Gautier Paulin: Surprise package in MXGP Qatar

Toni Cairoli was the hot favourite but a crash in qualifying ruled the world champion out of action.

Gautier Paulin got the overall victory in MXGP Qatar 2014
© Sara Gutiérrez/Kawasaki

Just like last year, the MXGP at Losail, Qatar, with new and improved lighting systems, was breathtaking. Gautier Paulin was the unexpected winner of Saturday night’s season-opener, as the Frenchman capitalised after the world champion Toni Cairoli was hampered by an injury to his left ankle sustained in a crash in qualifying. The Frenchman, however, couldn’t win all races, as Max Nagl, the works Honda rider, won race one – a result he has been waiting for since 2011.

Jeffrey Herlings worked hard to win in the MX2 class in Qatar 2014
Jeffrey Herlings (KTM) won in the MX2 class© Ray Archer

Jeffrey Herlings back on top after injury

In the MX2 class, Jeffrey Herlings proved he is back to full fitness after fighting a shoulder injury during the last six months. The Dutchman got the victory, but he wasn’t as dominant as usual. Herlings crashed twice in race one but, even so, only Kawasaki’s Dylan Ferrandis was able to finish in front of him. In moto two, Max Anstie pulled out a four-second lead, but when he crashed, Herlings took advantage and won to take overall victory for Red Bull KTM.

Hard night for Antonio Cairoli in MXGP Qatar 2014
Hard night for Antonio Cairoli in MXGP Qatar 2014© Ray Archer

Riding wounded

The season opener was marred by injuries. Some of the top riders needed medical attention before the start and some couldn’t take part at all. Tanel Leok (knee), Evgeny Bobryshev (ankle), Cairoli (ankle), Jake Nicholls (vertebra), Mel Pocock (ill), Luke Styke (virus), Ken De Dycker (wrist) and Tyla Rattray (little finger – the South African will probably miss the next round in Thailand).  

MXGP of Ukraine decision coming shortly

Championship promoter Youthstream will decide in the next two months whether or not the MXGP of Ukraine will take place, due to the political situation in the country. The penultimate round could be staged in another country or cancelled.

Return of the MXGP of Japan?

It’s not all bad news. The MXGP of Japan could be back in 2015. Youthstream president Giuseppe Luongo said there are is a 70 percent chance of the MXGP returning to Sugo. The world championship was held there between 2005 and 2007.

Nicky Hayden’s trip to Qatar

MotoGP star Nicky Hayden was in town. The American, who will race in Qatar on March 23, was surprised to learn that the Yamaha machines use an electric starter. Hayden was also amazed to find out that Meghan Rutledge was the first non-European to win a round of the Women’s Motocross World Championship.

Results

MXGP 1
1     Max Nagl – Honda – 34'57"925
2     Antonio Cairoli – KTM – 1"942
3     Gautier Paulin – Kawasaki – 7"827
4     Steven Frossard – Kawasaki – 15"643
5     J. Van Horebeek – Yamaha – 26"612
6     Tommy Searle – Kawasaki – 31"196
7     Kevin Strijbos – Suzuki – 33"585
8     Ebgeny Bobryshev – Honda – 34"386
9     Clement Desalle – Suzuki – 34"597
10   Joel Roelants – Honda – 50"077

MXGP 2
1     Gautier Paulin – Kawasaki – 35'04"471
2     Steven Frossard – Kawasaki – 2"773
3     Antonio Cairoli – KTM – 9"941
4     Max Nagl – Honda – 13"124
5     J. Van Horebeek – Yamaha – 20"093
6     Clement Desalle – Suzuki – 23"932
7     Tommy Searle – Kawasaki – 25"651
8     Kevin Strijbos – Suzuki – 38"386
9     Evgeny Bobryshev – Honda – 1'02"213
10   Joel Roelants – Honda – 1'05"317 

MX2 1
1     Dylan Ferrandis – Kawasaki – 33'53"328
2     Jeffrey Herlings – KTM – 0"329
3     Glenn Coldenhoff – Suzuki – 2"209
4     José A. Butrón – KTM – 13"882
5     Romain Febvre – Husqvarna – 13"882
6     Aleksandr Tonkov – Husqvarna – 21"091
7     Jordi Tixier – KTM – 26"905
8     Tim Gajser – Honda – 30"193
9     Valentin Guillod – KTM – 32"229
10   Arnaud Tonus – Kawasaki – 36"827

MX2 2
1     Jeffrey Herlings – KTM – 33'49"169
2     Arnaud Tonus – Kawasaki – 1"204
3     Thomas Covington – Kawasaki – 7"646
4     Romain Febvre – Husqvarna – 9"683
5     Aleksandr Tonkov – Husqvarna – 10"437
6     Dylan Ferrandis – Kawasaki – 12"271
7     Jordi Tixier – KTM – 12"453
8     José A. Butrón – KTM – 13"740
9     Christophe Charlier – Yamaha – 14"739
10   Tim Gajser – Honda – 15"526

Standings

MXGP
1     Paulin – 45 points
2     Nagl – 43
3     Cairoli – 42
4     Frossard – 40
5     Van Horebeek – 32
6     Searle – 29
7     Desalle – 27
8     Strijbos – 27
9     Bobryshev – 25
10   Roelants – 22

MX2
1     Herlings – 47 points
2     Ferrandis – 40
3     Febvre – 34
4     Tonus – 33
5     Butrón – 31
6     Tonkov – 31
7     Coldenhoff – 29
8     Tixier – 28
9     Gajser – 24
10   Charlier – 21