Dunlop heads to the tenth round of a tightening MX1 Motocross World Championship in Latvia this weekend chasing a repeat of last year’s podium finish.
A swampy race day at the previous Swedish round washed away hopes of a fourth 2012 Dunlop rostrum, after a second place for Evgeny Bobryshev in qualifying, but a cautious damage limitation ride saw premier-class rookie Gautier Paulin make significant gains in the championship.
The Kawasaki Racing rider claimed seventh overall at Uddevalla, his worst result of the year barring a mechanical non-start in Mexico. But with Antonio Cairoli falling victim to the conditions in both motos, Paulin’s previous 56-point deficit to the top has been reduced to 33 points, from new leader Clement Desalle.
Paulin declared: “I will continue to work hard; the season is not finished and we saw today that things can change very rapidly in the course of a single weekend.”
The Frenchman – who has collected three podiums, including one win, so far this year – is fourth in the championship with seven rounds and 350 points still to be decided, beginning at Kegums.
A continuous fixture on the World Championship calendar since 2009, the permanent Kegums circuit is set within a pine forest and features a hard-packed sandy surface.
Natural undulations have been skilfully used to spice up the otherwise flat topography and the 1.5km track is renowned for becoming extremely rough as the rear horsepower takes its toll.
The circuit is located 60km to the east of the Latvian capital Riga, which also contains the nearest airport.
Last year’s Latvian MX1 round saw a strong showing from Dunlop, with Bobryshev claiming a podium finish for third overall and Honda World Motocross team-mate Rui Goncalves ranked directly behind him in fourth.
Bigger Expectations for Boog
Having taken a moto win in Brazil, Paulin’s team-mate and countryman Xavier Boog has bigger expectations than the solid but unspectacular results he has posted since. Seventh in the championship, Boog is looking to regroup ahead of Kegums and the new Russian round one week later.
Boog said: “I’m not satisfied with my results at the moment; I have been finishing between sixth and tenth place in the last few races and that’s not what I’m looking for. I will have to regroup, then get back into training to prepare for Latvia and Russia.”
More ill-fortune for Honda Stars
Official Honda riders Bobryshev and Goncalves have been forced to endure a torrid run of injuries and ill-fortune this season, which continued at Uddevalla.
After his inspired ride in the qualifying race, Bobryshev settled into fourth in the sloppy first moto, but lost the front of his machine and struck his right arm on a rock. The injury forced the Russian to retire from both the race and event.
Bobryshev said: “While I was sliding down the track I could feel the stones cutting my skin and I looked down to see a big cut. The medical centre cleaned it up and stitched it, which will take four weeks to heal, so again we are in a bad situation. I am so disappointed. We just need some good weather and good track conditions, as this year has been so tough on everyone.”
Goncalves, having been hit by another rider in qualifying, put in a spirited charge in the opening race – only to suffer terminal mechanical problems. The Portuguese returned to take seventh in moto two.
Goncalves said: “It has been a tough beginning to the season and things haven’t gone my way yet with all the injuries and bad luck, but I want to thank the team for all their work and support. I hope things will turn my way soon because this has been the toughest start to a racing year ever, but I won’t give up.”
Dunlop Quote – Dunlop MX race coordinator Eddy Seel:
“What a weekend in Sweden… Cairoli with two DNFs, a new championship leader, the injury from Bobby and so much more! It was a very eventful weekend, that’s for sure. I hope Bobby is well and will be back soon! Rui Gonçalves made a strong second moto and both Kawasaki riders showed a solid performance. Now let’s look ahead to Latvia, last year was great over there so let’s hope to repeat this success. There is a great opportunity for Gautier to come even closer to the red plate! The fight is really exciting this year for the championship title and last weekend spiced it up again… I look very much forward to the Latvian GP and the rest of the season, I’m always ready at the podium with the yellow caps in my hand!”
Tyre Recommendation – MX31 front and rear
Comment – Soft medium sandy terrain
Secondary recommendation – In some rare cases MX11
Comment – The sand level can vary year on year, and MX11 provides an alternate tyre