Starting the season off in spectacular style with a breath-taking night program, the opening round of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Losail, Qatar, didn’t fail to impress. If tonight’s racing is a sign of things to come in 2014, we are in for a cracker of a season with Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Gautier Paulin taking the overall in the MXGP class ahead of race one winner Team HRC’s Max Nagl and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli.

In the MX2, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings takes the first MX2 overall victory of the season ahead of race ones’ surprise winner CLS Kawasaki Monster Energy’s Dylan Ferrandis and Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre.

Australian Champion Luke Styke was unable to compete in the MX2 events due to the debilitating effects of a viral infection.  Todd Waters scored 14th and 11th place finishes after recovering from a huge practice crash earlier in the weekend. Australia fared better in the Women’s Motocross categorty with Meghan Rutledge taking a double victory.

Meghan Rutledge –  “I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. My Bud Racing Team Kawasaki KX250F was awesome and I couldn’t have asked for more. I won FIM World races last year but never the double like I have here so I’m so excited. I can’t thank everybody at Bud Kawasaki Racing enough and also everyone at Kawasaki Australia for their ongoing support. It feels great to be able to get the red plate here at the first round and I can’t wait to get to Italy for the 2nd round”.

Todd Waters: “It’s been a rough start to my MXGP career. I had a massive crash during qualification and was lucky not to get injured. Coming through the wave section the rider in front of me made a mistake and I had to take avoiding action – resulting in one of the biggest crashes I’ve had in a long time. I was quite beat up after it but was determined to compete in my first ever MXGP race. In race one I was still hurting but toughed out a 14th place result. I felt a bit better for race two but was struggling with confidence in the track. Finishing 11th overall was a good improvement. Hopefully next weekend things will go smoother and I can finish inside the top 10 like I know I’m capable of.

Luke Styke – “I’ve been struggling with a viral infection so I knew I was up against it. I did what I could but after ten minutes I was so weak and couldn’t see properly. It wasn’t safe to continue. I’ve seen the doctor and it is one of those things that will take a bit of time to recover from.”

MX1

Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Gautier Paulin was looking smooth and aggressive all evening. In race one the Frenchman got off to a top five start and went right to work, passing Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev and Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s top qualifier Kevin Strijbos in the early stages of the race. While the goal would have been to chase down the leader Team HRC’s Max Nagl, Paulin found himself under heat from the current FIM Motocross World Champion Antonio Cairoli, who eventually would pass him to take over second. After a third in race one, Paulin came out firing on all cylinders in race two when both he and his teammate Steven Frossard took control of the race on the opening lap. After a brief round of cat and mouse with fellow Frenchman Steven Frossard, Paulin managed to take the lead and led every lap from start to finish to claim the first MXGP round victory of the season.

Team HRC’s Max Nagl took one for the underdogs in moto one when he dropped the hammer and passed Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s Kevin Strijbos on lap one. Thereafter, the German star rode smooth and solid out front, to claim the first MXGP race win of the season. With a win in race one and a fourth in race two, Max Nagl secured second overall tonight in Losail.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli put together two consistent podium finishes for third overall. Although the reigning world champ would like to be on the box, in the big picture, his result is not so bad. “I rode two good moto’s today and that I am very happy about. I know that for the moment I am not in really really good shape but it’s not so bad, and I want to be good at the end of the season”.

Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Steven Frossard made a solid return to the front of the pack in MXGP. While the certainty of Frossard’s speed was up in the air, the Frenchman soon silenced all his critics when he locked in a remarkable fourth and second place result to miss the podium by two points.

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek rounded out the top five this evening with two very solid fifth place finishes.

The 2008 FIM MX2 World Champion, Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Tyla Rattray was forced to withdraw from tonight’s program due to an injury he got during the pre-season. The South African former champ has gone back to Belgium to have his finger operated on and hopes to return to be back in Arco Di Trento, Italy on April 13th.

