Day One: MXGP of Britain

Reflecting on the first day in Britain

· 8 min read

When Antonio Cairoli shot out to the early lead and Jeffrey Herlings slotted into fourth, a majority of pundits would have bet on the latter to take the win. Cairoli immediately threw the hammer down though and was consistently quicker than the competition. There was simply no opportunity for the others to respond. Although he has not done a lot of winning this season, it is not exactly surprising that he logged such a phenomenal ride. This circuit has been labelled as his favourite countless times in the past and his record on British soil speaks for itself.

There were a couple of lines that Antonio Cairoli took that helped him strengthen his advantage at the head of the field. A combination of double, triple, double in the rhythm section was particularly impressive and something that his competition could not master. It was made quite clear to Jeffrey Herlings that he needed to do his line, as it was on his board on multiple laps, but he just could not get it done. Herlings instead opted to go double, double, double and then single each lap. It does not take a genius to figure out just how much slower that line was each lap, but here are the sector times.

Antonio Cairoli

Jeffrey Herlings

Difference

Lap 5

0:31.516

0:32.068

-0.552

Lap 6

0:32.116

0:31.912

+0.204

Lap 7

0:32.112

0:31.420

+0.692

Lap 8

0:31.922

0:32.075

-0.153

Lap 9

0:31.750

0:31.977

-0.227

Lap 10

0:32.793

0:32.679

+0.114

Antonio Cairoli was simply unstoppable in the qualifying heat (ConwayMX)

Those times offer a glimpse at just how good Antonio Cairoli was, but not as much as the lap times in the table below. Cairoli was satisfied in the post-race press conference, just as one would expect. "I am really happy," Cairoli said. "We made good starts again, which was a little bit of a struggle at the last race, so hopefully we can have another one tomorrow. We know it is the key at the moment to stay at least top three if you want to win the GP. For me it is really important to get a good start and we made it today. I could make good laps and pull quite a big gap over the rest. I really like the track today and how they prepared it. There were not many ruts, but at least you could cut lines and invent something new every lap to try and make it fun."

Antonio Cairoli

Jeffrey Herlings

Difference

Lap 5

2:19.618

2:22.488

-2.870

Lap 6

2:20.813

2:21.667

-0.854

Lap 7

2:21.610

2:22.053

-0.443

Lap 8

2:22.459

2:23.356

-0.897

Lap 9

2:22.716

2:22.071

+0.645

Lap 10

2:25.717

2:26.398

-0.681

Jeffrey Herlings will face a tougher challenge than he has in recent weeks (ConwayMX)

What was up with Jeffrey Herlings? It is easy to immediately question the current series leader, but things must be kept in perspective. Conditions were not exactly ideal in the sense that the track was just so fast and hard-pack. It was actually similar to qualifying at Teutschenthal. Although it is important to remember that it was only qualifying heading into tomorrow, there is no doubt that he is not going to have things all his own way and will be pushed harder than he has been in recent weeks. The stage is set for some intriguing motos that should stray from what is considered normal at this point.

Glenn Coldenhoff deserves credit for finishing third with a solid ride. Tim Gajser was breathing down his neck for the duration and could not get the job done. Perhaps that serves as proof that track conditions were quite fast? Going back to the rhythm section, these riders offered a great look at how two different lines compared. A handful of riders, like Tim Gajser, opted to go to the outside and then triple into the section, but a majority of the field tucked up the inside and then doubled their way through before singling out. Glenn Coldenhoff did that line every lap and did not lose any time, which undoubtedly intrigued some onlookers.

Tommy Searle could see those two for a lot of the race, although he dropped off a little towards the end. Searle stole headlines with the second-fastest time in free practice, but backed that up in the timed session and then looked comfortable whilst running on the cusp of the top five in qualifying. It is certainly a huge step in the right direction and a reminder of just how good he can be. "I am feeling nice and better after a few weeks on the bike," Searle stated. "Like Max said, I have had so many injuries and coming back every time is a little bit harder.

Tommy Searle was a pleasant surprise on day one at Matterley Basin (ConwayMX)

"You sort of underestimate it and when you turn back up at a race… Last time in Germany I was a little bit scared, because of crashing on the start before," Searle continued. "I feel better coming in and a lot more confident in myself. I was seventh in the race, but just tightened up. The track was a little bit slippery at first, but then I stopped thinking and did not change any of my lines. I made some mistakes and got a little bit tight, but overall I think it is a good step in the right direction for me."

