It was lights, cameras and most definitely action for the 2013 FIM Motocross World Championship as Losail and the Grand Prix of Qatar launched the season on Saturday night. Flashing through the desert night sky was Gautier Paulin, Dean Ferris and Tommy Searle, shining as part of the Monster Energy motocross crew that tackled the rough bumps and huge jumps of the new layout a mud splat from the MotoGP track.
Facing the first ever night Grand Prix, the first trek into the Middle East for the series and the first siege of the three ‘moto’ race format the athletes opened the season with a challenge unlike anything they’d faced before.
At the heart of the noise, power, speed and aerobatics was Kawasaki ace Paulin. The Frenchman even survived a spectacular get-off in the first race to remount the KX450F and finish fourth, going to grab third later in the evening. “With the lights around me it was really strange, like when you’re driving on the freeway and you’re really tired!” he said after picking up the bike and recovering positions to finish third overall and bagging the golden pear trophy. Just behind ‘GP21’ was MX1 rookie Searle. Tommy rode to a steady 7th in the first sprint but his fantastic last lap attack in the second almost saw him relegate Evgeny Bobryshev to fifth place on the final corner. Gutsy stuff and potential is clearly there.
The Superfinal mixed the big boys with the 250cc-riding MX2 guys and by crossing the line second in the class (13th on the track) Monster Energy Yamaha’s Dean Ferris marked an outstanding debut on the YZ250F; becoming the first Aussie since 2005 to walk the Box as runner-up.
“I’ve raced quite a bit of supercross in Australia so the lights were OK for me,” he offered up. “The hardest thing was trying to see areas of traction in the dirt but the lighting was good. I was excited out there, battling all those 450s and the goal right now is to get on the podium every weekend.”
Back in MX1 Monster Energy Yamaha duo Steven Frossard and Joel Roelants were undone by their starts – Frossard in particular had to rally back from a crash in the first moto and some damaged goggles – and the Belgian rookie continues his acclimatization to the premier class.
A shout out to Alex Lupino for pushing his way through the Superfinal and against the 450cc bikes on the CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit bike and a thought for the Italian’s team-mate, Arnaud Tonus, who learned of a fresh fracture to the leg he broke at the Motocross of Nations last September that is likely to keep him on the sidelines for some time.
The heat stays on this week as the entire paddock shifts further east and another Grand Prix milestone is ready to be planted with Pattaya set for the Thai round of the series.