Thai GP 2015 | Race Report
Herlings and Villopoto On Top in Thailand
Nakhonchaisri Motorsports Park played host to round two of the Monster Energy MXGP Championship Series this weekend, and Red Bull KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto emerged with the overall wins in the MX2 and MXGP classes, respectively. For former MX2 World Champion Herlings it was business as usual as he swept his third and fourth motos of the year to keep his perfect record intact. MX2 rookie Pauls Jonass and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Dylan Ferrandis swapped second- and fourth-place finishes, with Jonass coming out on the second step of the podium.
In the MXGP class, Villopoto turned in a flawless ride in the opening moto to earn the first MXGP moto win of his career with relative ease. In the second moto, RV was mired at the start and was forced to work from ninth to third within a matter of laps. Once into third behind a fast-disappearing Antonio Cairoli and Clement Desalle, however, Villopoto could work forward no further and settled for a safe third in the moto, which was good enough to notch his first-career MXGP win. Rockstar Suzuki rider Desalle was runner-up on the day with a 2-2 scorecard, while Cairoli’s first moto win of the year in the second gate drop was good enough to bump his fifth in moto one up to third overall.
Throughout the day, the temperatures hovered in the upper 90s and that, combined with the sweltering humidity that Thailand is known for, made for some brutally hot conditions for the racers to compete in. With several riders deeply affected by the heat in the first set of motos – including MX2 World Champion Jordi Tixier and winner Herlings – Youthstream decided to trim five minutes off the second motos in the interest of rider safety.
MX2 MOTO 1
The opening MX2 moto of the day saw Herlings take control of the lead from the get-go and establish his dominance of the class with an immediate lead. The former World Champion was never contested as he pulled out to a comfortable lead, then put it in cruise control for the remainder of the moto. Even though his race was flawless on paper, though, he did not finish without feeling the effects of the Thai heat. “I am not used to riding in high temperatures like this,” admitted Herlings in the post-race press conference. “I started to feel bad at the end of the race, and after it was over, I actually fainted. I was able to get some fluids and food into my body between races, though, and make the start of the second moto.”
Coming home second was Ferrandis, the French rider coming through the field after great battles with several of his rivals. “I am not happy with second, even though many think it is good,” he said. “I feel that I can win this year, and that is what will make me happy.”
Behind Ferrandis came Garibaldi Honda rider Tim Gajser, who is enjoying the best finishes of his career thus far into the series. Herlings’ Red Bull KTM teammate Jonass came home fourth in spite of a tip over towards the end of the moto, and American Thomas Covington rounded out the top five in a very impressive moto aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki. The oddest heat casualty of the day came in the form of number-one-plate holder Tixier. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider hit the dirt early in the race and was never in contention for a top finish, and tragedy struck on the last lap, only a few whoops away from the finish line when he crashed and was unable to restart his bike. Tixier then attempted to push his bike home, Ryan Hughes-style, but the heat proved to be too much as he suddenly dropped his bike and began to strip off his riding gear before passing out on the front straightaway of the track. Later, when he was informed by the track doctor and a FIM official that he would not be allowed to start the second moto, he became violent and struck both of them in the face. Tixier was disqualified from the second moto and slapped with a 5000 euro penalty for his actions.
MX2 MOTO 2
Herlings made a great recovery in between motos and picked up where he left off by grabbing a fat holeshot in the second moto and running away with his fourth moto win of the year. This time, he was pursued the entire time by Jonass, who stayed close in the early stages, but dropped back about 10 seconds by the checkered flag. Covington worked through the pack early on and ran as high as third for a bit, but the American backed off the pace in order to ensure that he didn’t overheat. “I felt comfortable up there,” said Covington. “But I felt like I was going to overheat if I rode that pace so I backed it down a little.”
Julien Lieber worked his way into third at the finish, ahead of Ferrandis and Covington, who would earn fourth overall and his first top-five GP finish. After finishing third in the first moto, Gajser was one of the nine MX2 riders who did not start the second moto, most likely due to the heat.
“Today was a good victory,” said Herlings. “I got so hot in the first moto and I started puking in the last few laps. I wanted to save my energy as best I could in the second moto because I didn’t want to get sick again.”
“I worked really really hard to get here, so I am very happy with the result,” said Jonass, the MX2 rookie. “I am surprised to find the podium in my second race. I have always tried to do my best and I think I did it. I will keep working hard to keep these performances the whole year.”
On the podium, third-placed Ferrandis said, “I am glad to finish third without taking anything illegal.”
1. Jeffrey Herlings (KTM)
2. Pauls Jonass (KTM)
3. Dylan Ferrandis (Kaw)
4. Thomas Covington (Kaw)
5. Velentin Guillod (Yam)
6. Mel Pocock (Kaw)
7. Aleksandr Tonkov (Hus)
8. Peter Petrav (KTM)
9. Julien Leiber (Yam)
10. Brian Bogers (KTM)
11. Tim Gajsers (Hon)
12. Roberts Justs (KTM)
13. Benoit Paturel (Yam)
14. Anton Ludgren (Hus)
15. Jens Getteman (Hon)
16. Viacheslav Golovkin (KTM)
17. Gota Otsuka (Hon)
18. Jeremy Seewer (Suz)
19. Jordi Tixier (Kaw)
20. Vsevolod Brylyakov (Hon)
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