What a GP that was!
Bitterly cold but thankfully dry the track was more hard pack that normal and on Sunday morning warm up was even frozen in places.
But despite being a bit more one lined that usual the racing was excellent. Here are some thoughts on what I saw over the weekend along with a few rider’s quotes.
MX2 is underated. The depth is there and the guys are so fast… and not just at the front. Elliot Bank-Brown was 31st in times Qualifying and he finished seventh in the final moto. There are all very close in speed.
We see how fast both Graeme Irwin and Steven Lenoir are in the British Championships but neither managed to score a point and they were both on the gas all weekend! In the GPs there are 25 guys as fast as the top five in the British Championship plus five more a bit quicker!
Watching Irwin over the weekend you could see just how hard he was trying, he wanted to make an impression so badly that in some cases he was maybe being too aggressive. The longer 40 minute motos with his all action style will mean his fitness will have to be even higher than the rest as well. Guys like Irwin and Lenoir need experience at that level to adapt to the GP pace and full weekend of riding.
But really… is 20 minutes races preparing British championship guys for GP racing? Looking at the results it seems that you need to be doing GPs regularly to get into that pace and rythmn. It is too hard to just turn and expect to get some decent points in 2013.
We still had four Brits in the top ten though and at one point Anstie, Pocock and Banks-Browne were nose to tail! Interestingly only Bank- Browne races the full British Championship – the rest concentrate on GP racing.
On the positive side James Dunn scored his first point and you can see how much he has come on already even from Qatar. His smooth style suits the longer motos and with time his raw speed will get better too. Look for an interview with both James and Elliott Banks-Browne in the coming days on MX Vice.
Jake Nicholls is back! He was impressive all weekend and almost got Anstie for third in the first moto. He hung on to Tixier as long as he could in race two and that pulled him away from everyone else bar Herlings of course. The delight on his face was obvious for all to see and everyone seemed happy for him in the press centre. Seeing guys so genuinely happy at achieving their goals after all the work is pretty cool.
Another rider who doesn’t get the credit he deserves is Belgian Julien Lieber. That guy is quick! Top ten in the world coming into the race he was comfortably in the top ten in both races until that big crash in race two put him out of the running. Anstie will have to start looking over his shoulder because his teammate is getting stronger all the time.
Max Anstie is confusing. He has the talent, he has lived in Holland and the USA, he talks the talk but something is just missing. He can’t seem to find the missing piece of the puzzle. He rode really good at the start of the race one pushing Tixier, but when Herlings passed him he struggled to stay with the KTMs and by the end of the race he was hanging on to third just ahead of Nicholls and Coldenhoff. Then in race two he was almost a minute behind third place when he finished sixth. Anstie has the stuff, but he is still struggling to put it together all weekend.
Jordi Tixier had the best ride of his career Monday, yet on Sunday evening after another average performance in his qualifying race, you would be hard pressed to hear anyone who would have predicted such a performance.
Two holeshots and pushing Herlings more than he has all year will do wonders for his confidence and maybe we are finally seeing just why Factory KTM hired him. He was just flying all day but what changed from the first two rounds?
” I just change something in my head,” explained Tixier. “The first two GP were not good for me, I had many crashes. I spoke with Pit, my mechanic, with Stefan and my father, and now I just want to enjoy my riding and not make mistakes.
On his second overall he said: “I just I had a good rythnm on the track, I was faster than everybody just Jeffrey was faster than me. For me it was like winning the GP, Jeffrey is the king of sand .
Herlings meanwhile was the story of the day. It was yet another mind blowing performance in the second moto and it was a privilege to watch one of the fastest ever riders in history do things on a bike that the rest just can’t do.
The crowd willed Herlings on throughout the entire moto and Herlings responded and gave them what they wanted. When he passed for the lead people around me were high fiving each and cheering. That is was racing at your home GP is all about.
Herlings mentioned in the press conference that he doesn’t just want to win the title but he wants records as well. He said: “I am always looking for records, this year I want to get that second championship and try to go undefeated. Going un-defeated is almost impossible, it is maybe a 1% chance, but hey I will go for that 1%. Winning here 4 times in a row is amazing. I have 19 career GP wins and I want to be the best Dutch rider in history.”
That motivation and his work ethic alongside his breathtaking talent is what is keeping his performances at such a high level. He works so hard and rides the bike so much that Everts is telling him to do less in case he gets burnt out!
The CLS team love Alex Lupino – he is such a nice guy he even helps take the awning down at the end of the races! Alex is very motivated this year to do well and apparently was in tears at his DNF in the second moto. Motocross means the world to these guys and sometimes it breaks their heart too if things go wrong because they are putting everything into it.
In MX1 Big Ken was on it. His style is unorthodox to say least but he makes it work and it makes you smile when you see how fast he is despite his style not because of it! He put on some brilliant passes and his nac-nac at the end was a cool throw back to 90s!
De Dycker said: “I am at the best I have ever been.” And it was hard to argue. He loves the bike, loves the team and seems to have figured out his fitness issues… he is doing a Davi Millsaps!
In MX1 the start is so important. I was watching Shaun Simpsons looking great just behind Searle and ahead of some big names and GP winners thinking he was well inside the top ten. When I counted back he was in eleventh! The results just do not indicate how fast those guys are going in MX1. Simpson rode well all weekend but if you weren’t there you wouldn’t have even noticed.
Speaking of Simpson – the TM team wins the best gear and bike combo award for 2013. Everything just looks really good!
The MX1 class is ridiculous in talent but brilliant to watch because something is always happening even outside the top ten there is always a battle with some big names.
Cairoli was not happy at losing and even said he expected to win both races. But he still won the overall and matched Stefan Everts record of five wins in a row. The Valkenswaard club received a signed AC22 jersey to go alongside Everts signed shirt when he achieved five in row. Next year it could be Herlings turn to donate a shirt.
The professionalism of the GPs has went up another notch. The new podium structure called the skybox looks brilliant and using the bottom half as a waiting zone for the riders- each with their own box and flag makes the sport look so good.
Youthstream get a lot of criticism but the look of the paddock, the two day event packed with action makes a really good weekend and you would be hard pressed to find another motorsport weekend with such constant on track entertainment.
The womens’ races were some of the best of the weekend! The qualifier heat was fantastic with Routledge, Kane and Fontanesi all going at it hammer and tongs. There are going at some pace too and very aggressive along with it.
Kane looked like she was going to win the second moto but it didn’t quite happen. Kane said: “It is a pretty good start, but wee things just keep happening. It was the first time I had lead in a long time (in the second moto) but the transponder turned round on the fork and I couldn’t turn right properly. It was frustrating me and I lost so much time. I sort of got it turned round and I got going again but it was too late.”
Overall it is hard to beat a weekend of GP racing, these guys are the best in the world and they leave it all on the line all the way through the field. It was also nice to see both Kane and Nicholls make the podium in the sand – well done!
Article by Jonathan McCready