Febvre and Herlings double up in Thailand
Throttle control was the key to the race here at the second round of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Suphan Buri, Thailand, as the seemingly perfectly prepared track baked rock hard in the direct sunlight and became treacherous with deep ruts and patches of blue groove clay.
It was a test of the best that saw Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings win both motos in their respective classes to prove that they are the smoothest, most flowing and finesse-savvy riders so far in 2016.
With two rounds in the bag and a MXGP class full of youth as well as experience, it’s the young-guns who are turning heads. Both of last years world champions Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre and Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser have taken ownership of the top two steps of the podium for the second time in succession.
While it was Gajser who posted a perfect score at the season opener in Qatar last weekend, this time the tables were turned as Romain Febvre upped the intensity and used his smoothness and precision to win both races for the his first overall win of the season and will now head to round three as the championship points leader.
“Im happy to win the first moto, and the second was easier, because after the second corner I was in the lead, and I could make a good gap, and ride safely to the finish. In the first moto I had a really long battle with Tony Cairoli, and you get the stones and the dust in your face, and here its really difficult to pass.
“I was frustrated because I couldnt pass him, and even when I did I had to slow down a bit and take a break, because I was really tired.
“Im really happy to take the red plate, but you know its still a really long season ahead. Its really nice to have it, but there are still 16 rounds to go.”
In contrast to Febvre’s smoothness and meticulous approach to such an unforgiving track, Gajser used his incredible strength to control his flamboyant style as he battled the edginess of the clay. Despite a few heart-stopping moments, the young rookie took it all in his stride as he banked a third and a fourth for second overall.
A podium in Thailand back in 2014 started a dream season for Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek who managed to nail eleven podiums on the bounce thereafter. After a rough year in 2015, things already appear to be looking up for the Belgian who was fourth at round one and has already gone one better with a podium performance here in Thailand.
Jeremy Van Horebeek
“Its good to start the season in fourth, and I am going to keep building from here. It’s an even better start to the season than 2014, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.
“I always feel miserable after the heat, I dont see how other guys can do it on days like this. I think you can see the difference also on our faces, because I dont think I worked any less hard than anybody else. I cant resist the heat, I dont know why. I do everything to prepare for it, so Im glad to walk away with a podium.”
Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev laid low most of the day and avoided conflict enough to wrap up the day in fourth overall. In race one he started fifth and inherited fourth when the pole man Team Suzuki World MXGP’s Ben Townley crashed out of fourth on lap nine. Meanwhile in race two, it was a similar story when Bobryshev started eighth and came home in an eventual seventh.
“For me until now it was the hardest race. The weather and the track were both very tough. I couldn’t get well with the track and I was struggling in the corners and couldn’t flow my speed. The track was less rutted today than yesterday though, so the guys at the track and the organisers made a good job with the work they did overnight. The first race was ok and I stayed in fourth so I’m happy with that. But still I struggled a little and couldn’t push myself too hard.
“I had a bad start in the second race and had to come back from ninth but when I got behind Simpson I couldn’t push hard enough to pass him. Compared to one year ago when we were last in Thailand I am different though. I handle the heat better and changed my style a bit, working a lot over winter, and I think that people can see that too.
“It was a hot weekend for us, but also for my mechanics who had some heavy work this weekend so I’d like to thank them too for the great job they’re doing.”
Ben Townley bounced back from the disappointment of the opening moto to card a second place finish in the second moto.
“I blew it. I made a mistake that caught me out of the blue. It was on the last roller and I was in the wrong gear. I was caught out by how slick it was and got ejected. I was up ready to salvage something but the radiator was damaged and I was lucky to make it back to the pits.
“In the second moto obviously the result was much better but it was tough. Someone jumped the gate beside me so I was late off the line. I started in sixth and worked my way up; I think I had a bit more spark than the other boys. In the end I gave everything I had and I had to talk myself through to the end. It was a mission.
“Overall I’m not concerned about the podium but the 18 points that I threw away. It’s really disappointing. We are still working on the bike quite a lot, and have made progress every session since starting in Qatar, but there is still work to do on the engine and suspension especially. Onto the next one.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli looked sharp this weekend but he ended up dethroning himself of a chance to be on the box when he stalled the bike while up front in race two and dropped outside of the top 20. The Italian star did manage to fight back to twelfth, which in combination with his second place finish in the opening race was good enough for fifth overall.
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten
- Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), 34:04.313
- Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:02.775
- Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:05.871
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:18.040
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:21.958
- Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:33.137
- Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:36.125
- Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:47.200
- Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:51.008
- Christophe Charlier (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:59.191.
