Friday, 8 July 2011

FIM Motocross Grand Prix of Sweden

Uddevalla, Sweden was chosen to host round 8 of the 2011 Monster Energy FIM World Motocross GPs. The Uddevalla track is one of the shorter tracks on the circuit, but it provides one of the most unique vantage points in all of motocross, featuring a natural-terrain grandstand in one of the cliffs overlooking the facility.

There were no shortages of story-lines coming into the GP of Sweden, one of the largest being the status of MX1 points leader, Clement Desalle. Desalle suffered a dislocated shoulder and a finger injury at a Belgian championship race leading up to the Grand Prix of Sweden. Another one of the storylines, was the battle between KTM/Teka/Red Bull teammates Ken Roczen and Jeffrey Herlings for the MX2 points lead. Roczen carried a slim 6 point advantage into action at Uddevalla.

In the first MX2 moto, Ken Roczen, who had claimed pole position on Saturday, also claimed the holeshot and the early lead ahead of Gautier Paulin. Third was Herlings, with Osborne in fourth and Anstie in fifth. Just a few turns into the race, however, Osborne washed out in a turn, falling all the way to the back of the pack. Some unexpected rain had made the track very slippery early on, and the riders looked to be biding their time and feeling things out. Tommy Searle was the next one to fall victim to the slippery surface, as he slid completely off the track and down a small embankment. He was able to get going again, but was relegated to 34th at the end of the first lap. Up front, Roczen and Paulin had begun distancing themselves from Herlings. Zach Osborne, who had crossed the line in 25th after the first full lap had been complete, began to work his way into the points paying positions, trying to keep his aspirations for glory alive. Tommy Searle seemed to suffer some bike trouble, possibly caused by his earlier crash. He was forced to pull out of the race having only completed 4 laps. The running order stayed the same at the front, with Rozen continuing to pull away from Paulin, and Paulin from Herlings. One of the riders on the move, was Jeremy van Horebeek, who was just returning from an injury. Van Horebeek was eventually able to dislodge Jake Nicholls from 5th, and get within striking distance of Anstie for 4th. On the final lap, Van Horebeek turned in his quickest lap of the moto, however finding himself within one second of Anstie. Meanwhile, Van Horebeek had pushed Anstie to within 3.3 seconds of Herlings for 3rd. The final running order was Roczen, Paulin, Herlings, Anstie and van Horebeek. Osborne was able to make his way up to 11th.

The second MX2 moto saw Ken Roczen grab another huge holeshot, a sight that the rest of the field most certainly did not want to see. Herlings and Paulin both had good starts as they did in the first moto. Anstie was once again in 4th, this time Nicolas Aubin had a good start in 5th. Tommy Searle was 7th on the first lap, not what he had hoped for considering his disappointment in the first race. Zach Osborne put the disaster beginnings of the first moto behind him by grabbing a top 10 start. Rozen was quick in establishing a large lead, perhaps thanks to the track being more rough than the previous race. Searle and Osborne began working hard to try and make up as much ground as possible early in the moto. By lap 4, Searle found himself up to 5th behind his teammate Max Anstie. He began to reel him in, riding very aggressively, probably fueled by his misfortune earlier in the day. On lap 6, Searle was able to get around Anstie, and a lap later, Anstie lost another position to the hard charging Arnaud Tonus, teammate to Zach Osborne who was running in 8th. Once again, the front runners began to spread out, with the young German, Ken Roczen, looking flawless in the lead. When it was all said and done, Roczen took the checkers by nearly 20 seconds over his teammate and closest title competitor, Jeffrey Herlings. Gautier Paulin took his Monste Energy/Yamaha to 3rd place, while Monster Energy/CLS/Kawasaki teammates Tommy Searly and Max Anstie would finish 4th and 5th. American Zach Osborne grabbed the final spot in the top 10.

