Max Anstie took his first podium finish of the year at Ottobiano in Italy and said: “It’s awesome to be back up here on the podium. It has been such a difficult start to the season with things seemingly going from bad to worse. I felt so strong at the beginning of the year, especially after finishing 2017 on a high, so it’s great to get a finish like this and to be battling on track with the other top guys. It’s going to be another tough race in two weeks’ time in Indonesia so hopefully I can get a similar result there.”
Held at the sandy track in northern Italy, the MXGP of Lombardia proved to be a tough race for all competitors under the heat of the summer sun. In similar conditions to last year’s race, stamina and a smooth, energy conserving style were key to a top finish.
In the MXGP class it was Max Anstie who found impressive form in race one to move through the field to take his first race podium of the season. Despite the pressure, Anstie rode with notable confidence to move into the top-three, narrowly missing out on second in the final stages of the race. Gautier Paulin, riding smooth and consistent on the Italian sand, claimed fourth at the flag.
MXGP race two proved trickier for the FE450 mounted pair as they found themselves just inside the top-10 after lap one. After chasing down and passing the riders ahead, it was Paulin who claimed the podium spot in third, with team-mate Anstie just seconds behind in fourth.
The strong results over both motos gave the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing a double podium finish with Paulin taking second overall and Anstie third – both riders tied on points for the event.
Following his win in Saturday’s MX2 Qualifying Race, Thomas Covington rode a strong race one. Just pipped to the holeshot, Covington immediately set about chasing down the leader before moving into first position mid-way through the race. The American, riding smooth and fast in the difficult conditions, controlled the pace perfectly from the front to take the win by over five seconds. Thomas Kjer-Olsen also had a great first moto, battling his way through the field to claim fifth place at the finish.
In the second MX2 moto, Covington made another solid start, running within the top-three. Towards the close of the race he was passed by Kjer-Olsen who took second at the line. Covington would take fourth position, enough to elevate him from eighth to sixth in the MX2 championship standings. Kjer-Olsen retains second as the 2018 season hits its halfway point.
The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team will return to action at the 12th round of the 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship in Indonesia on June 30 – July 1.
Gautier Paulin: “I seem to excel in these conditions – I always do well when it’s hot and the track is rough, like today. I was feeling good in myself but had two bad starts – the 180-degree first turn was really tricky to manage. I came close to crashing a couple of times and you spend a lot of energy when you have to come through the pack like I did today. To finish on the podium is great though, especially after such a tough weekend in England. I also want to congratulate my team-mate on his podium success today.”
Thomas Covington: “That has been a really good weekend for me, right from getting the qualifying win again on Saturday. I knew conditions would be tough here this year but I managed to find a really good flow in moto one. I followed Prado for half the race and then made my move, after that I managed to keep a good gap between us. In the second moto I struggled a little to run at the pace I wanted to and ended up using too much energy. I am happy to take a second podium in a row though and now I’m looking forward to the next round.”