MXGP certainly appears to be falling into a pattern, which is worrying news for those who are chasing the CRF450R of Tim Gajser. The Slovenian, who has to contend with a substantial amount of pressure at the Grand Prix of Trentino, has once again shown some incredible speed in the timed sessions.
These practice times are almost irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, of course, but the fact that Gajser has failed to sit atop the charts in just three of the last fourteen sessions says a lot about his current form. What is it going to take to stop him? Disrupting his momentum is the first step, as everything is going his way currently, but that is obviously easier said than done.
I believe that it’ll say a lot about how he has matured in the last twelve months if he wins convincingly this weekend, as last year he folded under the pressure. I expect him to stand atop the box again, honestly, as one would struggle to name a moment this season where he had a mental lapse. That tenth in time practice may cause you to question him, but that speed from free practice has obviously not vanished. That just doesn't happen!
Gautier Paulin and Arnaud Tonus seem to be picking up some momentum along the way, not that they are potential candidates to stop Gajser, as that task will fall on the shoulders of Antonio Cairoli. I am extremely interested to see what Tonus can achieve this weekend though, as he has shown great form recently. Starts have been his kryptonite, as he would have undoubtedly been on the box in Mexico had he not been on the cusp of the top ten at the beginning of each thirty-minute stint, but there is no doubt in my mind that he can be up there this weekend. His times from practice only support that further.
If you peruse the results from either session, Tanel Leok will undoubtedly jump off the page. This is clearly a circuit that lends itself to his style, although he was branded as a sand specialist earlier in his career, as he landed on the cusp of the top ten each time. Just last year he finished ninth overall and had an eighth in moto one, so another top-ten finish could be on the cards tomorrow. Those who paid a relatively small price for the Estonian will reap the benefits in Fox MX Manager, if he does pull it off! The popular fantasy game continues to add another dimension to the racing.
Moving swiftly onto MX2 and some results that are most intriguing, as the championship picture continues to look a little blurred. Jeremy Seewer is proving to be a consistent threat in each session, no matter the conditions, whilst Pauls Jonass blows a little hot and cold. Jonass is, however, dealing with that nasty cut to his forearm. It was only two weeks ago that he needed countless stitches, so that is undoubtedly still a looming factor.
Thomas Covington was the rider who caught my eye the most in practice, which really is not much of a surprise. The American was, after all, the fastest rider in the timed session! Covington has struggled on stereotypical European tracks in the past, but this one has been particularly tough for him to master. The fact that he managed to post that one lap time says a lot about how competitive he’ll be this season. Although he was a little further down the order in free practice, he posted some notable sector times in that period too. If he can pull off a win, either today or tomorrow, it may be bigger than his Mexican triumphs.
Finally, a word about the guy who sits alongside Covington beneath the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing awning. Conrad Mewse is making his return this weekend and most are intrigued to see how he fares after the first three rounds were, quite simply, terrible. There is still potential within the former EMX250 winner though! Mewse lined up to go out second in free practice, which indicates that his confidence issues are a thing of a past, then battled to stay in front of the various contenders that showed him a wheel. ‘426’ is clearly eager to make an impression.
Mewse would then get knocked out of the top ten, but jump straight back with competitive times. He even ran as high as fourth in the timed session that just concluded! There are flashes of speed again, which had vanished in Qatar and Argentina. That obviously does not mean that you should expect him to land on the podium this weekend, as he has to continue to build on this and refine his programme, but maybe we do not need to panic as much? Time will tell.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden