole position into today’s races thanks to his win in Qualifying yesterday but spun off the gate for an uncharacteristic start outside of the top 10. Meanwhile it was Darian Sanayei taking his first holeshot of the year.
Jago Geerts and Tom Vialle where in second and third but Thomas Kjer Olsen was on a mission and made it past Vialle quickly. Not much later Olsen made it into second passing Geerts on the downhill leading up to the finish. Prado has made his way up to fifth by this point and took fourth from his teammate Vialle on the next lap before battling with Geerts over third.
While the pair battled, Olsen took the lead from Sanayei who then was caught by Prado after he made it by Geerts. The next lap Geerts also move forward past Sanayei who continued to lose position to Vialle and Honda 114 Motorsports’ Mitch Evans.
With two laps to go Prado took the lead from Olsen as they entered the turn at the bottom of the downhill. Geerts tried to reel in Olsen for a last lap pass but wasn’t quite close enough.
The second MX2 race started with the 10 Fox Holeshot of the season for Prado with Darian Sanayei again getting a good start in 2nd. Olsen was in third just ahead of Iker Larranaga and Michele Cervellin.
Geerts didn’t have quite as good of a start as in race 1 but made his way into fifth by lap 2 with a pass on American Mitchell Harrison. The other American Sanayei was then passed by Olsen for second as the Dane tried to keep Prado in sight.
Cervellin lost fourth to Geerts but gained it back as both him and Geerts shuffled Sanayei further back. After Vialle joined the top 5 by passing Sanayei on the 10th lap no further changes occurred at the head of the field.
Prado passed the checkered flag for his sixth consecutive overall win and seventh of the eight races so far this season. Olsen took both second in the race and overall, while Geerts took third and rounded out the podium.
“It was a very hard weekend because in the first moto I had a good jump out of the gate but collided with a few other riders in the first corner and lost a lot of positions. I had to work my way up to the front and it took all moto! With two laps to go I made the pass for first place: I was really happy afterwards, even if it did mean I had to use a lot of energy. I knew that the holeshot would be important and concentrated so much for the second moto. It made my life much easier. I’m happy to win again. Latvia is a track I like. My first year there I almost made a podium and last year I won the Qualifying race and the second moto. I’m looking forward to it and hope to make my gap in the championship a little bigger.”
Thomas Kjer Olsen
“It’s been another positive GP for me. It’s a little frustrating I didn’t have just a little more for Prado in the first moto, but generally it’s great to be on the podium again. I’ve been working on my starts and today I got out the gate well in both motos, which made a big difference. In the first moto I worked my way into the lead and felt good. The track was a little unpredictable in places, there were a few tricky slick spots, so I just tried to make sure I smooth. I don’t know how many laps I led but I just pushed hard to stay ahead, which I did until two laps to go. I gave everything to get back ahead of Prado, but I couldn’t make it happen. I got into second quickly in the second moto and just tried to me smooth and consistent. It was hot, but I felt good. Another second-place result was good.”
“It was a really solid weekend for me, I was really happy with the starts, I had three good starts this weekend which is positive for the rest of the season. Next weekend is Latvia, one of my favorite tracks but the goal is the same, to be on the podium, so we’ll see.”
“A good weekend for me and I’m happy with these results here. It felt like both days went well although my starts were not perfect. I’m fifth in the championship at the moment and that feels great but I know there is still a long way to go. I have to keep trying to score as many points each weekend. We go to Latvia next and it’s my first visit there so I’ll be hoping to be good again.”
“I’m really happy with the way the GPs gone. Obviously, I needed a little bit of time off following my crash in Portugal and to come back after being unable to race in France and get two solid results is great. I did three good days of riding before coming to Russia, so I was confident things would go well because I felt good and importantly was pain free. The opening moto didn’t start too well, I got a bad start so had to work really hard. I went from outside the top 20 to 12th and put in a lot of effort. I was feeling the hard work in the second moto but made some good passes. I’m really pleased with seventh. I feel like I’m where I should be and now that the Portugal crash is behind me I want to build on these results starting with the Latvian GP next weekend.”
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.