The Pietramurata circuit, which is currently playing host to the Grand Prix contingent, has met all of the European stereotypes thus far. Although rain threatened to turn it into a quagmire, clear skies prevailed and left the surface slick and one-lined.
“This track does not really have much choice with the lines," Antonio Cairoli confirmed in the post-race press conference. “The fastest line is always the one we are riding on, so it is kind of difficult. The start has been really important lately. We are going to try and stay in the top three or top four, because we have seen in the past races that if you are outside of the top five then it is very hard to come back and challenge the leaders. We look forward to the races tomorrow, as we are in front of our home crowd and there are going to be a lot of people."
Antonio Cairoli made that remark shortly after acquiring pole position at this circuit for the first time. Cairoli, who was a lowly seventh in the pre-qualifying practice, took a clear holeshot from the middle of the gate and then led every lap en route to the victory. His gate pick was obviously far from ideal, because of that lap time that he recorded in practice, but he opted to take a similar approach to Jorge Prado and start a little further outside than the rest of the title contenders.
“It is always difficult to race your home GP, because you have a lot of people waiting for you and wanting you to win," he continued in the press conference. “The Italian fans especially are very warm and, for them, second place is not good. It is quite difficult, but I try to do my best. The championship is really long, so I try to stay on the podium. That is my goal for all of the races. If it is possible then we will try to win tomorrow in front of the home crowd. It is important to be consistent in all of the races."
Gautier Paulin continued his positive run, chased Antonio Cairoli across the line and also recorded the fastest lap time of the race. Tim Gajser, who completed the podium, seemed hesitant for a majority of the encounter. “I felt a little bit stiff on the bike," Gajser commented in a statement from HRC. “We will change something for tomorrow. I hope that I will enjoy it more and ride well," he concluded. This is the first time since the Grand Prix of Indonesia that Gajser has not been on pole.
Although Romain Febvre finished fourth, which is a fairly mediocre result for a rider of his calibre, he may have the most to cheer about. A positive result such as this is a welcome sight, seeing as he endured some dismal outings earlier this year. It would be quite the turnaround if he manages to land on the podium tomorrow, much like he did here twelve months ago, but in order to do that he must first acquire a good start. Febvre has started eighth on average this year, which is just not going to get the job done.
The second rider on the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing team, Jeremy Van Horebeek, was just as impressive, as he overcame a handful of hurdles to finish seventh. The Belgian, who has been dealing with an illness since the Grand Prix of Leon, was also running a similar pace to the leaders for much of the race. Arnaud Tonus was in a similar position, but just needs a start. The jump that the Wilvo Yamaha MXGP rider got out of the gate today was far from ideal.
If you scroll further down the order you’ll find Shaun Simpson in eighteenth, a result that he truly did not deserve. ‘24’ was in an intense battle for a spot on in the top ten for a majority of the race, but slipped off a couple of laps from the end and forfeited a handful of positions. He is looking to further refine his set-up ahead of the main motos.
Evgeny Bobryshev was one position further back in nineteenth, after being knocked down by Clement Desalle early on in the moto. The incident left Bobryshev with a minor leg injury, but he is confident that it will not hold him back. “I will be alright for tomorrow," he said in a HRC statement. “I don’t have a heavy injury. I just need to make a good start; I am not worried about it." This is only the second time in five years that Bobryshev has not qualified in the top four in Trentino.
The MX2 class featured a little more action at the front, as the lead changed hands on one occasion and some furious battles occurred throughout the field. A new winner, Thomas Kjer Olsen, eventually claimed pole position, thanks to a high level of intensity that saw him reel off lap times that were half a second quicker than those around him. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider did not have the fastest time of the race, however, as that belonged to Brent Van Doninck in sixth.
Although Olsen will roll onto the metal mesh before anyone else, Jeremy Seewer may start as the favourite in the MX2 division. The Swiss rider overcame a crash with Samuele Bernardini, as well as a frustrating period in which he spent a handful of laps stuck behind the TM, to claim second on the final lap and cross the line just four seconds down on the eventual winner. “Everything is there, my confidence is good, my start today was ok and my race speed is also really fast. I’m looking forward for tomorrow," Seewer said post-race.
His teammate, Hunter Lawrence, was not as fortunate, as a crash early on in this race left him dead last again and with a considerable amount of work to do. The Australian knuckled down and picked off some slower riders to salvage a twentieth, however, which will give him a respectable spot on the starting line tomorrow. He was just two spots behind Conrad Mewse, who started fourth but was restricted to eighteenth with an unspecified bike issue.
Speaking of bike issues, Adam Sterry encountered an issue that has not yet been confirmed also. It ruled him out of the race early on, unfortunately, so he’ll face a mountainous task from the outside of the starting line tomorrow. Petar Petrov also had some problems in his return to racing.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Suzuki Racing