After a slow start to his 2015 season, Gautier Paulin stroked home to a double win for himself and HRC Honda on the sandy circuit in Holland, at a stroke becoming a title contender such was the ease of his win here.
Valkenswaard in Holland was the base for the European GP and it is a sand circuit. Meaning a slightly different riding technique and often a different outcome as some riders from the North of Europe grow up racing on sandy circuits and excel there.
In the MXGP class, the big news here was the non appearance of reigning AMA Supercross champion Ryan Villopoto on the Monster Energy Kawasaki. The American hurt his lower back after a fall in the Italian GP and was forced to miss the meeting, as was last years runner up Jeremy van Horebeek on his Yamaha.
This left the way clear for the man who has won most of the big class races in Valkenswaard in recent years, Antonio Cairoli. But as we shall see his day did not start well.
Frenchman Gautier Paulin won the first race at a canter. The tall, smooth riding former Kawasaki star has good form in the sand and proved it again here. Both HRC Honda riders started the race well, as did the form man in recent weeks Max Nagl on the fast starting Red Bull Ice One Husqvarna. The German got away superbly again on the unforgiving Dutch terrain.
Cairoli got away well too, and was able to run with Paulin and Nagl until the unspeakable happened. One minute we were looking at him starting to close down Paulin, the next we could only see a Red Bull KTM being picked up by the diminutive figure of Cairoli who quickly realised his race was over and retirement beckoned. The reigning champion was lucky to escape without injury from the crash caused by just misjudging a rut on a lip of a series of jumps on an admittedly difficult section. But Cairoli doesn’t crash… usually!
So now the emphasis was on Clement Desalle and Nagl to take maximum advantage in the champioship. Nagl did just that, he finished second but could do nothing about the dominant Paulin. Desalle finished fourth in race one, unable to catch the leaders but still maintaining the series leading consistency he has sown so far in 2015.
Nailing a better result here and proof Honda are getting back to form was Evgeny Bobreshev, the Russian finishing fourth, and also a great result for privateer Shaun Simpson, the Scot bringing his Hitachi Revo KTM home fifth in front of Villopoto’s team-mate Tyla Rattray, himself getting a good result here.
Race two was more of the same for Paulin, the Honda rider once again looked peerless up front, though not as dominant in race 2 as the first outing, he still made his win look easy. And this might be the start of Paulin’s championship push. He was signed by Honda for big money from Kawasaki, and that investment looks to be paying off.
The rider who left Honda to make way for Paulin was Max Nagl, and he was unsure of his chances of getting a podium here in Holland. But this is further evidence of the speed of Nagl and the impressive consistency and fast starting of the Husqvarna. The German now holds the red plate of series leader and rightly so after more wins than anyone else this year.
Desalle kept up his record of a podium at every meeting with a third in race 2 that displaced the unlucky Bobreshev, who deserved a podium with his best showing of the year too.
Cairoli on the other hand was a lowly seventh and tweaked his shoulder int he earlier incident. The Italian is now 30 points behind Nagl in the championship. And here was everybody thinking it was going to be Villopoto taking the fight to the Italian in 2015. What a year this is turning out to be.
MX2 in 2015 pretty much means Jeffrey Herlings winning or crashing, and MX2 in Valkenswaard is pretty much a nailed on home win for the Dutchman. He was utterly dominant in Holland and despite crashes and poor starts was able to win both races at a canter.
He won the first race by over 40 seconds, that gives you some idea of the Red Bull KTM riders dominance, but he gave himself a lot to do in the second outing. A poor start allowed his team-mate Pauls Jonass into the lead and while clawing his way back through the field, Herlings tucked the front wheel and fell.
He got back on board, was past his rivals in quick time and still won by more than 25 seconds, such is the young mans dominance in the sands of Holland!
Further drama was had by another MX2 favourite Dylan Ferrandis, The French Monster Energy Kawasaki rider was fourth in race 1 and was trying to score a better result in race 2. He came up to the rapidly tiring Jonass into a chicane and stuck his leg out towards the KTM, brushing the Latvians arm in an attempt to ward him off. This was considered out of order by track officials and Ferrandis was docked 10 places, meaning a huge drop in points for a rather silly move!
One man having a good day though was Alexandr Tonkv on the Wilvo Husqvarna, like Nagl in the GP class, Tonkv’s Husky gets off the line like a dream and he capitalised on this to score two great results and hold off pressure from riders like Jordi Tixier, Ferrandis and Jonass on the way. The Russian scored his best result of 2015 with third.
Runner up behind Herlings was reigning champion Jordi Tixier riding for Monster Energy Kawasaki, the Frenchman scoring well here to try and recoup some of the points lost after missing the Argentinan round.
Some British cheer in Holland too for Max Anstie who scored a superb second place in race 1 but failed to finish the second race.