Round 1 – Great Britain
The first round of the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship (MXGP) season has concluded at Matterley Basin, with Jeffrey Herlings and Jago Geerts taking the overall victories in the MXGP and MX2 classes respectively, as sunny weather on Sunday set the stage for a fantastic day.
Mitch Evans – Image by Bavo
Aussie Mitch Evans kicked off the season on form, claiming third in Race 1, while a more challenging Race 2 still saw him in the top ten, with seventh. This leaves Evans in fifth overall heading to Round 2.
In MX2 top Australian was Jed Beaton in fourth overall, with second in Race 1, and sixth in Race 2. Fellow Aussies Nathan Crawford and Wilson Todd took 14th and 17th overall respectively, at the season opener.
Going into the weekend, the overall winner for the MXGP class was hard to predict. With a full line-up of extremely strong riders, who have been training hard this winter, the list of favourites was never ending.
Following Saturday’s practice session, Tim Gajser was among the top favourites as he clocked in the fastest lap-time during the session. Second was Arminas Jasikonis, followed by Antonio Cairoli.
In the opening race of the weekend, it was Jeremy Seewer who claimed the first FOX Holeshot of the season, closely followed by Herlings and Gajser. Team HRC’s newest recruit and MXGP rookie, Mitch Evans, also got off to a flying start in fifth. But on the downhill corner after pitlane Gajser found himself in trouble as he banged bars with Jeremy Van Horebeek, which left him having to fight back from 13th position.
Mitch Evans – Image by Bavo
On the opening lap, Evans was moving quick as he made a move on Jeremy Seewer. The 2013 MXGP of Great Britain winner, Clement Desalle also got a good start in fourth, before getting cross-rutted in the second lap and falling to seventh.
As Herlings continued to lead, Seewer found his way back past Evans, knocking the factory Honda rider down to P3. Meanwhile the battle for fourth, fifth and sixth was on between Cairoli, Desalle and Glenn Coldenhoff. Desalle did muscle his way past the GasGas Factory rider, while Cairoli was able to maintain his fourth place position.
Towards the end of the race, Gajser found himself battling the 2019 MX2 World Champion Jorge Prado, with the Honda rider able to pass the MXGP rookie. He then set his sights for higher positions, but a crash on the last corner before the finish line of the last lap left him having to settle for P8 in the race, allowing Gautier Paulin to move up a position to P7.
In the end it was Herlings who took the race win with a 11.879-second lead over Seewer in second. Having a fantastic ride and making an impressive debut to his MXGP rookie campaign was Mitch Evans who placed third in the race.
In race two, it was Henry Jacobi who took the FOX Holeshot, but Gajser moved swiftly into the lead, with Cairoli following him to also pass Jacobi. Meanwhile Herlings was behind in fourth and Paulin in fifth. Bad luck for Evans, who came around the first turn virtually last, left him with a lot of work to do in the second MXGP race.
By lap 4, Herlings was already charging, making a pass on Cairoli for second position. Gautier Paulin was sitting in third, where he remained throughout the race, also keeping Desalle at bay in fourth. From then onward the top five remained the same until the race concluded, while the battles heated up behind.
Mitch Evans found himself moving quickly through the ranks, and by lap 5 was already in sixth position as he passed both Seewer and Jacobi. Seewer then came under threat by Coldenhoff, with the Dutch rider able to make the pass stick on lap 11.
With two laps to go, Desalle and Coldenhoff found themselves in an intense battle, with the two riders getting close to each other on several occasions, but the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider stayed strong to finish fifth. Desalle team-mate Romain Febvre did not line up at Sunday’s races as for an injury to his knee during the past week, he’ll be back racing in Valkenswaard next week.
Gajser claimed the race win and with it a second overall, while Herlings made a strong come-back as the overall Grand Prix winner. Cairoli finished third both in the race and the podium. Mitch Evans finished seventh in Race 2 and took home 34 championship points in fifth overall.
Jeffrey Herlings – P1
“The first race out of twenty and I was consistent: two good starts, led the whole first moto, got into third pretty quick behind Tony and took second. The track was sketchy and the sun was really low. It is still that time of the year where it gets dark quite early, so it was hard with the shadows. I didn’t want to take any risks and I was happy with second. It was a good weekend and I think we improved the bike over the winter because this was the first real test, let’s say. I am looking forward to Valkenswaard now and my home GP.”
