MXGP arrived in Agueda, Portugal where it was Team HRC’s Tim Gajser claiming the round win after two dominant performances, that left Tony Cairoli settling for second, helping Gajser close in on the championship lead.
In MX2 it was a great weekend for Mitch Evans claiming third overall with a 4-3 result, while Jed Beaton had to settle for nine-points with a 12th place in Race 1. Jorge Prado claimed the round win from Thomas Kjer Olsen and the championship lead in the same swoop, with just three-points separating the two.
Agueda’s clay soil is rich with color but the racing was even more vibrant as thousands of fans filled the trackside hills to take in the action. Graced with blue skies and sunshine the track was prepped to perfection but the riders of MXGP and MX2 still had their hands full as it developed into a challenging circuit as racing progressed.
MXGP Racing started with a Fox Holeshot from Antonio Cairoli – his eighth this season – while Cairoli’s main competitor so far this year, Tim Gajser, was in second through the first corner and immediately gave chase to the Sicilian.
The front runners were first followed by Arnaud Tonus, Jeremy Seewer, and Gautier Paulin. Paulin however fell out of the top five on the opening lap which left him to resume the race nearly dead last. His teammate Tonus went from fourth to third with a pass on fellow countryman Jeremy Seewer.
The two Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team riders Clement Desalle and Julien Lieber held down fifth and sixth from the start with Lieber taking the lead role.
About three quarters of the way through the race Gajser’s continual pressure paid off when Cairoli stalled the engine out of corner and although he was able to get back going it was all the #243 needed to take over the lead. Cairoli latched right onto the Slovenian and during the final two laps made a push to pass but the sprinting speed of Gajser got the better of the Italian.
Behind Gajser and Cairoli at the finish was Tonus, Seewer, Lieber, Desalle, and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass. Paulin rode at an incredible pace through the field moving in and out of the race line to come from last to 15th.
Race 2 started with a Fox Holeshot from Tonus for his first time this year but Desalle took the lead and Cairoli slid into second position by the first downhill. Gajser was in fifth behind Seewer but made it into fourth by the end of the first lap. Paulin was off to a much better start in sixth meanwhile, with Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Romain Febvre adding to the YZ frenzy in seventh.
As Desalle led Cairoli it was Gajser making passes first on Tonus for third and then both Cairoli and Gajser got by Desalle in the same section. Cairoli was into the lead but within one lap a mistake saw him fall and drop to fifth. With Gajser in the lead Cairoli immediately retook fourth position then after four laps both Tonus and the #222 passed Desalle.
With four laps to go Cairoli passed Tonus to get into second but Gajser was already long gone taking an emphatic overall victory via double race wins for the second time this season. Cairoli took 2-2 for second overall while Tonus reached the podium in his stunning ride and hard fought 3-3 finishes.
Tim Gajser – P1
“It was really great to come away with two wins and the overall here in Portugal. I put last weekend behind me and I knew that if I focused and rode like I know how to ride, I could do well at this Agueda track. Still, to get both moto victories is a great confidence booster and backs up my win in Trentino very nicely. I now have the fastest laps in the last four motos so my speed is good and I know I am feeling strong too. These back to back races are tough but I head to France really happy with my riding and confident that the bike and I are working well together. A big thanks to the team for working so hard to help make this happen, and let’s keep up the effort!”
Antonio Cairoli – P2
“On one side I’m happy because the goal is to always be on the podium but in another way I’m disappointed. In the first moto I made a silly mistake and I stalled the bike but I could get back to Tim. In the second I was swapping lines. Where I crashed was a lottery, there was a lot of mud and I chose another line at the last moment and there was a rock that twisted my front end. I’m happy I didn’t hurt myself.”
Arnaud Tonus – P3
“It feels amazing to be back on the podium. It’s hard to put the feeling into words actually. I just feel thankful. Really thankful. Thankful to my team, and to Yamaha, and all of the people who support me for sticking behind me through what was the toughest time in my career. To be back up here after all of that is so cool. I am so happy and especially because I had to fight really hard for this result. I was passed and I had to pass people back and fight really hard, and that just makes a result like this so much sweeter, to know that I fought for it.”
