Eli Tomac and Jeffrey Herlings top MXGP of The USA
Images by Hoppenworld
What better way to wrap up the 2016 FIM Motocross World Championship than in the Golden State of California, America, on one of the most incredible tracks in the world, Glen Helen Raceway, where good weather is promised, as is good racing.
As expected, the final gate drop of the 2016 season had the fans that were on site at the Monster Energy MXGP of The USA, on their feet, and the fans that were back home, glued to their television sets, as Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac recovered from two bad starts and destroyed the field in both races for yet another perfect score and his second consecutive, and second ever, grand prix victory, while Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings had a fairytale ending to his MX2 career with a two wins for his first ever grand prix win on US soil.
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Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli are two of the biggest names in motocross right now. Both riders shook off the effects of their mediocre qualifying results to lead the way in the main events. Tomac, in particular, was incredible! He takes lines that no one else takes, and just hits the throttle so much earlier than everyone else, and because of it, he cleaned everyone up once again to become the first American to win multiple grand prix’ in the same calendar year since Mike Brown back in 2000.
As for Tony, it was good to see him looking like his former self as he hung it out on the hills of Glen Helen for second overall. The eight-time champ was striving for his ninth world title this year, but couldn’t match the consistent strength of Slovenia’s motocross extraordinaire Tim Gajser. He did claim the silver medal though, and the impact of being the bridesmaid in terms of the championship was softened by the 10,000 euro cheque he was awarded by Fox Head Europe as the winner of the Fox Holeshot competition.
These days the podium doesn’t look right without Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser standing on one of the steps. The recently crowned world champion would have liked to have topped the box this weekend, but instead had to settle for third, which is not so bad considering he only qualified fourteenth after having a yard sale on the first lap of the qualifier. The champ went 4 – 3 today to land on the box for the sixteenth time this season, which is an incredible feat on its own.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Team’s Max Nagl flew under the radar this weekend, which is kind of a random statement, since it’s common knowledge he is capable of winning grand prix especially when he gets a good start. The German was a rocket ship out of the gate today and carried that same blistering fast momentum through both races to finish on the same points as Gajser. Because Gajser had the better result in the final race, he was awarded third while Nagl had to settle for fourth overall, but looking at the bigger picture, was happy to have cemented the bronze medal in the premier class this season.
After two shocking rounds, last years vice world champion, Team HRC’s Gautier Paulin, bounced back this weekend and nailed a top five finish.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre didn’t have the desired end to his season, but if you’re searching for positives you’ll hold onto the emphatic qualifying heat win he took yesterday. Today was a new day, and it wasn’t a good one for the Frenchman who had a bike issue in race one and binned it in race two. As a result, he only finished fifteeth overall, but we look forward to seeing him return to the front of the field next year.
Honda celebrated winning the Manufacturers’ Championship. World Champion Tim Gajser on the Honda Gariboldi CRF450RW supported by official HRC riders Gautier Paulin and Evgeny Bobryshev, Honda dominated the Manufacturers’ Championship this season to win that particular title by 70 points, adding to the double crown of 2016 Riders’ and Manufacturers’ World Championship titles.
The MXGP of the USA marked the end of the 2016 season, but that’s not to say racing is now finished. In two weeks, the Italian track of Maggiora hosts the Motocross of Nations, which is followed a fortnight later by the Riders’ and Manufacturers’ Cup at the Veltins Arena in Germany.
Eli Tomac – Round Winner
“I just ate too much dirt this week after bad starts. I didn’t feel so good yesterday, but we made some good changes on the suspension; every weekend we have to keep an open mind but we found some really good settings for the balance today. I had to make a few passes for the win in the first race, but I had to come a lot further in race two. Glen Helen is a tough track, but it had good options inside or outside on the finish straight and through the rollers. I didn’t crash on the first lap of race two, but it got a little hairy up the long hill with some guys out of shape; I got clipped on the step-up and that cost me some places. Everyone in MXGP is very fast and they race clean and respect each other; I want to come back and race some more.”