MXGP – Race 1 – Classification
PosNrRiderNat.Fed.BikeTimelapsDiff. FirstDiff. Prev.Bestlaptimein lapSpeed
112Max NaglGERDMSBHonda34:57.925180:00.0000:00.0001:50.177452.116
2222Antonio CairoliITAFMIKTM34:59.867180:01.9420:01.9421:49.9751652.212
321Gautier PaulinFRAMCMKawasaki35:05.752180:07.8270:05.8851:50.418352.002
4183Steven FrossarcFRAFFMKawasaki35:13.568180:15.6430:07.8161:50.3561552.032
589Jeremy Van HorebeekBELFMBYamaha35:24.537180:26.6120:10.9691:51.167651.652
6100Tommy SearleGBRACUKawasaki35:29.121180:31.1960:04.5841:50.967551.745
722Kevin StrijboxBELFMBSuzuki35:31.510180:33.5850:02.3891:51.278451.6
8777Bobryshev, EvgenyRUSMFRHonda35:32.311180:34.3860:00.8011:51.306251.588
925Desalle, ClementBELFMBSuzuki35:32.522180:34.5970:00.2111:51.626551.44
1034Roelants, JoelBELFMBHonda35:48.002180:50.0770:15.4801:52.380651.095
1124Simpson, ShaunGBRACUKTM35:49.067180:51.1420:01.0651:51.961551.286
1239Guarneri, DavideITAFMITM35:49.788180:51.8630:00.7211:51.714551.399
1319Philippaerts, DavidITAFMIYamaha36:05.473181:07.5480:15.6851:52.6401250.977
1447Waters, ToddAUSMAHusqvarna36:07.451181:09.5260:01.9781:53.086450.776
153Leok, TanelESTEMFTM36:26.561181:28.6360:19.1101:53.8321350.443
1645Nicholls, JakeGBRACUKTM36:28.722181:30.7970:02.1611:54.005850.366
17999Goncalves, RuiPORFMPYamaha37:03.507182:05.5820:34.7851:54.119350.316
1851Getteman, JensBELFMBHonda35:26.501171 lap1 lap1:54.701550.061
1962Gercar, KlemenSLOAMZSHonda35:42.108171 lap0:15.6071:56.869649.132
2069Sabetifar, AmirezzaIRIMAFIRIYamaha36:00.621144 laps3 laps2:04.866245.985
21121Boog, XavierFRAFFMHonda18:46.14599 laps5 laps1:53.413850.629
2291Karro, MatissLATLAMSFKTM13:08.968612 laps3 laps1:53.513550.585
2395Justs, AugustsLATLAMSFHusqvarna11:25.384513 laps1 lap1:54.827450.006
24411Runnals, Ross IanRSAUAEMCKawasaki12:35.547513 laps1:10.1632:02.818146.752
Best lap: #222 Antonio Cairoli Time:1:49.975 in lap 16
Gautier Paulin
Gautier Paulin
MXGP – Race 2 – Classification
PosNrRiderNat.Fed.BikeTimelapsDiff. FirstDiff. Prev.Bestlaptimein lapSpeed
121Paulin, GautierFRAMCMKawasaki35:04.471180:00.0000:00.0001:49.833152.279
2183Frossard, StevenFRAFFMKawasaki35:07.244180:02.7730:02.7731:50.710151.865
3222Cairoli, AntonioITAFMIKTM35:14.412180:09.9410:07.1681:50.9501051.753
412Nagl, MaximilianGERDMSBHonda35:17.595180:13.1240:03.1831:50.848451.801
589Van Horebeek, JeremyBELFMBYamaha35:24.564180:20.0930:06.9691:51.394651.547
625Desalle, ClementBELFMBSuzuki35:28.403180:23.9320:03.8391:51.813651.354
7100Searle, TommyGBRACUKawasaki35:30.122180:25.6510:01.7191:52.059451.241
822Strijbos, KevinBELFMBSuzuki35:42.857180:38.3860:12.7351:51.6161451.444
9777Bobryshev, EvgenyRUSMFRHonda36:06.684181:02.2130:23.8271:52.409651.081
1034Roelants, JoelBELFMBHonda36:09.788181:05.3170:03.1041:53.1351750.754
1147Waters, ToddAUSMAHusqvarna36:21.738181:17.2670:11.9501:53.696350.503
1219Philippaerts, DavidITAFMIYamaha36:23.010181:18.5390:01.2721:53.886450.419
13121Boog, XavierFRAFFMHonda36:24.066181:19.5950:01.0561:53.412650.63
143Leok, TanelESTEMFTM36:28.713181:24.2420:04.6471:54.639750.088
1591Karro, MatissLATLAMSFKTM36:31.204181:26.7330:02.4911:52.861450.877
1645Nicholls, JakeGBRACUKTM36:44.142181:39.6710:12.9381:54.725550.05
17999Goncalves, RuiPORFMPYamaha36:48.968181:44.4970:04.8261:55.095649.889
1851Getteman, JensBELFMBHonda35:26.856171 lap1 lap1:53.249350.702
1962Gercar, KlemenSLOAMZSHonda36:18.649171 lap0:51.7931:57.928348.691
2069Sabetifar, AmirezzaIRIMAFIRIYamaha35:59.618153 laps2 laps2:06.513245.387
2124Simpson, ShaunGBRACUKTM36:33.255144 laps1 lap1:52.466451.055
22411Runnals, Ross IanRSAUAEMCKawasaki27:52.16299 laps5 laps2:05.747145.663
2339Guarneri, DavideITAFMITM14:59.931711 laps2 laps1:52.068551.237
Best lap: #21 Gautier Paulin Time:1:49.833 in lap 1

MXGP Overall top ten: 1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 45 points; 2. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 43 p.; 3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 42 p.; 4. Steven Frossard (FRA, KAW), 40 p.; 5. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 32 p.; 6. Tommy Searle (GBR, KAW), 29 p.; 7. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 27 p.; 8. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 27 p.; 9. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 25 p.; 10. Joel Roelants (BEL, HON), 22 p.; 11. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS).

MXGP Manufacturer: 1. Kawasaki, 45 points; 2. Honda, 43 p.; 3. KTM, 42 p.; 4. Yamaha, 32 p.; 5. Suzuki, 29 p.; 6. Husqvarna, 17 p.; 7. TM, 16 p.

MX2

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings did what he needed to do this weekend, winning the opening round. Although the results or the riding was not up to his standards, made particularly difficult thanks to his terrible starts, Herlings still managed to come away with the overall victory thanks to his first and second place finishes.

CLS Kawasaki Monster Energy’s Dylan Ferrandis threw a spanner in the works right from the get-go when he won the opening race marginally ahead of the reigning champ Jeffrey Herlings. In moto two, Ferrandis appeared to struggle on the tricky Losail dirt, but still managed to finish sixth for second overall. He later admitted his result in the second race was due to dirt in his eyes.

Standing on the third step of the MX2 podium in Qatar for the second consecutive year was Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre, who rode two consistent races today for third overall.

Forced to settle for fourth by one point, CLS Kawasaki Monster Energy’s Arnaud Tonus had to dig really deep after a crash in race one left him in dead last. The Swiss sensation pulled out all the stops and managed to bounce back for tenth in race one, saving his real moment of brilliance for moto two when he started outside the top fifteen to finish hot on the heels of Jeffrey Herlings for second.

Rounding out the top five, KTM Silver Action’s José Butron had a night of ups and downs when he claimed both FOX Head holeshot awards and a fourth place in race one. Unfortunately, in race two the Spaniard could only salvage eighth after coming together with Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Thomas Covington whilst battling for second.