Tim Gajser – P2
“I’m happy with how this first round of the season went. Just I had a couple of crashes in the first moto, with one right at the beginning of the race which meant I started from dead last. I worked my way through the field to finish eighth, after the second crash right at the end dropping me one spot. In the second race I was hoping to get a good start and show my riding a bit better and that’s what happened. With the low sun and the ruts, the track was really quite tricky but I felt good and the moto felt comfortable. Second overall isn’t too bad after my first moto so now we move onto Valkenswaard for a new challenge.”
Antonio Cairoli – P3
“It is nice to be back on the podium after so many months without racing. My shoulder has improved a lot in recent weeks but last week in Belgium I twisted my right knee and heard a crack. I thought ‘the season is finished already’. I went to the doctor and he confirmed a second-degree PCL tear. I taped the knee very hard yesterday and today and all the ruts out there were not helping. I just need to work as much as possible on the muscle to make it as stable as possible. So to be on the podium at this track and these conditions is amazing and I’m motivated again to work really hard and try to build it up. We will see what we can do next.”
Jeremy Seewer – P4
“It was a strange weekend because of the time schedule, so we lined up with no time on the track, but it was the same for everyone. I started off with an epic holeshot, like a whole bike length ahead of everyone, so that was super cool. I finished second, so that was a really positive start to the season, and it proved we did a good job in the winter because the track was really technical and tricky. In the second race, I had contact with another rider and he damaged my brake. So, I had to ride without my brake for the whole race which made it super tough. I think I still took good points, so I am happy with this and my speed is good. It is just a shame I couldn’t stand on the podium today, but we will keep working and be back next weekend.”
Mitch Evans – P5
“It was a good weekend, excluding the start of that second moto. Everything else went really well. In the first moto I had a good start, avoiding some of the early race carnage and made my way into second for a little bit. Unfortunately, I struggled with my breathing a bit because of my chest infection and finished third. I felt a lot better in the second moto although I had to push throughout the race because of the bad start. I used a lot of energy to get around guys as fast as I could and I hit a bit of a wall with eight minutes to go. Overall it was a good weekend though, I’m happy with my MXGP debut and now I get ready for Valkenswaard next weekend.”
Mitch Evans – Image by Bavo
Gautier Paulin – P6
“I’m in the game. I felt good all weekend long, it was just a strange weekend. Riding a new bike on such a tough track, with not a lot of time on the track, and then with the weather being off and on, rain and then sunshine and then rain. I got sideways out of the gate and then it was tough to come back through the pack. I crashed but got back to seventh. In the second race I got to fourth pretty quickly, but I really struggled with the sun. I didn’t want to pull my laminates off because I didn’t know if it was going to rain or not. I am really happy with the team; they are all working really hard. The feeling is good, and the season is long.”
Clément Desalle – P7
“It was my first GP since June last year; that’s a long time but I immediately had a good feeling. The schedule was much lighter yesterday because of the weather; we had only one session to learn the track and work on the settings. I got a good start in the first race and was fourth, close to the third guy, when I made a mistake coming into a corner as a rut was soft; I crashed but I came back, made another little mistake but still finished fifth. I used a lot of energy in this race, and in the second one I was fifth after the first corners and kept this position to the finish; it’s been a pretty good weekend and my speed was good but we’ll continue to work to do even better.”
Glenn Coldenhoff – P8
“It was a solid weekend for me, two sixth-place finishes is a very good start to the championship. Qualifying yesterday wasn’t great, which didn’t give me the greatest gate pick for today’s races. But it was what is was and this morning in warm-up I felt great and posted the third fastest time. That gave me some confidence heading into the races. My first moto start wasn’t great, but I pulled through from around 10th to sixth, so it was good to get the championship started with a positive result. The second moto was very similar to the first. I felt good, felt like my speed was there and had some good battles. I know that if my starts are better I can fight with the guys that were ahead of me this weekend. I’m looking forward to the next GP, it’s one of my favourites and I hope to get some solid results there too.”
MXGP Results – Round