The FIM Motocross World Championship will celebrate the sixth MXGP of the season in the characteristically red soil of Agueda in the North of Portugal. The MXPG riders have had almost two weeks to recover from the Bulgarian Grand Prix and Antonio Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings are ready to top the podium in Portugal once again and keep on leading the MX1 and MX2 standings comfortably.
It will be a busy weekend, as the MX1 and MX2 riders will share the venue with the young motocross talents who are taking part in the European series. Apart from the FIM MX1 and MX2 World Championship, the Portuguese track will also host the second round of the EMX125 Championship and the first round of the EMX250 Championship. Due to the magnificent high number of entries for both series (69 entries in the EMX125 and 94 entries in the EMX250) this weekend there will be a change in race format in order to permit all the riders to race.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli is travelling to Portugal with the main goal of winning the Portuguese round and increase his points lead in the MX1 standings. The Italian missed the overall victory two weeks ago in Bulgaria and he also missed the victory last year in Agueda finishing third behind Clement Desalle and Gautier Paulin. The last time Cairoli won in Agueda was back in 2009 with a double victory, so the Italian is determined to win the Portuguese Grand Prix this weekend.
Kawasaki Racing Team’s Gautier Paulin arrives in Agueda full of confidence after winning the Bulgarian Grand Prix from the likes of Cairoli and climbing up to the second position of the MX1 point standings. The French rider won the second heat of the Portuguese Grand Prix last year, but a mechanical problem in the first heat stopped him from being on the top of the podium and he ended second overall. Paulin knows really well the Portuguese track and he mentioned in Bulgaria that he is ready to try to stop Cairoli and close the gap with the Italian for the Title chase.
Third in the MX1 Championship, six points behind Paulin, is Clement Desalle, who was back on the podium in Bulgaria after finishing third overall. The Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s riders knows that winning in Portugal this weekend would be a key point for him if he wants to keep on fighting for the Title. In fact, Desalle has conquered the podium of the Portuguese Grand Prix during the last three years, which gives him a special motivation to face the sixth round of the season.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Ken De Dycker dropped down to the fourth position of the MX1 classification after finishing seventh in Bulgaria. The Belgian rider is looking forward to racing this weekend in order to leave back his poor performance in the last Grand Prix and try to move up again in the point standings. De Dycker was fifth last year in Agueda, so he has a lot of chances of finishing on the podium this weekend.
Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s Kevin Strijbos had one of his best performances of the season in Bulgaria two weeks ago and he actually missed the podium being tight in 40 points with his teammate Desalle. The Belgian is fifth in the point standings at the moment but he is 23 points behind his compatriot De Dycker, so his goal this weekend is riding as he did in Sevlievo and trying to obtain his maiden podium of the season.
Tommy Searle, who is now sixth in the Championship, showed a big improvement in the last two Grand Prix of the season, especially with his starts. Searle is now riding with the front riders in the beginning of each heat, but he lacks keeping his rhythm until the end of the heat in order to start fighting for a podium finish. Last year he was second in the MX2 class, so Agueda is a track that suits the British rider.
Home rider Rui Gonçalves is looking forward once again to racing on home soil this weekend and he faces the Portuguese Grand Prix being seventh in the Championship. Max Nagl is eighth and Xavier Boog, who will miss the next two Grand Prix due to his injury in his right foot, is ninth. Evgeny Bobryshev is currently tenth in the point standings and he will try to ride this weekend after having missed the last two Grand Prix due to a fractured ankle.
2012 MX1 Podium
1. Clement Desalle
2. Gautier Paulin
3. Antonio Cairoli
2012 MX1 POLEMAN: Antonio Cairoli
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings keeps on being unbeaten and he will enter the Portuguese round this weekend leading the MX2 class with a 65 points advantage over second classified, Jordi Tixier. His main goal keeps on being winning all the heats of the season, but he is now also paying attention to the MX1 riders’ lap times in order to keep on improving his speed.
His teammate Jordi Tixier has made an incredible improvement since the Dutch Grand Prix. Since then the Red Bull KTM Factory racing rider has been racing with the front riders and he has led several laps in the last three Grand Prix. Tixier is aware of his teammate’s superiority, but he will keep on fighting to win races and why not to win his main Grand Prix.
Standing Construct KTM’s Glenn Coldenhoff keeps on being third in the MX2 point standings, but he has not been racing with the front riders in the last Grand Prix. The Dutch rider started the season fighting for the top three positions and he was very close to be on the podium, so he just needs to believe in himself and obtain his so expected podium finish.
A rider that is gaining consistency race after race is Silver Action KTM’s Jose Butrón who is now fourth in the point standings. The Spanish rider has been already twice on the podium, in Thailand and in Arco di Trento, and in Bulgaria was riding again for the top five positions. This weekend Butrón will count with a lot of Spanish supporters who will drive all the way to Agueda to support him and maybe see him on the podium once again.
Monster Energy Yamaha’s Christophe Charlier is rounding the top five of the MX2 classification and he is just six points behind Butrón. The French rider has proved to have the speed and the talent to be fighting for the top three, but he just lacks a little bit of confidence to battle for the top positions from the beginning until the chequered flag. This weekend he has another opportunity to show his potential, finish on the podium and get closer to the top three of the MX2 standings.
British rider Max Anstie also showed great speed and an excellent rhythm in Bulgaria and this year he has already finished third in a couple of races, one in Thailand and the other one in the Netherlands. Anstie is currently sixth in the point standings, followed by Dean Ferris and Alessandro Lupino, who obtained his maiden Grand Prix podium in Bulgaria two weeks ago. Jake Nicholls is ninth position and Romain Febvre, who is still recovering from his fracture in his fibula, is rounding the top ten.
2012 MX2 Podium
1. Jeffrey Herlings
2. Tommy Searle
3. Jeremy Van Horebeek
2012 MX2 POLEMAN: Jeffrey Herlings
Saturday: EMX125 Group 1 Free + Qualifying Time Practice 7:50, EMX125 Group 2 Free + Qualifying Time Practice 8:35; MX2 Free Practice 9:30; MX1 Free Practice 10:15; EMX250 Group 1 Free + Qualifying Time Practice 11:00; EMX250 Group 2 Free + Qualifying Time Practice 11:40; EMX125 Semi Final Group 1 12:30; MX2 Pre-Qualifying Practice 13:15; MX1 Pre-Qualifying Practice 14:00; EMX125 Semi Final Group 2 14:50; EMX250 Semi Final Group 1 15:30; MX2 Qualifying Race 16:10; MX1 Qualifying Race 17:00, EMX250 Semi Final Group 2 17:50; EMX125 Last Chance Qualifying 18.40; EMX250 Last Chance Qualifying 19.20.
Sunday: EMX125 Warm up 8:00; EMX250 Warm up 8:30; MX2 Warm up 9:00; MX1 Warm up 9:30; EMX125 FINAL 10.20; EMX250 FINAL 11:10; MX2 Grand Prix Race 1 12:10; MX1 Grand Prix Race 1 13:10; MX2 Grand Prix Race 2 15:01; MX1 Grand Prix race 2 16:07.