In other news, it was a night of heartbreak for Bike it Yamaha Cosworth’s Max Anstie when two amazing starts saw him storm off into the lead and pull away from the field. The friendly Brit was in ‘beast mode’, raising the bar to a whole other level. With a lead in both moto’s of plus six seconds and at one moment more than twenty seconds ahead of the Dutch phenomenon Jeffrey Herlings, bike problems saw his first genuine shot at a GP victory slide right through his fingers. Meanwhile, Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Thomas Covington tore up the challenging circuit of Losail in race two when he passed KTM Silver Action’s José Butron for second. The young American, on his FIM MX2 World Championship debut, held his own against a field of experienced MX2 stars only to be passed with two laps to go by CLS Kawasaki Monster Energy’s Arnaud Tonus.

MX2 – Grand Prix Race 1 – Classification
PosNrRiderNat.Fed.BikeTimelapsDiff. FirstDiff. Prev.Bestlaptimein lapSpeed
1122Ferrandis, DylanFRAFFMKawasaki33:53.328170:00.0000:00.0001:52.9351750.843
284Herlings, JeffreyNEDKNMVKTM33:53.657170:00.3290:00.3291:51.2851551.597
3259Coldenhoff, GlennNEDKNMVSuzuki33:55.537170:02.2090:01.8801:52.5941450.997
417Butron, JoseESPRFMEKTM34:06.897170:13.5690:11.3601:53.792850.46
5461Febvre, RomainFRAFFMHusqvarna34:07.210170:13.8820:00.3131:53.109750.765
659Tonkov, AleksandrRUSMFRHusqvarna34:14.419170:21.0910:07.2091:53.3771350.645
7911Tixier, JordiFRAFFMKTM34:20.233170:26.9050:05.8141:53.578550.556
8243Gajser, TimSLOAMZSHonda34:23.521170:30.1930:03.2881:53.3401250.662
992Guillod, ValentinSUIFMSKTM34:25.557170:32.2290:02.0361:54.1801250.289
10200Tonus, ArnaudSUIFMSKawasaki34:30.155170:36.8270:04.5981:52.2301551.163
118Lupino, AlessandroITAFMIKawasaki34:33.017170:39.6890:02.8621:53.772650.469
1223Charlier, ChristopheFRAFFMYamaha34:34.268170:40.9400:01.2511:53.4711650.603
13119Pocock, MelGBRACUKTM34:46.701170:53.3730:12.4331:54.492350.152
1491Seewer, JeremySUIFMSSuzuki34:47.130170:53.8020:00.4291:54.727850.049
15141Desprey, MaximeFRAFFMHonda34:56.128171:02.8000:08.9981:54.748650.04
16152Petrov, PetarBULBMFYamaha35:10.358171:17.0300:14.2301:52.8701050.873
17195Justs, RobertsLATLAMSFHusqvarna35:16.702171:23.3740:06.3441:56.906449.116
1833Lieber, JulienBELFMBSuzuki35:17.953171:24.6250:01.2511:53.304350.678
1967Klingsheim, MagneNORNMFYamaha35:22.310171:28.9820:04.3571:56.502449.287
20274Lundgren, AntonSWESVEMOYamaha35:36.042171:42.7140:13.7321:56.8931449.122
2171Valente, ChristopherSUIFMSTM35:58.656172:05.3280:22.6141:59.463648.065
22400Yamamoto, KeiJPNMFJHonda33:56.849161 lap1 lap1:59.0131548.247
23300Golovkin, ViacheslavRUSFMIKTM35:15.766161 lap1:18.9172:02.089547.031
2499Anstie, MaxGBRACUYamaha26:13.802134 laps3 laps1:51.459551.517
2526Styke, LukeAUSMAYamaha19:34.98498 laps4 laps1:56.125449.447
MX2 – Grand Prix Race 2 – Classification
PosNrRiderNat.Fed.BikeTimelapsDiff. FirstDiff. Prev.Bestlaptimein lapSpeed
184Herlings, JeffreyNEDKNMVKTM33:49.169170:00.0000:00.0001:51.7121251.4
2200Tonus, ArnaudSUIFMSKawasaki33:50.373170:01.2040:01.2041:52.0611751.24
364Covington, ThomasUSAAMAKawasaki33:56.815170:07.6460:06.4421:52.228251.164
4461Febvre, RomainFRAFFMHusqvarna33:58.852170:09.6830:02.0371:51.949351.291
559Tonkov, AleksandrRUSMFRHusqvarna33:59.606170:10.4370:00.7541:52.831450.89
6122Ferrandis, DylanFRAFFMKawasaki34:01.440170:12.2710:01.8341:52.808550.901
7911Tixier, JordiFRAFFMKTM34:01.622170:12.4530:00.1821:52.878450.869
817Butron, JoseESPRFMEKTM34:02.909170:13.7400:01.2871:52.719250.941
923Charlier, ChristopheFRAFFMYamaha34:03.908170:14.7390:00.9991:52.281551.14
10243Gajser, TimSLOAMZSHonda34:04.695170:15.5260:00.7871:52.551851.017
11152Petrov, PetarBULBMFYamaha34:05.295170:16.1260:00.6001:52.721550.94
12259Coldenhoff, GlennNEDKNMVSuzuki34:07.583170:18.4140:02.2881:53.002350.813
1333Lieber, JulienBELFMBSuzuki34:19.782170:30.6130:12.1991:53.320950.671
1492Guillod, ValentinSUIFMSKTM34:21.070170:31.9010:01.2881:54.233350.266
15141Desprey, MaximeFRAFFMHonda34:23.903170:34.7340:02.8331:53.2551250.7
168Lupino, AlessandroITAFMIKawasaki34:38.283170:49.1140:14.3801:54.433850.178
1799Anstie, MaxGBRACUYamaha34:41.509170:52.3400:03.2261:52.580751.004
1891Seewer, JeremySUIFMSSuzuki34:42.306170:53.1370:00.7971:53.416550.628
19119Pocock, MelGBRACUKTM35:05.288171:16.1190:22.9821:55.502449.713
20400Yamamoto, KeiJPNMFJHonda35:05.836171:16.6670:00.5481:56.089249.462
2167Klingsheim, MagneNORNMFYamaha35:14.990171:25.8210:09.1541:56.1631349.431
22195Justs, RobertsLATLAMSFHusqvarna33:31.386161 lap1 lap1:55.627249.66
2371Valente, ChristopherSUIFMSTM33:52.368161 lap0:20.9821:57.552548.846
24274Lundgren, AntonSWESVEMOYamaha34:13.119161 lap0:20.7511:57.270448.964
25300Golovkin, ViacheslavRUSFMIKTM34:28.457161 lap0:15.3382:00.491447.655

