Tim Gajser wins Leon MXGP – Thomas Covington takes MX2 Round win
Aussie Hunter Lawrence takes 11th and 14th in MX2 Races 1 and 2
The 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship’s round 4 was a spectacular one at the MXGP of Leon-Mexico, especially for the winners, Team HRC’s Tim Gajser and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington.
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser made his way past the KTM of Glenn Coldenhoff before they completed the first lap to move into the lead. He eventually pulled a comfortable gap which he maintained to the checkered flag. Gajser later in the press conference stated, “I’ve started enjoying racing again, I felt good and I will do my best tomorrow.”
It was the second qualifying race in a row that Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff rocketed into the first turn to claim the holeshot over the rest of the field, Coldenhoff battled for the lead with Tim Gajser until a costly error took him out of the race.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin had a good start and he was third on the first lap before he moved to second on lap 4 after Coldenoff’s issue. Gautier stayed in a lonely second throughout the race, earning himself second gate pick for Sunday’s Race 1.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Anstie put another Husqvarna in the top three for qualifying. After starting in fifth he gained ground throughout the first half of the race on Clement Desalle. Anstie passed Desalle on lap 6 of 12 putting himself into third for the rest of the session.
Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle started in 4th and after a battle with Max Anstie he felt pressure in the closing stages of Qualifying from Jeremy Van Horebeek. Desalle was however able to keep Van Horebeek outside of striking distance maintaining the 4th place which could give him the start he needs to reach Sunday’s podium.
Meanwhile Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek had a solid qualifying performance to follow up on his podium from the last round in Patagonia – Argentina.
Van Horebeek started in 7th place but moved into fifth on lap 5 where he had pressure from Antonio Cairoli for several laps. The Belgian responded by closing on Desalle in an attempt to move into fourth but it was a little too late as he would finish 5th.
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser came into Sunday after qualifying first on Saturday for the second GP in a row, and won both races in textbook form.
The Slovenian rode at an unmatchable pace winning both races with a 15 second gap on second and registering the fastest laps in both.
“I felt good all weekend, I was enjoy it and having fun on the bike. Actually, in the second moto it was tough as Cairoli was pushing me all the way and also the track became really hard and slick in some places but I am really happy that I won that one and the overall as well. I am really looking forward to the next one already. I haven’t changed anything that I do, I am just having fun on the bike and I think that is key.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli came into the weekend knowing that he needed to perform in order to keep the championship points manageable before heading to Italy for the first race in Europe.
In Race 1 Tony started in 4th and he maintained his position until the checkered flag while in Race 2 he finished in second which, combined with his 4th, was enough to finish second overall. Cairoli now is second in the championship 20 points back of Gajser.
“I’m really happy because this is one of the tracks on the calendar where I always struggle to find a rhythm. The second moto was a little better, even if I was a bit tired with asthma, and I could stay with Tim and we pulled away from the others. I couldn’t make a pass in the first moto and the result today could easily have been a 2-2. We still have to improve something to be closer to Tim. I’m confident and I know I can ride well but the goal is always to start at the front and that’s very important in MXGP at the moment.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin won the MXGP of Leon – Mexico in 2014 and this time around he found the podium once again. He improved his starts since the last race grabbing the holeshot in race 2 and completing the first lap in 3rd both races.
Paulin held off the charges of several riders and handled the pressure well, he crossed the finish line in a consistent 3rd both races and placed himself on the podium for the first time aboard the Husqvarna.
“Everything is coming together for us and it feels really rewarding to get on the podium. We’ve made big improvements with the bike and I’ve also managed to improve my starts. We were strong throughout the weekend in Mexico. From the time practice to the qualifying heat and the final motos we were always inside the top three. In moto one I made a good start and managed to cross the line in third. My start was even better in moto two. Despite feeling a bit tired I managed to get a good race pace to end up third again. I can’t thank all my team enough for all their hard work. I’m having fun on my bike at the moment and our goal now is to consistently battle for the podium at each GP.”
