When the gates dropped for the first time this season, the reigning champion Tim Gajser shot out of them to claim a narrow holeshot over Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli in MXGP qualifying. Behind them was the newly appointed Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider Gautier Paulin.
Pressure was put on Paulin throughout the race via Team HRC’s Russian rider Evgeny Bobryshev. However, the Russian was also feeling heat from the former champion Monster Energy Yamaha MXGP’s Romain Febvre.
Febvre looked like he was going to make a move but ended up going down instead, he was however able to remount and finish 7th. Replacing his 5th place position was Wilvo Yamaha MXGP’s Jeremy Van Horebeek.
Meanwhile, up front the KTM of Cairoli was gaining ground on Tim Gajser, and even more so after a few mistakes from Honda Rider. As the race came to a close things were tight between the two, but at the finish Tim Gajser was the one able to come away with pole position.
Rookies Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Anstie and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings whom both finished outside the Top 5 look from better results to come on Saturday.
MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten
Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), 25:05.634
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:00.617
Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:15.909
Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:17.398
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:20.023
Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +0:21.556
Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:25.823
Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:28.921
Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:30.262
Jordi Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:31.720
MXGP Race Day
Now in his fourteenth year of racing GP’s Red Bull KTM Factory Racing ‘s Antonio Cairoli showed he wasn’t done winning yet. Qatar was a track that he has never won at but in race one the Italian came out swinging.
Tony Cairoli lurched into the first moto with second choice of positions in the gate after a solid run in Friday’s Qualification Heat. The Sicilian had previously won a race at Losail during the inaugural event in 2013 (the ill-dated Superfinal) but took command of the opening sprint with such authority that he stretched a lead of almost thirteen seconds by mid-race distance.
Unchallenged, Tony’s eventual gap of 8.9 seconds by the flag represented the biggest margin of victory in the five years of the Qatar Grand Prix and was his first moto triumph since the Dutch round at Assen last year.
Come the second outing and he could not repeat the holeshot but soon climbed into the roost trail of Tim Gajser. Cairoli followed the Slovenian and seemed to have conceded the race when he slowed to check a potential front wheel problem that transpired to be a lodged stone in the front disc.
Reassured Cairoli was able to drop his lap-times considerably and eat a four second deficit to Gasjer who was also fading to the effects of illness. With two laps to go Cairoli made his move and registered his first ‘double’ since the 2016 Grand Prix of Germany last May.
The top step of the podium means the KTM 450 SX-F will again wear the red number plate as series leader for round two.
“It was a great weekend and I’m really happy. It is my fourteenth season here in the world championship and I’m really happy; not many riders have reached this before and to be here for so many years. I have won at least one GP each year, which is amazing. The start of the season we had some good races and no injuries during the winter so I could train a bit better than the years before. We also had the bike set-up much better. So I was looking forward to this first GP. I was a bit sick with some intestinal flu coming here and was still taking medicine up until Thursday so I was unsure how my reaction would be for the race but it was pretty good and I really enjoyed the racing, and the track was pretty technical so I could make some good lines in places. I could push until the end in both motos. We are really happy with the result and will be ready for the next GP.”
Gajser finished second overall on the day after having battled with Team HRC teammate Evgeny Bobryshev in race 1.
“Yeah I am actually really happy overall with the weekend. It didn’t start the best as I have been really sick all weekend but I was able to achieve two good races despite this. The first race I didn’t have the best start and I had to battle with Bobryshev and Desalle all race. It was tough to pass because there was only actually one fast line and the other lines were not the same speed. In the second race, I had a better start, I was leading and I pulled a gap between myself and Cairoli. Then, in the last two laps I was destroyed and I couldn’t give anymore but I am happy to start the season with second overall this weekend.”
Meanwhile Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle performed well in both races going 2-4 for 3rd overall.
“I’m happy to start the season with a podium… I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev had a strong showing as well with a 4-7 good for 4th overall.