Clément Desalle – P4
“It was a decent day if we consider that I couldn’t ride so much during the past weeks and there some positive points. It was great to lead the second moto with a very good rhythm for so many laps and that’s encouraging for the next rounds. I continue to recover from my knee injury and I feel that it’s coming better each week. The other positive point are my starts, and then to score a sixth and a fourth give me good points for the championship. Physically it’s still tough to maintain such a high intensity for the entire race but I know that I will be able to continue to improve my condition in the coming weeks.”
Jeremy Seewer – P5
“I had a positive weekend. I had two good starts from a bad gate pick, especially on this kind of start. I had good speed this weekend. I finished fourth in the first race which was really good because I struggled yesterday, but I felt good today. Second race was really good again, I settled in fifth, but the entry into the wave section here is really tricky. There are rocks, ruts, kickers, no kickers, lots to consider and every lap you get there, the bike handles differently. I got kicked sideways on the last lap and slid it out. I lost five spots. I still reached my goal, so this is positive for the next races.”
Pauls Jonass – P6
“I’ve really enjoyed the GP of Portugal. It’s a track I’ve always liked and the conditions were pretty much perfect here. I guess I was feeling good after my podium result in Italy last weekend, but it also feels good to get a strong result in more normal conditions. My physical fitness is improving all the time and as it does I’m able to enjoy racing a 450 more and more. I didn’t get the best of starts here, but I made some important passes in the first laps of both races, which really helped me. The track was fast and a lot of riders were really pushing hard, so it wasn’t easy to make passes. I rode consistently during both motos, which was also important. I feel like I’m making some good progress, which gives me extra motivation to keep working hard with the team.”
MX2 racing was also full of action starting with Jorge Prado taking again scoring the Fox Holeshot while behind him a second turn pile up held back several riders. Michele Cervellin was in second on the opening lap, but Henry Jacobi surged past along with Thomas Kjer Olsen a short time later.
The race then ended abruptly for Cervellin when he crashed in spectacular fashion during lap 7. Honda 114 Motorsport’s Mitch Evans took over the fourth position Cervellin crashed out of with the Mathys Boisrame getting into the top five as well. Evans then lost fourth to both Boisrame and Jago Geerts. Boisrame was shifted back seven laps later when Geerts and Evans took fourth then fifth away.
Back at the front Olsen made a pass on Jacobi with two laps to go and as Jacobi pushed to reclaim the spot he instead fell and lost four positions on the last lap. Prado took the race win with Olsen 2nd ahead of Geerts, Evans, and Boisrame.
MX2 Race 2’s Fox Holeshot was taken by the wildcard EMX250 entry of Roan Van de Moosdijk, however Prado got the better of Van de Moosdijk into the second corner and took the lead. Van de Moosdijk dropped back to fourth while his teammate Jacobi moved to third.
Prado lost his lead to the Australian Mitch Evans before the end of the first official lap and held it for another four while Prado looked for an opportunity to pass. Cervellin returned to race after his crash earlier in the day and though banged up was in the top five as the race progressed.
Olsen made a mistake and had a back of the pack start but surprisingly didn’t crash after clipping another rider. By the sixth lap Olsen had worked up to fifth from tenth passing Cervellin and a handful of others in the process. With five laps remaining Jacobi made a pass on Evans to take over second and a lap later Olsen made one more pass to get into fourth past Van de Moosdijk.
All the while Prado continued to lead before taking the checkered flag for his 5th 1-1 result of 2019. Olsen finished 2nd overall but it was a bitter sweet moment as he also lost the championship lead to Prado. For the second time in his rookie MX2 season Evans reached the podium in 3rd position.
Jorge Prado – P1
“This is the closest race to a home GP for me, we are very close to Spain and there are so many fans that came out and many were cheering for me, I really enjoy it. When I went onto the podium they went crazy so it is great to have a race like this and it was a great weekend. For me it was important to get the red plate because I feel more comfortable with it but it is tough to keep so I try to not make any mistake but in motocross you never know.”