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten
- Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), 34:41.154
- Ben Townley (NZL, Suzuki), +0:06.038
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:07.876
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:10.723
- Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:20.508
- Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:23.325
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:32.355
- Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +0:36.229
- Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:38.176
- Valentin Guillod (SUI, Yamaha), +0:41.132.
MXGP Overall Top Ten
- Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 50 points
- Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 36 p.
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 34 p.
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 32 p.
- Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 31 p.
- Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 27 p.
- Gautier Paulin (FRA, HON), 26 p.
- Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 23 p.
- Ben Townley (NZL, SUZ), 22 p.
- Tommy Searle (GBR, KAW), 22 p.
MXGP Championship Top Ten
- Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 92 points
- Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 86 p.
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 74 p.
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 68 p.
- Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 64 p.
- Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 57 p.
- Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 48 p.
- Tommy Searle (GBR, KAW), 47 p.
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 44 p.
- Ben Townley (NZL, SUZ), 42 p.
- Yamaha, 92 points
- Honda, 86 p.
- KTM, 71 p.
- Suzuki, 60 p.
- Husqvarna, 55 p.
- Kawasaki, 47 p.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings said after his season ending crash in the Czech Republic last year that he will be back in 2016 better, faster, stronger and so far he has been pretty accurate.
Other than one extremely close call in Race Two, Herlings was pretty much flawless this weekend, “in previous years I was not good with out a start” he said after the final race, “I was always too aggressive and now I took my time and felt I could go much faster but then I scrubbed and almost went over the ‘bars, I know it was on TV it was such a sketchy moment and something stupid like that is not allowed to happen again, it was my mistake for the last two years so it seems like I didn’t learn, but I did, so I won’t let it happen again, I will try to be smarter, but overall it was a good weekend.”
A double moto victory here in Suphan Buri resulted in The Bullet’s 49th overall grand prix win which tee’s him up perfectly for a 50th victory on home soil in front of his adoring fans.
Team Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer knows how to spin smooth and consistent laps which is exactly what he did on his way to his first podium finish of the season and best ever result in the FIM Motocross World Championship.
“Last year was not my best race here in Thailand! This year we did a lot better and all the work we did paid off. I’m really happy. We need to work on my starts a little bit because we missed out both times here but we have made so many changes to my bike this winter we have made big steps. I think we will make it work.
“So far it has been great working with Stefan because there is a new spirit in the team. It is helping me and is very positive. I want to keep consistent now, avoid crashing and keep in the top five. I’m not too concerned about the championship yet because we are still so early in the season. It doesn’t matter where you are at the start but more at the end.”
Wilvo Standing Construct Yamaha Official MX2’s Aleksandr Tonkov lived up to the expectation that he is a top three guy. The Russian landed his third ever podium, first of the season, and first since the MXGP of Europe in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands, last year, which incidentally happens to be the next round.
Yesterday’s Qualifying Race runner-up Kemea Yamaha Official MX Team’s Benoit Paturel finished fourth in race one after an epic battle with Tonkov for third. In the second race the Frenchman bobbled around turn one, but regrouped and charged up to fourth before his efforts got the better of him and dropped him back to sixth.
Meanwhile Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass had a rough start to the day when he got tangled with TM Racing Factory Team’s Samuele Bernardini in race one which snatched his handle bars and high sided him big-time. He remounted and bounced back for ninth. In race two, the Latvian took the Fox Holeshot but eventually faded back to fifth which ended up being enough for fifth overall.
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:33.241
- Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Yamaha), +0:32.233
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:37.283
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:41.235
- Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:59.709
- Petar Petrov (BUL, Kawasaki), +1:12.586
- Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, Kawasaki), +1:26.229
- Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), +1:34.550
- Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +1:39.392
- Roberts Justs (LAT, KTM), -1 lap(s)
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:48.194
- Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:24.954
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:26.854
- Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Yamaha), +0:39.636
- Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:43.934
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:50.686
- Alvin Östlund (SWE, Yamaha), +1:30.625
- Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +1:35.213
- Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, Kawasaki), +1:36.124
- Petar Petrov (BUL, Kawasaki), +1:39.906
MX2 Overall Top Ten
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 40 p.
- Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, YAM), 40 p.
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 33 p.
- Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 28 p.
- Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, KAW), 26 p.
- Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 26 p.
- Alvin Östlund (SWE, YAM), 24 p.
- Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 22 p.
- Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), 22 p.
MX2 Championship Top Ten
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 100 points
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 74 p.
- Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, YAM), 70 p.
- Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 68 p.
- Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 56 p.
- Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), 47 p.
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 46 p.
- Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 44 p.
- Brent Van doninck (BEL, YAM), 44 p.
- Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, KAW), 38 p.
- KTM, 100 points
- Yamaha, 74 p.
- Suzuki, 74 p.
- Kawasaki, 71 p.
- Husqvarna, 56 p.
- TM, 47 p.
- Honda, 35 p.