MXGP hits America and locals take the wins as World Champions crowned
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Images by Hoppenworld
The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway hosted the penultimate round of the FIM Motocross World Championship was one of the most iconic stops this season. It turned The Dirt Track, a famed speedway oval, into a world-class motocross track in less than a week.
Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings, who both locked up the titles in MXGP and MX2 with three races to spare.
Full credit must be given to the grand prix winners as well, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac and Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb who were both deserving of their first ever grand prix victories.
ET couldn’t be a more fitting nickname for Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac who was on a whole other planet yesterday. He didn’t just win; he blew the door of MXGP off its hinges with his unmatchable pace. “When I saw the water yesterday I thought the track was going to be a sloppy mess, but it turned out perfect, the dirt was as good as you can get for the type of dirt it was, I liked the track, it was a lot of fun, and the racing was a lot of fun, so I look forward to Glen Helen next week.”
Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser is one rider that is talented beyond the realms of possibility. After what has been an absolutely mind-blowing season, where he has won 8 qualifying races, has led 247 laps, has won 15 races, 7 grand prix’, and has had 15 podiums out of a possible 17, the rookie finally wrapped up the MXGP world title in the first race yesterday. What’s even more impressive is that the Slovenian star has now claimed back-to-back world titles in two different classes and is the first rider to do so since Greg Albertyn with his 125cc title in ’92 and 250cc title in ’93.
As the 2014 vice world champion, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek has struggled to find his place in MXGP this year. There is always a case for the importance of a good start, and Van Horebeek had a good one yesterday, although it didn’t just come down to that. The Belgian was surprisingly fast all day long, it all started when he topped the charts in Free Practice and his 3 – 5 results transpired him into his second podium finish of the season. “We have just been testing some new things on the bike and trying to get off to a good start. I got two good starts today, I felt good all day, I just have to give this one to my team,” he said, “they have been working so hard, and it’s paying off, so this one is for them.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff carried the momentum of last weekend’s podium performance into the Charlotte Motor Speedway and only just missed out on a bottle of pop by 1 point. Nevertheless, it’s good to see the Dutchman back on the pace and battling up front.
Last weekend’s grand prix winner, Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle, had a mediocre day in the office and had to settle for fifth overall ahead of Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev who was debuting the 2017 Honda CRF450 this weekend.
“We started the day well,” said Tomac. “I had really good practices and got in some clean laps. In the first moto the sun was in my eyes pretty bad in certain sections of the track which was a bit difficult to deal with. I washed the front end out and had a little tip over and then nearly made the same mistake the next lap, it was a bit of a wake up call for me to get it together. The second moto I had to work for the lead a bit more and the lights make the dirt a bit difficult to read at times, but all in all I had a really good time. It’s great to race against new competition and to see what the world scene has to offer.”
Jeremy Van Horebeek
“It’s been a long time, and I’ve worked hard for this together with the team. They’ve done an awesome job to get the bike ready, and the puzzle pieces are coming together. The starts are better and better after all the things they try, and I’m really happy. This one is for the team.”
“I felt pretty good on that track today but I couldn’t work out the start and the drop-off out of the gate. I was so fast that I was jumping the drop-off and just lost time compared to the other guys. That roost hurt like hell! My speed was good and especially the second moto where I was having fun on the track. I was riding smooth and it was a bit of a shame with the start; if I could have taken a top -six from the gate then I could have stayed at the front easily. Again not really the results I want but where I came from then it wasn’t too bad…you just don’t really see that on the paper.”
