Gautier Paulin got his FIM MX1 Motocross World Championship campaign off to a great start with a podium finish in the first Grand Prix of the year at the Losail International Raceway in Qatar.
The French leader of the Kawasaki Racing Team put in two impressive rides in the World Series opener, the first GP ever to be run under floodlights. The 2012 world number three showed his resilience in the opening moto as he recovered from a nasty fall in the early stages of the race in which he flew over the handlebars and knocked his head. On the final lap he surged past the Russian Evgeny Bobryshev to snatch fourth place and it was the same rider who could not resist the Kawasaki rider’s challenge in the Superfinal as Gautier advanced to third place four laps from the finish and almost caught the rider in second place at the chequered flag.
Tommy Searle of Team CLS Kawasaki MX1 Monster Energy Pro Circuit made an impressive debut in the class after his winter switch from the MX2 world series. Even though he never settled to his usual rhythm in the first moto the Englishman kept fighting to the end and was rewarded with a seventh placed finish; he followed this up later in the day in the Superfinal with a series of spectacular passes to claim fith in the race and sixth overall on the day and in the championship.
Jeremy Van Horebeek, another class newcomer as Paulin’s teammate in the Kawasaki Racing Team, faced a difficult weekend as he was riding with a broken finger, the result of a crash last month. But the battling Belgian never gave up and his gutsy performance was rewarded with 18th overall after he claimed 17th place in the MX1 moto and was awarded a further point for 20th place in the Superfinal when he had to retire.
Gautier Paulin: “The track was very fast today, much easier than during the qualification. I had fun except during the first race when I crashed pretty hard on my head. It took me two laps to recover, and then I had a better feeling and passed Bobryshev on the last lap. In the Superfinal I lost too much time passing slower riders in the early laps, but I passed Bobryshev for third in the last five minutes and even got close to Desalle in second. I’m happy with this third position; it’s a great reward for the team staff who worked hard this winter.”
Tommy Searle: “I struggled a little bit with the track in the first moto; it was a tough race as I didn’t have very good lines and it was difficult to change and find better lines. I took a better start in the Superfinal, found good lines and was happy to already be as fast as the established riders in the class in my first race. My times were pretty fast in this race; I’m right there and my pace is where I need to be.”
Jeremy Van Horebeek: “I broke one finger of my hand four weeks ago; normally it would take six weeks to recover but together with the team we decided to come here to race. It was a tough GP for me; I don’t have enough power in my hand and that makes it difficult to hold the bike; I scored a few points and will try again in Thailand, but my goal is to be ready for Valkenswaard.”