Thomas Kjer Olsen – P2
“Generally, I’m very pleased with how I’ve ridden here in Portugal. Losing the red plate isn’t great, I never wanted that, but again my speed has been good and to get second overall after a tough second moto is great. I felt good all weekend, and I’d been looking forward to the GP. Things are heading in a good direction so plenty of positives from the both races in Portugal. I got a good start in the opening race and worked my way from fifth to third. The pace was really strong and we were all pushing really hard and using a lot of energy. Second in that first race was really good. I was pretty lucky in the second race that I didn’t go down entering the first corner – I ended up going right when the corner went left. I had a lot of work to do after that and just rode as hard as I could. Working my way back to fourth was good. Carrying the red plate into more GPs would have been nice, but nothing changes now that I don’t have it. I want it back. I want to be winning races. I just need to keep focused and work on consistent starts.”
Mitch Evans – P3
“It feels great to be back on the podium, we had a few tough weekends with some little injuries and my fitness dropped off because of it. We are finally back to the normal program and I am feeling a lot better which also gives a lot confidence coming into the weekend.”
Henry Jacobi – P4
“Normally with a fourth overall I would be happy, but it’s a little bit disappointing because I was third or second during the first race until I had a big crash in the waves on the last lap. I tried to pass back Olsen but he changed his line and took mine so I had to use a different one too but there was a stone and I saw it too late. It was a big crash; I was even wondering if I would be able to race the second moto as my hand was painful but I decided to have a go, made a good start and didn’t feel any pain! I eventually passed Evans for second and it remains very good for the championship so we can’t be unhappy tonight.”
MXGP and MX2 weren’t the only world championship classes racing this weekend in Portugal as the fastest riders of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship returned for the WMX round of Portugal.
Following the opening round in the Netherlands at Valkenswaard it was Belgium’s Amandine Verstappen carrying the red plate into Agueda this weekend. Saturday hosted the first race of the two-day, two race, event and unfortunately for Verstappen her winning ways would not be repeated. Instead it was Bike IT DRT Kawasaki’s Courtney Duncan who dominated the field for his win of the year.
At the start of race 1 Verstappen crashed and by the time she was back up she was buried at the back of the field. Larissa Papenmeier led Duncan down the first downhill with Nancy Van De Ven in third. Before the opening lap was complete Duncan took the lead from Papenmeier on the inside of one of the turns.
JK Racing Yamaha’s Lynn Valk pressured Van de Ven for third but was unable to pass her Dutch compatriot. Meanwhile Verstappen fell again dropping from 16th to 20th forcing her to go back to work all over again. Digging deep Verstappen made her way up to 10th but in the lead it was Duncan, all race, taking the win ahead of Papenmeier, Van de Ven, Valk, and Sara Andersen.
WMX Race two took place this afternoon and Van de Ven rocketed into the first turn taking the holeshot and lead over Duncan and Papenmeier with Line Dam also in the mix. Verstappen’s weekend went from bad to worse getting caught in a pile up with 2 other riders.
Duncan didn’t take long to get past Van de Ven making a pass stick during the second lap and never looking back. Sara Andersen and Line Dam then had a battle but Andersen came out as the faster of the two Danes. Valk also passed Dam for her best ever WMX result while Verstappen never gave up charging through the field for a second day in a row.
At the finish Duncan took the race win making it her second year in a row going 1-1 in Portugal but her first overall victory of 2019. 2ndand 3rdin the race, Van de Ven and Papenmeier were also second and third overall. The top five overall was filled out by Andersen and Valk as Verstappen’s resilience salvaged 9thoverall. The championship leaders red plate now belongs to Duncan with 89 points total which is four ahead of Van de Ven now in second.
“I was really happy with the weekend; the goal was to put two solid races together and I did that. I got blocked in at the first turn in that second race, but I didn’t panic, sorted out a good place to make a clean pass and could race away. I’m just taking it race by race at the moment and not really thinking about the championship, but I’m stoked to get the double win and take the red plate to the next round. We’ve got a nine week break now, so I’ll be going back to New Zealand to keep doing the work and come out swinging at Loket.”
Duncan will now return to New Zealand to continue her training before taking the red plate into round 3 in Loket, Czech Republic the 27th and 28th of July.
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