The French MXGP saw Honda’s Tim Gajser claim a clean sweep to close the gap on championship leader Antonio Cairoli, down to just 10 points, while KTM’s Jorge Prado continued his domination of the MX2 class, but faced strong competition from Jago Geerts, with Thomas Kjer Olsen just a 1-point off the two.
Aussie Mitch Evans also put in a strong showing in MX2 claiming fourth overall, with a 7-4 result and 32 championship points to his name. This leaves him ranked fifth in the overall MX2 standings. After placing 20th in the MX2 class timed practice Jed Beaton took no further part in the MXGP of France.
This also marked the second year in a row the MXGP of France in Saint Jean d’Angely, which was filled with the always enthusiastic French fans to create an amazing atmosphere. Warm weather and sunshine lit the hillside circuit with its deep ruts and challenging conditions. Aside from the traditional high speed racing this weekend also provided some unexpected results and championship shake ups.
MXGP Race 1
MXGP Race 1 started with a Fox Holeshot for Arnaud Tonus just ahead of Antonio Cairoli. The top MXGP Qualifier, Tim Gajser, dove to the inside of Cairoli on the first lap to get into second early.
A lap after passing Cairoli the Slovenian made it past Tonus for the lead in almost the exact same spot. Romain Febvre was off to a good start of fourth in his home round and watched as Cairoli made it past Tonus for 2nd.
Tonus’s teammate Gautier Paulin struggled off the start and fell from 11th back to 18th in the third lap. Meanwhile Clement Desalle made his way past Alessandro Lupino and Febvre before making an assertive pass on Jeremy Seewer for 4th.
The pass from Desalle didn’t last though as both Seewer and Febvre were back by before the end of the lap. At the finish it was a dominating win for Gajser ahead of Cairoli who held off the charges of Tonus throughout the race while Seewer, Febvre, and Desalle rounded out the top five.
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten
Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), 34:13.037
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:06.617
Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +0:10.299
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:28.701
Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:31.735
Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:35.329
Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Husqvarna), +0:35.836
Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), +0:48.968
Julien Lieber (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:58.570
Tanel Leok (EST, Husqvarna), +0:59.429.
MXGP Race 2
MXGP Race 2 was off to a dramatic start as Cairoli jumped his gate and Febvre took the Fox Holeshot creating a massive roar from the crowd. As Cairoli charged to catch up with the field Febvre led Tonus, Paulin, and Jeremy Van Horebeek.
Desalle passed both Van Horebeek and Paulin to quickly get into third while Gajser was closing in from 5th position. Meanwhile the bad luck continued for Cairoli as he went down while 14th only to get up and have his bike punted away by Ivo Monticelli.
Cairoli got back on the bike on 25th and got up to 17th before stalling, losing a spot, and then regaining it all over again. At the front Gajser had made his way past Desalle before banging bars with Tonus to take second and eventually the lead from Febvre.
Gajser pulled away to take his second 1-1 victory in two weeks and his first back to back overall GP win since the MXGP’s of Patagonia Argentina and Leon, Mexico in 2017. Febvre took second in the race ahead of Tonus, Desalle, and Paulin. Tonus’ 3-3 finishes gave him his best ever MXGP overall result of 2nd only one week after his long-awaited return to podium form in Portugal while Febvre’s 5-2 result put him on the podium in front of the home fans.
The 17th place result of Cairoli in race 2 put the points leader 7th overall but dropped his championship lead to only 10 points over Gajser as the series heads to the Black Sea bordering venue of Orlyonok in 2 weeks’ time for the 2019 Patron MXGP of Russia.
“I’m really happy how both days went. I was having fun on the track and even though it was rough and sketchy in some places, it was still enjoyable to race on. In the first race, I took a little time to pass the guys in front of me before getting the lead and making a gap to control the race. In the second moto I clipped the gate and almost went over the handlebar off the start but I recovered and near the back it felt like. I made some passes to get near the front and then settled for a couple of laps in third before making a strike to get out front. I’m just really happy how things are going at the moment and I hope to continue this momentum into Russia. I am having fun on the bike and I am enjoying putting in the work with the rest of Team HRC. We have a great environment that is helping me this season and it is such a great feeling to win these races and reward the effort that everyone is putting in.”
