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Practice Report: Arnhem

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Although the entry list does not quite boast the amount of high-profile riders that the promoters would have hoped for, a handful of intriguing points did emerge from the practice sessions earlier today. Romain Febvre, Tim Gajser and Malcolm Stewart are obviously now the favourites to stand atop the podium, but I’m sure a majority of you would expect the latter to have the best shot at claiming the ‘King of Arnhem’ title.

It seems that the defending 250SX East champ, Stewart, may have his work cut out for him though, as he faced stiff opposition in the timed session that was run at midday. The flamboyant styles that the pair of Honda riders possess understandably caught the eyes of spectators in practice, but it was actually Romain Febvre who posted the fastest time in each session. That may not be too big a deal, but the fact that he sat atop the times by four tenths certainly bodes well for ‘461’.

I would encourage you to throw out the practice times, however, as the start here is so odd that getting through there at the front will be a major advantage. You see, an extremely short straight leads into a chicane that runs through two of the rhythm sections. Based on some of the support races that we have witnessed thus far, it seems that if you are on the inside you’ll inevitably get squeezed out and that on the outside you really have nowhere to go. Somewhere around the middle is undoubtedly the best place to start, but then so much time would be lost with a bad jump.


Romain Febvre couldn't be stopped in the practice sessions.

Sean Ogden

That would not be as bad, of course, if there was somewhere to make up time on this track, but it is fairly generic. Some sections are quite technical, but not too difficult for the elite talent to navigate and most will end up doing the same thing. Malcolm Stewart and Tim Gajser were chasing each other around in practice and, although it got a little close at points, it acted as confirmation that making passes and progress may be difficult.

Those two, Stewart and Gajser, were second and third in the timed session, but Gajser was basically a full second down on the time set by Febvre. Even in the first free practice he struggled to match the pace, which could be a result of the recently-injured shoulder that ruled him out of the Monster Energy Cup. The MXGP champion is not so far off that he should be scrapped from the list of contenders though, especially seeing as he is typically the best at starts out of the top three.

European supercross stalwarts, like Thomas Ramette and Cedric Soubeyras, sit behind the international stars and will be in the mix, especially if one of the leaders falters. Another American import, Cole Martinez, occupied a spot in the top seven and could push towards the top five as he becomes better-acquainted with the smaller circuit. Although, truthfully, achieving that may be a tall order as the gap from fifth to sixth was noteworthy in practice.

The first SX1 main event begins at 19:25 local time, so stay tuned to this very site for content as the night show progresses. This link specifically will aid you if you are in need of second-by-second updates.

Words: Lewis Phillips | Image: Sean Ogden

MX Vice Editor || 25