The fantastic French GP has concluded in Saint Jean d’Angely after another unpredictable and amazing weekend of racing. Finding the fastest way around the venue in France was Team HRC’s Tim Gajser and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado.
For the second year in a row the MXGP of France in Saint Jean d’Angely was filled with the always enthusiastic French fans to create an amazing atmosphere. Warm weather and sunshine lit the hillside circuit with its deep ruts and challenging conditions. Aside from the traditional high speed racing this weekend also provided some unexpected results and championship shake ups.
MXGP Race 1 started with a Fox Holeshot for Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s Arnaud Tonus just ahead of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli. The top MXGP Qualifier, Team HRC’s Tim Gajser, dove to the inside of Cairoli on the first lap to get into second early.
A lap after passing Cairoli the Slovenian made it past Tonus for the lead in almost the exact same spot. Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Romain Febvre was off to a good start of fourth in his home round and watched as Cairoli made it past Tonus for 2nd.
Tonus’ Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP teammate Gautier Paulin struggled off the start and fell from 11th back to 18th in the third lap. Meanwhile Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle made his way past Gebben Van Venrooy Kawasaki’s Alessandro Lupino and Febvre before making an assertive pass on Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Jeremy Seewerfor 4th.
The pass from Desalle didn’t last though as both Seewer and Febvre were back by before the end of the lap. At the finish it was a dominating win for Gajser ahead of Cairoli who held off the charges of Tonus throughout the race while Seewer, Febvre, and Desalle rounded out the top five.
MXGP Race 2 was off to a dramatic start as Cairoli jumped his gate and Febvre took the Fox Holeshot creating a massive roar from the crowd. As Cairoli charged to catch up with the field Febvre led Tonus, Paulin, and Honda SR Motoblouz’s Jeremy Van Horebeek.
Desalle passed both Van Horebeek and Paulin to quickly get into 3rd while Gajser was closing in from 5th position. Meanwhile the bad luck continued for Cairoli as he went down while 14th only to get up and have his bike punted away by Standing Construct KTM’s Ivo Monticelli.
Cairoli got back on the bike on 25th and got up to 17th before stalling, losing a spot, and then regaining it all over again. At the front Gajser had made his way past Desalle before banging bars with Tonus to take second and eventually the lead from Febvre.
Gajser pulled away to take his second 1-1 victory in two weeks and his first back to back overall GP win since the MXGP’s of Patagonia Argentina and Leon, Mexico in 2017. Febvre took second in the race ahead of Tonus, Desalle, and Paulin. Tonus’ 3-3 finishes gave him his best ever MXGP overall result of 2nd only one week after his long-awaited return to podium form in Portugal while Febvre’s 5-2 result put him on the podium in front of the home fans.
The 17th place result of Cairoli in race 2 put the points leader 7th overall but dropped his championship lead to only 10 points over Gajser as the series heads to the Black Sea bordering venue of Orlyonok in 2 weeks’ time for the 2019 Patron MXGP of Russia.
Tim Gajser, “I’m really happy how both days went. I was having fun on the track. I enjoy how things are going at the moment and I hope to continue this momentum into Russia.”
Arnaud Tonus, “To be honest I’m not sure what to expect anymore. I was so happy last week, I felt like I was riding good, making some passes, and had some good starts and I was able to do the same this weekend. I’m just going to try to keep going this way.”
Romain Febvre, “It has been a long road, I didn’t have much time on the bike yet and I feel like I can do much better. It is a really good performance for how I feel right now. Coming down to the start line there is so many fans… it is really good, and I am really happy to have my first podium of the year here.”
Antonio Cairoli, “We are looking for the next race now. We need to keep focused. This was not the best race of the season but we learn from the mistakes, I’m still learning at almost 34 years old and I will try to be on the podium again at the next race.”
MX2 Racing started off with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado taking his 8th Fox Holeshot of 2019 and the lead ahead of Yamaha SM Action MC Migliori’s Michele Cervellin, F&H Racing Kawasaki’s Adam Sterry, and Honda 114 Motorsport’s Zach Pichon.
Bud Racing Kawasaki’s Brian Moreau was in 5th but crashed out of the spot on the first downhill section. Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha Official MX2’s Jago Geerts was quick to move into 3rd past Sterry as Pichon faded back.
Geerts made an aggressive pass for second on Cervellin a few laps later and then set his eyes on the lead of Prado. A few positions further back Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen worked his way forward from a poor start and past Sterry for 4th.
Sterry’s F&H Racing Kawasaki teammate Henry Jacobi passed Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle 6th but crashed just after and was run over by the Frenchman before getting back up. Jacobi got back going in 9th while Vialle moved forward to take 4th from Cervellin.
Back at the front Geerts had caught Prado and just as they crossed the line to see the 2 lap board Geerts took the lead away from the points leader. Prado tried to respond but was unable to get the Belgian back for the race win. Geerts’ win was not only Prado’s first defeat of 2019 but it was also Geerts’ career first MX2 race win! Olsen came in third with Vialle and DIGA Procross Husqvarna’s Davy Pootjes in 4th and 5th.
Race 2 was another FOX Holeshot from Prado with Vialle alongside him. Sterry was off to another good start in 3rd with the race 1 winner, Geerts, just behind in 4th. Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha’s Ben Watson got around his teammate on the first lap along with Sterry and Vialle who crashed out of 3rd.
Sterry then had a close call with Geerts as the Belgian jumped past for 3rd. Prado meanwhile grew his lead over Watson before Geerts went around the outside of his teammate and then chipped away at the lead. Tom Vialle fell again to lose even more positions along with Jacobi for the second race in a row.
Geerts also had a small fall which in the end was the advantage Prado needed to comfortably take the tiebreaker race win for the overall. Prado’s win grew his points advantage over Olsen who came in 5th in race 2 for 3rd overall behind Geerts. Honda 114 Motorsport’s Mitch Evans took 4th overall ahead of Sterry in 5th.
Jorge Prado, “This weekend was tough, I had to push in both races and I relaxed a bit in the last laps but I felt everything was under control until I took the wrong rut after the finish line jump in the first race. I charged hard to try and make a pass on the last lap but I couldn’t make it happen. It turned out to be a good weekend with more points for the championship and a bigger gap.”
Jago Geerts, “It was a really good weekend, in the first race I made the pass for the lead with a couple of laps to go and just had good speed all race to finish first, so I was really happy with that. In the second race I was again getting closer at times, but Jorge was also riding really good and I made a little mistake but still it was a really good weekend second overall and now third in the championship.”
Thomas Kjer Olsen: “I’m happy about how I worked my way forward to get on the podium and with my second race result. I’ll keep working now that we have a weekend off. Russia’s a fun track so I’m looking forward to racing there.”