It's time to ride in Ernée, and you can tell the riders are anxious to hit the track here. This morning began with the ballot to define the starting grid of the qualifying races, and it would be team Great Britain getting the lucky first position. They use two bowls filled with team names in little capsules. The first bowl determines what team is being chose, the second bowl determines the actual gate pick. Team USA was the first pick out of all the countries, and ironically got stuck with a 26th gate pick! The reigning champions and local favorites, team France, ended up with 6th gate pick. Belgium got stuck with 32nd out of a total 36 teams, they will have to pin it out of a bad gate in about an hour here!
Morning practice is now complete as well, and the circuit here is noticeably a lot tighter than most tracks. The soil here is very similar to the deep, east coast soil you may find at a track like Budds Creek. Deep ruts have already developed and it is very important to carry speed through rather than stuff the bike into corners; technique is everything here. The tight circuit could prove to make it tough to make passes come race time, but generally the best guys always find their way to the front, regardless. Starts here (as always) are going to be crucial! In the MX1 class it was a battle between French favorite Gautier Paulin, team USA’s Justin Barcia, and Belgium’s Ken De Dycker. After each of the three went back and forth the entire session, it would be De Dycker that netted the fast time at 1:47.709 followed by a 1,000th of a second difference to second from Paulin. Barcia would land in third with a 1:47.778. Close!
It was all Marvin Musquin in the MX2 class, and he actually bested the times of the MXGP class on his 250! The fans were screaming, and Marvin is right at home. Jeremy Martin and Max Anstie rounded out the top three here. In the open class, we definitely saw what it looks like to be comfortable on your home track. Romain Febvre ripped lap after lap making this difficult track look easy. He spun a 1:45.886 which is almost two full seconds faster than anyone else. The French are feeling it! Second and third in the Open class were Glenn Goldenhoff and Jeremy Van Horbeek, respectively. Your new MX2 world champ Tim Gajser was fourth behind them. Cooper Webb struggled a bit, seeming to override the bike a little in this tricky slick and rutted track, but still ended up 6th. More to come after the qualifying racing ends here in Ernée, but enjoy a few photos until then.