 MX2 Overall top ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 47 points; 2. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 40 p.; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 34 p.; 4. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 33 p.; 5. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 31 p.; 6. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 31 p.; 7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 29 p.; 8. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 28 p.; 9. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 24 p.; 10. Christophe Charlier (FRA, YAM), 21 p.

MX2 Manufacturer: 1. KTM, 47 points; 2. Kawasaki, 47 p.; 3. Husqvarna, 34 p.; 4. Suzuki, 29 p.; 5. Honda, 24 p.; 6. Yamaha, 21 p.;

Women’s Motocross World Championship – Meghan Rutledge doubles up

With cool gusty winds breezing across the beautifully floodlit circuit of Losail, Qatar, round one of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship got underway. Dominating the first round of 2014, Bud Racing Kawasaki’s Meghan Rutledge surprisingly stood head and shoulders above the rest this weekend. The nineteen-year-old Australian took two from two holeshots and went on to control both races from start to finish for her first ever World Championship double race victory. Meanwhile HM Plant KTM UK’s Natalie Kane and Team One One Four’s Livia Lancelot came home with second and third respectively.

Nerves had to be skyrocketing as the ladies of WMX shot off the line for their first ever start of the season. Coming around the first turn in front was Bud Racing Kawasaki’s Meghan Rutledge. Rutledge was quick to stamp her authority, stretching out a lead of plus four seconds within two laps. While the Australian went on to win the race unchallenged, the battle for second was hot with HM Plant KTM UK’s Natalie Kane, Young Dutch talent Nancy Van De Ven, Twenty Suspension Suzuki’s Larissa Papenmeier-Picoto and former four-time WMX world champion Stephanie Laier all dicing back and forth for a podium position. Each lap was give or take all the way to the checkers, but in the end it was HM Plant KTM UK’s Natalie Kane who crossed the line in second in front of the flying Yamaha YZ 125 two-stroke of Nancy Van De Ven with Stephanie Laier and Larissa Papenmeier-Picoto rounding out the top five.

Lining up for race two, race one winner Bud Racing Kawasaki’s Meghan Rutledge was looking more focused and determine than ever. Proving her case, the Australian underdog took her second holeshot of the evening and went on to dominate yet again for a perfect start to the season. Meanwhile Team One One Four’s Livia Lancelot redeemed herself after her terrible start in race one. While the French wonder women did lay down the fastest laptime, she couldn’t match the flawless consistency of the Australian teenager Rutledge. Sixteen seconds back from Lancelot was HM Plant KTM UK’s Natalie Kane who finished a comfortable third a further eight seconds ahead of the reigning and former WMX World Champions Chiara Fontanesi and Dragon Moto’s Stephanie Laier.

Rutledge_MXGP_1_QAT_2014
Meghan Rutledge

WMX Race 1 top ten: 1. Meghan Kat Rutledge (AUS, Kawasaki), 25:47.520; 2. Natalie Kane (IRL, KTM), +0:13.168; 3. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:14.585; 4. Stephanie Laier (GER, Suzuki), +0:15.344; 5. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Suzuki), +0:17.737; 6. Chiara Fontanesi (ITA, Yamaha), +0:30.059; 7. Livia Lancelot (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:37.893; 8. Francesca Nocera (ITA, Suzuki), +1:01.746; 9. Justine Charroux (FRA, Yamaha), +1:15.910; 10. Anne Borchers (GER, Suzuki), +1:19.912.

WMX Race 2 top ten: 1. Meghan Kat Rutledge (AUS, Kawasaki), 24:48.548; 2. Livia Lancelot (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:09.094; 3. Natalie Kane (IRL, KTM), +0:25.611; 4. Chiara Fontanesi (ITA, Yamaha), +0:33.531; 5. Stephanie Laier (GER, Suzuki), +0:37.492; 6. Francesca Nocera (ITA, Suzuki), +0:54.246; 7. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +1:00.772; 8. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Suzuki), +1:01.975; 9. Marianne Veenstra (NED, Husqvarna), +1:03.683; 10. Sara Pettersson (SWE, KTM), +1:11.128.

WMX Overall top ten: 1. Meghan Kat Rutledge (AUS, KAW), 50 points; 2. Natalie Kane (IRL, KTM), 42 p.; 3. Livia Lancelot (FRA, KAW), 36 p.; 4. Stephanie Laier (GER, SUZ), 34 p.; 5. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 34 p.; 6. Chiara Fontanesi (ITA, YAM), 33 p.; 7. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, SUZ), 29 p.; 8. Francesca Nocera (ITA, SUZ), 28 p.; 9. Marianne Veenstra (NED, HUS), 22 p.; 10. Justine Charroux (FRA, YAM), 21 p.

WMX Manufacturer: 1. Kawasaki, 50 points; 2. KTM, 42 p.; 3. Yamaha, 38 p.; 4. Suzuki, 34 p.; 5. Husqvarna, 22 p.

