PHOTOS | MXGP & Youthstream
With a long winter break complete, the 2017 Monster Energy FIM Motocross World Championship roared into action with the first laps of practice and qualifying at the 2017 MXGP of Qatar. Two motos were run on the floodlit course of the Losail Circuit Sports Club in the sands of Qatar, which set the stage for the point-paying races that will take place on Saturday evening.
2017 MXGP Of Qatar | MX2 Qualifying Moto
As the riders exited the sweeping left turn at the start of the moto, Samuele Bernardini powered his TM Racing Factory machine to the front of the pack. The Italian rider ran a fast pace through the opening moments of the twenty-minute plus two-lap moto, but was eventually caught and passed by Pauls Jonass. From this point, the Red Bull KTM MX2 rider went largely unchallenged despite a long pursuit from Kemea Yamaha's Benoit Paturel and claimed the win. Team Suzuki World MX2's Jeremy Seewer put on a powerful charge in the middle of the moto and worked his way up to third place. Young riders Jorge Prado Garcia and Hunter Lawrence made their mark in the results, as they claimed coveted spots in the top five. American racers Darian Sanayei and Thomas Covington battled deeper in the top ten, with Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki's Sanayei besting Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing MX2's Covington for eighth place in the running order.
Total Race Time | 25:28.950 minutes, 13 laps
Margin of Victory | 1.319 seconds
Laps Led | Pauls Jonass – 12, Samuele Bernardini – 1
Fastest Lap Time | Benoit Paturel – 1:49.128 minutes
2017 MXGP Of Qatar | MXGP Qualifying Moto
Fierce rivals Tim Gajser and Antonio Cairoli found their way to the top of the chart as the very start of the race, with Gajser claiming the holeshot on his Team Honda HRC machine. Despite the effects of an illness, Gajser clicked off laps at a quick pace with Cairoli running closely behind aboard Red Bull KTM MXGP bike. The gap between the two riders hovered at around five seconds at one point in the moto, but in the late laps it closed considerably as Cairoli latched onto the rear wheel of Gajser. The two riders were within feet of each other on the final lap, with Gajser hanging on to take the win by less than a second. Gautier Paulin, Evegny Bobryshev, and Romain Febvre fought for prime spots in the top-five for nearly all of the race, until Febvre made a mistake in one corner and was tossed off his Monster Energy Yamaha MXGP bike. Paulin ultimately held off Bobryshev for the rest of the race and took third place. Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jordi Tixier and Wilvo Yamaha MXGP's Shaun Simpson were slapped with ten-spot grid penalties for infractions during the timed practice sessions and had less than stellar gate picks for the race. Tixier managed to overcome the setback for an eleventh place finish, while Simpson crashed early and ended the race in seventeenth. Red Bull KTM MXGP rookie Jeffrey Herlings struggled with his broken hand for the entire race and cruised to a sixteenth place result.
Total Race Time | 25.05.634 minutes, 13 laps
Margin of Victory | 0.617 seconds
Laps Led | Tim Gajser – 13
Fastest Lap Time | Tim Gajser – 1:47.686 minutes