Photos courtesy MXGP
The 2015 Monster Energy FIM Motocross World Championship continued on with the MXGP of Spain, the sixth stop of the series. It's been an interesting year on the GP circuit with the addition of new riders, new winners, and new venues filling the first part of the schedule. While Ryan Villopoto was forced to miss another race after suffering in a tailbone injury at round four in Italy, the championship fight in the MXGP division has started to develop. Red Bull/ICE One Racing/Husqvarna's Max Nagl has maintained control of the point standings since the early moments, but it seems like multi-time champion Antonio Cairoli is starting to find the flow on his Red Bull KTM equipment. In the MX2 ranks, Jeffery Herlings seems poised to take another title, but will need to reduce the amount of crashes he's experienced through the first part of the year.
Alexandr Tonkov claimed the holeshot on his Red Bull/ICE One Racing/Husqvarna, but soon had Herlings on his heels for the lead. The Red Bull KTM rider got by Tonkov on the opening lap, while Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki's Max Anstie followed shortly after to take second place. Anstie pursued Herlings for much of the moto, even closing to run within a few seconds of the leader, but issues on the final laps allowed Herlings to take the moto victory by just over five seconds.
Defending champion Jordi Tixier climbed through the pack and by the stacked field to finish third place in the opening moto aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki, running some 15-seconds back of winner Herlings.
Monster Energy Kawasaki's Dylan Ferrandis came into the day ranked second in the overall point standings, but an issue with his rear brake caused the bike to lock-up early in the first moto. Unable to remedy the problem, the French rider was forced to withdraw from the moto.
Ferrandis bounced back from the earlier issues to take the holeshot in the second moto, and the early lead helped him avoid the carnage the filled the first lap. A pile-up at the start sent a number of riders to the ground, while moto one winner Jeffery Herlings went down in a separate incident in a high-speed section of the track. Herlings remounted the damaged bike and charged from deep in the field to eventually finish the moto in seventh place.
Back at the head of the pack, all attention was focused on Standing Construct/Yamaha's Valentin Guillod. The Swiss rider started the moto near the front, caught Ferrandis, and then tore off with the lead after an intense battle for the position. Although Guillod had the spot, his work was far from finished, as Honda Gariboldi's Tim Gajser ran within a few seconds of the Swiss rider until the crossed the finish line.
Guillod's quiet sixth place finish in the first moto was crucial to his overall result, as it allowed him to take the overall victory over Jeffery Herlings by a single point. This was Guillod's first overall career win and helped him tie Tim Gajser for fifth place in the overall point standings.
That Herlings was able to salvage the day after the early crash was impressive, and it helped the Dutch rider pad his lead over Dylan Ferrandis in the standings by 56-points.
Max Nagl rocketed out of the gate to claim the holeshot, and with a clear track ahead, the German was able to motor away to another uncontested win aboard his Red Bull/ICE One Racing/Husqvarna machine. Title rival Clement Desalle carded another second place finish to Nagl, but the Rockstar Energy Suzuki rider managed to clock the fastest lap of the entire race midway through the moto.
Antonio Cairoli came into the weekend aboard a new 450 machine, but the Red Bull KTM rider was unable to match the pace of Nagl or Desalle at any point in the first moto. He crossed the finish line in third place, roughly 22-seconds behind Nagl.
Cairoli claimed the holeshot in the second moto, but a fevered charge by Romain Febvre midway through the moto resulted in a lead change. The French rider controlled the race for a number of laps aboard his Yamalube/Factor Yamaha machine until a small mistake caused him to stall the engine. This allowed Cairoli to cruise back into the lead, and eventually win the moto by seven seconds. Febrve recovered from his issue quickly and hung on to take second place.
Max Nagl's moto wasn't perfect, with a rough start shuffling him back and a rock destroying the roll-off system on his goggles, but he regrouped to take third place in the moto.
Clement Desalle suffered a hard tumble early in the second moto, but jumped back aboard his Rockstar Energy Suzuki to claim fifth place at the finish.
Although Cairoli and Nagl shared moto scores and points at the end of the day, the finish in the second moto served as the tiebreaker, which handed Cairoli the overall. This was the Italian's first overall of the season and his third moto win.
Nagl still retains the points lead by a solid margin (12 points over Desalle, 30 points over Cairoli) as the series becomes a three-man fight for the premier class title.