“To be honest I’m not sure what to expect anymore. I was so happy last week, I felt like I was riding good, making some passes, and had some good starts and I was able to do the same this weekend. I’m just going to try to keep going this way.”
“It has been a long road, I didn’t have much time on the bike yet and I feel like I can do much better. It is a really good performance for how I feel right now. Coming down to the start line there is so many fans… it is really good, and I am really happy to have my first podium of the year here.”
“I was a little bit disappointed with the first race; I had moved into fourth position when I made a small mistake in a fast corner; in fact I hit my leg and my knee a few corners before and I made the mistake because I just wasn’t focused enough. I started the second moto with a painful thumb after a stone hit it during the first race, but I got a good start and was third during the first part of the race until Gajser passed me. But fourth was a decent result, even if I just missed the podium for the third weekend in a row! I hope I can recover from my knee this week and be back on the box very soon.”
“It was a much better day after the crash behind Paulin yesterday. My neck was sore this morning as I hit the ground with my head pretty hard and today I had pain all day long; it was not an easy day but I never give up and after the first moto I concentrated on my recuperation. I didn’t have a good gate pick after the crash yesterday but the second start was decent in the top ten; I passed a few guys quickly and rode the entire race behind Paulin. Sixth overall in the GP is not so bad, but I know that without the crash yesterday it would have been even better.”
“It is not the best day but we take positive and that is some points. It felt like the whole weekend was a struggle right from that crash on the first corners of the Qualification Heat and getting run over by some riders. My ankle is not perfect it was pretty sore; this track is very slick and it is easy to put your foot on the ground. From 14th place I chose a good gate in the first moto but not in the second: some were dropping and some not. It seemed I had the last one of the forty to drop! I tried to come back fast through the group and it was going well actually but I crashed again while 11th and got hit again. I restarted and tried to get as many points as I could. We are looking for the next race now. We need to keep focussed. This was not the best race of the season but we learn from the mistakes – I’m still learning at almost 34 years old – and I will try to be on the podium again at the next race.”
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten
Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), 34:00.904
Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:05.375
Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +0:07.314
Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:19.675
Gautier Paulin (FRA, Yamaha), +0:21.553
Julien Lieber (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:24.454
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:26.435
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:27.879
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Honda), +0:53.090
Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Yamaha), +0:54.992
MXGP Overall Top Ten
Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 50 points
Arnaud Tonus (SUI, YAM), 40
Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 38
Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 33
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 31
Julien Lieber (BEL, KAW), 27
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 26
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 24
Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, HUS), 24
Gautier Paulin (FRA, YAM), 21
MXGP ChampionshipTop Ten
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 311 points
Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 301
Gautier Paulin (FRA, YAM), 218
Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 208
Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, HUS), 190
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 184
Arnaud Tonus (SUI, YAM), 162
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, HON), 156
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 144
Julien Lieber (BEL, KAW), 141
MX2 Race 1
MX2 Racing started off with Jorge Prado taking his eighth Fox Holeshot of 2019 and the lead ahead of Michele Cervellin, Adam Sterry, and Zach Pichon.
Brian Moreau was in fifth but crashed out of the spot on the first downhill section. Jago Geerts was quick to move into third past Sterry as Pichon faded back.
Geerts made an aggressive pass for second on Cervellin a few laps later and then set his eyes on the lead of Prado. A few positions further back Thomas Kjer Olsen worked his way forward from a poor start and past Sterry for fourth.
Sterry’s teammate Henry Jacobi passed Tom Vialle in sixth but crashed just after and was run over by the Frenchman before getting back up. Jacobi got back going in ninth while Vialle moved forward to take fourth from Cervellin.
