The beautiful surroundings of Arco di Trento laid the foundation for a wonderful GP that had just about everything.
The biggest surprise was Antonio Cairoli not even making the podium! The usually ultra consistent Italian suffered a bad start in race one and only made it to sixth and crashed twice in race two but still finished fourth. Cairoli, oddly, is not a fan of the stereotypical rocky slick tracks like Arco and it showed with the Italian looking a little more wild than normal.
The track did however suit Gautier Paulin but bad luck robbed him of the perfect chance to eat into Cairoli’s championship lead. Paulin went wire to wire in moto one and looked set to do the same in race two only for his bike to start smoking and forcing the Frenchman into the pits. It was a devastating blow for Paulin in the championship and there was nothing he could do about it. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back in Bulgaria.
Clement Desalle took second in race one and when Paulin was forced out, the Belgian took the lead of race two but he was pushed all the way by a brilliant Jeremy Van Horebeek, who almost won despite a bad start. It was also a good performance by Kevin Strijbos who held Cairoli off for third. Indeed all four were only separated by four three seconds as they entered the final turn only for Cairoli to crash on the pit straight!
Desalle was very happy to take the win and admitted that recovering from his dislocated shoulder at the Nations had taken longer than expected. This win will definitely help Desalle get his confidence back.
It was a nightmare day for Steven Frossard. The Kawasaki went down on the first lap of race one while second then got hit by Nagl as he ran back to the bike. Frossard was knocked out and diagnosed with a concussion. It is unknown if Frossard will be able to race this weekend in Bulgaria.
Alex Lupino was moved up from the MX2 class and an average first moto was trumped by a superb if unnoticed second where the Italian went from dead last after hitting the gate up to tenth place. Lupino might just suit the 450 perfectly once he gets a bit more time on it.
Poor Evgeny Bobreyshev. The tough Russian is still riding with freshly operated on ankle but was probably in the least pain he had all year when he crashed while fourth in race two. As he got back up from the initial crash, Jeremy Van Horebeek’s back wheel unavoidably hit the Russian on the back and put him back on the ground. Bobreyshev was forced to DNF again but the Russian showed the most speed he has all year. If he isn’t too badly injured and can soon be pain free, Bobby should be on the podium before too long.
Jeremy Van Horebeek is getting better every single week. The Belgian could have won the GP if he had better starts but his second moto might have been the best race he has had on a 450. The Belgian can win and he is starting to really believe in himself.
In MX2 it was another tense and action packed affair but Jeffrey Herlings still managed to win despite not being the fastest!
Herlings, back after missing the Brazilian GP with a shoulder injury, fought off a huge challenge form Arnaud Tonus to take the overall victory with a first and second. But Herlings knows now he will have a fight on his hands to win this championship especially with sore shoulder that is not 100%.
Herlings didn’t have his blazing speed to win this GP but he used his heart to win it. Championship leader Arnaud Tonus had come from last in race one to catch Herlings in the final few laps but Herlings gritted his teeth and hung on for the win.
In race two both riders had a mid-pack start but Tonus got around Herlings early and it looked like he would win the overall. But Herlings isn’t a two time World champion for nothing. The Dutchman followed Tonus through the pack and with a few minutes to go passed the Swiss star back! Tonus and Herlings were giving it everything as Tonus fought to get back into second place but Herlings held on and got the points’ gap down to ten in the championship.
Tonus though probably had the best race of his career in race one. The CLS Kawasaki rider rode like he was a world champion in waiting and although he just lost out to Herlings in race two, he knows he has what it takes now, even against Herlings.
But the man in second place, six points behind Tonus, is Glenn Coldenhoff! The Suzuki man rebounded from a so-so first moto to record a blistering win in race two and prove to everyone that he is going to be a thorn in Tonus and Herlings’ side all year.
It was another good day for 17 year-old Tim Gajser. The Slovenian Honda man ran in second and shadowed Herlings for a good twenty minutes in race one before succumbing to a flyting Tonus in the dying stage to record his second third place in a row. Disaster struck for Gajser in race two when he went down in turn one but he showed impressive speed to come back to eleventh. Gajser will be an increasing threat to the front runners as the season goes on.
It was a great day for Switzerland! In moto one there were three Swiss men in the top five as Valentin Guillod and Jeremy Seewer had the best rides of their careers with a fourth and fifth. Guillod holeshot both motos and got fourth again in race two to show everyone that when he gets the start he can be a factor.
Thomas Covington had a tough race on the CLS Kawasaki. The American’s first GP in Europe proved extrememly difficult as Covington struggled to adapt to the tricky surface that is so different to what he grew up on in America. Don’t be surprised if Covingston’s results fluctuate this season as he gets to grips with the different types of tracks in the world championship. But on tracks he feels comfortable on he should do well.
The MX2 series is now wide open and Herlings along with not being at 100% himself has allowed Tonus and Coldenhoff to think he is now beatable. That is a dangerous combination and that is why Herlings gave everything to win in Italy. But his rivals also saw that they can go his speed just like they have been at the other rounds this year. Herlings has his hands full in 2014!
The series heads to Bulgaria this weekend and Cairoli will be looking to rebound from being off the podium, like Herlings, he knows he can’t give Desalle and company any more confidence!
MXGP Overall top ten: 1. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 47 points; 2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 42 p.; 3. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 36 p.; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 34 p.; 5. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 33 p.; 6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 25 p.; 7. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 24 p.; 8. Xavier Boog (FRA, HON), 22 p.; 9. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), 22 p.; 10. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 21 p
MXGP World Championship Classification Top Ten: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 175 points; 2. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 158 p.; 3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 154 p.; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 144 p.; 5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 137 p.; 6. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 109 p.; 7. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 89 p.; 8. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 81 p.; 9. Joel Roelants (BEL, HON), 76 p.; 10. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 72 p.
MX2 Overall top ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 47 points; 2. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 42 p.; 3. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 38 p.; 4. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 36 p.; 5. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 30 p.; 6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 30 p.; 7. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 30 p.; 8. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 28 p.; 9. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 26 p.; 10. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 20 p
MX2 World Championship Classification Top Ten: 1. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 154 points; 2. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 148 p.; 3. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 144 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 126 p.; 5. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 118 p.; 6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 107 p.; 7. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 107 p.; 8. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 100 p.; 9. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 95 p.; 10. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 93 p
Article: Jonathan McCready
Picture: Ray Archer/KTM Images