After struggling in the first round of the MXGP world championship, American Monster Kawasaki motocross star Ryan Villopoto took the overall GP win after taking a win and third in the second round of the series in super hot Thailand.
After so much hype and conjecture in Qatar, Villopoto answered any criticism levelled at him and his decision to race in the world championship emphatically with a dominant qualifying race win that gave him gate choice for the first moto.
From there, the 4 times supercross champion won the first moto with apparent ease on race day in temperatures that were so high the MX2 races were slightly shortened, close to 40 degrees at times, fitness, stamina and endurance were key and as any motocross race fan knows Villopoto is a monster when it comes to fitness and endurance. He dominated the race to win by 10 seconds. In the second race Villopoto didn’t nail the start this time, and the American was unable to close on those in front, but did take the overall win.
The rider in second was Belgian Clement Desalle, rapidly turning into Mr Consistent on the Rockstar Suzuki. Second in fact in both races, Desalle is showing the kind of speed and consistency that none of his rivals can yet manage. So far Desalle has been the most impressive rider this year, he might not be winning races, but unlike Cairoli and Villopoto and to some extent Max Nagl he is able to podium every week and is the deserved championship leader by 9 points going into the next round in Argentina.
The other race winner on the day was Antonio Cairoli. the Red Bull KTM legend struggled all weekend to get away, had a first corner spill in the qualifying race, and never looked a likely winner. But those sage among us know to never write off this rider and Cairoli took the hole shot in race 2 and won by a clear margin in the Asian tropics to establish a third place round finish. He will hope this sparks his season and the kind of podium consistency Desalle is enjoying right now, which hopefully Villopoto manages too, to provide race fans with a title triumvirate that so far no-one can pick a winner from.
Most impressive ride here in Thailand though came from class rookie Romain Febvre, ousted from the MX2 class last year because he is now too old, the Frenchman scored third and fourth positions for Yamaha Factory Racing. Hs team-mate and last years series runner up Jeremy van Horebeek had a weekend to forget, non scoring.
As for first round double winner Max Nagl, the German had a mixed weekend. A good fourth in the first race, was followed by an eleventh in race two, leaving the Ice One Husqvarna man down in seventh in the overall standings and losing his points lead to Desalle.
On to MX2 and the seemingly unbeatable Jeffrey Herlings show.
The Dutchman tried to give everyone an advantage here, suffering with a stomach upset, but even that wasn’t enough to prevent the man who is set to dominate this years series from taking another two wins.
The heat was so intense a number of riders did not compete in the second race, but Herlings set the pace clearly in both, the Red Bull KTM man, already having to answer questions about a step up to the main class cruised his way through, not wanting to push too hard as he was clearly under the weather.
Second overall in Thailand was Herlings’ team-mate Pauls Jonass, the youngster from Latvia in only his second year in GP’s is impressing everyone with his speed, nailing a second and fourth here.
Continuing his good form from Qatar was Kawasaki mounted Frenchman Dylan Ferrandis, scoring a good second and fourth here too, to at least try and maintain some points pressure on Herlings.