Back at the front Geerts had caught Prado and just as they crossed the line to see the 2 lap board Geerts took the lead away from the points leader. Prado tried to respond but was unable to get the Belgian back for the race win. Geerts’ win was not only Prado’s first defeat of 2019 but it was also Geerts’ career first MX2 race win! Olsen came in third with Vialle and Davy Pootjes in fourth and fifth.
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten
Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), 34:36.015
Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:01.447
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:33.708
Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), +0:45.240
Davy Pootjes (NED, Husqvarna), +0:56.679
Adam Sterry (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:59.098
Mitchell Evans (AUS, Honda), +1:00.865
Henry Jacobi (GER, Kawasaki), +1:08.778
Mathys Boisrame (FRA, Honda), +1:09.938
Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +1:17.543
MX2 Race 2
Race 2 was another FOX Holeshot from Prado with Vialle alongside him. Sterry was off to another good start in third with the race 1 winner, Geerts, just behind in fourth. Ben Watson got around his teammate on the first lap along with Sterry and Vialle who crashed out of third.
Sterry then had a close call with Geerts as the Belgian jumped past for third. Prado meanwhile grew his lead over Watson before Geerts went around the outside of his teammate and then chipped away at the lead. Tom Vialle fell again to lose even more positions along with Jacobi for the second race in a row.
Geerts also had a small fall which in the end was the advantage Prado needed to comfortably take the tiebreaker race win for the overall. Prado’s win grew his points advantage over Olsen who came in fifth in race 2 for third overall behind Geerts. Honda’s Mitch Evans took fourth overall ahead of Sterry in fifth.
“This was a tough one. I had to push both motos. I relaxed a bit in the last laps but I felt everything was under control until I took the wrong rut over the finish line jump in the first race. I charged hard and tried to make a pass on the last lap. I could not make it happen and was a bit frustrated but I came back in the second one and won. It turned out to be a good weekend with more points for the championship and a bigger gap.”
“It was a really good weekend, in the first race I made the pass for the lead with a couple of laps to go and just had good speed all race to finish first, so I was really happy with that. In the second race I was again getting closer at times, but Jorge was also riding really good and I made a little mistake but still it was a really good weekend second overall and now third in the championship.”
Thomas Kjer Olsen
“Apart from the fact that I made things difficult for myself in the second moto it’s been a pretty good GP for me. I’m pleased with how I worked my way forward to get on the podium with my second moto result. The track was good – they ripped it less than previous years, so it was pretty consistent everywhere, just with some tricky ruts. I got a decent start in the first moto and rode a strong race. Third was where my pace was – I wasn’t going to catch the two riders ahead, so third was good. I was pleased with that. I guess the gate bobbled a little in the second moto and I got a horrible start, down in 12th or 13th. I pushed hard after that. I wanted to finish on the podium so I just gave it all I had. I’ll keep working now that we have a weekend without a GP. Russia’s a fun track so I’m looking forward to racing there.”
“I had a great weekend here in France. I felt really good in timed practice and qualified in third, which is the best this year – and then finished fourth in the qualifying race. I struggled with tyre spin on the start-gate in race one, so I had to come from a long way back. I made my way up to seventh in the first moto, but made a lot of passes on the first lap in race two. I tried to get up to third, but couldn’t get it done, so had to settle for fourth. It felt great to be on a French team in France. Even some of the crowd were cheering for me. It felt like a home GP and that was so cool. I’m happy with fourth overall. It was a good weekend. My speed is good and I’m happy with my riding and looking forward to Russia.”
“Finally I got through the first few laps without someone crashing in front of me! To be honest I never felt comfortable on this track but today I got two good starts; the gate had a strange reaction as it moved slightly before finally dropping but I reacted perfectly and nearly got the holeshot in the second race. Two good starts were the key; I pushed during the first few laps each time and then tried to ride two solid races. I’m very happy with my results; the best MX2 GP of my career. Next weekend we have a Dutch championship race, and we’ll keep improving to be ready for Russia.”
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