Wilvo Yamaha MXGP’s Arnaud Tonus has struggled so far this season and today he turned his luck around moving up through the competition after finding himself in 7th off the start of both races.
In race 1 he moved up one spot to 6th but in race 2 he moved all the way up to 4 passing Jeremy Van Horebeek on the last lap. Tonus’ 6-4 results put him one spot off of the podium but more importantly he gains some confidence before heading to Europe.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek rounded out the top five two weeks after being on the podium in Patagonia-Argentina.
Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle stays third in the points after an 8th in race 1 and a 6th in race 2 for 7th overall.
Desalle’s starts and speed seem to be on point but he isn’t the type to be satisfied with anything less than a podium and he’s heading to Europe determined be there again.
“Saturday was OK with good results in the practice sessions and a fourth position in the race for starting positions; it was my best qualification since the beginning of the season! Today I made a good start in the first race, then Cairoli passed me and I was just behind him when I made a mistake during the first lap; I was ninth after this crash, and could only make one pass on Febvre to finish eighth as it was so difficult to overtake on this track. In the second moto my start was even better and I was fourth behind Paulin when I made a small mistake and Van Horebeek passed me. I finished sixth, but I didn’t take any risks as the season will be long; my feeling was not so good and I had no fun riding here. Now we go back for the European rounds of the series; I’m third in the standings and we’ll continue to work hard with the team.”
MXGP of Leon – Round 4 – Race 1 Results
Tim GAJSER – SLO – Team HRC MXGP 34:45.401
Evgeny BOBRYSHEV – RUS – Team HRC MXGP +14.909
Gautier PAULIN – FRA – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +15.434
Antonio CAIROLI – ITA – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +15.718
Jeremy VAN HOREBEEK – BEL – Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team +17.615
Arnaud TONUS – SWI – Wilvo Yamaha MXGP +17.676
Max NAGL – GER – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +36.880
Clement DESALLE – BEL – Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing +38.837
Max ANSTIE – GBR – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +41.562
Kevin STRIJBOS – BEL – Team Suzuki World MXGP +42.542
MXGP of Leon – Round 4 – Race 2 Results
Tim GAJSER – SLO – Team HRC – MXGP 35:03.806
Antonio CAIROLI – ITA – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +15.224
Gautier PAULIN – FRA – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +26.064
Arnaud TONUS – SWI – Wilvo Yamaha MXGP +27.677
Jeremy VAN HOREBEEK – BEL – Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team +28.892
Clement DESALLE – BEL – Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing +47.894
Romain FEBVRE – FRA – Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team +56.358
Max NAGL – GER – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +58.109
Jeffrey HERLINGS – NDL – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +1:00.181
Kevin STRIJBOS – BEL – Team Suzuki World MXGP +1:01.851
MXGP of Leon – Standings after Round 4
Tim GAJSER – 156
Antonio CAIROLI – 136
DClement ESALLE – 119
Jeremy VAN HOREBEEK – 116
Gautier PAULIN – 112
Evgeny BOBRYSHEV – 111
Romain FEBVRE – 89
Kevin STRIJBOS – 78
Max NAGL – 73
Shaun SIMPSON – 70
The MX2 qualifying race started with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington taking the holeshot. The American lead every lap and by the end of the session he had a 12.5 second gap on the competition.
This win marks the first qualifying victory for Thomas Covington on the same track that he won his first MX2 race and his first Overall back in 2015.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass was third off the start but he made a pass on lap 6. Jonass settled for second as Covington’s gap was too vast to conquer.
LRT KTM’s Julien Lieber had a great start as he was second on the first lap. He was passed only by the factory KTM of Pauls Jonass. His good start and solid riding allowed him to qualify in the 3rd spot.