“Today was positive for my overall result in the championship but looking at the races I didn’t feel I did as well as I could have. In the first race, I made a mistake and dropped the bike in the corner before the start as I didn’t feel comfortable with my riding. In the second race, I had a really bad start and I struggled with the track but I know I had good speed as we changed a little bit on the bike for the second race. The changes were much better for my riding style in these conditions and I knew I was faster in the second section of the track. The track was really tough to pass; I feel that last year it was much better prepared. I was trying to change my line and I just couldn’t gain anything by doing this.”
Finishing out the top five was Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Romain Febvre. The former champion had issues in the first race of the day finishing 10th but he was able to rebound by grabbing the FOX Holeshot and finishing 3rd in race 2.
“It was a tough weekend, I had the speed to finish third and to fight for the podium. In the first race I had a good start but two crashes meant I only finished tenth, and that was bad because I knew I had the speed and I knew my lap times were okay.”
“I’m really satisfied with my performance in Qatar. To start the season with two consistent moto results for sixth overall is hugely important. It just shows there’s a great base for us to continue working during the season. The weekend started with a good third place result during qualifying. It was a good confidence booster for the rest of the GP. My bike has been working great throughout the weekend as well. In moto one I made a small mistake after the start and had to fight from the back of the pack to finish sixth. If I hadn’t lost time at the start, I believe a top three result was well within our reach. Then in moto two I didn’t get a great start but made some quick passes and found myself in fifth. Getting some consistent lap times I managed to finish fifth.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings didn’t have the debut in MXGP he expected seeing he has not completely recovered from injury but he scored necessary points and he is excited to race in Indonesia for the second round of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
MXGP Race 1
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 35:02.202
Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:08.904
Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:12.554
Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:22.042
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:23.434
Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:26.076
Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +0:29.380
Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:33.072
Jordi Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:34.933
Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:39.219
MXGP Race 2
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 35:00.353
Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:04.918
Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:23.375
Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:25.782
Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:30.096
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:31.689
Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:33.559
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:47.517
Jordi Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:49.816
Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:57.389
2017 MXGP Overall after Rnd 1
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 50
Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 42
Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 40
Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 32
Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 31
Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 31
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 31
Jordi Tixier (FRA, KAW), 24
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 19
Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 19
To start the MX2 qualifying race the two Red Bull KTM Factory Racing bikes of Pauls Jonass and Jorge Prado Garcia launched off the new starting grid but the holeshot went to TM Racing Factory Team’s Samuele Bernadini.
The Italian was followed by the KTM’s with Jonass leading Prado but the pair of teammates was split in the second corner by the Frenchman Benoit Paturel from Kemea Yamaha MX Official Team. Prado continued to be shuffled back while his teammate looked for a way around Bernardini.
Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer moved into fourth while Jonass and his KTM were able to find an opening and take the lead. Bernadini began to loose ground shortly after and was passed by Paturel then Seewer. The Italian would finish 21st.
At the checkered flag, it was Pauls Jonass who lit the candles for the first time this year ahead of Paturel and Seewer. Prado managed to finish in fourth while young Australian Suzuki World MX2’s Hunter Lawerence rounded out the top five.
MX2 Qualifying Race Top Ten
Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 25:28.950
Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:01.319
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:04.215
Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), +0:15.022
Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Suzuki), +0:16.129
Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), +0:19.109
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:21.208
Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +0:26.088
Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:26.566
Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +0:29.571
MX2 Race Day
With only one previous winner of a Grand Prix in the entire 2017 MX2 pack, Qatar was likely to be a milestone moment for one of the field and it was Pauls Jonass who made a small slice of history by not only celebrating his maiden view from the top step of the podium but also achieving a GP ‘first’ for Latvia.
