McCready gives us his take on the French GP
McCready gives us his take on the French GP
French pride for Frossard!
Steven Frossard became the new darling of French motocross when he won the French MX1 GP on the tight and treacherous rocky hillside circuit of St Jean-D‘Angely. It was his first MX1 overall win and in doing so rebounded himself back into contention for the World Title, and is now only twenty points behind the championship leader.
Aside from the positive championship ramifications, Frossard will remember the victory for the emotion and support he received from the French fans. The Rinaldi Yamaha man holeshot moto one and rode with pressure from both Cairoli and Philippaerts down the stretch the claim the win, showing immense mental strength as the crowd urged him on in the closing laps.
Race two was about Frossard keeping his nerve. A not so great start had Frossard outside the top five on the hard to pass circuit, but the Frenchman used not only his speed, but also his head, to fight his way through to second and secure the overall victory. The sight of Frossard standing on the top step of the podium as his national anthem is being played with the huge French crowd singing along is a moment that captures the magic of GP motocross. It is a memory that will undoubtedly stay with Frossard for the rest of his life.
Frossard won his first ever MX1 GP in his home country of France. Photo courtesy of Yamaha
Second overall was Antonio Cairoli with a second and third placing. Cairoli performed his usual last lap charge to catch the leader in the first moto but crashed on the last lap. He came from a bad start to third in race two and while the Italian may not be getting as many moto wins like he did last year, he has only been off the podium once in the last eight motos, and it is the this consistency that has brought him to within six points of championship leader Clement Desalle.
Clement Desalle is maybe the fastest rider in the series right now, but crashes are keeping the others in touch in the championship. Desalle went down on lap one in the first moto and again a few laps later, he charged hard all race to fight through to eleventh by the end of race. The Factory Suzuki rider was determined to make amends second time out, and he did just that, taking the holeshot and checking out, Desalle rode to a comfortable victory and proved that he can overcome adversity, something that will be crucial to winning the series this season.
Brazilian GP winner David Philippaerts could have and should have at least been on the podium in France. On his favourite circuit, Philippaertswas back to his aggressive World title winning self and ran down Cairoli in race one and was in the process of making a play for the lead when he went down. Third was the result, but it was looking like with a good start the Italian could go for the overall in race two. Then just like that Philippaerts found himself on the ground 30 seconds behind everyone by the time he got going. Another crash reduced the MX1 hardman to eighteenth place and only three points, losing a costly twenty points on the championship and leaving him back in fifth 38 points in arrears to the leader.
Two bad starts reduced Max Nagl’s points haul as did a rash with Ben Townley on the last lap of race two. Nagl dropped to 20 points back of Desalle in the series, but the German is fast and more aggressive than he has been for many years, don’t rule him out of the title hunt just yet.
Ben Townley had a much better GP weekend than his previous attempt in Valkensward. Good starts have Ben the perfect platform to find his pace, he was a steady eighth in race on and was fighting of Nagl for sixth in race two when he they collided and Ben ended up in a heap and had to DNF the race. Still the signs are there that the tough and talented New Zealander will be battling for podiums before too long, but Ben will have realised the importance of good starts in a class that has potential GP winners from first to sixteenth.
Yet more good performances from the Martin Honda duo of Rui Goncalves and Evgeny Bobreyshev in France who held second and third for most of race two before succumbing to the onslaught of Frossard and Cairoli late in the moto. Xavier Boog had his best ride of the year to fourth in race one an rode to a solid seventh in race to for top Kawasaki and only missed the podium by three points.
MX1 O/A: 1. Frossard 47pts, 2. Cairoli 42pts, 3. Desalle 35pts, 4. Boog 32pts, 5. Bobryshev 31pts, 6. De Dycker 29pts, 7. Nagl 26pts, 8. Goncalves 25pts, 9. Philippaerts 23pts, 10. Leok 22pts.
World MX1 Championship points: 1. Desalle 199pts, 2. Cairoli 193pts, 3. Frossard 179pts, 4. Nagl 179pts, 5. Philippaerts 161pts, 6. Bobryshev 161pts, 7. Goncalves 133pts, 8. Barragan 115pts, 9. Strijbos 114pts, 10. Boog 109pts.