Kawasaki Report

Kawasaki ‘s Meghan Rutledge has gotten her 2014 FIM Women’s World MX Championship campaign off to the best start possible by winning both motos at the first round in Qatar on the weekend

The 19 year old from Picton, NSW was in a league of her own at the series opener, grabbing the hole-shot in each race and rocketing away on her Bud Racing Kawasaki KX250Fto take the win relatively unchallenged in each moto.

After finishing 2nd overall in the FIM Women’s MX World Championship in 2013, Rutledge is determined to do her very best to try and win the series in 2013.

An excited Meghan Rutledge –  “I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. My Bud Racing Team Kawasaki KX250F was awesome and I couldn’t have asked for more. I won FIM World races last year but never the double like I have here so I’m so excited. I can’t thank everybody at Bud Kawasaki Racing enough and also everyone at Kawasaki Australia for their ongoing support. It feels great to be able to get the red plate here at the first round and I can’t wait to get to Italy for the 2nd round”.

Meghan Rutledge wasn’t the only Kawasaki rider on the podium in Qatar. Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Gautier Paulin went 3-1 in the MX1 class to take the series lead after the 1st round.

The 2nd of 6 rounds within the 2014 FIM Women’s MX World Championship takes place in Trentino, Italy on April 13th.

Husqvarna Report

The eagerly awaited opening round of the 2014 FIM Motocross World Championship finally got underway beneath the floodlights in Losail with Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre putting his FC 250 on the third step of the overall MX2 class podium. Ensuring a memorable night for Husqvarna Motorcycles in Qatar, Febvre’s teammate Aleksandr Tonkov placed an impressive fifth overall in MX2.

Despite crashing heavily in qualification, Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Todd Waters dug deep to claim an 11th overall result in the MXGP category.

With Qatar marking the only night race of the 2014 series, Romain fought hard to secure his impressive results. Starting outside the top 15 in the opening MX2 race, the Frenchman determinedly battled his way forward to place fifth. Hoping to make life easier for himself in race two, Febvre again missed out on a top 10 start. Quickly finding a strong pace, the Husqvarna rider steadily worked his way forward and joined a five-rider battle for third. Moving into fourth position with six laps remaining he secured a well-deserved third overall result.

Claiming fifth overall, Tonkov ensured the GP of Qatar ended on a high for the Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing team. Gating strongly in race one, the Russian held fifth position with three laps remaining. But with Febvre finding a way past in the closing stages, Tonkov was forced to settle for sixth. In race two Tonkov got off to a great start, holding fourth place on lap one. Although enjoying the five-rider battle with Febvre, the Husqvarna pilot eventually slipped back one position to end the race in fifth.

Crashing heavily during Friday’s MXGP qualification race, Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Todd Waters saw his debut ride in the Motocross World Championship get off to a tough start. Suffering a high-speed fall in the tricky wave section Waters was unable to finish the race. Despite being battered and bruised the Australian gallantly lined up for the start of Saturday’s main events. Hampered by an outside gate pick in both races, Waters gritted his teeth and placed 14th in race one before improving to 11th in race two. He ended his first ever MXGP event in 11th overall.

Nursing an injured finger on his right hand, picked up during a pre-season race in Italy, Tyla Rattray bravely took to the start line for Friday’s qualification race. Despite qualifying in 13th position, Rattray opted not to further aggravate his injury and sat out the opening MXGP race of the season.

Romain Febvre: “I’m so happy to finish on the podium at the first race of the season. It’s a fantastic result for both the team and myself. We worked hard during the winter to be ready for Qatar and it’s showed. Unfortunately, I qualified 14th on Friday and had to work hard from an outside gate pick. But I was able to find some good lines and work my way inside the top five in both races. It feels incredible to leave Qatar with a podium result and I’m excited to try and improve next weekend in Thailand.”

Aleksandr Tonkov: “Fifth overall is a competitive start to the season. I’m really pleased with how I rode tonight. Despite a bad gate pick my starts were great and I was running inside the top five on the first lap of each race. I’m a little disappointed to have lost some pace during the midway stages in the motos, but towards the end I began to find a fast rhythm again and was able to finish strongly. Next weekend is the GP of Thailand and although it will be hot I’m confident I can do better.”

Todd Waters: “It’s been a rough start to my MXGP career. I had a massive crash during qualification and was lucky not to get injured. Coming through the wave section the rider in front of me made a mistake and I had to take avoiding action – resulting in one of the biggest crashes I’ve had in a long time. I was quite beat up after it but was determined to compete in my first ever MXGP race. In race one I was still hurting but toughed out a 14th place result. I felt a bit better for race two but was struggling with confidence in the track. Finishing 11th overall was a good improvement. Hopefully next weekend things will go smoother and I can finish inside the top 10 like I know I’m capable of.”

Yamaha Report

Van Horebeek begins 2014 MXGP with sturdy 5th in Qatar

Jeremy Van Horebeek captured a steady pair of fifth positions for the same ranking overall on his debut riding the works YZ450FM at the challenging Losail circuit and under the Doha desert night sky for the opening round of the FIM Motocross World Championship. The Belgian marked some effective speed across a fast and difficult track at the Grand Prix of Qatar, one week before the series heads to Thailand for round two of eighteen.

Unsettling lumps and sharp kickers littered the Losail hard-pack only a stone’s throw from the MotoGP asphalt ribbon. It was a harsh opening test for the riders of the MXGP class, most of whom steering factory 450cc machinery.

