Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia will play host to the second round of the FIM Motocross World Championship this weekend. A new motocross track has been built on Bangka Island to the North of the Country’s capital, Jakarta. It will be the first time that the riders of the MXGP and MX2 world championships will experience this setting on a track made specifically for this event, as the last time MXGP was in Indonesia was back in 1997.
In terms of what to expect from the track, though the rain has been coming down for the past 2 weeks, the track crew says the sandy dirt is handling moisture well. While a new track on its own is a big challenge for the riders and teams, as they will be searching all weekend to find a good bike set up from tyres to suspension, the biggest challenge may be the weather.
Australian Hunter Lawrence hoped it would be a little closer to his home country but isn’t afraid of a little rain or heat.
“I think it’s been raining quite a bit so mud is always fun and interesting. Being an Aussie, heat normally isn’t an issue for us but I’ve been in Europe for quite some time and it’s not so warm in Holland and Belgium coming straight from winter time. I have no idea how I’ll go but hopefully I’ll be alright.”
This weekend also marks the first race of the season for the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship. Defending champion Livia Lancelot looks to come out on top as she finished last year. She will have tough competition for the title in the form of Kiara Fontanesi a multi time champion, Courtney Duncan, Nancy Van De Ven and Larissa Papenmeier who all finished well in 2016.
The beginning of the season is always challenging. One rider who has it figured out via winning at the opening round of the championship in Qatar is Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli. The Italian, an eight-time champion, was feeling confident in Losail and it was shown by his results. Cairoli had two good starts and rode consistently fast lap after lap to dominate the premier class in his 14th season. The thirty-one year old rider will rely on his racing experience to help him adjust to this new track in Indonesia.
The defending MXGP world champion, Team HRC’s Tim Gajser has done well in Asia in the past. Over the last four years he has placed himself on the podium twice in MX2 and just missed it in the MXGP class the last 2 years. Perhaps the new venue will suite him well and get him to the top spot of the podium.
“I am looking forward to going to Indonesia as it’s something new again. I have seen a few pictures from the track, it looks nice and hopefully it doesn’t rain anymore because they have had so much rain there. It will be hot out there still even with the rain but it would be good if the weather was nice. I am hoping for a good race as I should be over this fever I have been suffering with by then and I hope all the pain goes away and I am feeling back to normal again.”
Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle looked comfortable on the bike all last weekend scoring 3rd overall. For Desalle it is all about doing better than the race before, which leaves him content on the podium but satisfied only after taking the win. Desalle stated he is looking forward to racing in Indonesia.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre is no stranger to doing well in exotic locations. Last year he won in Thailand and after a hard earned 5th in Qatar he is striving to win in Asia once again. Don’t be surprised if you see the former champion outperform the other contenders here in Indonesia.
Evgeny Bobryshev from Team HRC ended up fourth in Qatar. The Russian placed the same in Thailand last year and traditionally performs well overseas. In Qatar he did make a few mistakes, which he hopes he can put behind him and continue his charge toward the front for Indonesia.
“This weekend I have heard many people talking about Indonesia and how much rain they have had there over the last week or so but it is a sand track and a new place so everyone is also excited to ride there. One thing that we do struggle with as racers out here is that the food and the water can be a little sensitive on our stomachs as it is so different to what we are use too but hopefully this will be ok. The humidity is going to be intense so I have started to prepare for this. It is important not to dehydrate yourself or push too hard and pass out, you need to stay healthy but I am really looking forward getting out there and racing.”
Asian turf has always been good to the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s rookie Jeffrey Herlings. Herlings was never beaten or for that matter challenged while racing MX2 in Asia. Though this year he will still be recovering from injury which challenged him in Qatar. With that said the competitive Dutchman is one not to count out for a win this weekend.
This weekend also marks a first for Team Suzuki World MXGP’s Arminas Jasikonis who missed Qatar last weekend due to visa issues. Jasikonis looks forward to racing in Indonesia and place well in his debut.
MXGP Championship Top 10
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 50 points
Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 42 p.
Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 40 p.
Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 32 p.
Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 31 p.
Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 31 p.
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 31 p.
Jordi Tixier (FRA, KAW), 24 p.
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 19 p.
Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 19 p.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass was one of the biggest surprises of Qatar winning his first GP. Asserting himself as a solid title contender, the Latvian hit not only a personal milestone but he became the first racer from Latvia to win a GP. He will look to keep the momentum this weekend.
Many see Indonesia as a chance for Kemea Yamaha Official MX2 Team’s Benoit Paturel to win his first GP of the season. The French rider was on the heels of Jonass in both Qatar races but struggled to find a way around. With a good start and minimal mistakes it is very possible for the Frenchman to stand on the top spot of the podium here in Indonesia.
Julien Lieber from LRT KTM was another surprise in Qatar and looks to build on momentum and minimize mistakes for Indonesia. The Belgian showed moments of brilliance and true speed during the first round.
One to watch is Team Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer who had some issues in Qatar. Even so he showed great determination when coming through the field and hopes he can have better luck challenging for the podium this weekend.
Others performing well in Qatar were the youngsters of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen and HRC MX2’s Michele Cervellin. Thomas was in the battle for the top five throughout both races and looks to come out of Indonesia with a podium. On the other hand, Cervellin had to battle his way through the field in a valiant effort. The Italian finished fifth in Qatar but with a better start he could be a rider going for the win in Indonesia.
MX2 Championship Top 10
Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 50 points
Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 44 p.
Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), 40 p.
Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 36 p.
Michele Cervellin (ITA, HON), 28 p.
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 25 p.
Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, KAW), 24 p.
Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), 24 p.
Darian Sanayei (USA, KAW), 20 p.
Alvin Östlund (SWE, YAM), 19 p.
Saturday: WMX Free/Time Practice 10:00; MX2 Free Practice 10:45; MXGP Free Practice 11:15; MX2 Time Practice 13:30; MXGP Time Practice 14:00; MX2 Qualifying Race 15:25; MXGP Qualifying Race 16:10; WMX Race 1 17:10.
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