By John Basher

Photos by Massimo Zanzani

The FIM MXGP World Championships made a stop in Spain this weekend for round six. The Talavera de la Reina racetrack hasn’t held a GP for quite a few years, but now back on the schedule, the hardpack and jump-laden Spanish circuit was picturesque and saw a lot of close racing. As the series passed the 1/3rd point of the season, the Spanish GP was a wake-up call for those riders who were hoping to make a push up the point standings. Here were the players from Spain:

Tony Cairoli (KTM): The defending Champion found himself in an unfamiliar position after the Valkenswaard GP two weeks ago. He had yet to win a GP this season. More concerning was the massive crash in the first moto at Valkenswaard that forced a DNF, followed by a gingerly ride in the second moto. It was obvious that something was wrong with the Italian. During the break, Tony tried out the KTM 450SXF. For several years his bike of choice has been the KTM 350SXF, but that might change after the Spanish GP. Why? During the opening five rounds Cairoli struggled with starts and seemed outgunned by the bigger bikes of Max Nagl and Clement Desalle. The “If you can’t beat them, join them” approach worked for Tony in Spain. He stayed out of trouble in the first moto to capture third, and rocketed out of the gate with the second moto holeshot and win. Coincidentally, he didn’t make up any ground in the point standings on series leader, Max Nagl. History has proven that Tony Cairoli hits his stride when the MXGP series heads to Europe. Sure, it took a few more rounds than expected, but Sunday proved that Cairoli has found his groove. Who knew that he would do so on a KTM 450SXF?

Max Nagl (Husqvarna): The IceOne Husky rider must have smiled when he showed up in Spain. Holding the points lead will do that to a racer. Nagl had other reasons to be cheerful. His ultra-consistent riding and strong starts were dialed. More than that, Max Nagl finally had Tony Cairoli on the ropes. How so? Max got Tony questioning his race equipment and switch to a more powerful 450cc four-stroke KTM. In what should be a season-long war between former teammates, Nagl currently has the upper hand on Cairoli. Mighty Tony answered back on Sunday by winning the Spanish GP, but he tied Nagl on points. Let’s hope this tug-of-war will continue for the next 12 rounds.

Clement Desalle (Suzuki): Clement held the points lead from Thailand until Valkenswaard, but errors have caused the Belgian to slip back. Max Nagl reclaimed the red plate following Valkenswaard and held a five-point lead going into Spain. The injury-plagued Desalle pushed it too hard in the second moto in Spain and had a violent crash. Fortunately he remounted without suffering any major effects, but a fifth place finish in that moto resulted in a growing points gap. Desalle’s 2-5 moto scores were good enough for fourth overall. He is still second in the standings, but now trails Nagl by 12 points.

Romain Febvre (Yamaha): The future looks bright for Febvre. A 450 rookie, the Frenchman has style for days and the speed to stick with the front runners. In Spain, Romain sliced his way to the front in grand fashion. He should have won the second moto, but he stalled his Yamaha in a corner and Tony Cairoli darted past. Febvre hit the electric starter on his YZ450F and managed to finish second in the moto and third overall on the day. He’s 63 points down in the championship–over one full race. Still, I expect Febvre to have a breakout ride this season and win a 450 GP. It’s only a matter of time.

Gautier Paulin (Honda): The HRC Honda factory rider smoked the field in Valkenswaard. Naturally all eyes were on Paulin to back up his strong performance in the Netherlands by leaving everyone in the Spanish dust. It didn’t happen. Gautier struggled with starts in both motos and was collected up in a second-turn crash in the second moto with Todd Waters. Paulin’s 5-7 scores earned him sixth overall. He is now 51 points adrift.


450 Class: Tony Cairoli

The hardpack and technical Spanish circuit was tailored to Tony Cairoli’s riding style. That much was proven during Saturday’s qualifying race when “King Cairoli” edged out Clement Desalle for the honor of first gate pick on Sunday. Tony proceeded to finish third in the first moto behind Max Nagl and Romain Febvre. The five points lost to Nagl were made back up in the final moto of the day when Cairoli won and Max finished third. Nothing gained and nothing lost, though Tony did manage to win his first GP of the season and gain valuable points on Clement Desalle.

