With the bulk of the American motocross media’s attention directed to the all-out battle that is this year’s Supercross championship, it is easy for the general public to become unaware of the FIM World Motocross Championship taking place on the opposite side of the globe. Each year, the promoting body and organizers unveil grandiose plans to make the 17-stop series a true world championship, rather than a multi-nation European schedule. Last year included a stop to Guadalajara, Mexico, and this year Qatar and Thailand were added to the mix. Racing in the two exotic locales presented Youthstream with a challenge, as they built professional quality tracks from the ground up and will ship the infrastructure around the world.
Another issue was convincing teams to transport their equipment. It is no secret that the world’s economy is in a tough spot and sending bikes, staff, and racers thousands of miles out of the way is by no means cheap, and will undoubtedly see less entrants in either class. To combat the chance of low turnout, the FIM has altered the format for the Qatar and Thai rounds. Qualifying remains the same (practice the day before the race, then short heat races to establish the next day’s grid) as does the first moto, but the top 20 finisher in the MX1 (450) and MX2 (250) motos head to the all-new “Super Final,” a combined feature.
The championship kicked off this past weekend on the video-game like circuit in Doha, Qatar. Racing took place at night, a first for the GPs, and the layout was basked in floodlights. The soil looked to be rather rough and even a bit loamy for being in the Middle East, and racers flew over the massive obstacles placed in the desert.
MX2 Moto One
Standing Construct KTM's Glenn Coldenhoff claimed the holeshot over the other 30 competitors, with defending MX2 champion Jeffrey Herlings in tow. Coldenhoff would keep the Red Bull KTM racer at bay for two laps, but Herlings eventually closed, made a pass, and sped off with the lead. From that point on, it was Herling’s race to win, and the Dutch teen bested the field by 31 seconds at the final flag. This was an impressive feat, considering the crash and knee injury he suffered just days before the first round.
After being passed, Coldenhoff would hold on to second despite pressure from Christophe Charlier and Romain Febvre. Alessandro Lupino and Jordi Tixier picked up where they left off in 2012 and scored sixth and seventh place, respectively. The season did not begin well for Max Anstie and Arnaud Tonus, two title hopefuls looking to make an impact in the division dominated by Herlings. Anstie would have a day ending crash while running in fifth and a mechanical issue forced Tonus to DNF.
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 39:51.449
2. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:31.544
3. Christophe Charlier (FRA, Yamaha), +0:32.888
4. Romain Febvre (FRA, KTM), +0:44.961
5. Dean Ferris (AUS, Yamaha), +0:59.726
6. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), +1:03.051
7. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +1:11.094
8. Julien Lieber (BEL, Suzuki), +1:12.485
9. Mel Pocock (GBR, Yamaha), +1:17.280
10. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +1:28.001
MX1 Moto One
As the MX1 class bumped and bashed down the starting straight, Kevin Strijbos managed to avoid the carnage and rocketed away on his Rockstar Energy Suzuki. He would hold the spot for a number of laps until Evgeny Bobryshev, Ken Dedycker, and Clement DeSalle. Desalle worked his way by the others in the group and within laps had climbed from fourth to first place. Dedycker would also get by Strijbos to take second, and Bobryshev would drop numerous positions to finish fifth.
Impact with an object on the start buried defending champion Antonio Cairoli in the pack, but the Red Bull KTM rider was easy to spot thanks to a set neon colored boots and helmet as he climbed through pack. He would finish in third place, down just over nine second of Desalle.
1. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), 40:02.285
2. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:08.309
3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:09.774
4. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:11.672
5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:13.348
6. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:19.233
7. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:45.330
8. Shaun Simpson (GBR, TM), +0:48.315
9. Rui Goncalves (POR, KTM), +0:49.098
10. Davide Guarneri (ITA, KTM), +0:56.834
Strijbos claimed his second holeshot of the night ahead of the combined field of racers, again with Desalle in tow. Desalle would eventually come under attack from Cairoli, who stalked the moto one winner and made a flurry of pass attempts over the first five laps before a making an aggressive and final strike. The two riders threw everything they and their machines had at one another, which was evident in Cairoli’s wheelie. Cairoli’s push did not stop there, as he then went by Strijbos for the lead and eventual win.
Jeffrey Herlings was the highest place MX2 rider in the field, running as high as fifth in the Super Final before eventually dropping to seventh. Running against a talented field of powerful 450s, this should be a clear indication of his speed. Although he was not in the lead Gautier Paulin was the rider to watch in the 40-minute moto. He was part of a number of heated match-ups clawed his way up the pack to finish third.
A racer’s finish in the Super Final was considered their second-moto score, which shook up the final standings. Herlings easily took the MX2 overall thanks to 1-7 rides, while Clement Desalle’s consistency and 1-2 finishes gave him the advantage in the MX1 class. Winning the Super Final and scoring third in moto one bumped Antonio Cairoli to second place overall in the MX1 class.
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 39:55.020
2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:07.472
3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:09.834
4. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:11.515
5. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:11.809
6. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:16.592
7. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:25.914
8. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:39.408
9. Steven Frossard (FRA, Yamaha), +0:44.527
10. David Philippaerts (ITA, Honda), +0:53.888
MX2 Overall/Point Standings
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points
2. Dean Ferris (AUS, Yamaha), 38 p.
3. Romain Febvre (FRA, KTM), 38 p.
4. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 36 p.
5. Christophe Charlier (FRA, Yamaha), 33 p.
6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 30 p.
7. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 26 p.
8. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), 25 p.
9. Julien Lieber (BEL, Suzuki), 24 p.
10. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), 21 p.
MX1 Overall/Point Standings
1. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), 47 points
2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 45 p.
3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), 38 p.
4. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), 36 p.
5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), 34 p.
6. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), 30 p.
7. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), 30 p.
8. Rui Goncalves (POR, KTM), 23 p.
9. Steven Frossard (FRA, Yamaha), 22 p.
10. Shaun Simpson (GBR, TM), 20 p.