Australia’s Hunter Lawrence also put in a strong effort taking 18th after a crash in the first moto, with sixth in the second moto. He finishes Round 1 placed 11th overall in MX2.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass not only won his first GP but also became the first racer from Latvia to win and did so in style. The young Latvian had the perfect weekend, winning every race he entered. Consistent pressure was applied by Kemea Yamaha Official MX Team’s Benoit Paturel in both races, but Jonass held off the hard charging Frenchman.
“I didn’t expect that I would get two moto wins this weekend as well as qualifying. I had a good gate pick, two good starts, two consistent motos without any big mistakes – which was also a goal coming to this race – and to go home with two wins and my first overall makes me so happy. We still have eighteen GPs to go; it is such a long season. It will be difficult to continue like we were today but I will do my best! Today I really enjoyed my riding. I think I still have a lot of room for improvement but I am so happy with the bike and the team have done so much.”
Another rider who applied pressure to Jonass was LRT KTM’s Julien Lieber. Lieber was right on the rear wheel of Jonass in race 1 until a mistake cost him valued time and positions. Race 2 he positioned himself near the front once again and this time he was mistake free, good enough for a 3rd overall.
At times the race for the top was a five way battle which Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen competed in. The Husqvarna rider had to settle with a 4-4 for 4th overall, a result he looks to better next weekend.
“I couldn’t have thought of a better way to start the season. I might have done two GPs in MX2 last year, but this feels like a whole new experience. I can’t thank the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing MX2 squad enough for all their great support. The work we’ve done during the off season has paid off and we were capable to battle for the top in Qatar. I got two great starts and kept battling for the top three throughout both motos. We had some great battles with the riders in front and I kept pushing until the end of each race. The speed is there and we shall now focus on remaining consistent. This season is going to be really long and we are hoping for the best.”
Meanwhile newly recruited HRC MX2’s Michele Cervellin missed the start of race one but somehow worked his way up the field all the way to the checkered flag through both races, getting him a hard fought 5th place.
“I am really happy about my first GP in Qatar finishing fifth overall. The team and I worked well together and the bike was perfect. I think I may have been a bit nervous yesterday as it was my first GP with HRC and was a lot to take in but today it all felt good. I found a faster line in the first race for passing other riders and using this line helped me get up to sixth. I liked the track and I felt good on it. I look forward to trying to improve this in Indonesia next week.”
Australia’s Hunter Laurence had a setback in Race 1 with a crash and 18th position, before posting a strong race two result with sixth.
“Round 1 of the World Championship is finished! I think I did the best I could, my crash in the first moto let me down, but it was my rookie mistake and I will live on and learned my lesson. So it goes into the mind for future reference. I was happy with my second moto coming home with sixth position, fifth in qualifying and 18th in Moto 1 with a crash. Thank you to my kickass team, Suzuki World MXGP, and my mechanic Volker. Good job guys and everyone across the world that supports us.”
MX2 Race 1:
Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 35:24.348
Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:01.759
Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), +0:20.039
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:23.565
Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), +0:32.017
Michele Cervellin (ITA, Honda), +0:37.177
Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), +0:45.685
Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:47.621
Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, Kawasaki), +0:51.025
Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +0:52.396
MX2 Race 2:
Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 35:32.077
Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:01.015
Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), +0:03.24
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:07.884
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:12.395
Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Suzuki), +0:19.322
Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +0:26.397
Michele Cervellin (ITA, Honda), +0:33.930
Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, Kawasaki), +0:34.083
Alvin Östlund (SWE, Yamaha), +0:35.200
Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 50
Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 44
Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), 40
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 36
Michele Cervellin (ITA, HON), 28
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 25
Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, KAW), 24
Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), 24
Darian Sanayei (USA, KAW), 20
Alvin Östlund (SWE, YAM), 19
Hunter Lawrence (AUS, SUZ), 18
The next round of the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship will take place on March 5, in Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia. Pangkal Pinang entertains the first Grand Prix of Indonesia this century and constitutes the second ‘flyaway’ round from the opening stint of the calendar with trips to Argentina and Mexico to come in the following weeks.
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