HSF Logistics Motorsport Team’s Calvin Vlaanderen appeared to be feeling good in Mexico. Vlaanderen started the day fastest in free practice and after a good start, 4th on lap 1, he maintained his momentum and start position in qualifying. Coming into Sunday he will be the fourth rider to line up at the gate potentially setting himself up for another good race.
Kemea Yamaha MX Official Team’s Benoit Paturel wasn’t able to make the moves he most likely wanted after his 6th place start, but he did move forward and he comes into Sunday prepared to battle for the podium.
Red plate holder and Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer finished 8th in today’s qualifying but maintains his motivation for Sunday’s gate drop.
MX2 Qualifying Results
Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), 25:45.756
Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:12.553
Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), +0:19.422
Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, KTM), +0:21.458
Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:23.701
Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:28.780
Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +0:31.274
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:34.516
Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, Kawasaki), +0:42.712
Adam Sterry (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:57.101
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington showed he was ready to compete after qualifying 1st on Saturday. Race 1 was slightly more challenging for the American than his qualifying race as he finished 4th.
At the start of race 2 Covington grabbed the Fox Holeshot and after battling with Jonass showed that his qualifying win was no fluke, winning the race 3.8 seconds ahead of the second. His 4-1 results and overall win were identical to his 2014 win here in Leon.
“It was one of the best GPs of my career. I felt good throughout the weekend and that helped me stay focused and do my own races. Following our qualifying race win we had a great gate pick for the final motos. I didn’t get the best of starts in moto one but got my head down and managed to get fourth. My start was a lot better in moto two. I got the holeshot and soon found myself in second behind Jonass. I spotted some good lines and was able to make my move for the lead a few laps later. Winning the second moto and getting the overall victory is a great confidence booster. We had a rough start to this championship but things are a lot better now. I’m looking forward to the races to come.”
Team Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer had no issue in race 1 leading the field by a significant margin. In race 2 he was fifth on lap one and he fought his way past Brent Van Doninck and Julien Lieber to reach the third position by lap 9, which would have given him the overall, but three laps later he had a near get off and miraculous save.
“I did everything that I said I wanted to do yesterday. I just let it happen and the results came out well. I had a really good start in the first moto, we knew that I could do that after yesterday so I was pleased with that. Then I just put in some fast laps and felt good on my bike, I made a gap, and then took the win comfortably. It was nice to take a win in normal conditions, after my first victory which was in the mud in Indonesia. The second moto, I had the same start in mind but it didn’t quite work out as well. I was pretty confident to get it done but sometimes it just doesn’t work out right. Still, I was in a decent spot, it was just hard to see the track and finding lines to pass those guys. Finally, I got to behind Julien Lieber and Jonass in fourth and then I passed Lieber which would have given me the overall, but I wanted to pass Jonass too. I got really close behind him, but that’s when I made a mistake. I went a little bit off my lines, came off the bike but avoided the crash. It wasn’t too bad, I lost a position though before I got back on and that dropped me back to fourth, which is where I finished. It was nice to extend the points lead but a little disappointed that I didn’t win the GP. That would have been nice to come away with but keeping the red plate is the important thing, especially as we now head to Europe like this. I’m happy with it; I didn’t feel the pressure of it at all as it just looks so good on my bike and I just want to keep it there.”
His close call caused him to lose a position to Lieber and cost him the overall. Seewer finished second and maintained the point lead heading to Europe.
LRT KTM’s Julien Lieber was battling throughout the day with the likes of Jonass, Seweer, and Paturel. He swapped position with the other riders multiple times but at the end he finished 3rd in both races getting himself and his privateer KTM on the podium once again.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass may have had the grittiest performance of all at the MXGP of Leon – Mexico after falling in Warm-Up and injuring his arm, he actually pushed through the pain in both races saving valuable points in a close title race. He finished 5th in race 1 and an impressive 2nd in race 2 for 4th overall.
“I was really disappointed about my crash on the last lap of warm-up and had to have some stitches and aesthetic so in the first race my hand was a bit numb. I made a few mistakes and it was difficult to ride. I had a really good start in the second race and led for a while. So fourth overall and it could be better but I salvaged some points.”