250 Class: Valentin Guillod

When are 6-1 moto scores good enough for the overall? When your name is Valentin Guillod. The 22-year-old Swiss rider had never won a 250 GP before, but a fair bit of fortune and luck allowed the Yamaha rider to take the win. Two-time 250 World Champ Jeffrey Herlings had a nasty crash in the second moto, which opened up a rare opportunity for someone else to win. That man was Valentin Guillod, who rode with vigor and held off Tim Gajser for the moto win. Even with a pedestrian sixth place finish in the first moto, Guillod managed to take the overall. If you’re keeping track at home, Valentin Guillod is the third 250 rider to win his first GP overall in 2015. Take a look below:

Qatar – Jeffrey Herlings

Thailand – Jeffrey Herlings

Argentina – Dylan Ferrandis

Italy – Tim Gajser

Netherlands – Jeffrey Herlings

Spain – Valentin Guillod

While Herlings has been less than perfect this season, he still has a 56-point lead over second place and 84 points on third. No one has been able to match Herlings on speed, but several have been able to capitalize on Jeffrey’s mistakes. Valentin Guillod is the latest.



Tommy Searle has stuck with the KTM 350SXF while Tony Cairoli abandoned the smaller bike for a 450SXF. Maybe Searle should consider jumping up in displacement, because he hasn’t done much this season.

The 250 Class navigated the strange dogleg right first turn, followed by a tight second turn. Roberts Justs (95) took the shortcut.

Julien Lieber kicks the rear of his Yamaha out for the Spanish fans.

Pauls Jonass could be the future, but in Spain he was cannon fodder.

America’s Thomas Covington (64) nearly won Saturday’s qualifying race over Jeffrey Herlings (84). Unfortunately he had a rough go of things on Sunday. Covington finished 15th overall.

Tim Gajser nearly won the second 250 moto, but a good overall was marred by an 11th in the first moto.

Privateer Steven Frossard finished 12th overall in the 450 class.

Dylan Ferrandis hoped to duplicate his success in Argentina. A bent rotor from a first moto crash ruined his day.

Evgeny Bobryshev flies low en route to a fifth place finish.

Max Anstie has had several flash-in-the-pan rides, but his good motos usually follow with poor results. Anstie’s second place first moto finish was followed up by a ninth.



1. Tony Cairoli (KTM)…3-1
2. Max Nagl (Hus)….1-3
3. Romain Febvre (Yam)…4-2
4. Clement Desalle (Suz)…2-5
5. Evgeny Bobryshev (Hon)…6-4
6. Gautier Paulin (Hon)…5-7
7. Tyla Rattray (Kaw)…7-8
8. Kevin Strijbos (Suz)…8-11
9. Xavier Boog (Kaw)…12-10
10. Alessandro Lupino (Hon)…16-9
Other notables: 11. Shaun Simpson; 12. Steven Frossard; 17. Tommy Searle; 15. Dean Ferris; 16. Todd Waters; 19. Glenn Coldenhoff; 21. Ken DeDycker; 24. Filip Bengtsson.


1. Valentin Guillod (Yam)…6-1
2. Jeffrey Herlings (KTM)…1-7
3. Jordi Tixier (Kaw)…3-4
4. Max Anstie (Kaw)…2-9
5. Tim Gajser (Hon)…11-2
6. Aleksandr Tonkov (Hus)…5-8
7. Pauls Jonass (KTM)…4-10
8. Julien Lieber (Yam)…9-5
9. Jeremy Seewer (Suz)…10-6
10. Brian Bogers (KTM)…8-13
Other notables: 11. Dylan Ferrandis; 12. Petr Petrov; 13. Brent Van Doninck; 15. Thomas Covington; 16. Ivo Monticelli; 17. Jens Getteman; 18. Benoit Paturel; 22. Ben Watson


(After 6 of 18 races)
1. Max Nagl….259
2. Clement Desalle…247
3. Tony Cairoli…229
4. Gautier Paulin…208
5. Romain Febvre…196
6. Evgeny Bobryshev…171
7. Ryan Villopoto…124
8. Shaun Simpson…114
9. Todd Waters…104
10. Tyla Rattray…95


(After 6 of 18 races)
1. Jeffrey Herlings….261
2. Dylan Ferrandis…205
3. Pauls Jonass…177
4. Tim Gajser…169
5. Valentin Guillod…169
6. Aleksandr Tonkov…162
7. Jordi Tixier…153
8. Jeremy Seewer…151
9. Julien Lieber…149
10. Max Anstie…123

The Grand Prix series resumes in two weekends for the MXGP of Great Britain in Matterley Basin. This race report was brought to you by the brake masters at Moto-Master. Please visit them at Thanks for reading.

crashGrand Prixjeffrey herlingsJOHN BASHERmoto-masterMXGPrace reportspanish grand prixtony cairolivalentin guillod