Thai GP 2015 | Race Report

 

Thai GP podium

Ryan Villopoto earned his first MXGP win in his second try. Clement Desalle was second, and World Champion Antonio Cairoli was third.

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.

Jeffrey Herlings

Jeffrey Herlings swept both MX2 motos in Thailand to earn his second win of the year. The Red Bull KTM rider struggled with the heat. He vomited in his helmet towards the end of the first moto and fainted soon thereafter. He rebounded in grand style, however.

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.”

Pauls Jonass

Red Bull KTM rider Pauls Jonass earned his first-career podium with second. The Latvian rider is a rookie on the GP circuit.

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.

Jordi Tixier

Thailand is known for its muay thai boxing. World Champion Jordi Tixier did some boxing of his own in Thailand, punching a doctor and a FIM official in their faces when he was told he could not race in the second moto.

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.”

Thomas Covington

Now in his second season abroad, Thomas Covington is finding his form. The American earned fourth overall with a pair of solid fifth-place finishes.

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.”

MX2 Results

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)

Go to page 2 for MXGP

 

Ryan Villopoto

Ryan Villopoto didn’t lead the field into turn one in moto one, but he was in control by the third turn.

MXGP Moto 1

RV didn’t grab the holeshot at the start of the first moto, but he swooped to the front of the pack in a hurry and led the way as the pack raced past the front straight on lap one. With a clear track ahead of him, RV checked out in his typical fashion and was never challenged as he raced to an easy win with over 10 seconds to spare over runner-up Desalle, who maintained control of the position from the get-go.

“You would think that I’d be used to the heat from living in Florida for so long, but the truth is that I’m not used to it at all right now,” said Villopoto. “Where I’ve been living and training, it’s been 2-degrees celsius, and it even started to snow the day we left for Thailand. It was a big shock on my body, and I really took it easy towards the end of the moto to save myself.”

Romain Febvre

Romain Febvre was third in the first moto aboard a factory Yamaha YZ450F.

Behind Villopoto and Desalle came Frenchman Romain Febvre, making his first podium appearance aboard his factory Yamaha. Qatar GP winner Max Nagl was a distant fourth aboard his Husqvarna, while Cairoli came home fifth after playing catch up throughout the moto. The World Champion was pushed off the track in the early stages of the race, and didn’t look like himself as he slowly worked his way forward.

Max Nagl

Qatar winner Max Nagl was seventh overall in Thailand. The red plate was nice while it lasted.

MXGP Moto 2

Cairoli rocketed off the line on his Red Bull KTM 350 SX-F in the second moto and grabbed a commanding holeshot. Villopoto, meanwhile, was mired at the start and rounded the second corner in 10th place. The World Champion looked like a completely different rider out front, as he turned in flawless laps with Desalle in tow, eventually breaking the Belgian and pulled away for good around the fifth lap. At the finish, Cairoli would enjoy a 10-second lead over Desalle. Paired with his fifth in moto one, Cairoli’s win helped propel him to the third and final spot on the podium. “For me, I am not so concerned about race wins,” said Cairoli. “My strategy is always to be in the top five no matter what, because consistency is what wins championships. I do not like the heat, even though I am from the hot part of Italy. I prefer not to race in conditions like these.”

 

Antonio Cairoli

Antonio Cairoli pulled a massive holeshot aboard his KTM 350 SX-F in the second moto and was never challenged for the win.

With his second-place finish, Desalle took over the series points lead. Thus far in the MXGP series, Desalle has finished second in every single moto. It took Villopoto several laps to work his way into third place, and at one point he closed to within two seconds of Desalle’s Rockstar Energy Suzuki. The heat would take its toll on RV, however, and he settled into a safe pace that would carry him home third for the overall win.

“It’s a big learning curve for me,” said Villopoto. “The GPs are a completely different game for me. The two-day format is much different and my body is still getting used to it. Even when we did two days in the Nationals in America, it wasn’t like this, with racing both days. This is my first hot race in almost two years, and these guys are really fast. To risk crashing from making a mistake is not worth it at this point in the season, but a 1-3 is always good, especially when it gets you the overall win.”

Ryan Villopoto

Ryan Villopoto rode to his first MXGP win with 1-3 moto scores.

MXGP Results

1. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)

2. Clement Desalle (Suz)

3. Antonio Cairoli (KTM)

4. Romain Febvre (Yam)

5. Kevin Strijbos (Suz)

6. Gautier Paulin (Hon)

7. Max Nagl (Hus)

8. Todd Waters (Hus)

9. Tyla Rattray (Kaw)

10. David Phillapaerts (Yam)

11. Evgeny Bobryshrev (Hon)

12. Shaun Simpson (KTM)

13. Dean Ferris (Hus)

14. Glenn Coldenhoff (Suz)

15. Davide Guarneri (TM)

16. Rui Goncalves (Hus)

17. Jose Butron (KTM)

18. Paul Coates (Yam)

19. Steven Frossard (Yam)

20. Kei Yamamoto (Hon)

Go to page 3 for video highlights