Van Horebeek was present with the 2014 YZ450FM for the first time and although he could not count on a set of decent starts he was able to make some swift overtaking moves in the two 30 minute and 2 lap motos to work his way near the top five. With the leaders all marking a similar severe pace in the 1min51s, 52s there was little chance to forge much of a difference at the top of the leader-board. The fetching-in-blue YZ was an apt foil for the Belgian to round-out a consistent pair of motos and start the campaign on a promising foot. DP19 Racing Yamaha’s David Philippaerts threw his leg over a YZ450F for the first time since 2012 and from within the confines of his self-run new team. The Italian, starting his ninth season in the premier class, had a few teething troubles with his suspension set-up and could not really gel with the idiosyncrasies of the Losail terrain. The former world champ was twelfth by the end of a long evening. Rui Goncalves piloted the YZ450F for the Bike it Yamaha Cosworth squad but was suffering from Flu. The Portuguese grabbed eight points for eighteenth overall.

Jeremy Van Horebeek – “Really solid today and I’m happy with the Grand Prix. I missed the starts this weekend. I had almost the same speed as the four guys in front of me but to go faster on this track was almost impossible. The bike is really awesome with how we set it up and it’s great for the rest of the season. The first one is done and I know where I am, which is near the front. Just a little bit more work to do on the starts and the podium is not far away.”

David Philippaerts – “It was difficult. Very hard. The track was strange. Some parts were very slippery and others had a lot of traction and in the second moto there were a lot of small bumps. I was not riding that well tonight. I need to work more with the suspension because we did not have the best set-up. We pushed hard to be here and the result didn’t come but we have seventeen more rounds ahead and to get near the front.”

Bike it Yamaha Cosworth’s Max Anstie should have been celebrating his first Grand Prix success at the end of the evening at Losail in Qatar for the very first round of the MX2 FIM Motocross World Championship. The Brit was leading both 30 minute and 2 lap motos until a mechanical problem and a stall prevented a superb finale to a maiden outing in Blue.

Anstie was irrepressible on the YZ250F and made good on various claims that he was fitter than ever and in confident form after a positive winter of preparation. He passed Jose Butron and Dylan Ferrandis to lead the first race until the closing stages and was also deep into the second affair until bad luck struck again and he dropped down the order to seventeenth. From disappointment comes encouragement and Anstie already sent a warning shot to the rest of the MX2 field that Yamaha is again ready to front the pack.

In the event standings Christophe Charlier claimed tenth place overall. The Corsican was also at the wrong scale of fortune and was undone by some mediocre starts and barging on the opening laps of the motos. He rode to 12th in the first race after recovering from an early crash and did well in the second for 9th despite a stone breaking his goggles and causing a bloody (and painful) nose.

Petar Petrov was on the pace and the Bulgarian set impressive lap-times in the opening dash despite being forced to the ground by another rider who had fallen in front of him. The Bulgarian had to restart from last place and buried his YZ250F back to 16th. Moto2 saw Petar fighting to pass Glenn Coldenhoff but the rippling bumps and squared-edge holes of the hard-pack limited his overtaking possibilities. He was 11th for 13th overall.

Australian Champion Luke Styke was unable to compete due to the debilitating effects of a viral infection. Si Racha will host the Grand Prix of Thailand next weekend for the second year in a row.

Christophe Charlier – “A hard night. It was so hard to pass on that track and I didn’t give myself much chance with the starts today. Also luck was not with me. In the second moto a rock smashed me in the face and I started bleeding. It took me a while to recover from that. Anyway, the series is very long and for sure we will have many better days.”

Luke Styke – “I’ve been struggling with a viral infection so I knew I was up against it. I did what I could but after ten minutes I was so weak and couldn’t see properly. It wasn’t safe to continue. I’ve seen the doctor and it is one of those things that will take a bit of time to recover from.”

Petar Petrov – “I’m not happy with the result but I managed to show the speed is there. I rode the fourth best lap-time in the first race, so that’s good. In the second race passing was so hard. It took me so long to get by Coldenhoff but by then the race was over. This really shows how the start is important. I hope next week in Thailand the track will be rougher, which will suit me better then these all-out fast races.”

Suzuki Report

Glenn Coldenhoff put the RM-Z450 back into the top three on his debut in yellow and black colours and across the many jumps of the spectacular and floodlight track of Losail in Qatar on Saturday.

The three-man Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe attack on the MX2 division of the FIM Motocross World Championship started in fine form as the factory-backed RM-Z250 runners relished getting back into action for the first Grand Prix of 18 this season.

A modest trackside attendance entered the gates, but this novel launch to the Grand Prix trail that will visit 15 other countries, offered a different kind of racing event for what was just the second edition of the Qatari meeting. The course offered the same demands as 2013: rough, slippery and with plenty of jumps and ruts to contend with.

Coldenhoff set a mean pace in Friday’s qualification heat to secure a decent fourth position and then used his choice in the gate to blast into the leading group early in the first 30 minute and two-lap moto. He battled with Jose Butron and Dylan Ferrandis and was only just beaten by Jeffrey Herlings to second position; his top-three finish representing the first for the team since the Grand Prix of Netherlands in April last year.

In contention for the podium Coldenhoff was desperately unlucky to lose his rear brake shortly into the second moto. It affected the Dutchman’s chances of setting rapid lap-times and he could do no better than 12th by the finish for seventh overall. In short, a debut with promise but without luck.

Julien Lieber was a welcome sight back in Grand Prix action since the early stages of 2013 when he had to withdraw at the Bulgarian round and lose the majority of the season due to a knee injury. The young Belgian was running as high as fourth in the first moto until he crashed and had to pit to rectify his clutch controls. More mistakes in the second moto led to a card of 18-13 for 16th overall.

Losail was Jeremy Seewer’s first Grand Prix as a full-time rider in the MX2 contest. The Swiss had enjoyed several promising wild-card appearances in 2012 and also 2013 but the 19 year old is embarking on his maiden term at the highest level and since turning Pro at the end of the summer. Seewer was eying the top 10 after a pleasing level of speed on Friday but a succession of incidents, errors and rookie adversity wrecked his results. Finishes of 14-18 delivered a final placing of 17th on the night.

