Febvre Takes Two In Thailand
For the second round of the 2016 FIM Motocross World Championship series, the riders left the hot, dry, night competition at Losail Motocross Track in Qatar and traded it for the hot, muggy, sunny conditions of Suphan Buri Motorsport Land in Thailand. The MXGP of Thailand was a brutal event, on a dusty hard-pack track, with Romain Febvre emerging as a double winner and the red plate holder.
Race 1 featured Red Bull/KTM Factory Racing’s Toni Cairoli grabbing the lead almost instantly, and setting off with Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser in hot pursuit, coming off a double win in Qatar. Quickly joining the battle was reigning MXGP World Champion Romain Febvre, riding for Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing.
Febvre made quick work of Gajser, who struggled a bit after his strong start. Gajser nearly went over the bars in a corner, resulting in a dismount from his Honda, though he did not go down. A lap later in the same corner, Febvre pushed Gajser out of the way and set out after Cairoli, who had not escaped.
Holding off Gajser for a few laps, Febvre refocused on Cairoli and passed him convincingly over a section of jumps. From there, although Febvre didn’t break free, he was never attacked by Cairoli, who soon had his hands full with Gajser.
Gajser did briefly pass Cairoli, but the Honda rider nearly high-sided in one of the deeply rutted hard-pack corners. That took the wind out of Gajser’s sails, and Cairoli took 2nd with Gajser in third. Team HRC Honda’s Evgeny Bobryshev finished a distant 4th with a comfortable lead over Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek.
Team Suzuki World MXGP’s Ben Townley was 2nd off the start in Race 1, after winning the Qualifying Race, but dropped back to 4th place where he held steady for six laps. However, a hard crash damaged his Suzuki and forced him to retire.
Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl had a top 10 finish taken away when his engine locked up on Lap 15.
Race 2 was relatively processional, with Febvre taking the holeshot and quickly building a lead over 10 seconds. Febvre was so overcome by heat after Race 1 that he was unable to conduct a post-race interview, but he managed his Race 2 lead skillfully.
Townley, who pulled off after riding less than half of Race 1, was the freshest of the top riders. He took a hold of 2nd place early, after a 5th place start, and never relinquished it. Although Townley was faster than Febvre from Lap 12 through the final lap (Lap 19), it was too little, too late.
The final podium spot was taken by another non-finisher in Race 1. Nagl was 3rd off the start, but was passed Townley on Lap 4. Two two laps later, Nagl reclaimed the final Race 2 podium position when he went by a quickly fading Shaun Simpson, riding a KTM for Vilvo Virus Performance. Simpson, 2nd at the start, dropped to 6th at the end.
Gajser never truly got on track in Race 2, with a 7th place start that he turned into a 5th place finish, passing Van Horebeek and Simpson. Gajser was shadowed by Bobryshev, though Bobryshev was unable to pass Simpson and finished 7th.
Team HRC Honda’s Gautier Paulin had a nasty crash early when Kemea/Yamaha’s Valentin Guillod’s drifting rear wheel inadvertently clipped Paulin’s front wheel, putting Paulin down hard. Paulin remounted and worked his way back to 9th, one position head of Guillod.
Cairoli had a good start, but stalled his bike on the opening lap, dropping him to 16th place after Lap 1. From there, Cairoli slowly worked through the pack, only managing a 12th place finish.
Red Bull/KTM Factory Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff performed a spectacular over-the-bars face plant right off the gate at the start of Race 2. Coldenhoff picked himself up and worked his way to 13th before going down again on Lap 15. He remounted but eventually faded to 19th.
Febvre’s twin wins earned him the overall win, with Gajser taking 2nd overall with 3-5 finishes, giving up 14 points and the red plate to Febvre in the process. Van Horebeek’s quiet 5-4 results secured the final spot on the overall podium for the Belgian rider, and 4th place in the MXGP series standings. Bobryshev sits in 3rd place in the series battle, after finishing 4-7 and 4th overall at the MXGP of Thailand.
Photography by Ray Archer, et al
Overall Results: 2016 MXGP Round 2, MXGP of Thailand, Suphan Buri Motorsport Land, March 6
- Romain Febvre, Yamaha, 1-1, 50 points
- Tim Gajser, Honda, 3-5, 36 points
- Jeremy Van Horebeek, Yamaha, 5-4, 34 points
- Evgeny Bobryshev, Honda, 4-7, 32 points
- Toni Cairoli, KTM, 2-12, 31 points
- Shaun Simpson, KTM, 9-6, 27 points
- Gautier Paulin, Honda, 7-9, 26 points
- Kevin Strijbos, Suzuki, 8-11, 23 points
- Ben Townley, Suzuki, 23-2, 22 points
- Tommy Searle, Kawasaki, 6-14, 22 points
- Jose Butron, 13-8, 21 points
- Valentin Guillod, Yamaha, 11-10, 21 points
- Max Nagl, Husqvarna, 21-3, 20 points
- Christophe Charlier, Husqvarna, 10-16, 16 points
- Allesandro Lupino, Honda, 14-13, 15 points
2016 MXGP Standings (after 2 of 18 rounds)
- Romain Febvre, 92 points (2 moto wins)
- Tim Gajser, 86 (2 moto wins)
- Evgeny Bobryshev, 74
- Jeremy Van Horebeek, 68
- Toni Cairoli, 64
- Shaun Simpson, 57
- Kevin Strijbos, 48
- Tommy Searle, 47
- Max Nagl, 44
- Ben Townley, 42
- Gautier Paulin, 37
- Valentin Guillod, 37
- Jose Butron, 35
- Glenn Coldenhoff, 33
- Milko Potisek, 28