Febvre Steals MXGP Win At Valkenswaard
At Round 3 of the MXGP calendar, riders were greeted at Valkenswaard, Holland by a mixed terrain track with plenty of sand covering a brutally hard base, plus a dollop of weather to further complicate matters. Reigning MXGP Champion Romain Febvre took the overall win at the MXGP of Europe with 3-1 finishes.
When the gate dropped for Race 1, conditions were already dire, with plenty of wet sand and mud facing the riders. One would expect that the field would quickly space out and the riders would go into survival mode, and that is pretty much what happened.
Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser jumped out to an early lead in Race 1, and was never seen again, taking an easy win. Monster Energy Yamaha Factory’s Febvre settled into 2nd place, but Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl caught up with an obviously struggling Febvre on Lap 9. Moving side by side on a long set of rollers, Nagl railed the outside of a right-hander before easily passing Febvre in the following rhythm section.
Near the end of the race, wet conditions put Febvre on the ground. Febvre’s flying-W could have been worse, but he managed to lowside into the wet sand and not lose a position, securing the last podium spot for Race 1. “I couldn’t find my rhythm in the first race,” Febvre admitted, “I crashed and I couldn’t find my lines.”
Nagl put on a late push for the win, but Gajser responded sharply on the final two laps as the rain fell hard. Nagle took 2nd with a fading Febvre a distant 3rd. Team HRC Honda’s Evgeny Bobryshev ran an uneventful Race 1, as he was 4th from start to finish.
Eight-time World Champion Red Bull KTM Factory’s Toni Cairoli had a difficult first race in the sand, and is still recovering from pre-season testing injuries. Cairoli ran 5th for the first half of the race before being passed by Monster Energy Yamaha Factory’s Jeremy van Horebeek. Things got worse for Cairoli as he was passed for 6th place by Team Suzuki World MXGP’s Kevin Strijbos on the final lap. Strijbos was coming back from a bad start that left him in 16th place on Lap 1, and chased down Cairoli by turning lower laps times on every lap from Lap 5 to the finish on Lap 15, despite Cairoli putting in one of his best laps of the race on the final lap.
The sun came out and the track dried considerably for Race 2, and it was a classic. Gajser and Cairoli engaged in a battle for the lead from the start, with Gajser putting himself in front when the riders first crossed the finish line. However, before the end of the first official lap, Cairoli took the lead when Gajser made a pair of errors that dropped him back to 6th.
Behind a revitalized Cairoli, teammates Febvre and van Horebeek battled for 2nd, with the two swapping places before van Horebeek settled into 2nd on Lap 3, holding it until two laps from the finish.
Febvre made occasional attempts to catch and pass van Horebeek, but wasn’t able to seal the deal until the penultimate lap when Febvre put on what will be remembered as an epic charge. In fact, Febvre’s charge was aided and abetted by fading lap times from van Horebeek and Cairoli.
Although van Horebeek and Febvre both turned in 2:04 laps times on Lap 14 (of 16), van Horebeek’s times rose to 2:09 and 2:10 on the last two laps. At the same time, Febvre put in two of his fastest laps, a 2:03 and a race-ending 2:02.975.
Cairoli looked safe in the sand when Febvre passed van Horebeek, but Febvre quickly closed on Cairoli as they began the final lap. A disastrous 2:09.270 last lap for Cairoli, with Febvre applying the pressure, knocked Cairoli out of the lead (and off the overall podium). Febvre made an impressive clean dive for the inside of a turn midway through the lap. Febvre never looked back and won Race 2 handily. van Horebeek took 3rd.
“I had a small crash in the second moto,” Febvre said, “and lost some time but no positions, and then I found the missing rhythm and tried to race to the finish for the lead. In the last lap, I found Cairoli ahead of me and did everything I could to pass him and take the victory.”
Nagl, who suffered from a mediocre start in Race 2, worked his way up to 4th at the finish, keeping Bobryshev at bay as they worked through the pack. At the close, Bobryshev was dropped to 6th when Strijbos passed him on Lap 14.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff held 4th for most of the race, but faded to 7th in the final three laps, turning three consecutive 2:09s. Gajser stalled his Honda in a corner in Lap 8, and an inability to quickly kickstart it dropped him back to 8th in Race 2.
Febvre took the overall win with a 3-1 combination, while Nagl was runner-up via 2-4 finishes. When Cairoli was passed for the lead by Febvre, Gajser was gifted the overall podium, as his 1-8 beat Cairoli’s 7-2.
Febvre leaves Valkenswaard with the Red Plate and 137 points, 13 points ahead of Gajser, who is 17 points in front of Bobryshev.
2016 MXGP of Europe Results, Valkenswaard, Holland
- Tim Gajser, Honda
- Max Nagle, Husqvarna
- Romain Febvre, Yamaha
- Evgeny Bobryshev, Honda
- Jeremy van Horebeek, Yamaha
- Kevin Strijbos, Suzuki
- Tony Cairoli, KTM
- Tommy Searle, Kawasaki
- Clement Desalle, Kawasaki
- Shaun Simpson, KTM
- Romain Febvre
- Tony Cairoli
- Jeremy van Horebeek
- Max Nagl
- Kevin Strijbos
- Evgeny Bobryshev
- Glenn Coldenhoff, KTM
- Tim Gajser
- Shaun Simpson
- Christophe Charlier, Husqvarna
2016 MXGP Standings (after 3 of 18 rounds)
1. Romain Febvre, 137 points (3 race wins)
2. Tim Gajser, 124 (3 race wins)
3. Evgeny Bobryshev, 107
4. Jeremy van Horebeek, 104
5. Tony Cairoli, 100
6. Max Nagl, 84
7. Shaun Simpson, 80
8. Kevin Strijbos, 79
9. Tommy Searle, 63
10. Glenn Coldenhoff, 55
11. Valentin Guillod, 51
12. Ben Townley, 49
13. Tanel Leok, 40
14. Jose Butron, 39
15. Gautier Paulin, 37
Next MXGP Round:
April 10, 2016. MXGP of Patagonia Argentina
Patagonia Race Track, Neuquen, Argentina