Si Racha will again be the location for the second-ever Grand Prix of Thailand next week which means a short few days of travelling and relocation for the Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe before they again find a start gate.

Glenn Coldenhoff:  “It didn’t happen tonight. A bad start in both motos. I came back quite well and my riding was good; the speed was there. I just got passed by Jeffrey on the last lap but in the beginning I was struggling to overtake Butron and also Ferrandis. I was quicker than those guys but it was hard to make a move. In the second moto I didn’t have a rear brake after 10 minutes and that was it.”

Julien Lieber:  “The first race, well, the first laps, were pretty good. I was fourth but then Ferrandis was making some mistakes in front of me and he crashed also. I went down shortly afterwards and I lost a lot of time re-starting because the bike was on a slope and I had to go in the pits as the clutch lever was bent downwards. In the second race the start was not so good. My speed was OK but then I lost the flow and positions also. Another crash later on. There were some things to be happy about.”

Jeremy Seewer: “After yesterday I was sure that my speed was good enough for the top 10. I was not focussed on the result or setting myself an expectation but instead having fun on the track. My speed was good in the first moto even if my start wasn’t. I was 10th but then after three laps I crashed into Gajser; it was a racing incident. I was at the back and came through to 14th and had one small crash. I had good pace but too many mistakes! In the second moto it was almost the same. I struggled on the first lap and from then it didn’t go so well. I got some dust in my eyes and crashed again. Everything went wrong and I’m not so happy with 18th. I have to put everything together now. I know I can make the top ten.”

Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Clement Desalle and Kevin Strijbos tentatively launched their seasons on the factory RM-Z450s with seventh and eighth positions in the opening rounds of the FIM MXGP Championship under the floodlights of Losail in Qatar on Saturday evening.

Rutty and bumpy in places and with plenty of air-time for the bikes Losail was formed from an inconsistent desert terrain in terms of traction and grip and demanding bumps. It meant the riders had to stay sharp and focussed through the two 30 minute and two-lap motos; the shorter race time for 2014 placing extra emphasis on the starts and the opening laps.

Desalle, who conquered the inaugural edition of the Qatari event exactly 12 months previously, came to the Grand Prix with minimal riding time in the winter due to recovery from a shoulder operation. The Belgian struggled with his starts and was particularly frustrated after the first moto as several early mistakes, including one slip-off the Suzuki, meant he could rise no higher than ninth. He wasn’t able to getaway with the leaders at the drop of the second moto but pushed through several positions to reach the chequered flag in sixth.

Strijbos celebrated a firm and indisputable run to the first pole position of the season on Friday and looked as though he might repeat the performance in the opening sprint. The Belgian took the holeshot and led the field for the first two of 18 laps. Unfortunately he suffered some arm-pump and did not have the strength to push and #22 dropped back to seventh. In Moto2 he could not replicate his sizzling getaway from the gate but motored through the distance to capture eighth spot; two places behind his team-mate.

The Belgian crew only had a brief time to take stock as the bikes, spares and equipment were quickly crated and sealed for transport to Thailand. The squad will make their way from western Asia and across to the capital of Bangkok, then down to the nearby city of Pattaya where the Si Racha circuit will host the second Thai Grand Prix this coming weekend.

Clement Desalle:  Not such a nice GP; very difficult. Yesterday wasn’t so bad in the timed practice but I had a bad start and then again in the first moto. It was not easy to pass and the track was different compared to last year. It was not nice. The hard-pack was getting loose in some places, so I was not feeling confident or comfortable. I did what I could do. I’m disappointed with my mistakes in the first laps. I lost too many positions. Second moto I just tried to finish and sixth was it. I am coming back from a big injury and we all say I am ready but maybe I need a bit more time. I’m working on this.”

Kevin Strijbos:  “When I said I had the best bike ever for this season I really meant it; the power is so strong. It helped at the start of that first moto but when I made a few mistakes and got tight I could not really do much any more. I was just hanging on. In the second moto I did not get the start I wanted or needed. We’ll work some more and hope for better in Thailand because there are some good signs that we can take from Friday.”

HRC Report

Team HRC commenced the 2014 FIM Motocross World Championship in great style with Max Nagl taking a moto victory and second place overall in the Grand Prix of Qatar at a floodlight Losail. The first event of eighteen in this year’s contest was won by Gautier Paulin (Kawasaki) in the fresh MXGP category (rebranded after ten years of MX1) while Nagl took the new HRC-fettled CRF450RW to results of first and fourth in front of 7000 spectators (weekend figure).

It was Nagl’s first FIM world championship podium appearance since 2011, his first for Honda and the first win and rostrum celebration for the team since that same 2011 campaign.

For the second time in a row the Losail circuit, located a short distance from the city of Doha and famed as the long established site of the MotoGP season opener, welcomed MXGP, MX2 and Women’s classes.  A vastly improved layout in terms of the lighting provisions added to the evening spectacle.

The track itself remained largely unchanged and offered a bumpy, hard-pack test that was also fast with plenty of jumps. What the Grand Prix lacked in attendance it made up for in drama with nerves and mistakes forming the usual part of a first major racing event of any calendar.

At the heart of the MXGP action was Nagl.  Max was in good shape and keen for a positive race to banish memories of his unhappy 2013 meeting when a stomach virus effectively scuppered his fitness and speed for the initial phases of what was his first season in ‘red’. A superb start in the first moto (now shortened to 30 minutes and 2 laps compared to 35 minutes of past years) let Nagl build a considerable lead at the front of the pack. The German coped admirably with setting the pace, even under late pressure from World Champion Tony Cairoli (KTM). He took the chequered flag by just under two seconds from Cairoli with Gautier Paulin (Kawasaki) third.

