Honestly, most people associate Gaildorf or Teutschenthal with the German MXGP; after all, both circuits have a lot of history and prestige behind them. Despite this, the FIM Motocross World Championship ventured into a new German facility this past weekend, the Lausitzring. Surprisingly, the purpose built circuit that hosted round thirteen of the MXGP series was met with positive feedback by most, which I certainly was not expecting.
If you look at both Gaildorf and Teutschenthal, they show conventions of a stereotypical old-school track. Whereas the Lausitzring is the complete opposite, as it was arguably one of the most modern facilities that the series has visited. Whilst the circuit was under construction, I saw a handful of pictures of the track, and it looked far from impressive. Honestly, it did turn out much better than I had imagined. Still, it is not surprising that most fans that long for the past would disapprove. In my opinion, the Lausitzring didn’t have the same sort of appeal that a lot of the other circuits on the calendar possess, as the on-track features were not unique.
Although the circuit was not the most physically demanding, the heat really tested the riders over the weekend, as the GP of Germany was arguably the hottest race of the year – this was something that every team and rider were trying to combat over the weekend. Seeing as the circuit was based on the infrastructure of a speedway circuit, the paddock was concrete; this only magnified the issue with the heat and humidity. Simply, it was a tough two days for all involved.
Prior to the GP of Germany, it seemed as though the Lausitzring was going to be sandy. Now, the circuit was certainly not sandy; however it was loamy, especially in the corners. Just take a look at the amount of braking bumps; it was certainly not hard-pack, thankfully. If the track were slick hard-pack, it wouldn’t have been much of a challenge for the riders. But the softer soil meant that a few of the riders had a tough time keeping control of the bike, after getting kicked around from the sharp braking bumps. However the track just did not have that ‘wow factor’ – it lacked something, in my honest opinion.
The Lausitzring certainly lacked fans, as the venue seemed sparsely populated in comparison to Teutschenthal [the German GP] last year. Perhaps it seemed this way, because most were up in the grandstands? However, even those were not half full. Most fans spent their time in that Monster Energy structure, by the looks of things. I think that this is the biggest problem, with a circuit being built on the infield of a road-race circuit – it lacks atmosphere. But I don’t have an answer on how this can be fixed.
Intriguingly the German GP played host to the inaugural round of the EMX150 championship – a series dedicated to building future champions. It is certainly a cool idea and concept. But, I was surprised to see just fifteen guys on the line; it does seem the problems that the MXGP series has with entries stretches further than just MX1, and MX2. Mitchell Lewis grabbed the victory in the one-moto format, to the delight of the British fans. Now Lewis seems to be the favourite to garner that ride with Gariboldi Honda in the EMX250 series next year, which will be a massive step forward in his career.
I honestly feel like I am repeating myself each week, but it is hard not to when the same two riders stand atop the podium a lot. Antonio Cairoli grabbed his fourth successive overall win, and the sixty-third of his career. Intriguingly the German GP was tough on Antonio, as he did struggle with his asthma in the hot, and humid conditions. I do believe that this is the reason that Toni seemingly struggled in moto one, as his lap times were subpar. It is quite surprising that he seemingly did not struggle in moto two though. Evidently, he was back to his best; as he raced away to an eighteen second lead. Now Antonio has a one hundred and eighty point lead in the series. If everything goes to plan for Cairoli, the Italian could win the world title in two rounds time at Bastogne.
In the last two rounds, it seems as though Clement Desalle has been quite desperate to grab a GP victory. In fact, he has said as much. The Belgian missed out last time in Finland, but he came very close this past weekend at the Lausitzring. It is quite hard to believe that Clement has not won a GP since round one in Qatar, which seems like a lifetime ago now. So, it really is understandable that he is starting to get frustrated. Specifically, I was very impressed with Desalle in race one obviously, as he took the moto win. Rarely do we see Clement pass Toni, and runaway with a win; but that it exactly what he done at the Lausitzring.
In the second moto Clement Desalle just did not have the same speed as Toni, which is what we have become accustomed to seeing. Whereas Clement was the rider moving forwards in the opening laps of moto one, he got caught in a battle with Searle at the start of moto two. Toni Cairoli took advantage of this and established a gap immediately. It was a commanding second place for Desalle; by virtue of his second overall, he moved into second in the series, as well. Ken de Dycker (third overall at Lausitzring) is right there though, as he is just twenty-four points back of Clement in the series standings.
When Tommy Searle acquired his maiden MX1 pole position on Saturday, most thought that it was a foregone conclusion that he would finally jump onto the overall podium, for the first time this year. However he missed out by the smallest margin, as he lost out on a tiebreak to Ken de Dycker. Honestly I was slightly disappointed by his performance; I thought that Searle would be more of a factor in the fight for the win. Still, this year is about building for 2014, in Germany he got one step closer to where he wants (and needs) to be. I do believe that Loket will be the site of his first visit to the podium, as the track is going to favour Searle over a guy like Ken de Dycker.
I cannot go much further without mentioning Gautier Paulin. The Frenchman had a big crash whilst leading race one, which resulted in a trip to the hospital via the air ambulance. At first most feared the worst, but it now seems as though nothing is broken, thankfully. However it was quite clear that the Frenchman had a concussion, reports suggest that Gautier could not remember anything that had happened. Whether he will line up in Loket remains to be seen, but he doesn’t really have a lot to gain from going there, in my opinion.