The first race in the MX1 GP of Sweden, featured a holeshot by Russian Evgeny Bobryshev. 3rd place in the MX1 standings and MX1 rookie, Steven Frossard would follow him behind in 2nd. Tony Cairoli found himself up front, looking to make up big points on the injured Clement Desalle. Unfortunately for Tony, disaster struck in turn 2 when he lost the front end and tumbled to the ground. The fall caused him to start the race from the back of a very talented field on a track that hadn't allowed for much passing throughout the day to this point. Cairoli would round the first lap in 26th, with Desalle, the injured championship leader, in 5th. Tony was very quick at making passes, passing 6 riders on the 2nd lap of the race to move up to 19th. Clearly, he knew the matter of the situation and the points that were potentially able to be made on Desalle. A great ride was being had early on by Carlos Compano, who held down 4th place as late in the race as lap 6, until he crashed and fell back to the tail end of the top 10. Cairoli continued his torrid charge through the pack, reaching the top 10 on just lap 9. Right around the same time, a battle was taking place between Rui Goncalves and Xavier Boog for 3rd place. Goncalves had held the position since the start of the moto, whilst Boog had been working his way through the top 10. Boog was eventually able to make the pass stick on lap 8, but Max Nagl quickly appeared having displaced Goncalves, ready to battle for the podium. Boog was not to be bothered, though, and kept hs energy focused onwards. On lap 13, Cairoli caught up to the back of Desalle, who was obviously in pain, working his way slowly backwards. It didn't take long for the Italian to make the pass, and he immediately began putting distance between himself and Desalle, no doubt trying to prevent any retaliation.Late in the race, when others began to tire, it seemed that 3 riders in particular began to stand out. Frossard was putting pressure on Bobryshev for the lead, and Ken de Dycker, who suffered a start around 15th, had began pusing through towards the top 5, just ahead of the ever-charging Cairoli. On lap 19, Frossard was able to make the pass on Bobryshev stick, and took the checkered flag, claiming his 4th moto win of the season. Bobryshev would finish 2nd, Boog would hang on to 3rd, while de Dycker and Cairoli's charges would pay off, as they finished 4th and 5th. Desalle was able to salvage an 8th place finish.

In the second MX2 race, it was first moto winner Frossard taking the holeshot, Cairoli got a great start once again, rounding the first turn in 2nd. This time, he didn't throw it away in turn 2, and set his sights on stopping the momentum that Frossard had started to establish in race 1. 3rd place was David Phillapaerts, while Bobryshev and Desalle both had poor starts, sitting outside of the top 10 on the first lap. Bobryshev was charging early, looking to get back to the front of the pack where he had finished the first race. Also looking to move forward was Desalle, though he was having less luck with the task than he would have surely liked. Behind Phillapaerts who was running 3rd, was a fierce battle between Steve Ramon, Rui Goncalves and Ken de Dycker who had grabbed a much better start for race 2. The trio spent a few laps trading spots back and forth between them, but it became clear that Goncalves was heading backwards. Ramon and de Dycker then recruited Phillapaerts to join them, and the battle for 3rd was suddenly red hot. Meanwhile, Frossard was looking quite comfortable in the lead, steadily pulling away from Cairoli, who was perhaps happy with his 2nd place given all he had been through on this day. The trio of de Dycker, Ramon and Phillapaerts received company on lap 6 in the form of first moto runner-up, Bobryshev. The Russian had came a long way in a short amount of time, and was one of the fastest riders on the track. The battle appeared to stabilize on lap 15 with de Dycker 3rd, Phillapaerts 4th, Ramon 5th and Bobryshev 6th, but a mistake by de Dycker allowed the other 3 riders to all go past, setting the big Belgian rider back to 6th. Around the same time, Bobryshev was able to complete the pass on Ramon to move into 4th. With 2 laps to go, the order at the front appeared set, but Desalle was looking for a way around Goncalves for 7th, a position that could end up being vital when the championship is awarded at the end of the season. Clement was able to take the position, but he could get no further. Still, it was a valiant effort considering his injuries. Frossard took the moto win and the overall GP, Cairoli would finish 2nd in the moto and 3rd overall. 2nd overall would go to Bobryshev, with his 2-4 score. Perhaps most important, is the 10 point lead the Cairoli has taken in the championship, netting himself the red plate as the world championship heads to round 9 in Germany.

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