The tenth round of the 2017 MXGP took place this weekend on the stony hard pack of Orlyonok, Russia, in the beautiful setting of the Black Sea. The Russian race was at a new venue for all the riders and represented the mid-point of the 19 round Motocross FIM series.
Tony Cairoli, who won the last Russian GP back in 2012, went to Russia with the aim of keeping the red plate firmly fixed on his KTM 450SX-F. Saturday, during the timed practice, the Sicilian picked the seventh gate for the qualification race and managed to finish third in ideal, sunny conditions.
Unfortunately come Sunday everything had changed due to the heavy rain that fell during the night and fell again for more than two hours in the morning. Saturday’s perfect circuit was flooded by the copious amounts of water, causing lots of damage to the up and downhill track and giving the riders a headache as they scrambled for the best set up. In race one TC222 got a fantastic hole shot and led the pack for half of the race, before eventually being passed to finish a solid second. In race two the start was way more difficult as the bike of the KTM Red Bull factory rider slipped on the metal start gate, losing precious grip.
Cairoli tried his best to rejoin the leading group but crashed on the first lap and then again a few laps from the end, due to a lapped rider, whilst battling for sixth place. The eight time World Champion ended the second moto in ninth place, finishing fifth overall, only two points from the podium. With a 47 point lead over second place TC222 still has the red plate firmly in his hands. Next race in two weeks on the sandy home track of Ottobiano.
Antonio Cairoli: “The weekend was good and I was prepared for the track and for the muddy conditions. Yesterday everything went well whilst we had normal conditions, but I have to admit that this morning I was a little bit worried about the heavy rain that was falling on the circuit, because I’m not a big fan of the mud and always struggle a bit. I don’t feel comfortable when I have to put my left leg down, because of a knee injury I had some years ago, and when the bike is heavier than normal with the mud, then it’s even worse, so I had to take it easy. In the first moto I had a very good start and I was leading for half the race, before Jeffrey passed me and I finished second, which was still a good result, all things considered. In the second moto my bike slid a lot on the gate and I had a bad start, then somebody hit me and I almost crashed. As I pushed to get back amongst the pack I crashed on the top of the hill and I got stuck with another rider, so it’s fair to say that it was a fairly dramatic start to the race for me. I did my best to get back to seventh, but then I crashed again, trying to pass a lapped rider who was on my line, and I got stuck in a rut! I was disappointed because it could have been much better today, but I’m happy with the championship standings and that’s what really matters at the moment. Now I’m looking forward to the next round in Ottobiano, a track that I really like and where I will get to meet the Italian fans once again.”
1-J.Herlings 2-A.Cairoli 3-C.Desalle 4-M.Anstie 5-G.Paulin
1-C.Desalle 2-R.Febvre 3-G.Paulin 4-A.Tonus 9-A.Cairoli
Grand Prix Overall
1-C.Desalle 45p. 2-J.Herlings 38p. 3-G.Paulin 36p. 4-M.Anstie 34p. 5-A.Cairoli 34p.
MXGP World Championship Standings
1-A.Cairoli 381p. 2-C.Desalle 334p. 3-G.Paulin 333p. 4-J.Herlings 291p. 5-T.Gajser 261p.
Next Grand Prix: Lombardia, Ottobiano, 25/06/2017