Gajser and Prado On Form in French Qualifying.
The MXGP of France has finished its first day of action on the hills of Saint Jean d’Angely today. Finding form and flow on their way to today’s French MXGP and MX2 Qualifying wins were Team HRC’s Tim Gajser and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado.
The famous French fans created an amazing atmosphere today and were not disappointed with the action on track. The full day of racing kicked off with the pair EMX races and both provided the French fans with plenty to cheer for as their fellow country took the race wins.
In the EMX250 category Team Maddii Racing Husqvarna’s Alberto Forato has been the dominant force but today it was Team Honda Redmoto Assomotor’s Stephen Rubini who took the French victory in front of the home crowd. Following Rubini was two other French riders, BUD Racing Kawasaki’s Jimmy Clochet and Yamaha Europe’s Thibault Benistant, before Forato rode to 4th.
The Race 1 of EMX125 presented by FMF Racing also belongs to a Frenchman. The Team VRT KTM of Tom Guyon made it past early leader Eddie Jay Wade from F4E Racing KTM to take the win as the points leader, Team Maddii Racing Husqvarna’s Mattia Guadagnini, came from 5th to eventually finish in 3rd place.
MXGP Qualifying got off to an unpredictable start in France today with Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s Arnaud Tonus taking the lead just less than a week after achieving his long awaited return to the podium in Portugal. The Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha teammate of Tonus, Gautier Paulin, was off to a good start just behind the #4 but crashed after running into the back of the Swiss rider.
Paulin’s crash was just at the crest of the first downhill forcing not only him to dodge the rest of the field, but it also caused Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli to go down. Meanwhile at the front Tonus led Standing Construct KTM’s Ivo Monticelli and Team HRC’s Tim Gajser.
The Belgians of Jeremy Van Horebeek, from Honda SR Motoblouz, and Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle gave chase in 4th in 5th ahead of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Seewer and the two Frenchman of Gebben Van Venrooy Kawasaki’s Benoit Paturel and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Romain Febvre.
Febvre was the first to move forward in the lead group getting around Paturel and filing in behind his teammate Seewer. Next to make moves was the #243 of Gajser as he passed Monticelli and then 2 laps later took the lead from Tonus.
Further back in pack Cairoli and Paulin were both working their way forward picking of riders each lap. By lap 9 Cairoli was up to 13th with Paulin just behind but another crash from Cairoli saw the Frenchman go by along A1M Husqvarna’s Tanel Leok in what is his 250th career GP.
As the race came towards its conclusion Desalle made it past his compatriot Van Horebeek and the Monticelli. Both Van Horebeek and Monticelli continued to lose positions to the Factory Yamaha pair, Seewer and Febvre.
At the finish it was a dominating win by Gajser with 9.5 second gap over Tonus. Gajser also scored the fastest lap of the race while Desalle, Seewer, and Febvre rounded out the top 5 qualifiers. Paulin and Cairoli made it up to 11th and 14th respectively.
Tim Gajser, “I really enjoyed today, I had a lot of fun during the race. I didn’t have the best of start, I was like 5th but I tried to take time because it was easy to make a mistake. In about the middle of the race I took the lead, made a little gap, and then controlled the rest of the race. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow, the start will be really important but hopefully I can get two solid starts and ride well.”
Romain Febvre, “I had a good qualifying race, my start wasn’t good… but I had a good first lap and passed some guys to get to the front. It is really good for today, but second place was not so far, Tim was a bit faster than us but between second and my place along with the guys behind we were all together at the same speed. I think tomorrow we can get on the podium which would be really good.”
Gautier Paulin, “I had a good start and I made a mistake by myself, Arnaud was in the lead and I was on a line from the wide outside cutting in and he was on the good line, I touched his rear wheel and lost my bike down the hill. Tomorrow is a new day but I’m loving the track and the bike. The crowd was amazing and I try to enjoy every moment… they are really good at cheering for us.”
MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten:1. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), 24:45.598; 2. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +0:09.521; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:16.811; 4. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:20.071; 5. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:25.920; 6. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Honda), +0:27.701; 7. Ivo Monticelli (ITA, KTM), +0:28.690; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:29.116; 9. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Husqvarna), +0:30.618; 10. Benoit Paturel (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:36.729.
Prior to the wild qualifying race of MXGP it was the MX2 riders battling over their own start positions in Qualifying for tomorrow’s pair of races. The familiar sight of a strong start from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado put the now red platted #61 into the lead.
Running second place was Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha Official MX2’s Jago Geerts followed by F&H Racing Kawasaki’s Henry Jacobi and Honda 114 Motorsports Mitch Evans. Prado’s Red Bull KTM teammate Tom Vialle was off to a strong 6th at the start of what is his first ever home GP.
By the end of the 2nd lap Vialle moved into the top 5 ahead of Yamaha SM Action MC Migliori’s Michele Cervellin to the roar of the French fans. The fastest French MX2 rider in the earlier practice sessions was BUD Racing Kawasaki’s Brian Moreau. Moreau was in 9th at the start of the qualifying before getting past Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha Official MX2’s Ben Watson and then two laps later he also passed REVO Husqvarna UK’s Dylan Walsh.
For Walsh, who had a good start in 7th, the qualification race only got worse after being passed by Moreau. Watson, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen, and F&H Racing’s Adam Sterry took three more positions from the New Zealander before he was landed on by Yamaha SM Action MC Migliori’s Maxime Renaux. Walsh was helped off the track and did not finish the race while Renaux was miraculously able to avoid crashing.
Prior points leader Olsen continued working forward from his 14th place start and took another two spots in the final laps from Moreau and Cervellin to reach 6th as Prado took the win ahead of a strong ride from Geerts while Jacobi, Evans, and Vialle filled in the top five.
Jorge Prado, “I am feeling very confident, I am feeling very good on the bike so when I am racing I am enjoying it. I am very happy with how everything is going. I had a good start in the qualifying race and led till the end which was key so that I could do my own laps and find some new lines, so I am really looking forward to tomorrow.”
MX2 Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 25:07.757; 2. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:03.054; 3. Henry Jacobi (GER, Kawasaki), +0:13.557; 4. Mitchell Evans (AUS, Honda), +0:15.267; 5. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), +0:17.689; 6. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:20.525; 7. Michele Cervellin (ITA, Yamaha), +0:27.484; 8. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:28.354; 9. Brian Strubhart Moreau (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:29.628; 10. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:30.908.