The penultimate round of the MXGP series was held at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday. It was a monumental event, thanks to the crowning of two World Champions, an influx of top American talent, and the uniqueness of racing inside a dirt track oval. MXA’s John Basher was on the scene to capture all of the action from a long day and evening in Concord, North Carolina.


_SOU719415-year-old sensation Jorge Prado had a breakout ride at the Assen GP two weeks ago, but he had difficulty at Charlotte. Prado finished 16-18 for 19th overall. _SOU7230Austin Forkner set the fastest qualifying time, pulled a holeshot in the first moto, and led for quite some time in both motos. Forkner finished 3-2 for third overall. To read about Austin’s day, click here.  _SOU7265Spain’s Iker Larranaga is from the same country as Jorge Prado. Iker finished midpack, with consistent 14-14 scores._SOU7653Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Max Anstie raced for a spell in the U.S. some years ago. Great in the sand, Anstie was out of luck at Charlotte. He had to settle for clay. The Englishman logged 7-10 moto scores for eighth overall.  _SOU7747Darian Sanayei is from the U.S., but has been overseas racing the EMX250 class. Bud Racing moved him up to the 250 GP class for the final two rounds of the series. Darian finished 11th overall. Apparently he’s still unsigned for next year. He would be a good addition to many teams on the GP circuit. _SOU8037Go ahead and try to say Calvin Vlaanderen’s name five times fast. The Dutchman has coming on strong as of late. Vlaanderen finished fifth overall at Charlotte.  _SOU8041There were some sizable jumps that were fun for the riders and wowed the crowds. _SOU8120Benoit Paturel is third in 250 points with one round remaining. The Frenchman will represent his country at the upcoming MXDN, replacing the injured Dylan Ferrandis. Paturel finished ninth at Charlotte. _SOU8126Make it three for Jeffrey Herlings. The Red Bull KTM rider clinched his third 250 World title after winning the first moto at Charlotte. Herlings is forced to move up to the 450 class in 2017. Collective applause was likely heard from 250 GP riders throughout the paddock when the announcement was made.  _SOU8439Darian Sanayei holeshot the second 250 moto, but the lead didn’t last long. By the next turn Austin Forkner (214) crept up the inside. If you look closely, you can see Cooper Webb buried deep in the pack.  _SOU8458Jeremy Seewer did reasonably well, but he wasn’t even the first 250 “human being,” as the otherworldly trio of Herlings, Webb and Forkner distanced themselves from the rest of the pack. Instead, it was Thomas Covington (64 in background) who earned first human honors by finishing fourth overall. Seewer ended up sixth.   _SOU8539All hail Cooper Webb! In his final 250 race of his career, the North Carolina native shocked Jeffrey Herlings and awed a raucous crowd by blowing the doors off everyone in the final moto to capture the overall. It was a fitting end to a brilliant 250 career.  _SOU8560Dropping back into the Dirt Track, Webb cut outside and jumped past Jeffrey Herlings (84). That was all she wrote.  _SOU8655The MXGP of the Americas was a great day for, from left, Jeffrey Herlings, Cooper Webb and Austin Forkner. Herlings captured his final 250 World title. Cooper Webb went out with a bang. And young Austin Forkner led for the majority of both motos and held off Herlings in the second moto. 


_SOU8179The start included a slight downhill a few feet after the gate. That didn’t bother Eli Tomac (3), who was the toast of the 450 class on Saturday. _SOU7510After the race Tony Cairoli said that he was battling flu-like symptoms all day. It was too bad, because the American fans were hoping for a showdown between “King Tony” and Eli Tomac. Instead, Cairoli limped home in 14th overall. _SOU7395We would pay to see a one-on-one race, $10,000 winner take all purse between Jose Butron (17) and Vince Friese. It would be the a take-out fest of epic proportions. “Buzzsaw” Butron cleaned out a rider in untimed practice. Untimed practice!  _SOU8277Clement Desalle managed fifth overall after winning the Assen GP a week before.  _SOU9069From left: Tim Gajser, Eli Tomac and Jeremy Van Horebeek.  _SOU7890Dean Wilson styled for a while in practice. Dean was hoping to battle with the big stars of MXGP. It didn’t happen. Wilson finished 20th overall.  _SOU8916While the results don’t show it (16th overall), Valentin Guillod is very fun to watch ride.  _SOU8340_softEli Tomac was forced by Monster Energy to race the MXGP of the Americas. Instead of mailing it in, Tomac laid down the hammer to the established 450 GP stars. No one was even close. Eli had reason to celebrate the victory. A big bonus check for winning probably helped the “Bounty Hunter” get through the five stages of the grieving process. _SOU8369_softJordi Tixier finished eighth overall. _SOU8833The sky is the limit for Tim Gajser. The Slovenian sensation finished second overall to Eli Tomac, but more importantly, he clinched his first 450 World Title.  _SOU8929Glenn Coldenhoff was tears and smiles after placing third in the final moto. The “Hoff” was one point out of finishing third overall.  _SOU8768The banked dirt track turn led to two rollers, followed by another stretch of real estate before the track turned left. This is the spot where Adam Cianciarulo hit the deck in the first 250 moto.   _SOU7434Justin Barcia got saucy in practice. Barcia finished second in the first moto, but pulled out in the second with a jammed wrist. _SOU7786HRC raced the 2017 Honda CRF450RW factory bike at Charlotte with Evgeny Bobryshev. Russian “Bob” finished sixth overall. Better yet, he beat his teammate–Gautier Paulin–who was on the 2016 model. _SOU7366If it’s unlucky, then it’s bound to happen to Phil Nicoletti. The JGRMX rider was running well during the first moto, but ended up breaking his throttle housing. He finished 15th in the second moto for 18th overall. For a good laugh, be sure to follow @badnewsphil on Instagram. 

Photos by John Basher


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