MOTO-MASTER PRESENTS THE MXGP OF LOMBARDIA RACE REPORT
By John Basher
With only a few rounds remaining in the 2015 MXGP series it was make it or break it time for the title contenders. Of course that hasn’t held true for quite some time in the 450 class, where Yamaha’s phenomenal rookie, Romain Febvre, has powered away from the competition over the past two months. However, the 250 class has produced most of the storylines as of late, thanks to a slew of rambunctious youth who yearn to capitalize on Jeffrey Herlings’ absence. The MXGP at the famed Mantova circuit in the northern province of Italy, known as Lombardy, was sight of round 15 of the 18-stop Grand Prix circus. Don’t confuse Mantova with the other two Grand Prix races that have been held in the country that’s shaped like a boot. Mantova was really just a contingency plan after the MXGP in Brazil (maybe the check for Luongo bounced?). Read on to find out what happened at round three of the Italian MXGP series, or for those who look at the Grand Prix series schedule with rose-colored glasses on (rather than a jaundiced eye, such as myself), at round 15 of the MXGP series.
MAX NAGL’S RETURN
It doesn’t seem long ago that Max Nagl was leading the championship standings in the 450 class and looked unflinching in his quest for a first world title. Then Teutschenthal happened. At Nagl’s home race in Germany he went down hard and was center-punched by David Philippaerts. The impact broke Nagl’s leg and knocked him out of the title hunt. However, Mantova was Max’s return, and he looked impressive during Saturday’s qualifying race when he stormed away from the field. Sunday didn’t bring Nagl the same fortune. A crash in the first turn of the first moto, along with a poor second moto start and tipover on the final lap resulted in 8-10 moto scores for eighth overall. It wasn’t what Nagl or Kimi Raikkonen’s IceOne Husqvarna team wanted. There’s always next week.
250 POINTS RACE
Here’s a brief overview of the 250 GP point standings this year: Jeffrey Herlings stormed out to a massive points lead, despite several injuries (collarbone, pinkie). However, the flying Dutchman was done after dislocating his hip in Sweden. Then the sharks started circling. Pauls Jonass, Tim Gajser, Valentin Guillod and Jordi Tixier engaged in an all-out war for maximum points. Meanwhile, Max Anstie came out of nowhere to win seven of the last eight motos and climb up to third in the point standings.
The 250 title is still up for grabs. In fact, there are seven riders still in the running–Pauls Jonass, Tim Gajser, Max Anstie, Valentin Guillod, Jeremy Seewer, Jordi Tixier and Julien Lieber. In reality, there are only three riders with a shot at taking the crown–Jonass, Gajser and Anstie. In Mantova, Jonass and Gajser tied on points. Nothing lost, nothing gained. Anstie was the big winner, climbing from seventh in the standings to third. The Brit clawed eight points closer to the front. With three rounds–150 points–left in the series, Anstie will need a good stroke of luck in order to close the 38-point gap on Pauls Jonass.
ROMAIN RULES AGAIN
Yamaha’s Romain Febvre continued his winning ways by slaying the competition at Mantova. Going 1-1 on the day, it was Febvre’s third double-moto sweep in the past five rounds. Maximum points, along with a crash-filled day by Gautier Paulin, ballooned Romain’s lead to 101 with three races left. It is possible for Febvre to clinch his first 450 GP title in the Netherlands next weekend. What will it take for Romain to claim the title? He can do the deed by finishing ahead of Paulin in both motos or tying Gautier on points. Knowing Febvre’s style, he will likely block out all title scenarios and shoot four a double-moto win.
A WINNER’S HANGOVER
Glen Coldenhoff shocked the world in Latvia when the Suzuki rider scored his first overall victory in the 450 class. The following race he went 8-11 for eighth. The “Hoff” didn’t look like the same rider. Shuan Simpson, winner in Lommel, was hoping to avoid the same fate as Coldenhoff. Simpson stayed sharp during the three-week break by racing the Unadilla National. While Shaun wasn’t a back-to-back winner in the GP series, his 5-3 scores were impressive, especially given that the privateer led laps against a field of factory firepower.
DOWN, BUT NOT OUT
Believe it or not, Tony Cairoli (fourth), Max Nagl (sixth) and Clement Desalle (eighth) are still inside the top ten in the point standings despite being out indefinitely or having missed serious race time. Heck, even Ryan Villopoto (19th) is inside the top 20 while having only raced four GPs.
The conditions weren’t favored by every rider, but they were far better than how things could have been. With the European Motocross (EMX) classes buttoned up, there were less wheels churning up the terrain in Mantova than in previous rounds. As I’ve written about many times before, the EMX racing has been a double-edged sword. Mantova revealed the splendor of a Grand Prix track, while the previous Italian GPs looked like construction zones due to too many classes battering the dirt over the course of a weekend.
