Practice Rundown: MXGP of Europe

A report from Valkenswaard

· 4 minutes read

The first round in Argentina was glorious. The sun was beating down on proceedings all day, so what more could anyone want? Temperatures were high, but nothing out of control, and that was reflected in the smiling faces around the paddock. It was always going to be tough for Valkenswaard, round two of the current campaign, to match those conditions, but no one was ready for this.

Snow has battered the historic Eurocircuit for hours, then the freezing temperatures have led to things becoming particularly hard in spots. It is less than ideal. The show must go on, however, and thankfully the sand can take a beating from Mother Nature. One may be concerned that the poor weather will influence the results, but those who possess red plates rose above their competitors in practice. Most were already aware that it would take something extremely special to stop Jeffrey Herlings in the sand though and, hey, Pauls Jonass is becoming a dominant figure as well.

It's bitterly cold at Valkenswaard, round two of the MXGP series (Sean Ogden)

Jeffrey Herlings was almost two seconds quicker than everyone else in the free session, which was run at midday, but it initially seemed as though Arminas Jasikonis had something for him. Herlings set a dominant time at the halfway mark, which most thought would be more than enough, but Jasikonis found a little extra and registered an incredible lap. Herlings then retaliated with an impressive time that was in line with what we have come to expect from him. It is extremely interesting to look at his progression throughout the session and how his fastest laps compared to each other. The first one listed in the table below is the lap that he set around halfway, then the bottom one was his quickest.

Jeffrey Herlings

Sector One

Sector Two

Sector Three

Sector Four

Lap 5

0:27.152

0:26.006

0:34.404

0:29.889

Lap 7

0:26.431

0:25.797

0:33.745

0:29.300

The time that Arminas Jasikonis set was consistently slower in all four sectors, which was to be expected, but the rider in fourth was actually quite close to Jeffrey Herlings for half a lap at least. Shaun Simpson sat atop the board for a brief period following his fourth lap and would have stayed there for longer, had he not bobbled in the final sector. The times below paint the picture and are particularly interesting when compared to what Jeffrey Herlings did. Perhaps there is potential here?

Shaun Simpson

Sector One

Sector Two Sector Three Sector Four
Lap 4 0:26.699 0:26.367 0:33.666

0:31.552

Before we move on from Arminas Jasikonis, the drastic improvements that he has made since round one deserve recognition. Jasikonis spent multiple days testing in the sand of Lommel, to work through some of the set-up issues with his new CRF450R, and it clearly worked. This should not be too surprising though, as he showed similar potential in the sand with Suzuki World MXGP. Jasikonis is still working his way back from that femur injury though and probably will not be at his best for a little while. So, with that in mind, this is all rather promising for him and the Assomotor squad! They are in desperate need of a boost.

Pauls Jonass appears to be unbeatable in the MX2 division (Sean Ogden)

Pauls Jonass appears to be unstoppable in MX2 and has not yet been beaten in a single session, which is just incredible. It is extremely likely that he will sweep both motos again tomorrow. It was rather interesting to see names like Davy Pootjes, Jago Geerts and Ruben Fernandez appear near the top frequently though and may indicate that a new podium finisher is on the horizon. The races are often completely different, however, and one should expect Hunter Lawrence and Thomas Kjer Olsen to be up to speed by that point. Results like what we had earlier today certainly make for great bench-racing ammo.

Although Pauls Jonass was again dominant in the timed practice session, the way in which he acquired his time was rather interesting. Jonass did not set a single session-best time in a sector, so certain riders were quicker than him on different parts of the track, but still managed to record a time that was more than a second quicker than anyone else. How does that work? Mistakes are common on a lengthy circuit that is as gruelling as this and he recorded a faultless lap, whereas others had certain areas that they struggled to master. Consistency will serve him well in the qualifying race later today.

Ben Watson is a perfect example of that point. Watson, a breakthrough star at round one two weeks ago, set the session-best time in sector one and seemed as though he was going to record a great time. Sector three let him down, however, despite the fact that he went through there quicker than he has all day. The time that he set on that particular part of the track was two seconds slower than Jorge Prado, who was the quickest there. This is why it is important to note that these times may not be a true representation of just how fast some riders are.

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden

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