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Cairoli clinches qualifying in Portugal

Qualifying day is complete at the Portuguese stop of the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship. The MXGP of Portugal has already provided amazing action on track with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen pass their way into the lead and taking the respective MXGP and MX2 pole positions.

With an amazing circuit and good weather Portuguese fans lined the venue for today’s action starting off with the EMX2t presented by FMF Racing category. Serving as the first race of the weekend Team Ecomaxx Fuel’s Mike Kras took the early lead and ran away with the win while Verde Substance KTM’s Brad Anderson fell during the opening lap before making it back up to eight. 

Following the European Championship’s Two Strokes was the women of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship. The first race of their second round this year was dominated by BIKE IT DRT Kawasaki’s Courtney Duncan with Larissa Papenmeier riding to a strong second place finish ahead of Nancy Van de Ven. Amandine Verstappen was the winner of round 1 and the championship leader coming into today but a crash on the start forced her to come through the pack eventually finishing 10th.

The MXGP superstars were led by Team HRC’s Tim Gajser on the sighting lap and onto the starting line of Qualifying after posting the fast lap time in practice. Gajser continued his leading role as MXGP Qualifying began with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli just a few bike lengths further back.

Cairoli’s friend and fellow Italian Alessandro Lupino from Gebben Van Venrooy Kawasaki Racing was off to a flying start in third chased by Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Romain Febvre and Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s Gautier Paulin along with another Italian, Standing Construct KTM’s Ivo Monticelli.

Febvre was the first to make a mistake in what is his first race back since injury. The Frenchman fell dropping to 10th before completing the first full lap. Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle made a charge up the inside of Monticelli to take 5th. Desalle’s teammate, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Julien Lieber reenacted the pass on Monticelli shortly after putting the pair of green machines 5th and 6th.

Monticelli lost traction and fell the same lap putting him in 19th and he continued to lose positions as the race went on. On lap 7 Desalle made a pass on Paulin for 4th and one lap later Cairoli shot past Gajser to take the lead. A quick attempt to retaliate from Gajser failed, while he instead latched on to the pace of Cairoli he was unable to get close enough for pass attempt.

At the finish Cairoli took pole position 2.6 seconds ahead of Gajser while Lupino crossed the line 30 seconds off the pace for third. Struggling in the race was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Arminas Jasikonis, Team HRC’s Brian Bogers, and Standing Construct KTM’s Max Anstie.

Jasikonis suffered from a bad start and the addition of a crash on lap one made his race even more difficult finishing 18th. Bogers came into the weekend following his career best race result of 2nd in Mantova before after his 25th today is left hoping for improvement tomorrow. Anstie on the other hand was up into 7th position before a crash left him beat up and unable to continue.

Antonio Cairoli,“It was a good qualifying race, I like this track a lot,  I have had a lot of good races here. The jump out of the gate wasn’t the best, I saw there was places I was losing time to Tim but I was able to adjust and make the pass to win the qualifying race which is good for tomorrow, hopefully I can get a good jump on the start and be on the inside again.”

Arminas Jasikonis, “Today is not the day we wanted, I had a not so good start then also crashed on the first lap so I had to come from dead last, anyway my riding felt good, it’s just a pity for the gate pick tomorrow. It is not going to be easy but for sure we will do our best.”

Brian Bogers,“Last weekend was quite good, especially the second race, so this was very good but the goal for me is just to keep building. This weekend so far has not really been good but every Saturday I struggle and Sunday is normally better so I’m focused on tomorrow.”

MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten:1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 25:05.809; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:02.638; 3. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), +0:30.238; 4. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:32.829; 5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Yamaha), +0:34.891; 6. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +0:35.788; 7. Julien Lieber (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:43.707; 8. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:50.157; 9. Pauls Jonass (LAT, Husqvarna), +0:52.361; 10. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:54.146.

Bottom Photos: 1. Alessandro Lupino; 2. Clement Desalle

While the MXGP Qualifying hosted insane battles throughout the MX2 action was even more intense! At the start of the race Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado had the lead ahead of F&H Racing Kawasaki’s Henry Jacobi and the other Red Bull KTM of Tom Vialle. Meanwhile Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha Official MX2’s Ben Watson was buried at the back of the field after crashing in the first turn.

Jacobi went for the lead straight away but Prado fought back to hold the position all while the red plated Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider Thomas Kjer Olsen watched from 3rd position. A slight mistake later in the first lap gave Jacobi just the space needed to take over the lead.

As the lead pair continued to fight BIKE IT DRT Kawasaki’s Darian Sanayei lost 4th to Honda 114 Motorsports’ Mitch Evans. Sanayei then fell victim to BUD Racing Kawasaki’s Brian Moreau and F&H Kawasaki Racing Team’s Roan Van de Moosdijk.

Back at the front the intensity was high with Prado taking the lead from Jacobi alongside Pit Lane, but the German didn’t let Prado slip away, instead he retook the premier position 4 turns later. Making the most impressive move of the race was Olsen who shot the gap between the pair in a corner for the lead. Olsen’s 2 for 1 caught both Jacobi and Prado off guard but their rivalry was yet to be finished.

During the final lap Prado tried to push the issue on Jacobi multiple times, in the first attempt Jacobi shut the door but on the second Prado made the pass however quick reactions from the #29 saw him cut down and fly back into 2nd. At the finish it was Olsen’s race craft winning out by 3.4 seconds ahead of Jacobi and another 9 tenths of a second ahead of Prado. Evans took 4th as Honda Redmoto Assomotor’s Mathys Boisrame made a last lap pass to get 5th over Van de Moosdijk.

Thomas Kjer Olsen,“I got a 3rd place start and I was right behind them…I saw they were both battling pretty hard and I wanted to stay right on them in case I got an opportunity like I did. It was amazing to pass both of them in the same corner and get out front then ride my own lines. It is nice to win another qualifying race, it sets me up perfect on the gate for tomorrow.”

Jed Beaton, “The new team is very different but I am really enjoying it and the bike is really awesome. Last weekend there was a lot of positives to take away but unfortunately I had that crash. It was a pretty big crash and I am still a bit stiff from that one but all in all it is slowly coming together, the track here is good this weekend so hopefully I just take 2 good starts tomorrow and get a good result.”

MX2 Qualifying Race Top Ten1. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), 23:52.428; 2. Henry Jacobi (GER, Kawasaki), +0:03.423; 3. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:04.370; 4. Mitchell Evans (AUS, Honda), +0:17.924; 5. Mathys Boisrame (FRA, Honda), +0:22.798; 6. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, Kawasaki), +0:24.797; 7. Brian Strubhart Moreau (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:27.642; 8. Michele Cervellin (ITA, Yamaha), +0:29.892; 9. Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +0:31.514; 10. Adam Sterry (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:33.048

Main Photo: Thomas Kjer Olsen

Bottom Photo: 1. Henry Jacobi; 2. Jorge Prado