By Stephen St. Pierre
After a thrilling race weekend in Patagonia, Argentina, which is quickly becoming the favourite of the fly away events, Round 5 of the MXGP and MX2 World Championship moved north to Leon, Mexico. This weekend was the third year in a row that the MXGP has been held here. In past years this round of the series took place near the end of the calendar, but after the mud fest last year and since September is rainy season for this part of the world, the round has been shifted forward for more stable temperatures, reducing the risk of rain.
Interestingly, the MXGP of Leon has never been won by the same rider twice, not only in the MXGP class but also in MX2. In 2014, it was Gautier Paulin and Jordi Tixier who made it onto the top of the box, while last year it was Romain Febvre and Thomas Covington. The circuit in Leon was designed and built three years ago by the MXGP track crew. It has a wide variety of obstacles to challenge the riders from tabletops to doubles, a dragon’s back section, waves, on and off cambered corners, you name it, the track in Leon has it. It seems they mixed some straw in with the soil in certain spots to absorb some of the moisture, just as they did last year.
The young guns, Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser and Monster Energy Yamaha’s Romain Febvre, are really setting the tone in the championship this year. Febvre was last year’s rookie and is now the defending champion while Gajser, who is the 2015 MX2 World Champion, is the new rookie on the block. What these two are doing in the premier class and the way they have adjusted from the 250cc machines to the 450s is incredible. Gajser in particular this weekend was outstanding; he is so calm and focused out on track it’s incredible. Febvre was able to eliminate a decent gap in the first moto to pass Gajser for the win with a handful of laps to go, but in the second moto it was a different story with Gajser proving to be too strong. “I struggled a little bit with the settings on the bike,” Febvre said after the race, “so I worked with the team late last night and today it was much better, but I was missing something to have enough for the win and that is just how it is.” Febvre’s 1-2 and Gajser’s 2-1 tied on points, 47 each, with Gajser being awarded the grand prix victory because he had the better result in the second moto. Gajser has now won three rounds of MXGP to Febvre’s two, but Febvre still leads the championship by three points.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Max Nagl got the Fox Holeshot in both motos and his two third place finishes gave him third overall. The German is running a fierce pace at the moment, but isn’t quite in the same zone as the youngsters up front, Febvre & Gajser. Nevertheless, he landed on the box for the third time and has moved up to fifth in the world championship standings.
Consistency is everything to Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev who knows how important it is to get points on the board at each and every round. Today, Bobby did what he needed to do without taking any risks, two fourths for fourth overall.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Clement Desalle is making solid progress after he started the season with a broken radius in his arm, which was operated on only one week before Round 1 in Qatar. Because of the injury, the Belgian hasn’t been able to train that much and has said his race fitness is only about 85%. Two fifth place finishes for fifth overall here in Leon, his best result this year, must have felt almost as good as a win for Desalle.
MXGP Overall Top Ten: 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 47 points; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 47 p.; 3. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 40 p.; 4. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 36 p.; 5. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 32 p.; 6. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 27 p.; 7. Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 25 p.; 8. Tommy Searle (GBR, KAW), 24 p.; 9. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 24 p.; 10. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 24 p.
Jeffrey Herlings’ complete domination of the MX2 class continued in Mexico, where he again finished 1-1. The Red Bull KTM rider is a cut above everyone at the moment and he is making it look very easy. While the old Jeffrey, the one we have seen in previous years, would ride the first laps like a bull out of the gate, this year we are seeing a new and improved, mature and focused racer. “I pretty much lost the championship last season being too aggressive in the beginning,” Herlings said after the qualifying race Saturday. “What I learned in the past is that you can win by five seconds or you can win by a minute, it doesn’t mean anything extra. So I just try to win and I try to do what people expect me to do.” This is exactly what he is doing.
Team Suzuki’s Jeremy Seewer is looking very comfortable this year and his results are reflecting it. The Swiss rider is always smooth and consistent, which are skills that have landed him on the podium for the fourth time this year, as his 3-3 moto results earned him second overall this weekend. In a class that has been completely dominated by one rider, Sewer has become the best of the rest. “I will keep working to try to get close to Herlings and try to make his life a little bit more difficult,” the optimistic twenty-two-year-old said.
There was no smile bigger than that of Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Vsevelod Brylyakov who had the best weekend of his career. The young Russian qualified fourth, which was a result he was absolutely pumped with, but then to turn that into a second place in race one and a sixth in race two after a gnarly crash on the second lap was very impressive. The young Russian was in a great mood as he grabbed the third spot on the box, the first podium finish of his career.
MX2 Overall Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points; 2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 40 p.; 3. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, KAW), 37 p.; 4. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 36 p.; 5. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, YAM), 32 p.; 6. Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 28 p.; 7. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 27 p.; 8. Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), 26 p.; 9. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 25 p.; 10. Jorge Zaragoza (ESP, HON), 22 p.
MXGP Championship Top Ten: 1. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 219 points; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 216 p.; 3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 171 p.; 4. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 170 p.; 5. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 165 p.; 6. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 162 p.; 7. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 127 p.; 8. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 122 p.; 9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 104 p.; 10. Tommy Searle (GBR, KAW), 98 p.
MX2 Championship Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 250 points; 2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 192 p.; 3. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 166 p.; 4. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, YAM), 163 p.; 5. Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 132 p.; 6. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 126 p.; 7. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, KAW), 121 p.; 8. Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), 117 p.; 9. Alvin Östlund (SWE, YAM), 89 p.; 10. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 82 p.
Round 6 will take place in Latvia on May 1st. Races can be seen live on MXGP-TV.com