LOSAIL (QATAR), 28 February 2014 – The riders of the FIM Motocross World Championship had their first opportunity to get the monkey off their backs today with the qualifying heats taking place at the spectacular circuit of Losail, Qatar. So far, the surprise of the season goes to Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s Kevin Strijbos who rode incredibly smooth to control the MXGP class from start to finish, meanwhile in MX2 the result was more or less predicted with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings taking the win.
The MXGP class kicked off with Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s Kevin Strijbos getting off to a stellar start and going on to lead the race completely unchallenged. “All I did was get a good start and just tried to focus on riding my own lines and my own race,” Strijbos explained.
Meanwhile Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev put in an amazing ride, holding onto second place for the majority of the race. Coming into the closing laps, the Russian Bobryshev came under pressure from Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s dynamic duo Gautier Paulin and Steven Frossard. With one lap to go both Paulin and Frossard went to work on Bobryshev. Although it was Paulin who managed to put his exceptional BMX skills to good use and manual through the waves to pass Bobryshev for second place. Bobryshev held on tight to finish third by a fraction ahead of Frossard.
Meanwhile the current FIM Motocross MXGP World Champion Antonio Cairoli went down on lap one when he made a mistake in a corner and collided with 24MX Honda Racing’s Xavier Boog. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider was dropped out of the top twenty but managed to recover and fight back to a remarkable seventh place.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings got off to a great start to the season. The Flying Dutchman, nicknamed ‘the bullet’, and for good reason, shot to the front of the pack and led every lap to take the first qualifying race win of 2014. Meanwhile, keeping Herlings honest the entire race was CLS Kawasaki Monster Energy’s Dylan Ferrandis. Ferrandis did a great job holding on for second despite the pressure from his CLS Kawasaki Monster Energy teammate Arnaud Tonus.
A noticeably calmer Herlings said during the press conference: “My fitness is pretty good, all I needed at this track was a good start and the rest would come by itself, so I just got a good start and took the holeshot and just tried to stay calm and ride smarter than I did in previous years”.
With the qualifying races of the opening round of the 2014 FIM Motocross World Championship all done and dusted, it has just confirmed how amazing MXGP 2014 is going to be. Both Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s Kevin Strijbos and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings will have first pick of the gate tomorrow for the first two races of the season.
MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), 23:49.172; 2. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:04.343; 3. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:06.157; 4. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:06.257; 5. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), +0:08.044; 6. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), +0:08.748; 7. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:09.270; 8. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:17.343; 9. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:23.960; 10. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:30.413
MX2 Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 23:42.613; 2. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:07.366; 3. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Kawasaki), +0:10.931; 4. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +0:17.068; 5. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +0:22.899; 6. Max Anstie (GBR, Yamaha), +0:26.135; 7. Julien Lieber (BEL, Suzuki), +0:28.698; 8. Christophe Charlier (FRA, Yamaha), +0:36.957; 9. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:37.854; 10. Petar Petrov (BUL, Yamaha), +0:39.861
Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer