The Old and the New Light Up Qatar

The 2017 MXGP World Championships got underway at the Losail Circuit in Qatar on Saturday night and those watching were treated to some tight racing in both classes, in what turned out to be a dominant night for the Factory Red Bull KTM team. Coming into the weekend there was always a good chance that we’d see a first-time winner in the MX2 class, as only Thomas Covington previously had an overall win, and Latvian Pauls Jonass decided he was going to be the next in line with a pair of moto wins. However, French rider Benoit Paturel pushed him hard in both motos, just failing to make an overtaking attempt stick. Rounding off the podium was long-term injury absentee Julien Lieber who is running a privateer effort after being ‘forgotten’ by all the factory teams in what has been an almost 18-month layoff.

In the MXGP class Antonio Cairoli rolled back the years and reasserted his position as man to beat by winning comfortably in race one, and in race two overtaking Tim Gajser with just two laps to go. Gajser still got the second step on the podium, but it was a good statement of intent from the Italian Cairoli. Clement Desalle also threw his hat into the ring with 2-4 results. Unfortunately Jeffrey Herlings struggled with his pre-season injury and could only pick up 13pts.

Tony Cairoli
It was a definite statement of intent from 8-time world champion Antonio Cairoli to go 1-1 at a round he’d previously never won before.Photo by David Bulmer
Gajser in Qatar
Tim Gajser would have dearly loved to have held off Antonio Cairoli in the second MXGP moto but he can be satisfied with 42pts after feeling sick most of the weekend.Photo by David Bulmer
Desalle roots in Qatar
After last year’s early season injury problems, it was good to see Clement Desalle looking back to his best with 2-4 race results.Photo by David Bulmer
Bobryshev in the sand of Qatar
Russian Evgeny Bobryshev came in fourth overall but was one of the many riders who struggled to make it through the field after a bad start.Photo by David Bulmer
Herlings at the opening round of 2017 MXGP racing
After breaking a bone in his hand in a preseason race in Italy, it wasn’t a sure-thing that Jeffrey Herlings would even be able to race. However he was able to line up and gut it out for 13pts as he looks to keep his title hopes alive.Photo by David Bulmer
MX2 start in Qatar
The MX2 class is going to be a really fun class to watch in 2017 because with Herlings gone, everyone thinks they can be King.Photo by David Bulmer
Jonass in Qatar
It was the first overall victory ever for Pauls Jonass and the first ever for any Latvian rider. A big weekend for the young man.Photo by David Bulmer
Paturel rossing in MX2 action.
Benoit Paturel spent almost an hour trying to overtake Pauls Jonass for first place but couldn’t get it done, instead having to settle for second overall.Photo by David Bulmer
LIeber at speed in MX2 racing.
It was an amazing return to action for Belgian rider Julien Lieber, who can back from a knee injury to get on the podium on what is essentially a privateer effort.Photo by David Bulmer
Thomas Kjer Olsen rips through a corner in Qatar
Danish EMX250 champion Thomas Kjer Olsen was the best rookie MX2 performer, putting in two impressive fourth place finishes for fourth overall.Photo by David Bulmer
Covington in Qatar
Unfortunately Thomas Covington’s bike died midway through the second moto when he was running in 5th, meaning he could only count the 13pts from race one.Photo by David Bulmer
Sanayei is a rookie in the MX2 class in 2017
In his first MX2 GP, rookie American Darian Sanayei went 10-12 for an impressive 9th overall.Photo by David Bulmer

MXGP Top 10 Overall

  1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 50 points
  2. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 42 p.
  3. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 40 p.
  4. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 32 p.
  5. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 31 p.
  6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 31 p.
  7. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 31 p.
  8. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KAW), 24 p.
  9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 19 p.
  10. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 19 p

MX2 Top 10 Overall

  1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 50 points
  2. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 44 p.
  3. Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), 40 p.
  4. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 36 p.
  5. Michele Cervellin (ITA, HON), 28 p.
  6. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 25 p.
  7. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, KAW), 24 p.
  8. Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), 24 p.
  9. Darian Sanayei (USA, KAW), 20 p.
  10. Alvin Östlund (SWE, YAM), 19 p