David Philippaerts had his best showing of the season, with a sixth overall. I do think that we all have to change our expectations of the Italian, to expect podiums, or even top fives, from him is quite unrealistic now. Obviously the numerous wrist injuries that he has sustained are still having an impact on him, as he is far from one-hundred-percent. Still, the fact that David has stayed injury-free thus far this year has aided his results, I do believe, as it now seems as though he is making progress. Hopefully, David will continue to battle on the edge of the top five for the remainder of the season, and take that momentum into the off-season.
Joel Roelants is another rider that is seemingly making some progress out on-track, as a sixth and a ninth for seventh overall ties his best overall finish this year. But, the sixth in moto one was his best individual race result this year, beating out his previous best – a seventh. Maybe another finish like this will convince the Monster Energy Yamaha squad to give Joel a shot in 2014. The Finnish GP was good for him to, so he is evidently building momentum each week. Hopefully this will not go unnoticed by team managers etc. Perhaps Joel has potential in this class, after all?
Admittedly, Milko Potisek finished much higher up than I had predicted. Sure, finishing the motos in eleventh and tenth and ending up in ninth overall is slightly lucky, but that means the moto gods were looking down on him! In all seriousness the Frenchman did what most would expect out of a replacement rider, he certainly did not disappoint. It is a shame that he won’t get another shot on the factory machine – it would have been quite interesting to watch him progress with the guidance of the Rinaldi squad. But he has other commitments next weekend, which will stop him from attending Loket, round fourteen.
Herjan Brakke and Matiss Karro tied for tenth overall with nineteen points apiece; both guys had a lacklustre moto one, but followed it up with a great second moto ride. Brakke actually beat his more established teammate, Shaun Simpson, as an eighth in race two was easily his best finish of the year. In fact, that was the only time that he has finished in the top ten (in a moto) after joining the series at Uddevalla. Matiss Karro got around a couple of factory guys in moto two to finish seventh, as well, in an impressive effort. Again, this just proves that he [Karro] does have some potential on the 450f.
Jeffrey Herlings topped the podium again, for the thirteenth consecutive time, a new record. Intriguingly, Jeffrey had a practice crash in the week, and injured his hand slightly. Of course, you will not have noticed, as he was flawless again. It just makes his season more impressive – if that is even possible. Now, with a one-hundred and fifty-nine point lead to his name, the Dutchman will more than likely clinch the world title next week at Loket. It is amazing, really.
Quickly, Jordi Tixier has established himself as the second best 250f rider in the class; he was exactly that at the Lausitzring this past weekend. Obviously, the first four laps in that second moto were the most impressive for Jordi. Despite the fact that Jeffrey Herlings is his superior teammate, Jordi put up a great fight in race two. We all knew that Tixier wasn’t going to stay ahead of Herlings, but that did not stop him from putting in a good effort. Maybe he wanted to see what sort of pace the series leader was running, just to test himself? In my opinion he seemingly got tired trying to run with Jeffrey; he dropped backwards quickly, before settling down in second.
Glenn Coldenhoff did it! Finally, the Dutchman got up onto the overall podium. Although, he very nearly didn’t make it up there, as Glenn was physically exhausted following race two. In fact he could not even stand on the box, instead he elected to sit and catch his breath. It has been a long time coming for him; he has been close a lot this year. Now Coldenhoff has done it though, and it is always easier to do it a second time! The Dutchman had a fifth and a third on the day, and he has closed to within three points of Charlier (fourth) in the standings. I do think that fourth is the ceiling for him, as Jose Butron (third) is quite far ahead.
Well, we have been waiting quite a while for Max Anstie to breakthrough – he seemed to do just that at the Lausitzring. The German GP suited him perfectly, as it was hot and humid; he is used to these conditions from the time that he spent in California. It [the track] could have been likened to supercross, which is his speciality, in my opinion. Anyway Anstie should have been up in third overall, instead of Coldenhoff, truthfully. In the second race the British rider seemed to be the second fastest rider, as Max was applying pressure to Jordi after disposing of Glenn. But a large fall meant that he had to limp across the finish to ninth in the race, and fifth overall. Currently, it seems as though there are no lasting effects from his crash.
The HM Plant KTM UK pairing of Elliott Banks Browne and James Dunn had a better time this past weekend, it was certainly more positive! Banks Browne finished thirteenth in moto one, and two. Prior to the Lausitzring, Elliott had not finished in the top fifteen since Maggiora, so a pair of thirteenths is a step in the right direction. Although our national champ should be in the top ten consistently, when you consider how he has fared at an international level, it just seems unrealistic. James Dunn scored an impressive five points in race two, which was easily his best finish this year. Overall, the HM Plant team can draw positives from the day, but it is still not where they need to be.
So the inaugural German GP at the Lausitzring has been and gone. Judging by the provisional calendar for next year, it doesn’t seem as though we will be revisiting the venue. Admittedly, most will be overjoyed by this news. However, some actually enjoyed the GP, and feel that it is great for the sport, namely Antonio Cairoli. If a rider with the credibility of Toni feels that way, maybe we should all give these venues more of a chance in the future?
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of KTM Images/Ray Archer