In the second outing Nagl wasn’t able to gap the field as rampaging Frenchman Paulin and Steven Frossard (Kawasaki) made an early break. Nagl opted for caution and consistency and his fourth position, behind Cairoli, was good enough for the Grand Prix runner-up garland.

Ninth overall was team-mate Evgeny Bobryshev. Bobby came to Doha nursing a twisted ankle and was hindered in his capabilities by the many rough right hand turns and some close action that saw his leg actually hit several times in the second race. He claimed an eighth and then bore the pain to finish the evening in ninth at the second time of asking. The Russian now faces a race against time to improve his fitness.

In MX2 the Gariboldi team saw two new recruits – former European Champion Tim Gajser and Japanese Grand Prix rookie Kei Yamamoto – take their CRF250R to ninth and twenty-second overall respectively. World Champion Jeffrey Herlings (KTM) won the Grand Prix.

After this first salvo in the FIM schedule HRC’s riders retain the same positions in the fledgling championship standings for each category. The teams head swiftly over to Thailand this week for round two where the Si Racha circuit outside of Bangkok will entertain the second ever GP visit to the country next Sunday.

Max Nagl: Race Result: 1st/4th Championship position: 2nd – “It [the last moto win] was a long time ago, for myself, for Honda and for everyone and for that I’m very happy about the first race. I was actually a little nervous before the second Heat because I did not want to make it worse but I managed to have a good start again. I was happy all weekend with my riding and it went perfectly. Every session we made some small changes to the set-up with little improvements and that is the best way you can work. At this level everybody at the front is fast, we are all at the same speed so to make the pass you need the others to make a mistake or to find a spot where you have more momentum. It is difficult, therefore the start is so important. In the second moto my jump was good but I perhaps did not have the speed on the straight to have the holeshot. I was happy with the fourth position in that race because it is positive to start the season with good points.”

Evgeny Bobryshev: Race Result: 8th/9th Championship position: 9th – “Positives from tonight? My starts maybe! I have the speed and everything but I could not handle the track and the slippy ground. There were many right handers and I couldn’t use my injured leg properly. I have a bad sensation, like something is cutting, a sharp pain. I was racing with the injury but also fighting to match the pace of the guys. I managed to finish eighth in the first and that was the best I could do. In the next one I twisted it twice again. I had a big battle at the start of the race and two of the guys hit me in the leg with the block-passing. I finished the race with my teeth gritted. The season is long but at the moment it is very tough. It has already been two weeks since I twisted it, so I think it will take more time.”

Kei Yamamoto: MX2 Race Result: 22nd/20th Championship position: 22nd – “I feel very tired but it was such a good experience. The track was difficult but also a lot of fun. There were many fast guys in MX2 and I know I need more and more training to improve. Thailand will be hot next week and I know other riders will get tired although I think this will be in my advantage.”

KTM Report 

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders launched their bid to retain the MXGP and MX2 world titles on Saturday night at the Losail circuit in Qatar with a win in MX2 for Jeffrey Herlings and a podium third for Tony Cairoli in MXGP.

But both KTM riders had to work hard for their result with Herlings back on the track after only one pre-season race and almost six months off with injury while Cairoli was hampered with pain from a knock on the ankle in a qualifying crash.

It was a night of action under lights as the opening motos got underway on the hard pack track that was tricky and technical and slick in parts.  Herlings missed the start of his opener and had to negotiate his way through mid-race traffic, which, with the competition tightening up as teams attempt to break the dominance of the KTM riders, took the Dutch rider some time.

But by the time the two-lap board went out Herlings had passed second placed Glenn Coldenhof on his KTM 250 SX-F and was chasing down Dylan Ferrandis in the lead. He then put in his fastest lap and was only a bike length short of Ferrandis at the drop of the flag.

Herlings again missed getting away well in his second moto and got buried back in the pack in the opening laps, while KTM rider Jose Butron of Spain picked up his second holeshot of the evening. Herlings had moved up to sixth place in lap two but it was 11 laps into the race before he moved up to third position to claim a potential GP podium place. Then front-runner Max Anstie, who had led the race, went out with a mechanical leaving only American teenager Thomas Covington in front. Herlings slipped by him with two laps to go and went on to take the win.

Despite the win, the 19-year old Herlings was visibly disappointed with his performance. “I am still having problems with my starts, we’re working on them but I need to improve. But tonight I just wasn’t happy with my riding. All I can do is to keep working on it and hope to be better next weekend in Thailand,” Herlings commented after the race.

It was also a hard night’s work for Red Bull KTM’s Tony Cairoli in the newly named MXGP class. He was fifth at the start of his opening moto and took his time to settle in to study overtaking possibilities. In a typical last minute dash, Cairoli was on the back wheel of second-placed Gautier Paulin with just a couple of minutes of regular race time to go. Then with three laps to go he had slipped by the Frenchman and gave chase to Max Nagl in the lead. They crossed the line with the German only meters in front.

But KTM’s seven times world champion was clearly feeling the effects of his sore ankle by the time he started his second moto. He was sixth at the start and had advanced up to third behind Paulin and Steven Frossard by the half way mark and the three riders rode out the race in that order. Cairoli’s 2-3 secured him the third spot on the podium.

Herling’s MX2 Factory teammate Jordi Tixier of France did not have a comfortable ride in Qatar, picking up a couple of seventh places to finish overall eighth on the night. Cairoli’s teammate and sparring partner Ken de Dycker of Belgium is currently out through injury and is not racing the two fly away races.

The Losail circuit also hosted the opening round of the WMX and Irish KTM racer Natalie Kane picked up a second and a third place in her two motos for second overall in the women’s GP. The competition returns to join the MXGP program in 2014 and entails a six-round championship.