The 2013 FIM Motocross World Championship jumped overseas to the spectacular venue of Beto Carrero in Brazil for round seven of the title fight. I was intrigued to see how the circuit would shape up in the dry after the rain-soaked edition of the event in 2012. The Grand Prix of Brazil seems to go over quite well with the fans; the attendance was definitely the best of all the flyaway races.
It was already apparent last year that the track layout was quite impressive; the off-cambers and large jumps made for a challenging (but one-lined) circuit. Arguably, the facility is one of the best in the series; the location alongside a theme park enables Youthstream to appeal to a handful of outsiders. It is always good to try and help the growth of the sport, right? I think that the circuit can be improved in some places; the width of the track really needs altering. I think that the whole place has some potential to be one of the best GPs of the year, though.
Obviously Youthstream and the FIM see that potential also; it was announced that the venue is going to host the 2017 Motocross of Nations. But the circuit needs to be opened up before then, as the track width is an issue at the moment (as mentioned earlier). Unfortunately, this did result in a lack of passing on-track. If you could get a good start you stayed up front – this seemed to be a recurring occurrence through the day, which had a bit of a negative affect on the on-track action. But at least it did not rain as much as last year! But, the race didn’t avoid the bad weather completely; it did rain overnight prior to Sunday, which left the track slick in some spots. I would argue that this downpour made the circuit more one-lined, also.
Before I get to the controversial Superfinal, I was disappointed to see that the 108% rule was abandoned in the week prior to Brazil. When it was announced that Youthstream were going to introduce the rule, I was pleased. It helped the credibility of the series I believe; it stopped incapable riders rolling around at the back of the field. Admittedly, I think that it reduced the number of riders that entered; but that was not the main issue. It seems Youthstream are so desperate to add a couple of riders to the line up that it does not matter if they really do not belong out there in a World Championship event.
So, lets move onto the Superfinal. Honestly, I do think that this was the best Superfinal of all three. Perhaps that is because Antonio Cairoli did not runaway with it, like he did in the first two rounds? Although the MX1 riders dominated the race again, it was not terrible. But still, I would have preferred to see two separate motos just like everyone else. There was a slight change made to the Superfinal, which was an awful decision (in my opinion, of course).
At the opening few rounds the MX2 riders got to choose their gate first, and then the twenty MX1 riders followed. The MX1 riders were all lined up on the outside as a result. Really it did not change much at those rounds, as the 450s still beat the MX2 guys to the first corner. Despite this a decision was made before Brazil to line the riders up with an MX1 guy followed by a MX2 guy, and so on. Honestly, this decision did annoy me. If you’re the last MX2 rider to the line your doomed, you’re definitely not getting a good start! Before the last MX2 rider would be in the middle, which gave them some shot at starting mid-pack. Anyway, we are finished with the Superfinal now. So all of these problems are behind us.
I felt as though normality was resumed in Brazil, as Antonio Cairoli was dominant on his way to a double moto victory: something we have grown accustomed to seeing. Without a doubt in my mind, he was the fastest rider at Beto Carrero. It definitely seemed as though Toni had it all under control on Sunday. But it was a different story during qualifying and practice.
Antonio Cairoli had not won the two GPs that took place prior to the Brazilian GP. So a few people were of the belief that “Toni needs to win”. Of course, Antonio did clinch the victory in the end. But he really was not in that bad of a position; I think that the Italian already has the title under control, honestly. I was not too sure that he [Toni] was going to win this past weekend, as he seemingly struggled on the Saturday. In the qualifying heat he started ninth and clawed his way up to seventh only. Although he was dealing with some goggle issues, it was not the type of performance that we have come to expect from him. But, he ironed out any issues that he had overnight and went into Sunday ready to win – as he always does.
Interestingly Antonio Cairoli did make a few uncharacteristic mistakes during the Superfinal. In my opinion, he was lucky that they were not costly. Whilst he was trying to move through the pack early on he whipped the bike sideways and failed to bring it back, which resulted in a brief off-track excursion. Cairoli landed off of a jump a few laps later and couldn’t keep the front wheel down, so he lost balance and nearly chucked it away. Maybe these were a result of him forcing the issue in an attempt to claim the GP win? I thought it was a classy move for him to dedicate his fifty-eighth victory to Marco Simoncelli; I wonder if he had been planning that since Trentino? Toni extended his lead in the series standings to fifty-two points as well, which means that he is already sat extremely comfortably.
Following his huge crash in Portugal, I wasn’t too sure whether Clement Desalle would force the issue at Beto Carrero. In the past we have seen how those crashes can hurt a rider (both physically and mentally) for quite some time. But Clement seemed to be feeling okay, he did complain of some back pains over the weekend though. Overall, he rode pretty well. However, I would have liked to see him fight against Antonio a little harder during the Superfinal. I feel as though Desalle keeps missing these opportunities to prove that he is capable of beating Cairoli straight up.
