The hot sands of Ottobiano were tamed today during the qualifying rounds of the FIAT Professional Fullback MXGP of Lombardia. The two riders claiming pole were Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Antonio Cairoli and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Thomas Covington.
2017 MXGP Of Lombardia | MX2
MX2's qualifying race winner Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Thomas Covington did so in convincing fashion, pulling the holeshot and following it up with the win after leading every lap with pressure behind him. Covington, who won the second qualifying race of the season, in the press conference said: "The race went exactly as planned, I pulled the holeshot, tried to sprint a few laps, and after that found my rhythm and I found some pretty good lines out there. Jonass was keeping me honest the whole race, we had pretty much the same gap the whole time."
Setting himself up well to gain more points tomorrow is Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Pauls Jonass. The MX2 points leader kept Covington at bay running second the entire race. Pauls has his sights set on the championship and so far has played it smart, we will see if he does the same on a circuit that can catch event the best off guard tomorrow.
Covington's Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing teammate Thomas Kjer Olsen has proved fast on the sand already this year and came in third today. Though Olsen's start was not on par with the others in the top three a good start tomorrow and he is one to watch for the overall.
Hitachi KTM UK's Ben Watson achieved a career best 4th in qualifying today. The British rider started the race strong battling in the top 3 before being passed. Watson used his solid start and kept his KTM in the top 5 for his first time ever.
One rider who was charging through the field was Kemea Yamaha Official MX Team's Benoit Paturel. Paturel showed a wheel to many on his way to fifth including Watson. Though he passed several Watson wasn't one of them and the #6 will to try take the holeshot after his top 5 gate pick.
Though Paturel charged forward the hardest charger was Suzuki World MX2's Jeremy Seewer after issues on the start put him outside the top 20, he worked his way all the way to 6th.
2017 MXGP Of Lombardia | MXGP
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Antonio Cairoli started qualifying with good drive into the first corner but he was a slightly to inside, which caused him to nearly crash. Cairoli rebounded from near 15th to pass for the lead with less than 2 laps remaining. Holding the lead to the finish and Qualifying Race win Cairoli in the press conference said: "I got closer to the lead every lap and I saw there was places that I could make a pass and moved into the lead. It is going to be a very difficult race but I think it will have good racing and I hope to see a lot of fans Sunday. It is a good track and the fans will play a good role, they push me and it's always good to race a home GP."
One rider who seems to have the sandy and rough soils figured out is Suzuki World MXGP's Arminas Jasikonis. Jasikonis's prior noticeable performance came at the sand of Valkenswaard for the MXGP of Europe. Jasikonis had a decent start today and made his into the lead a few laps later. Eventually passed by Cairoli, Jasikonis finished 2nd but could be fighting for a top 5 overall tomorrow.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing riders put on a show. While Gautier Paulin would fall on the start his teammate Max Nagl took the holeshot! Then Paulin while working his way back through the pack had a speculator fall dropping him even further in the ranks finishing 18th. Meanwhile Paulin's other teammate Max Anstie had a strong race and fought his way to 4th at the finish, just one behind Nagl in 3rd.
Returning from injury this weekend is HRC's Tim Gajser. Gajser, though not 100% recovered, still impressed today when he ran second for much of the race before dropping to 5th. Perhaps conserving energy for tomorrow Gajser will salvage as many points as he can.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Jeffrey Herlings was battling in the top three before a front wheel issue took him into pit lane, once replace the #84 rejoined the race in 26th but after a few passes will head to the gate 20th tomorrow.
In his first race back from injury Wilvo Yamaha MXGP's Shaun Simpson lined up 12th after timed practice but went down off of the start with a group of other riders, Simpson, shaken up from the crash pulled off and headed to the pits in a disappointing return.