450 Class: Romain Febvre (1-1)
Forget all that talk about how the 450 series stalwarts would ride circles around rookie Romain Febvre if healthy enough to compete. Febvre endured another storm on Sunday and continued his hot streak by disassembling a German nuke named Max Nagl. The Romain fever outbreak reached northern Italy, infecting thousands of exuberant fans who were clinging to the hope that somehow, anyhow, their famed countryman–Tony Cairoli–would line up to the gate. The Italians didn’t know what hit them. Leaving Mantova, they no longer cried from their fallen favorite, rather they embraced the youthful vigor of a Frenchman who feared no fight but instead welcomed all comers. Expect Romain fever to make its way to Assen, Netherlands, this next weekend and take the Dutch by storm.
250 Class: Max Anstie (1-1)
Well, well! What do we have here? Max Anstie couldn’t put together two good motos to save his life a few months ago, but now he’s a consistent winner. Imagine if the Kawasaki rider had do-overs in Qatar, Argentina, Valkenswaard, Sweden and the Czech Republic? Or, what if Anstie was healthy enough to race the Thai GP? Think about it! Well, Max isn’t. This is what he said about his chances of winning the title:
“I don’t really feel like it’s in my hands. The other guys are riding really really well. All I’m doing is focusing on my thing and my process and going to race. If I keep getting good results, great and we’ll see, but I need a lot of luck, too, to put it all back together. There are a lot of great tracks coming up. I’m looking forward to America and things like that. It’s nice to be in this position. It’s nice to keep going, and I’m just happy where I’m at right now.”
CRASH VIDEO: NICHOLAS LAPUCCI’S SWAN DIVE
MASSIMO ZANZANI’S LOMBARDIA PHOTO GALLERY
Kevin Strijbos injured his right thumb in Saturday’s practice session that will require surgery. He is out for the remainder of the 2015 Grand Prix series. What will Team Belgium do in the absence of Strijbos for the Motocross des Nations?
If only Romain Febvre hadn’t ruined Gautier Paulin’s coming out party with HRC Honda then the popular Frenchman would be leading the 450 standings. Instead he has been overshadowed by countryman, Romain Febvre.
MXGP OF LOMBARDIA HIGHLIGHTS VIDEO
LOMBARDIA GRAND PRIX FINAL RESULTS: 450 CLASS
1. Romain Febvre (Yam)…1-1
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (Yam)…3-2
3. Evgeny Bobryshev (Hon)…2-4
4. Shaun Simpson (KTM)…5-3
5. Gautier Paulin (Hon)…4-6
6. Glenn Coldenhoff (Suz)…6-5
7. Dean Ferris (Hus)…7-8
8. Max Nagl (Hus)…8-10
9. Tyla Rattray (Kaw)…10-9
10. Todd Waters (Hus)…9-11
Other notables: 11. Christophe Charlier; 12. Davide Guarneri; 13. Jose Butron; 26. Steven Frossard; 27. David Philippaerts; 28. Kyle Engle (USA)
LOMBARDIA GRAND PRIX FINAL RESULTS: 250 CLASS
1. Max Anstie (Kaw)…1-1
2. Tim Gajser (Hon)…3-2
3. Pauls Jonass (KTM)…2-3
4. Benoit Paturel (Yam)…6-4
5. Valentin Guillod (Yam)…4-14
6. Brent Van Doninck (Yam)…11-8
7. Petar Petrov (Kaw)…7-12
8. Henry Jacobi (KTM)…13-9
9. Damon Graulus (Yam)…5-17
10. Adam Sterry (KTM)…10-13
Other notables: 11. Jens Getteman; 12. Julien Lieber; 13. Thomas Covington; 15. Jeremy Seewer; 23. Harri Kullas
2015 FIM 450 POINTS STANDINGS
(After 15 of 18 races)
1. Romain Febvre…597
2. Gautier Paulin…496
3. Evgeny Bobryshev…463
4. Tony Cairoli…416
5. Shaun Simpson…392
6. Max Nagl…384
7. Jeremy Van Horebeek…366
8. Clement Desalle…331
9. Glenn Coldenhoff…321
10. Todd Waters…300
2015 FIM 250 POINTS STANDINGS
(After 15 of 18 races)
1. Pauls Jonass…475
2. Tim Gajser…471
3. Max Anstie…437
4. Valentin Guillod…433
5. Jeffrey Herlings…423
6. Jeremy Seewer…409
7. Jordi Tixier…393
8. Julien Lieber…356
9. Benoit Paturel…292
10. Petar Petrov…285
The MXGP series continues next weekend in the Netherlands for round 16 of 18. Assen marks the last race in Europe, as the teams will have two weeks to make the trek to Leon, Mexico, for the penultimate round of the series. After that it’ll be the USGP at Glen Helen. Thanks for reading the MXGP Race Report, presented by the fine folks at Moto-Master. Got brakes? Visit www.moto-masterusa.com if you don’t. And if you do? Check out their site anyway! Thanks for reading, and see you next weekend.
Photos by Massimo Zanzani, HRC Honda and Rockstar Suzuki.