Features 9 Apr 2015

Top 10: MXGP trends three rounds in

Talking points and surprises after the three fly-away rounds.

With the international leg of the 2015 MXGP World Championship now wrapped up and the racers and teams heading back to Europe, MotoOnline.com.au looks at the 10 talking points and suprises that’ve taken place so far.

Source: Suzuki Racing.

Source: Suzuki Racing.

1. Clement Desalle leads:
While all the pre-season talk surrounded the much-anticipated showdown between eight-time world champ Antonio Carioli and US megastar Ryan Villopoto, Rockstar Energy Suzuki’s Clement Desalle worked his arse off and has proved to more than have the mettle of the title favourites. His consistency with three runner-up results over the first three rounds sees him carry the red plate back to Europe and locked him in as a serious contender for the championship.

2. Villopoto bounces back at Thailand:
After a dismal performance at the championship opener at Losail, Qatar, seven-time AMA champion Ryan Villopoto shut up his critics in the best possible way by hauling to the round win in the grueling heat of Thailand. RV2 stormed to victory in the opening race by more than 10 seconds, then worked his way from ninth to third in the second moto to claim the round win in the process. As he gets more used to the two-day moto format, the competition and tracks, Villopoto will only get stronger and faster.

3. Tixier goes muay thai in Thailand:
Defending champion Jordi Tixier was involved in probably the most bizarre incident of the series so far after his bike stopped within sight of the finishline at Thailand. He tried pushing the bike home but collapsed from heat exhaustion. Later when the track doctor and a FIM official informed him he wasn’t able to race the second moto he opened a can of whoop-ass and punched them both in the face. Tixier was disqualified from the second race, fined 5000 euro and banned from the following GP at Argentina. After three rounds he now languishes in 15th position.

4. Thai heat:
The Grand Prix of Thailand was brutally hot. Temperatures hovered in the high 30s all day, but combined with the insane humidity, it took a hell of a toll on the riders. With both Tixier and eventual round winner Jeffrey Herlings succumbing to heat-stroke at the end of the first MX2 moto, the FIM decided to clip five minutes off the second motos in the interests of rider safety.

5. Dylan Ferrandis opens his MX2 account:
Team CLS Monster Kawasaki’s Dylan Ferrandis always seems to have been hidden in the shadow of the dominant Jeffrey Herlings and his new team-mate Jordi Tixier, but the Frenchman stepped into the limelight at Patagonia, Argentina when he claimed his first-ever round victory. It didn’t come easy either, with some ripper battles with Pauls Jonass in the opening race and Herlings in the second. Now that the first one’s in the bag, we expect Ferrandis to find the top of the box more often.

Source: IceOne Racing.

Source: IceOne Racing.

6. Two out of three for Husky:
As the GP circus heads back to Europe, the Red Bull Ice One Husqvarna Factory Team has spent more time on top of the box than any other team. Max Nagl has proven to be a huge revelation so far this year, screaming to a shock win at the series opener at Qatar, then swapping – but winning on countback – with Clement DeSalle to also claim the Argentine victory. It’s a dream start to the rejuvenated brand in just their second year of operation after getting bought by KTM in 2013.

7. Waters consistency:
While his team-mate Max Nagl basks in the media attention and glory of two round wins, Australia’s Todd Waters has also gained bucketloads of respect and recognition for his consistency so far this year. After a 14th at the tricky, drama-filled opening round, Waters consolidated with a ninth overall at both Thailand and Argentina to find himself in eighth position in the series standings. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before Waters breaks into the top five this year.

8. Herlings and Carioli crashes at Argentina:
If anything, Argentina proved just how gnarly Jeffrey Herlings and Antonio Carioli are. Both KTM pilots took heavy hits in their opening races, with AC222 performing a classic high-speed Flying W to faceplant in the final half lap while pushing Clement DeSalle for the win. He quickly remounted to finish second, then backed it up with another second place in moto 2 to finish third overall. He currently sits fourth in the championship
Meanwhile, Herlings had a huge OTB at the start of the first moto when his teammate Pauls Jonass hit him in the air. For extra spice he was run over but jumped up only to find his bars seriously bent and he was forced to DNF. He still leads the championship, but his hopes of a clean sweep this year have gone up in smoke.

9. The new Patagonia track:
A new venue for 2015, the freshly-built Patagonia track in Argentina was a spectacular circuit. The soil was dark and loamy while the layout was wide, fast and flowing but still offering plenty of challenges and technical sections. All the riders seemed to love it, so we hope it becomes a regular fixture in the championship.

10. Ferris’ bad luck and bad starts:
Australia’s Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing racer Dean Ferris has had a start to forget this year, with a string of crashes and horrible gate-jumps leaving him in an unfamiliar 20th position after three rounds. Once he gets closer to home expect his results to pick up, but he’s going to have to pull his finger out in a big way if he wants to fulfill his aims of a top five championship finish.