“It was a really good GP and I’m happy with fourth overall. It feels nice to race in front of friends and family and the fans were awesome too. The track was really high speed without many things to slow you down, so passing wasn’t easy. I got a bad start in moto one but made some quick passes. I got fourth pretty quickly and rode the rest of the race by myself. I got a better start in moto two and was battling with Seewer for third, before settling for fourth again. Overall, the bike was working great and my riding was smooth throughout the day. I’m now looking forward to the final GP in Glen Helen. I know this track really well, so hopefully I can run up with the top three.“
“Once more the starts were very important here as the track was really fast. It was difficult to make the difference, tough to pass and I just missed better starts to fight for the podium. In the first race I earn one position with three laps to go, but in the second one it was difficult as there was not so much lighting on the track; I had a good start but I lost some positions in the first corner when I slid out wide, and then it was impossible to come back.”
“We aren’t so used to racing in the dark, but I like it, just like in Qatar. It’s a little dark in some of the corners, but it’s the same for everybody. The track was really fast, and so the speed was very high, because everyone can ride fast on the flat. My results weren’t great, and I’m disappointed. I hope to do better next week at Glen Helen.”
“It was a pretty good weekend with a good qualifying session; at the first start my jump from the gate was not so good but I rode a very good first corner and came out in the top five; then I lost many positions during the first lap, and I only found a good rhythm after ten minutes to come back from eleventh to seventh. My second start was better; I had a good rhythm and was following Clement for twenty minutes but then I felt tired and settled for eighth position. This event was different to the usual GPs, as we had all the programme on one day and raced the second moto in the evening. They did a good job on the track; when we saw how was the track on Thursday and Friday we were not really optimistic but it turned out OK.”
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten
- Eli Tomac (USA, Kawasaki), 35:10.508
- Justin Barcia (USA, Yamaha), +0:22.813
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:24.273
- Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:25.080
- Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:27.325
- Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:29.443
- Jordi Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:30.239
- Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:31.620
- Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:40.857
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:43.983.
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten
- Eli Tomac (USA, Kawasaki), 35:21.042
- Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:05.984
- Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:08.704
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:11.509
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:12.470
- Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:19.778
- Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:24.690
- Jordi Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:33.097
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:47.876
- Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:52.519.
MXGP Overall Top Ten
- Eli Tomac (USA, KAW), 50 points
- Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 40 p.
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 36 p.
- Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 35 p.
- Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 30 p.
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 28 p.
- Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 27 p.
- Jordi Tixier (FRA, KAW), 27 p.
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 23 p.
- Justin Barcia (USA, YAM), 22 p.
MXGP Championship Top Ten
- Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 693 points
- Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 603 p.
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 565 p.
- Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 549 p.
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 522 p.
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 513 p.
- Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 382 p.
- Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 372 p.
- Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 335 p.
- Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 322 p.
- Honda, 729 points
- Yamaha, 666 p.
- KTM, 652 p.
- Husqvarna, 580 p.
- Kawasaki, 503 p.
- Suzuki, 357 p.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings. What can we say that hasn’t already been said? The Bullet is indisputably the best MX2 rider in the world, and even though he didn’t have to win race one today, he put on a clinic anyway, just ‘coz he can, and as a result he FINALLY managed to clinch his third FIM MX2 world title. “Maybe it should have been five, but I had some bad luck with some big injuries, so I am just happy to get this one out of the way,” he said.
Although he wrapped up the title, which was his ultimate goal, he lost his first grand prix of the year to Cooper Webb, “I am just going to be honest,” he said, “Cooper was faster than me in the second moto, I didn’t have anything for him. I know people are going to be saying he’s faster, or I’m faster, but we both went 1 – 2, you can’t tell who’s faster from that, it is just one race, you need a whole championship to decide that, with different tracks, different days and different conditions.”
Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb came in riding a high after claiming two titles in the United States this year. After what was a very successful year, the North Carolina native, couldn’t wish for a better way to wrap up his 250cc bike days than with a grand prix win for his team and the adoring public.
It must be tough when you’re the world’s fastest rookie, pinned to be the next big thing, but it was water off of a ducks back for Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner who was perhaps the most impressive rider this weekend. There was a lot of talk over this eighteen-year-old phenomenon going into the Monster Energy MXGP of Americas, and he showed us why with a 3 – 3 performance for third overall.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington maintained his reputation for performing well at the overseas with his pair of fourths for fourth, while HSF Logistics Motorsports Calvin Vlaanderen introduced himself to the United States of America with a top five finish, fifth.
