The Grand Prix of Latvia promises to be an exciting affair, if the practice times are anything to go by. The various contenders in each class were in the mix, just as you would expect, but then some different names appeared towards the front in each session.
One may argue that the surface is the reason why Jeffrey Herlings is competitive on this track. However, a hard base sits beneath the sand and ensures that Kegums is completely different to what you would find in The Netherlands or Belgium. The fact that the track is fairly soft on top boosts his morale, undoubtedly, but it seems that he is just a couple of clickers away from his best now. Although his title hopes may have evaporated, he could play a very important role from this point on. Could this be the weekend that he stands atop the box?
Those who are struggling to meet expectations typically point to starts as the reason for that. The start straight here could solve that issue for certain riders, however, as it drastically favours the inside. If you are on the inside and get a bad jump, you can just tuck up the inside and salvage a respectable position. It all starts with the qualifying race, of course, but do not be surprised to see someone like Max Nagl finally battle inside of the top five. Nagl actually looked stronger than he has done in recent weeks and will end up just three gates from the inside in the qualifying heat.
Romain Febvre is in a similar position and actually had an intriguing time of it in practice. ‘461’ floundered in the lower half of the top twenty and then recorded the fastest time of the session in sector two, but never advanced beyond that point. Febvre later emerged with a bit of a limp and seemed to be gesturing towards his leg. Everything is fine, obviously, as he appeared again for the timed session, but he was in a considerable amount of pain after hitting his femur with his handlebar.
When the results from free practice were first confirmed, I started to question what is wrong with Pauls Jonass. ‘41’ has been so brilliant thus far this season that it seemed fairly unorthodox to see him outside of the top ten. At that point, however, I realised that he rarely performs in the first session of the weekend. In fact, he has not featured in the top three in free practice since the Qatari fixture and has been in the top five just once since then. That statistic alone confirms that we should not read too much into his times.
The dynamic in the MX2 division is most intriguing at this point. That will only intensify too, if Jeremy Seewer can replicate his speed from earlier today in the upcoming races. It would be a massive momentum swing if he could actually defeat Jonass on home turf. It seems that they will not be alone at the front, however, as Thomas Kjer Olsen continues to show great speed and linger around the top three.
A final note from the MX2 class: Vsevolod Brylyakov will not be racing. Brylyakov damaged some nerves and a muscle in his shoulder at the previous round and, although he gave it a good go, he is just too weak to endure two motos. There is a weekend off following this, of course, so he should be much better prepared for the Grand Prix of Germany.
The qualifying races will begin at 16:25 (local time), so tune into MXGP-TV.com for those. Alternatively, you could follow our live updates.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX