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Swedish Wrap

The FIM Motocross World Championship visited the picturesque circuit of Uddevalla, Sweden to kick-start the second half of the 2012 series this past weekend. The track looked to be in great shape, however the rain yet again made an appearance, soaking the circuit Sunday morning leaving it sloppy for the first set of points paying moto’s. What do the GP’s have to do to escape the rain?

To the astonishment of every single fan worldwide, Antonio Cairoli is leaving Uddevalla without the series lead. After what can only be described as a disastrous day, two DNF’s saw the Sicilian leave Sweden three points down to his championship rival, Clement Desalle. A stone got lodged in the chain of Toni’s bike in moto one, causing the back wheel to lock up. After hopelessly trying to fix the problem on the side of the track for a handful of laps, he was eventually forced to walk back to the pits empty handed.  Moto two wasn’t much better, after starting in fifth he ran off track and got stuck in a pile of mud that had been scraped off of the track. Again, he tried to set his stricken bike free, but was forced to leave it stranded in the mud and walk back to pit lane.

The light shining on Cairoli on saturday. The dark clouds came in for Sunday for the race and for Toni's championship.

Luckily for him, his forty-seven-point lead prior to Sweden meant he leaves only three points down. A deficit that can be overcome with a single moto win. One thing I did notice about Cairoli on the day was how professionally he handled the situation – most would be visibly upset on camera. But Cairoli shrugged it off, and is already focussed on Kegums in two weeks time. One DNF is unlucky, to suffer from two on the same day is almost unheard of. Astonishingly, moto one was Cairoli’s first mechanical DNF in MX1, so it was surely just a fluke.

Clement Desalle was in a perfect position to steal the points from Cairoli, as both times out he was undoubtedly the fastest rider on track – deserving of the GP win. Desalle’s aggressive style perhaps helped him push through the sloppy conditions, as he was aggressive whilst muscling his way past his rivals. You have to think he knew Cairoli was out of the race in both moto’s, as he must of saw the Italian’s stricken bike on the side of the track. That knowledge alone surely encouraged him to push his way to the lead each moto. Unfortunately for the rest of the field, every week Desalle seems to be getting faster and stronger. The track’s coming up are good for the Belgian also, so he is looking poised to fight all the way to the end for this title!

Desalle had every right to be happy, he went 1-1 and picked up the red plate

Many thought Christophe Pourcel would excel on the slick surface. His picture perfect style, and throttle control is something many try in vain to perfect over their careers. However, despite leading a portion of both moto’s he didn’t have enough to win a moto – and rounded out the day with two seconds. Maybe the Frenchman would have been more of a threat if he hadn’t had been ill – as he claimed to have had a sleepless night prior to race day, which is also the reason why he missed morning warm up. Second overall was still good enough to propel him back into the title fight, as he sits just twelve points down on series leader, Desalle.

The last few weeks have been successful for Kevin Strijbos. Wins in the Maxxis British Championship, and top five results at World Championship level have surely boosted his confidence. The Belgian carried that momentum into Sweden, and climbed onto the overall podium for the second time this year. I say it every week, Strijbos is getting back to his former form, and this year he is looking more and more like the Strijbos we saw in 2007. He even went after the two leaders in the second moto! When you take his results this year into consideration, it definitely would not be surprising to see him back on full factory equipment in the near future.

Kevin Strijbos ripped through the pack in the first moto from a long, long way back. He got his second podium finish of the year and is really starting to look like the rider who has finished second in the World twice before.

Sebastien Pourcel is in the same position as Strijbos, as he fights to get back to where he once was. For a majority of moto one, he looked more than capable of hanging with Desalle and his brother, before finishing third in the moto (his first moto podium since 2010). In the second moto, a mediocre start just inside of the top ten saw him only advance as high as sixth – a position he occupied for much of the race. Pourcel is definitely looking a lot better than he did at round one, and should be a contender for podiums here on out – if he can avoid injury. Which has been a problem for him since 2009.

Shaun Simpson was a revelation aboard the full works Rinaldi Yamaha this weekend. The Scotsman has been drafted in to pilot the full factory bike now that Steven Frossard has bowed out with injury. All year Shaun has been struggling with starts, and as soon as he gets on the works bike he rounds the first corner in the top five in each moto. Is the bike really that good? Looking at past results, you have to say yes. Carlos Campano was immediately a lot faster when he got on the bike at the tail end of 2011, and now we’re seeing the same from Shaun.

If it was not for a crash in the second moto, it is likely that Simpson would have had his first MX1 overall podium but the fall meant he had to settle for fifth overall after a fourth and fifth in the two moto’s. Still, prior to Uddevalla, Simpson’s best overall result was an eighth so already you can see a great improvement from him. With a little more time on the bike before the next round, he may have the opportunity to advance further through the field and open the eyes of other teams for the future.

Tanel Leok was visibly faster in Sweden, after finally breaking the top five in a moto for the first time all year, surprisingly. Maybe this is a sign of things to come from the Estonian? A sixth and a fourth meant he ended the day sixth overall, which is closer to where most expect him to be finishing. Still, I’m sure the Rockstar Suzuki team want him to be joining Desalle up on the podium in the next few GP’s. He obviously has the endurance, and speed to come through the pack, consistently advancing from eleventh to sixth in moto one, he just needs to get accustomed to the pace upfront.

Sweden has to be considered a missed opportunity for Gautier Paulin. After being right in the thick of the title fight earlier in the year, he has slowly lost touch with the top three in recent weeks. With Cairoli out, he had a chance to get a lot closer to the red plate but he couldn’t take advantage of it, having one of his worst results of the year. With just a seventh and a ninth to his name, for seventh overall. Twenty-three points isn’t a huge gap to Desalle, but if he wants to get to the front he is going to need to step it up in the coming weeks.

Marc De Reuver jumped into the top ten in his first race aboard the Ice One Racing Kawasaki. Marc will be filling in for the injured Dean Ferris for the remainder of the World Championship season (except for the GP of Russia, and the GP of the Czech Republic because of other commitments). A tenth overall is a great result for the Dutchman, especially considering he jumped in when everyone is at their peak. The next few rounds are sand, so Marc should have an ever-growing presence inside the top ten.

Unfortunately, three of the top ten contenders suffered injuries over the course of the weekend, some more serious than others. Evgeny Bobryshev went down in moto one, which resulted in a huge gash in his arm. After having four stitches, the decision was made not to line up for moto two – the disastrous season for the Russian continues on. David Philippaerts also crashed out of moto one, although his injury sounds a lot more serious. Initial scans show a fracture in both wrists, which he broke last year. Word from his team is that the injury may take him out for the remainder of the season, however it is too early to determine at the moment. Finally, Mattis Karro who was having a breakout year on the STR KTM crashed in pre-qualifying practice whilst putting down a hot lap. Mattis landed on another rider on the step down before the finish, and suffered a compression fracture of the T8 vertebrae – currently it is undetermined how long the injury will keep him out for.

It was a disappointing GP for Bobryshev, with a gash in his arm and more bad luck. The good news for him was the announcement of another two years with the factory Honda effort.

Like his fellow Italian Cairoli, Philippaerts had a shocker and went out with a broken arm, right where it was plated before...ouch!

The fight for the MX2 title is also heating up, as yet again Tommy Searle climbed atop the overall podium – and took a reasonable amount of points out of Jeffrey Herlings lead. Tommy seems to really be getting faster every week, and if it weren’t for a problem with his goggles in moto one, he most probably would have had a double moto victory. In moto one, the Englishman took to the front of the pack before the first lap was completed and immediately stretched out a comfortable lead. However, as mentioned previously, he had an issue with his goggles, which let his rival Herlings climb right onto his back wheel. With around ten minutes to go, Searle made the decision to pull into pit lane and collect a new pair of goggles. The move cost him around ten seconds, however when he rejoined the race – he wasn’t content with second.

As a British MX website we'd like to see this sight at the final GP but with Tommy holding the red plate in his hand and not a Monster Energy drinks bottle!

It was in the closing stages of moto one that we got to see just how much raw speed Searle possesses, as he consistently clocked laps faster than Herlings, pulling within striking distance just as the chequered flag flew. Had he collected a fresh pair of goggles a lap earlier than he did, maybe he would have had enough time to catch Herlings. However, it’s all ‘what if’s’ and Herlings collected the moto win, which also tipped his points lead to over a moto.

You could see in Searle’s body language following moto one that he was confident in his ability to win the second moto, and he done just that. After disposing of early leader Dylan Ferrandis after just one lap, Searle stretched out to an eighteen second lead before the race was over. The win proved to be pivotal, as Herlings crashed on the first lap and was forced to fight back from outside the top twenty to seventh at the finish – meaning now just sixteen points is the gap between the two in the points standings.

Although a seventh in the second moto wasn’t what Herlings was looking for, it could have gone much worse and those fourteen points could prove crucial at a later date. Surely Herlings is feeling comfortable even after having his lead cut down a little bit – as there are a handful of sand GP’s coming up, in which he should make up the points lost in Uddevalla.

It’s been on the horizon for a while now, but Dylan Ferrandis finally got up onto the overall podium in third overall! Ferrandis has shown a ton of potential in recent weeks, and because of that his third place really isn’t much of a surprise. One thing is for sure – it has cemented his position as the next French superstar. In just his first full season he has surely caught the eyes of some of the bigger teams, and with some of the established contenders leaving the class at the end of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him fill a berth on a Factory team in the near future.

Jake Nicholls edged a little bit closer to his first overall podium, with fourth overall.  Nicholls is undoubtedly deserving of an overall finish, as he has shown time and time again to have the speed to get in the mix – and yet, he seems to just come up short most times. A fourth and a sixth was another consistent day for the Brit, and also helped him edge closer to fifth in the standings, as he sits just six points behind Jordi Tixier.

Jake Nicholls continues to impress with his level on consistency. He's getting ever closer to that elusive podium finish.

Zach Osborne made a very welcome return to the series, and completed his first GP since Latvia last year! Although he has been out since March, he’s been keeping fit at his Club MX training facility in America, so he was definitely coming in fit and ready, as the facility is supposedly one of the best in the world. It seems as though Zach was the fifth best rider all weekend on paper, with a fifth in the qualifier, two fifths in the moto’s, and fifth overall. But his speed was actually a lot better than that, as both times out he had lap times just as quick as Searle and Herlings. When the series isn’t affected by bad weather – that is when we’ll see the Zach Osborne capable of wins.

It was great to see Osborne back in action. We've missed watching that 'Zach Attack' style!

Both Jeremy Van Horebeek and Joel Roelants had very inconsistent days. Uddevalla marked the first time in four GP’s that Jeremy hasn’t made the overall podium – although it wasn’t because he isn’t capable. A rare mechanical failure in moto one (KTM aren’t revealing what the problem was exactly) meant he posted no points, however he bounced back in moto two, with a second. Despite scoring no points in the first moto, Van Horebeek has a very strong grip on third in the series, and it would take something big for one of the riders behind him to take the position. Joel Roelants was also strong one moto, and struggled the next. Finally, the Belgian made it back onto the box in moto one for the first time since his concussion back at round three. However, a mistake on lap one of moto two meant he had to fight from way outside of the top twenty to just sixteenth in the moto.

Max Anstie had a terrible day scoring just eight points. Crashes seemed to be his main problem, as he struggled in the sloppy conditions. His results in Bastogne, and now Sweden have meant he has really lost touch with the top five in the championship, and is in danger of dropping further back then seventh. If Max wants to finish out the season with a better result than last year, he is going to need to fix the problems he has been suffering with in the last few weeks and start posting some podium results.

The EMX125 series was once again in action alongside MX1 and MX2, and after losing a moto for the first time all year in Bastogne. Tim Gajser was back to winning ways in Uddevalla, winning both moto’s convincingly, yet again. Brit James Dunn was looking good for an overall podium after a fourth in moto one on the Saturday, however a mechanical failure (a problem with the stator plate) before the gate had even dropped in moto two meant he scored zero points, for the third time this year, and lost touch with the top three in the championship.

That’s all from Uddevalla; the series will resume in two weeks time at the popular venue of Kegums, Latvia for the tenth round of sixteen where the fight for the red plate will continue, as both series have been blown wide open!

Lewis Phillips

Pictures courtesy of Youthstream

MX Vice Editor || 25

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