Tim Gajser – 3rd overall
“I’m happy overall with this weekend, and very happy with the way this season has gone. To finish 16 times on the podium from 18 races this year has been amazing, and the team has done such a great job to give me such a great bike all year. Yesterday was a tough day so it’s great to have come out stronger today. I pushed too much early on in race one, but in the second race we had a better tactic and had a battle with Toni all race. It’s been a long season, but I’m so happy to have taken the title and also to end the year in this way back on the podium. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone around me this season – all the fans that have travelled all around the world in support of me, Honda and HRC for all their support and such a great bike, the Gariboldi team for all their really hard work all season, and all my sponsors like Fox, Monster and Just1, and of course my family and my father. This season has been a joint effort between us all, and I’m so grateful for everything. It’ll be nice to have a very short break now after three GPs in a row, but I’m looking forward to the Nations already now!”
Max Nagl – 4th overall
“I’m happy with the way the season ended in Glen Helen. I wanted to end the year on a high and finish inside the top three in the MXGP championship and I’m happy to say both goals were accomplished. In the first moto I got off to a great start leading the race for the first corners before settling for third. My start in moto two was even better and I managed to get my ninth holeshot for the season. I kept the lead until the second lap and then slowly dropped to fourth and that’s where I finished. We were tied in points for third overall with Gajser but he beat me due to his better finish in moto two. We’ve worked really hard with the team this season and this third place in the championship is the best reward for all of us. It’s been a very long season with a lot of travelling. I’m now going to take some time off and soon I will start my preparations for next year. The plan is to keep working as hard as always and hopefully in 2017 we’ll have an even bigger chance for the MXGP title.”
Giacomo Gariboldi – Team Principal
“It’s been a great season for Tim and for Honda, and it’s a good feeling to end the season in this way, back on the podium. Sixteen podiums from 18 races, and in Tim’s rookie year, is incredible and proves the decision to take Tim straight into the MXGP class after winning in MX2 last year was totally the right one. We’re so proud of what we’ve achieved this season, with all the support from Honda and HRC and all our partners, and of course the fans. It’s been like a dream year. Actually a dream two years, beyond anything we could have imagined. To finish with the Manufacturers’ title too is a great reward for Honda for all the work they’ve put in this season, and I am delighted that we can share this together.”
Gautier Paulin – 5th Overall
“Today was a little bit up and down because I was tenth in the first moto but then fifth in the second, which was much better. In moto one I knew that my position today was fifth. I tried to push to pass Max in race two but I couldn’t make it, so in the end fifth was exactly where we finished, in the second race and overall. Romain has been on it this weekend and he finished behind me in the second race so we know that the speed was there. I struggled a bit on the bike yesterday and in the first moto when the track was flat, but in the second race it was rougher so I could be more technical so we could do a better job. It’s great for Honda to have taken the Manufacturers’ title too, so I want to congratulate the team and all the HRC staff for all their work this season, and also thank them for all their support and all the work of the team this season.”
Evgeny Bobryshev – 7th Overall
“Yesterday really set the tone of this weekend as starting from the outside made my races tough today, even though I could still make some passes in the first corner as I hoped. It was difficult to come back through the field though. The first moto was a little tricky and at the finish I was only three points ahead of Jeremy van Horebeek in fifth overall in the championship, and I really wanted to keep that position. Then the second race was much better and we could make our way up to eighth. I’m really proud to have ridden the new 2017 CRF450RW for the last two races of this season, and I know it has so much performance that we’ve been finding out how to maximise these last two races ahead of next season. The team have worked so hard all season and I really want to thank them all for their support, and it’s a good reward that Honda won the Manufacturers’ title this year. Along with Tim’s championship, it’s been a fantastic year to be riding a Honda.”
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten
- Eli Tomac (USA, Kawasaki), 36:36.218
- Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:15.622
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:28.537
- Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:34.082
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:36.509
- Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:38.664
- Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:43.174
- Dean Wilson (GBR, KTM), +0:46.822
- Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:50.421
- Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:54.314.
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten
- Eli Tomac (USA, Kawasaki), 34:58.974
- Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:16.031
- Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:19.041
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:25.660
- Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:27.302
- Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:33.516
- Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Kawasaki), +1:01.351
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +1:04.094
- Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +1:04.386
- Jordi Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:07.854
MXGP Overall Top Ten
- Eli Tomac (USA, KAW), 50 points
- Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 44 p.
- Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 38 p.
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 38 p.
- Gautier Paulin (FRA, HON), 27 p.
- Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 24 p.
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 23 p.
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 23 p.
- Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 22 p.
- Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 21 p.
MXGP World Championship 2016 Final Points Standings
- Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 731 points
- Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 647 p.
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 603 p.
- Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 564 p.
- Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 545 p.
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 536 p.
- Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 406 p.
- Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 372 p.
- Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 352 p.
- Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 343 p.
- Strijbos 331
- Searle 302
- Paulin 270
- Tizier 236
- Butron 201
- Charlier 198
- Leok 193
- Townley 128
- Potisek 119
- Lupino 119
- Honda, 767 points
- Yamaha, 697 p.
- KTM, 696 p.
- Husqvarna, 618 p.
- Kawasaki, 553 p.
- Suzuki, 377 p.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings is one of the heaviest guys on the line in the smaller bike class, MX2, and while he typically races number ‘84’, this weekend he rode with the number 1 plate, a number plate that often weighs heavy on a riders bike. The last thing Herlings needed was extra weight to carry up, especially against the lightweights like Austin Forkner and his Red Bull KTM teammate Jorge Prado, but it didn’t give him any trouble whatsoever. The Bullet bossed it in both motos for two convincing wins, and his first ever grand prix win on US soil.
“To finish with a win is amazing, it was my final ride in the lites class and now I will move up to the 450, it’s been a hell of a ride, so many ups and downs, but I’m very grateful for what I have achieved and I hope to have the same success in the MXGP class.”
There is one simple mission in MX2, BEAT JEFFREY HERLINGS! Last weekend America’s national Lites champion Cooper Webb managed to do it, and is the first rider to beat The Bullet fair and square for the overall since Tim Gajser did it in Maggiora, at the MXGP of Italy, last year. Interestingly, all three riders Webb, Herlings and Gajser will go head-to-head on 450cc bikes in the MXGP class at the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations in two weeks time. As for the racing today, the hope of the American fans lied in the hands of their two most touted riders, Geico Honda’s Jeremy Martin and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner.
How do you handle super gnarly hills? Ask the Americans. A host of American riders schooled some of the best MX2 riders in the world at Glen Helen Raceway in Race 1 with Geico Honda’s Jeremy Martin being the most successful representative of the stars and stripes in this class. Martin was the talk of the town heading in, mainly because he changed brands, from Yamaha to Honda, and was making his debut earlier than most riders normally do. J-Mart, as they call him, went 2 – 2 for second overall, a huge result for the American kid who had only had one week on the bike heading into his first ever MX2 grand prix, and actually missed warm-up this morning due to a mix up of Timetables.
Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha’s Mitchell Harrison is actually from Michigan, although he has adopted California as his home and actually rides here at Glen Helen Raceway every week. Knowledge of a track doesn’t always transpire into good results, so you have to take your hat off to Harrison this weekend. He was on rails and after cutting his teeth on the grand prix scene at the Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend where he finished seventh, he rolled out today and nailed a pair of fifths for third overall. “I wasn’t expecting to be on the podium, I was just hoping to get a top five this weekend and progress, I got a top ten last weekend. Third overall is incredible for me, so I am excited about it.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Anstie finished third overall in the FIM MX2 World Championship last year and was hoping to either defend that position if not better it. After what has been an up and down year Anstie had to relinquish his bronze medal to Kemea Yamaha’s Benoit Paturel, who was the most consistent rider this year. Comparing the stats, Anstie led 61 laps this year, while Paturel led 20. Anstie won 1 Qualifying Race, 4 Races and 2 Grand Prix’, while Paturel didn’t win any races or grand prix’. While Anstie’s stats look better on paper, Paturel is the perfect example of why consistency is sometimes more important.
Going into race day today, Anstie was 12 points down on Paturel, he managed to claw back 4 points with his fourth place finish here at the Monster Energy MX2 Grand Prix of The USA, compared to Paturel’s sixth place, but it was Paturel who took home the bronze medal.
Team Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer didn’t have anything other than pride to race for today as he had already wrapped up the silver medal in the championship last weekend, and the gold medal was out of reach as well. After a lackluster performance in Race 1 where he tangled with his teammate and just had a bad time out on the track for eleventh, the Swiss star bounced back in Race 2 to finish a hard fought third and fifth overall.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner finished third in Race 1, but after a bad start, crashed out of Race 2 while charging through the pack.
Austin Forkner – 10th overall
“Qualifying day went good; I had some battle with Herlings in the qualifying race and second gave me a good gate pick. First moto I was third and did my own race, a pretty solid ride. Second moto I was fourth or fifth but I went down at the bottom of a hill while I was with Herlings; I was last, came back in the pack and I was putting some very fast laps to come back to tenth, but then on a table top at the back of the track I had a big crash; luckily I wasn’t badly hurt though my back was sore but the bike was damaged and I had to retire. I would have like to finish the second race today, and maybe got another podium as my team told me that if I finished eighth in race two I would have got it. Racing these two GPs was definitively a good experience.”
Max Anstie – 4th Overall
“It’s been a good GP, considering I’ve been ill the last couple of days. It all started during the previous round in Charlotte. Actually, I thought I was all right, as I felt a lot better before the weekend. But ten minutes into each moto and the effects started coming in. Despite aching and feeling sick I did my best in both motos, pushing as hard as my body allowed me to do. I’m also happy with my holeshot in moto one, which helped me secure the holeshot award for this season. My speed was good during the first few laps, but then I felt tired and dropped back to eighth. I got another great start in moto two, even leading the race for a couple of corners. Despite feeling sick again I battled to fourth for fourth overall. Overall, I’m happy with the way this season ended and I’m looking forward to stepping up to the MXGP class with Husqvarna in 2017.”
Thomas Covington – 8th Overall
“I felt good all weekend and my speed was pretty good as well. In the first moto I started in about eighth position. I struggled to find a good race pace in the beginning. Towards the end I found my rhythm and was able to pass a few guys in the last ten minutes to finish the moto fourth. In the second race I got a pretty good start, but struggled to find a good feeling in the track. In the second lap I went off the track and lost a couple of spots. I came back and was trying to make it to the podium but I had another crash on top of the hill that ruined my moto. Overall, we had a good first season with the team and I’m looking forward to working hard during the off-season in order to come back stronger next year.”
Young Queenslander Caleb Ward enjoyed a one-off MXGP debut and acquitted himself well with a 15th place finish in the opening Moto but had problems in the second moto after another rider’s leg got tangled in Ward’s rear wheel.
Caleb Ward – 19th Overall
“First MXGP done and dusted, went 15-DNF, with a bit of bad luck but learned so much! Had a rough time spraining my ankle badly on Tuesday when I got here but toughed it out a bit and had a decent day. Could have been a top 10 in the first moto if I didn’t have a little dirt sample. In the second moto had a guy throw his leg in my back wheel and swing arm and had to wait ages for medical guys to get it out And then had a bike problem once I got going which made me DNF.. Huge thanks to the TLD Moto team for all the help and everyone else for the opportunity! I really appreciate it and had an amazing time and am already so motivated to improve myself!”
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:43.854
- Jeremy Martin (USA, Honda), +0:10.160
- Austin Forkner (USA, Kawasaki), +0:16.613
- Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:28.544
- Mitchell Harrison (USA, Yamaha), +0:31.308
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:36.274
- Chris Alldredge (USA, Kawasaki), +0:48.628
- Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:55.383
- Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:55.761
- Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +0:58.166.
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 35:33.376
- Jeremy Martin (USA, Honda), +0:07.571
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:11.139
- Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:31.811
- Mitchell Harrison (USA, Yamaha), +0:34.253
- Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +0:55.261
- Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +1:00.631
- Justin Hoeft (USA, KTM), +1:02.893
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +1:08.677
- Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), +1:13.292.
MX2 Overall Top Ten
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points
- Jeremy Martin (USA, HON), 44 p.
- Mitchell Harrison (USA, YAM), 32 p.
- Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 31 p.
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 30 p.
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 27 p.
- Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 26 p.
- Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 25 p.
- Chris Alldredge (USA, KAW), 24 p.
- Austin Forkner (USA, KAW), 23 p.
MX2 Championship 2016 – Final Points Standings
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 739 points
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 625 p.
- Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 512 p.
- Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 504 p.
- Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 403 p.
- Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 398 p.
- Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 378 p.
- Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), 377 p.
- Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 351 p.
- Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, YAM), 320 p.
- Covington 286
- Vlaanderen 224
- Ostlund 222
- Bryyakov 219
- Van Doninck 204
- Cervellin 165
- Larranaga 134
- Justs 130
- Mewse 126
- Zargoza 126
- KTM, 835 points
- Kawasaki, 641 p.
- Suzuki, 636 p.
- Yamaha, 631 p.
- Husqvarna, 621 p.
- TM, 377 p.
- Honda, 341 p.