MX 2 was a tale of the predictable and the unpredictable. The predictable was Ken Roczen’s dominating win in the first moto, while unpredictably Jeffrey Herlings crashed his way to seventh and seemingly having bike problems combined with struggling on the hard packed track. Tommy Searle also crashed twice on his way to fifth and suddenly Roczen had a full race lead in the championship, the series was now looking like a Roczen runaway.
Then in the blink of an eye everything turned again. Roczen scrubbed a jump too much while leading the first lap of race two and catapulted himself off the bike. He restarted at the back of the pack, only to crash again. Up front it was Zach Osborne who led the field, Osborne had a great ride to third in race one, and was looking to win the race and the GP in race two but he had to contend with Searle, home hero Gautier Paulin who rode well for second after leading in race one, and a rejuvenated Jeffrey Herlings. All these guys had seen Roczen down and they knew this was their chance, and they all wanted to take advantage!
Searle took the lead off Osborne but it was short lived as Herlings came storming through to take the lead and began pulling away. Searle then upped his pace and stayed within three second of Herlings as the race came approached the closing stages. There was no room for error as both Osborne and Paulin where sticking within a couple of second of Searle.. all three with a chance of the overall and giving it everything. Herlings then got held up by backmarkers, Searle pounced immediately and dove inside to take the lead. Herlings tried to come back, but had to fend off the attentions of Zach Osborne who was himself being hounded by Gautier Paulin. Indeed Osborne did his fastest lap of the race trying to get Herlings on the last lap, and Paulin did his fastest lap of the race trying to pass Osborne. However Herlings held strong in second as Searle took the win and the overall victory.
It was a huge victory for Searle and the French based team after being off the pace of the leaders so far this year. It was just what he needed to restore his self belief and keep him in contention for the championship. Searle is now 27 points back in third and back in contention, but it was Herlings who managed to close Roczen down by one point as Ken struggled to 12th place suffering a bike problem as he was flying back through the field. The gap is now 13 with everything to play for.
While those three seem to be the main players for the championship, Zach Osborne and Gautier Paulin and sitting in fourth and fifth with only two points separating them. Both are getting faster every week and are waiting in the wings to capitalise on the increasing mistakes of the leaders especially Ken Roczen.
The Yankee Doodle Dandy Osborne had his best finish of the season with a second. Photo courtesy of Yamaha
Both Roczen and Herlings are only seventeen and sixteen years old respectively and this is the first time both have been really in the position of favourites for the title. As impressive as Roczen is he is still only young and with mistakes in the last two races he has given hope to Herlings and the rest of the field.
At the start of the year it was Herlings making the mistakes and Roczen was seemingly infallible, however Herlings persistence paid off in Brazil when Roczen crashed trying to hold him off and now he has crashed again, this will only fuel Herlings self -belief… and if Herlings can limit the mistakes there is a very real chance he can take this title now by applying the pressure to the German wunderkid. But Roczen is a fast learner, and it will be whoever makes the least mistake that wins this title. If they do, Tommy Searle will be happy to step up and be crowned World Champion, he has the experience and now the confidence he can win, and that could be a dangerous combination.
The Championship is shaping up nicely, and Portugal next week will maybe give us some answers as to who has the momentum and who wants to take charge of the championship.
MX2 O/A: 1. Tommy Searle 43pts, 2. Zach Osborne 40pts, 3. Gautier Paulin 40pts, 4. Jeffrey Herlings 36pts, 5. Ken Roczen 35pts, 6. Nicolas Aubin 31pts, 7. Arnaud Tonus 30pts, 8. Joel Roelants 24pts, 9. Harri Kullas 23pts, 10. Max Anstie 19pts
MX2 Championship points: 1. Ken Roczen 226pts, 2. Jeffrey Herlings 213pts, 3. Tommy Searle 199pts, 4. Zach Osborne 162pts, 5. Gautier Paulin 160pts, 6. Arnaud Tonus 138pts, 7. Max Anstie 135pts, 8. Harri Kullas 119pts, 9. Joel Roelants 114pts, 10. Nicolas Aubin 104pts