Joel Smets – KTM Motocross Sport Director
“You could feel the tension in the whole team in the last two GPs because what has happened in the past, so it’s quite normal that everyone is very emotional when the title in finally in the pocket. Of course we all could already see and hear two days ago that Tony (Cairoli) was sick and he could hardly talk. Mentally he is a very strong character, but he’s only human and if the power is not there, that’s how it is. I feel quite sad to have our biggest champion on the team sick. Regarding Glenn, we can be very happy with this result today. We had high expectations for him at the beginning of the season and he was happy to join the KTM family. But it took us a long time to get the bike set up the way he wanted, and we can say it was a real team effort. We found a good setup for him before Lommel and the more he rides, the better he is. He took confidence in Lommel and again in Switzerland and also last week at home in Assen. Today in the first moto he was in a fight with the actual champion (Gajser) and this gives us hope for the future. We’re happy we signed him for two years and we can build on these performances. Regarding Jorge, we were all hopeful after Assen but we didn’t expect a podium. His own goal was to finish top ten. We do have to be realistic because he’s only 15 and we can’t expect miracles. Our boys are all talented and overall we have a good package, and for next weekend in Glenn Helen we expect Jeffrey to do well and Jorge to improve. We hope Tony will be healthy and we know Glenn likes the track. He was the third European there last year.”
“I am super, super happy, especially after everything we’ve been going through with a broken femur, a dislocated hip, two broken collarbones and almost losing my little finger. It’s number three and hopefully many more to come.” Asked to comment about racing against leading Americans, he added: “The two strongest guys from America Webb and Forkner were here. Webb is the national champion and I beat him straight up in the first race and then he beat me in the second. I think the competition is stronger in the US, but we won the championship and that’s what it’s all about.” Speaking about the final round next weekend: “I like the track at Glenn Helen and it should be better than this track. Like always, we will do our best to make it happen.”
“I even surprised myself today. I really didn’t know what to expect and even the start was different as we had to prepare our own gate. I set fastest time in practice and took the lead on the opening lap in each moto. That mistake in race one cost me the win and I just handed it to them, but they were inching me in in race two. We Americans go for it from the beginning of the motos, while the GP riders are stronger at the end. I was getting pretty tired at the end, but it was pretty special today.”
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 35:14.964
- Cooper Webb (USA, Yamaha), +0:04.489
- Austin Forkner (USA, Kawasaki), +0:29.218
- Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:51.237
- Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, KTM), +1:01.275
- Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +1:03.744
- Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +1:08.623
- Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +1:11.395
- Mitchell Harrison (USA, Yamaha), +1:12.303
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +1:13.538.
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten
- Cooper Webb (USA, Yamaha), 35:23.073
- Austin Forkner (USA, Kawasaki), +0:03.876
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:05.424
- Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:50.870
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:54.056
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:55.139
- Mitchell Harrison (USA, Yamaha), +0:55.639
- Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, KTM), +1:07.971
- Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), +1:18.235
- Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +1:22.544
MX2 Overall Top Ten
- Cooper Webb (USA, YAM), 47 points
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 45 p.
- Austin Forkner (USA, KAW), 42 p.
- Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 36 p.
- Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, KTM), 29 p.
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 27 p.
- Mitchell Harrison (USA, YAM), 26 p.
- Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 26 p.
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 25 p.
- Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 23 p.
MX2 Championship Top Ten
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 689 points
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 595 p.
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 485 p.
- Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 473 p.
- Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 403 p.
- Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 378 p.
- Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 372 p.
- Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), 358 p.
- Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 351 p.
- Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, YAM), 320 p.
- KTM, 785 points
- Kawasaki, 611 p.
- Suzuki, 606 p.
- Yamaha, 599 p.
- Husqvarna, 585 p.
- TM, 358 p.
- Honda, 297 p.