However, second overall (3-3) was a good showing and he moved closer to Gautier Paulin in second in the series standings. In my mind, I believe that he had to be was frustrated in both motos. In the opening MX1 encounter, Clement sat behind Max Nagl and failed to find a way around the German. Desalle has proven thus far this season that he is much faster than Max, so he should have picked up those points with ease. I am certain he would have liked to beat his teammate in that last moto as well, like he has done in the previous rounds.
Undoubtedly, Kevin Strijbos was the most improved rider at the Brazilian GP. Admittedly, he has been quite inconsistent thus far this year. At different points, Strijbos has shown that he can challenge for podiums. In the Superfinal Kevin looked like a different rider. It seemed he was confident in his ability to challenge for a win; Strijbos was desperately trying to increase his early advantage at the head of the field. At the start of the race, he was setting lap times that were much better than the riders that trailed him.
But towards the end of the moto his times dropped dramatically. Maybe this was a result of the pressure affecting him mentally, or his fitness not being one-hundred-percent? Although he did lose the win late on, it was a great ride for him. Let’s take a look at those lap times at the beginning and end of the race, shall we?
Honestly, I think that Max Nagl missed a great opportunity in Brazil. After finishing second in the opening moto, Max had a great shot at finishing on the overall podium and gaining some momentum. However a poor finish of sixth in the Superfinal meant that the German lost out on a tiebreak to Kevin Strijbos, and finished fourth overall. So, now we are seven rounds into the series: is his switch to the Honda World Motocross squad working out as it was expected to? I definitely thought that he would have been up on the overall podium by now, but I also thought that the transition would be tough. At the moment he has two moto podiums to his name, so there are signs that he is getting back to where he was at the end of last year. But Max has finished in between fifth and tenth for the most part, which is not where a rider of his calibre belongs (in my opinion).
Jeffrey Herlings lost a race! Finally, a different rider got to taste success in the MX2 class. Admittedly, a large part of the reason that Herlings lost was because he had to fight his way through a wall of 450s in the Superfinal after crashing early on. However a first lap crash is a part of the sport and something that you have to overcome if you want to go undefeated over a whole year. Herlings stated that he gave up halfway through the race; his lap times do indicate that he stopped forcing the issue with around five laps left. But perhaps this was his way of disregarding the loss a little bit? Even when he backed it down he was still gaining on MX2 winner Jose Butron, as the lap times below show.
Yep, that’s right. Jose Butron was the rider that ended Jeffrey Herlings’ win streak at thirteen moto victories. In recent weeks, Butron has flown under the radar (so much so that I wrote a article on that specifically) with some great rides. However, I have not seen the Spaniard ride like that before. In fact, the win came out of nowhere; he struggled to a sixth in moto one. In that first moto he started eighth and made two positions throughout the forty minutes. So it was not like he was one to watch going into that Superfinal. Will Jose continue to win motos, and establish himself as Herlings’ main competitor? No. But was his victory well deserved? It most definitely was. Following his second overall Jose moved into third in the standings also. So the weekend was full of positives for the Spaniard and the Silver Action KTM team.
Again, Glenn Coldenhoff missed a golden opportunity to jump up onto the overall podium. It seems that whenever he puts himself in a position to grab an overall podium spot, he makes too many mistakes in the second moto. Actually, a lot of the top MX2 riders seem to struggle in the Superfinal. I do wonder if it is because they are a little too worried about what the 450 riders are doing. Ferris excels in the Superfinal for instance and he has raced MX1 in the past so he knows what to expect from the competitors, whereas Coldenhoff is not really a known name. So, I wonder if that gets in his head a little bit?
Anyway, the Dutchman ended up with a twenty-sixth in the Superfinal (twelfth MX2 rider); this left him in fourth overall. Clearly he has the speed to contend for podium positions, he finished the first moto in second after leading a majority of the race. It seems as though he cannot find that final piece of the puzzle, which would see Coldenhoff become a consistent contender. However, the year has been successful for the Standing Construct KTM team, as the publicity that the privateer effort has garnered has been impressive.
I would like to know when Jake Nicholls is going to catch a break; the British rider has had a lot of bad luck so far this year, which has hindered his results most weeks. Nicholls was in a position to jump onto the overall podium when he crashed hard during the Superfinal, and bent his front disc; he could not continue as a result of this. Nicholls seems to have crashed quite a lot this year – much more than usual. Perhaps this is a result of him expecting more from himself with the depleted field? Jake needs to post consistent results in the coming weeks to salvage something in the series standings.
Following the cancellation of the Mexican GP a couple of weeks ago, the riders and teams have a two-week break before the French GP on the 9th of June. Personally, I cannot wait for the series to arrive at the spectacular venue of Ernee; the circuit has not featured on the calendar for quite a while, so it will be a refreshing change to head there.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of KTM Images/Ray Archer