Max Anstie was actually ahead of Tommy Searle and pushing Jeffrey Herlings, before a small crash caused him to drop into the lower half of the top ten. The race confirmed what has been said countless times over the last couple of weeks though. Although his results have not quite been what he would have wanted, it has simply come down to the fact that he has had poor starts. The same could be said about a lot of the field, funnily enough, as a good start is often all it takes. Heck, look at Antonio Cairoli at Teutschenthal! It will be interesting to see what he can do with a good start tomorrow, as a spot on the podium is a possibility.

"It is nice to be back here and I have got great memories here from the ‘Nations," Max Anstie said following qualifying. "I am here to do my best and I set the bar pretty high with that. I feel like this race has come at a good time for me, because since my crash in Spain it has been quite hard to catch back up and I am not where I want to be on the track. Everyone is riding great and when you miss time, like myself… I am just trying to get back to it. I was good and up there [in qualifying], but then I went and crashed in one of the bottom turns."

Max Anstie pushed Jeffrey Herlings through the first half of the race (ConwayMX)

Jorge Prado had an identical race to his teammate, Antonio Cairoli, as he took the holeshot in the MX2 class and just pulled away. "The race went pretty good again," Prado stated following the race. "I could make a holeshot and it was fun. I was having fun the whole time, I think that was the key for me, and I could make a good gap to the guys behind, then control it and try lines for tomorrow. The track is fun and not too rough, so you can make new lines every lap. I will try to do the same tomorrow and hope that I can again get a good start. We will see tomorrow."

The table below offers a look at just how incredible his sprint speed was. Considering that it is likely that he will take another holeshot tomorrow, it would be brave to bet against the winner of the previous Grand Prix. The situation was fairly similar at Teutschenthal, however, and he just could not capitalise, as he left without making any significant progress in the championship standings. It is most important for him to put this speed to good use and gain ground in the title chase.

Jorge Prado

Pauls Jonass

Difference

Lap 1

2:25.442

2:26.924

-1.182

Lap 2

2:24.956

2:26.126

-1.170

Lap 3

2:25.136

2:26.201

-1.065

Lap 4

2:24.388

2:25.901

-1.513

Lap 5

2:24.273

2:24.864

-0.591

Lap 6

2:25.125

2:24.863

+0.262

Pauls Jonass could potentially lose some points tomorrow (ConwayMX)

Pauls Jonass and Thomas Kjer Olsen had fairly stagnant races, but acquired solid starting positions for tomorrow, then Ben Watson was a little further down in fourth. "I was quite happy with my gate pick," Watson said following the race. "I did not feel so good with the bike today, like I was not riding like myself. I am taking it like any other race. I just want to treat it normal and have everything the same with the preparation etc. I had a good start, then lost on spot to [Thomas Kjer] Olsen and rode my own race. I rode my own race and had a few mistakes, but I am happy now I have a decent gate pick for tomorrow. It is good."

Hunter Lawrence was solid in fifth, but that result is not a true representation of just how well he rode. The same could be said about Jed Beaton, who fell on lap one, as he made an incredible amount of progress in a short space of time. It would not be surprising at all to see either of those riders on the podium tomorrow. The table below should open eyes; Beaton was faster than Pauls Jonass even when working through traffic! This class is certainly wide open and there is a possibility that there could be a big swing in points, if one of these riders can get between the two contenders.

Pauls Jonass

Jed Beaton Difference
Lap 5 2:24.864 2:24.808

+0.056

Lap 6

2:24.863

2:25.254

-0.391

Lap 7

2:25.364

2:25.047

+0.317

Lap 8

2:25.211

2:25.052

+0.159

Lap 9

2:27.023

2:25.493

+1.530

Lap 10

2:28.288

2:25.606

+2.682

A final tip of the cap to Josh Gilbert is required before signing off. There is no way that anyone would have predicted that he would hover around the top ten quite comfortably, but he did that and undoubtedly opened some eyes. There is no doubt that he was a little flustered on the opening lap, as he almost threw it away and then bobbled in the rhythm section. Everything settled down after that, however, and he did not look out of place at all. It is amazing what a good start can do, as mentioned previously. It is likely that will be the theme heading into the second day of racing at the Grand Prix of Great Britain.

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX

Fantasy MX Manager
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