Ferris a fine fifth for Husqvarna in Saturday's qualifying race.
Levels of anticipation for MX2’s qualifying race gate drop couldn’t be any higher than they were today at round 14 of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
While the toasty weather was a factor, as was the tricky clay based circuit, all was masked by the excitement about which of the many capable race winners would shine in MX2 now that the reigning world champ and dominating force Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings is out with a broken femur.
The first to prove he’s ready to step up to the plate, Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre rode poised yet aggressive to secure his first ever pole position, while in the premier class Team HRC’s Max Nagl controlled the race from start to finish for his second MXGP pole this season.
When the gates dropped for MXGP’s qualifying heat there was no one more fired up than Nagl as he flew out of the gate to nab the holeshot off of Wilvo Forkrent KTM’s Mattis Karro.
While Nagl put his head down and started peeling off a bunch of solid laps, Karro got a little loose a quarter of a lap in which saw Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s Clement Desalle pummel straight into him and go down.
A few other guys got caught up in the Karro/Desalle debacle but none of those bikes were blue with a trio of Yamahas’ emerging from the dust. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek led the train with BikeIT Yamaha Cosworths Rui Goncalves and Team 2B Yamaha’s Milko Potisek following closely behind.
While Goncalves dug deep to hold onto Van Horebeek, Potisek was trying to fend off the typical MXGP front runners Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli, and Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s Kevin Strijbos who were both on the charge after banking less than average starts.
Despite starting from outside the top ten, Cairoli and Strijbos looked aggressive and determined out on the slick clay surface, barging their way through the field to eventually challenge Van Horebeek for second.
While it appeared Cairoli could give Van Horebeek some grief with one lap to go, Van Horebeek refused to buckle under the pressure meaning he would hold on for second and force the reigning world champ to settle for third.
Strijbos came home in a respectable fourth while Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Dean Ferris fought hard early in the race to reep the benefits of a comfortable fifth place finish.
It was a black Monday last week for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Herlings, who was more than likely going to wrap up his third FIM MX2 World Championship in Loket.
With the Dutch prodigy sidelined and two hundred points still on the table, the MX2 world championship is back up for grabs, as is a first ever MX2 Grand Prix overall for the winner this weekend.
The first to take the pressure in his stride was Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre who chased the holeshot master KTM Silver Action’s Jose Burtón and Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe’s Cedric Lieber around turn one.
Febvre wasted no time in barging his way through to take over the lead before the end of lap one to ride a flawless race and take his first ever qualifying heat victory.
Meanwhile, Butrón did his typical early race charge showing he is capable of riding at the same speed as the front runners, when asked the reason behind his mid-race dilemmas, the Spaniard said he’s had a virus in his blood.
Nevertheless he managed to hold on today for fourth after being passed by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jordi Tixier who appeared disappointed to have finished second behind fellow Frenchman Febvre, and Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser who made some classy passes to move from outside the top five to finish third.
In the meantime Suzuki’s Cedric Lieber finally put a result on paper after show casing his true ability for fifth place and his best qualifying race finish this season.
Also adding to the commotion in the paddock, the sixth and final round of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship kicked off with only four points separating the red plate holder and defending champion Team FontaMX Yamaha Racing’s Kiara Fontanesi and Bud Racing Kawasaki’s young Australian Meghan Rutledge.
While the official champion will be crowned tomorrow, it was Fontanesi who stamped her authority today when she charged hard from outside the top five, spectacularly passing three riders in one fowl swoop to dominate the race and extend her points lead.
2014 MXGP World Championship
Round 14 – Loket, Czech Republic
MXGP qualifying race results:
1. Maximilian Nagl
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek
3. Antonio Cairoli
4. Kevin Strijbos
5. Dean Ferris (AUS)
6. Shaun Simpson
7. Milko Potisek
8. Rui Goncalves
9. David Philippaerts
10. Gautier Paulin
MX2 qualifying race results:
1. Romain Febvre
2. Jordi Tixier
3. Tim Gajser
4. Jose Butron
5. Julien Lieber
6. Dylan Ferrandis
7. Vsevolod Brylyakov
8. Aleksandr Tonkov
9. Valentin Guillod
10. Jeremy Seewer