Dunlop’s MX1 rookie Gautier Paulin has moved up to third place in the Motocross World Championship with just two rounds remaining, starting this Sunday at Faenza.
Paulin came within one point of a podium during the first Italian MX1 round of this season, held at Fermo in April, and regained third in the title chase after solid points in the deep sand of Lierop last Sunday in The Netherlands.
While 5-9 finishes were not a cause for celebration, they moved the 2012 grand prix winner ahead of countryman Christophe Pourcel in the Championship, where Paulin is now also the leading Kawasaki rider.
Paulin said: “In the first heat I got a great start and found a good rhythm to finish fifth. It was positive, but my second start was not so good and I nearly crashed when Nagl and Gonçalves collided; then I made some mistakes and finished ninth. I was hoping for better, but the track was not as technical as usual and it was another new experience.”
With four motos and 100 points remaining, Paulin still has a mathematical shot at second in the final standings, although his main goal is likely to be (I think there is a word missing here) further podiums to help defend third as the series returns to his more favoured hard-packed dirt.
Team-mate Xavier Boog was eleventh overall at Lierop, but is within striking distance of sixth in the World Championship.
Boog said: “My starts were not so great, but I don’t want to look for excuses. I did my best to finish both races in the top twelve and score some points.”
Going faster at Faenza
Located 50km from Bologna, Faenza was last present on the MX1 calendar in 2009 and offers a typically hilly and hard-packed Italian challenge.
Paulin took victory in the MX2 class during swamp-like conditions at the 2009 event, but a ‘completely renovated layout with new infrastructure’ is promised for this weekend, which is officially titled the Grand Prix of Europe.
Best Points of the Year for Bobryshev
Paulin was one of three Dunlop riders to feature inside the top three during the Lierop races – Honda World Motocross team-mates Evgeny Bobryshev and Rui Goncalves also making appearances at the sharp end.
Having struggled with injuries for much of the year, the deep, churning sand seemed an unlikely place for Bobryshev to claim his biggest points haul of the season.
Yet that’s exactly what the Russian did – seventh after a fall in moto one being followed by fourth in moto two, where Bobryshev ran as high as third and showed plenty of heart by again passing Sean Simpson on the very final lap.
Bobryshev said: “We made some little steps overnight with the suspension that made me feel better and we are definitely going in the right direction overall. I just need a little bit more time training on the sand tracks to get myself in the perfect condition. My aim is just to stay consistent for the last two races and enjoy my riding while continuing to train hard.”
Team-mate Goncalves gated well to hold third early in the opening moto in Benelux, but dropped back to 14th, prompting bike alterations between races. Another excellent start for moto two then counted for nothing when second place Max Nagl fell just in front him, bringing Goncalves down.
Goncalves, who recovered to eighth, said: “I was pretty happy with how I was riding, but frustrated with how the weekend turned out because it could have been a lot easier if things went more smoothly. There’s two grands prix to go, so I’ll keep working hard to try and bring the good results home.”
“No brilliant results last week, but Gautier’s consistency paid out – he is now third in the World Championship! This is great news for him, Kawasaki and Dunlop. We now have two more races to go and I am confident he can secure his third place, which is great for a rookie in the MX1 class. Now I look forward to Faenza which wasn’t on the calendar last year, but we know what to expect and are very well prepared. It looks like a promising GP, last weekend’s performances showed that there is more than one of our riders capable to be on the podium.”
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