Kemea Yamaha MX Official Team’s Benoit Paturel had similar problems to the last race weekend, he put in a strong race 1 with a second place finish passing five riders along the way.
It was in race 2 where he was 20th on lap one and from then on he gave a lesson on how to make a pass. From 20th Paturel worked his way past 12 riders in 16 laps finishing 8th for a 5th place overall. Paturel’s amazing effort and damage control keep him 3rd in the championship points!
With Bas Vaessen missing due to a broken collarbone, the only other Suzuki World MX2 rider was Hunter Lawrence, however he was struggling himself with illness that hasn’t been helped by all the travel and the altitude.
Despite all this, Lawrence battled as hard as he could for both motos and was pleased that he was able to complete them without any incidents, taking a strong 11th in Race 1, followed by 14th in Race 2, to hold an overall position in the MX2 championship of 16th, heading into Round 5. He was 13th in MX2 for the round.
“First moto I didn’t have too bad a start, and with this illness I was just trying to last the full moto. It wasn’t too bad, I picked up a couple of positions, made some passes and finished 11th. No crashes, so I was happy with that. I then came back in, tried to reboot, recover as much as possible and go out for moto two. I got a similar start as moto one, mid-pack and tried to ride as best as I could, giving everything I had; the same sort of mentality as the first race. At the fifteen minute mark though, I was pretty already done, I had no energy or strength left so I ended up 14th. Not a bad weekend overall, today was good all things considered. Two motos in the top 15 with no crashes is not great but it gives me something to build on for when we get back to Europe.”
MXGP of Leon – Round 4 – MX2 Race 1 Results
Jeremy SEEWER – SWI – Team Suzuki World MX2 35.36.310
Benoit PATUREL – FRA – Kemea Yamaha Yamalube Racing Team +7.922
Julien LIEBER – BEL – LRT KTM +13.091
Thomas COVINGTON – USA – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +18.551
Pauls JONASS – LAT – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +19.913
Calvin VLAANDEREN – NDL – HSF Logistics Motorsport Team +22.157
Thomas KJER OLSEN – DEN – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +23.285
Brent VAN DONINCK – BEL – Kemea Yamaha Yamalube Racing Team +27.453
Michele CERVELLIN – ITA – Team HRC MX2 +33.194
Adam STERRY – GBR – Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing +39.775
…11. Hunter LAWRENCE – AUS – Team Suzuki World MX2 +44.447
MXGP of Leon – Round 4 – MX2 Race 2 Results
Thomas COVINGTON – USA – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing 34:03.198
Pauls JONASS – LAT – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +3.814
Julien LIEBER – BEL – LRT KTM +5.294
Jeremy SEEWER – SWI – Team Suzuki World MX2 +7.037
Brent VAN DONINCK – BEL – Kemea Yamaha Yamalube Racing Team +18.147
Vsevolod BRYLYAKOV – RUS – Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki +28.602
Thomas KJER OLSEN – DEN – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing +32.223
Benoit PATUREL – FRA – Kemea Yamaha Yamalube Racing Team +34.034
Adam STERRY – GBR – Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing +43.675
Brian BOGERS – NDL – HSF Logistics Motorsport Team +46.280
…14. Hunter LAWRENCE – AUS – Team Suzuki World MX2 +57.895
MX2 Standings after Round 4 – Leon, Mexico
Jeremy SEEWER – SWI – 153
Pauls JONASS – LAT – 145
Benoit PATUREL – FRA – 139
Julien LIEBER – BEL – 139
Thomas KJER OLSEN – DEN – 127
Brent VAN DONINCK – BEL – 102
MicheleCERVELLIN – ITA – 84
Thomas COVINGTON – USA – 83
Vsevolod BRYLYAKOV – RUS – 81
Samuele BERNARDINI – ITA – 80
…16. Hunter LAWRENCE – AUS – 51
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