A recap from day one.
Antonio Cairoli and Benoit Paturel romped to impressive victories during the two qualifying heats at the Grand Prix of Germany earlier today, but neither rider hogged headlines. Intriguing stories were rampant throughout each class, following some exciting racing, so there are plenty of talking points to cover.
Cairoli won at this venue last year, in what was a dominant showing, and executed a similar ride on the battleground today. A methodical race saw him take advantage of a mistake from Tim Gajser and then manage his advantage over the rest of the pack. Things tightened up towards the end, however, as Jeffrey Herlings executed his new strategy.
In interviews on MX Vice, Herlings has stated that he would like to mirror the way that Eli Tomac attacks a race. Rather than sprint in the early laps, like he would often do in the MX2 category, he would like to pounce whilst his competitors are beginning to tire at the end of an exhausting heat. If you take that into account, his lap times from the second half of the qualifying heat make perfect sense. We have laid it out for you below, which is much more convenient, but make note that Herlings also faced traffic during this period.
There is one fault that Herlings still needs to correct though, unfortunately, and that is that he simply cannot start with his competitors. The way that he started in Latvia can be pushed to one side, as the layout there massively favours the inside and his jumps were mediocre at best each time. ‘84’ occupied the first gate again today, as you would expect, and then got swallowed up immediately. That will stop him making a dent in the deficit that he currently faces.
A Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing battle raged on behind Gautier Paulin in third, which was most entertaining. It was just one year ago, at this very venue, that they squabbled on the starting line. Jeremy Van Horebeek rode an extremely defensive race, as Romain Febvre was chomping at his back wheel for the whole twenty-five-minute moto.
It was Febvre who was undoubtedly the most impressive, as this was a return to the front for the former champion. Febvre has not been this close to the leader in quite some time and he looked comfortable whilst doing it, which has also been a problem. ‘461’ made significant setup changes in the week prior to this weekend and, based on today, they worked. Let’s not jump the gun just yet though.
Those in the lower half of the top ten were stagnant for much of the heat and took advantage of that crash that Tim Gajser had to gain positions. Shall we cover that? It was obviously another odd one, but he will be ready to go tomorrow. ‘243’ had to get checked over the doctor following the race, as he hit his head, but everything is okay and he will be on the line tomorrow. Will he be able to cut into the seventeen-point deficit that he currently faces though?