The final round of the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship is complete from the Villars sous Ecot circuit in France. Thousands of French fans braved the weather to see the gladiators of MXGP and MX2 race the MXGP of Pays de Montbéliard. The best of the Grand Finale were Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington. The celebrations didn’t end there though as Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass was crowned the 2017 MX2 World Champion after the only Race 1.
MXGP raced into the first corner Sunday and Saturday’s qualifying winner, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Anstie, took the Fox Holeshot. Almost immediately Team HRC’s Tim Gajser took the lead followed by Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Romain Febvre and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff on the first lap.
By lap 2 Anstie found his way back past Coldenhoff as Gajser and Febvre rode away out front. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin ran 5th early and held off Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings for two laps before the Dutchman made it past.
Herlings continued his charge forward passing his teammate and countryman Glenn Coldenhoff. Paulin followed suit and also passed Coldenhoff on lap 6. Back at the front the crowd vibrantly cheered on their french hero Romain Febvre as he tried to catch up enough to make a pass attempt on Gajser. Febvre would get close but never close enough to make the move.
On lap 12 of 16 Herlings found his way around Anstie after following the Brit for 8 laps. Anstie tried to retaliate toward the end but would come up short. Gajser took the race win ahead of Febvre, Herlings, Anstie, and Paulin.
Race 2 kicked off with another good start from Anstie and though Herlings took Fox Holeshot Anstie had the better line afterwards and took the lead. Herlings and Anstie stayed together while Tim Gajser followed the entire race.
Behind Gajser was were the early action was seen as Wilvo Yamaha MXGP’s Arnaud Tonus fought to hold off 2017 MXGP World Champion, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli and later Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev.
Cairoli later pulled off and did not finish but Bobryshev kept hounding Tonus eventually taking the position. 4 laps later Romain Febvre, who fell off of the start, took the 4th spot from Bobryshev and one lap later Bobryshev fell and would finish 23rd.
Back up front Herlings was looking for a way past Anstie, after recovering from a mistake, and at first had no luck. Several tries later Herlings found his way by Anstie who wasn’t in the mood to back down. The two riders had one of the best battles of the season giving the fans a proper finale.
In the end Herlings held the spot and took the overall, saying in the press conference: “In the second race I got my first FOX Holeshot of the year and that was a big surprise for myself, after the holeshot Max actually passed me straight back as he was on the inside. I had some good lines and I wanted to overtake him, I was next to him a couple of times in easier lines but then he changed the lines and he was actually riding perfect so it was hard to get passed him… but I eventually passed him and we made it.”
Tim Gajser took third in race 2 but when combined with his race 1 win he finished 2nd overall tied in points for the day with Herlings. Gajser also took 5th in the championship and in the press conference said: “I’m glad to finish the season so strong, to be on the podium, today I rode really good in the mud.”
Third overall was Max Anstie adding to his recent success in his rookie season. Anstie later said: “I think last year riding MX2 I was good but I’m a lot stronger now. In the second race I got good drive down the first turn, got past Jeffrey, had my lines and was sticking to them. I felt like I was just banging in lap after lap and felt good but I knew Jeffrey made a mistake and at that point, I didn’t really relax, but it kind of changed my mindset a little bit…Jeffrey got to me again and then I got back on it, tried to be smooth in my ruts and we had a good race to the end.”
Gautier Paulin finished in 5th overall but took 3rd in the final championship standings to which he said: “This season went well…I want more, we always want more. Still 3rd is a good achievement and we look forward to next year and putting the program together, we know where we need to work, my week points and where we want to improve the bike.”
Antonio Cairoli on his championship season stated “I’m very happy about the season we worked very hard to win and we made it. I really enjoy riding and already now I’m looking forward to next year because I know where we can improve.”
When the MX2 racing started many looked to the #41 of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass as he had the chance to clinch the 2017 MX2 Championship in race 1.
However the race started out challenging for Jonass when after taking the FOX Holeshot he collided with another rider and went down. Pauls struggling to get his bike up and going again and just when he did he fell once again in the next corner.
As Jonass picked up his bike again the field was gone and it was led by Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington and Team Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer.
Covington and Seewer were first followed by Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen. Olsen however had a pair of falls drop him back to a 7th place finish.
Jonass meanwhile was recovering from his errors and though he only needed a 12th to win the title by the end he made his way up to 5 behind Covington, Seewer, HRC MX2’s Jed Beaton, and Team Suzuki World MX2’s Hunter Lawrence.
Race 2 started with a Fox Holeshot for Thomas Covington over HSF Motorsports Brian Bogers and the #96 of Lawrence. Lawrence passed both Bogers and Covington on the second lap to take the lead.
HRC MX2’s Jed Beaton had another good race and was 5th the first laps while Jonass again had a bad start this time spinning off of the gate. Jeremy Seewer started the race 4th but by lap 5 was second behind Lawrence but 3 laps later Covington was again finding his rhythm and made it back by Seewer. Seewer on the next to last lap fell and dropped to fifth behind Beaton as Jonass who started in 9th made his way to 3rd.
Thomas Covington finished second in the race but won the overall. Covington in the press conference said: “It is good way to top off the year with a race like this, it gives me some more motivation through the off season and to be ready for next year. The last few weeks the starts have been really good and I think that is one of the biggest improvements I have made towards the last part of the season. The bike is just a rocket ship out of the gate and we saw that today. The start is so important in conditions like this and I made the most of it.”
Hunter Lawrence took his first career race win and second overall. Lawrence in the press conference said: “It was good to get the first pole position yesterday because normally my Saturdays are terrible so it was good to get that monkey off my back. I made some passes (in race 1) and then backed up my (pole position) result with a win in race 2.
Jed Beaton took his first career podium while filling in on the HRC bike. Beaton in the press conference stated: “I’m just thankful to be able to fill in and have the opportunity to race MX2. I got a bit lucky with Jeremy (Seewer) crashing on the last lap to get on the podium, but I’m all in all happy with this weekend and how my season went.”
Pauls took 5th overall but is the new MX2 World Champion in season that has been demanding physically and mentally he has proven to be the strongest. Jonass in the press conference stated: “It has been my dream since I started riding to be a world champion, it was a special moment when I accomplished that after the first race actually. I made it pretty tough for myself crashing in the second corner of the first race and then I got up, cleaned everything, then crashed again in the next corner. I started from dead last and finished fifth which was enough for the championship and I was really happy about that.”
Jonass came into the season after missing the end of 2016 with injury and since has matured into not only a fast rider but a consistent and smart one. Jonass reached the podium 15 of the 19 rounds in vastly different conditions around the globe and is well deserving of the World Champion title with 7 Pole Positions, 14 heat wins and 6 GP wins with the last coming at the MXGP of Czech Republic. Congrats on your title from the entire motocross community Pauls!
Coming away with a hard fought and well deserved second in the championship was Jeremy Seewer who said: “I am looking forward with a big smile, you know I’m really excited about the 450. I’m really looking forward to next Wednesday to ride and just have fun on another bike, go to the motocross of nations, and accept a new challenge.”
Third in the 2017 MX2 title chase was the rookie, Thomas Kjer Olsen. Olsen in the press conference said: “It is pretty incredible to be third in my rookie season. I tried to do the best I can and I came out third so I’m pretty happy with that.”