As with last weekend’s GP, this weekend’s races see a second return to one of the host countries on the circuit. With round three having visited Fermo, the second Italian GP of the year heads to Faenza for the 15th and penultimate date on the 2012 calendar. With both premier championships in their final throes, this weekend will almost definitely see the crowning of the MX1 champion, but closer to home, with the fixture also hosting the final round of the EMX250, Faenza will be the venue that Mel Pocock is awarded his first (of hopefully many!) championship titles. Whilst other British riders have thrown their hat into the ring with the full MX2 schedule, Mel and his team have played it smart this year, choosing to concentrate on the EMX class as an entry level class. Mel has obviously had to step up a few times with Osborne and Tonus on the sick bench, but generally the focus has been on learning his craft with other riders of his experience. Compare his progress to others like Banks Browne who elected to go the MX2 route and the difference in fortunes is startling. Assuming all goes to plan, Moto wants to give a big congratulations Mel on a fantastic and masterful performance in EMX250.
OK so our last preview was not exactly correct. Cairoli did not lead every lap of both races, but his relentless progress towards the front in race 1 and his good placement in race 2 allowed him to win both races yet again and claim another 50 championship points. Antonio now sits a comfortable 76 points ahead of second place man Desalle and with only four races and 100 points left in the 2012 season, Cairoli is likely to win the MX1 title in the first moto at Faenza in front of a home crowd of extremely excitable Italians. With such a prospect, the atmosphere will be more charged than a nylon blanket in a thunderstorm and expect an orchestra of chainsaws, cow bells and fog horns to accompany every turn of the champions wheels round the tough circuit.
Aside from Cairoli, the podium in Lierop would have been as predicted with Nagl and DeDycker going well until Max’s nasty crash that left him battered and minus a foot peg. Ken is on a roll at the moment so expect him to do well again in Italy. Other notables were Leok’s unexpected form in the sand to score a podium ahead of Desalle and finally – fanfare please – Honda has a good day at a GP! Evgeny Bobryshev showed some of the enormous potential that he has (and that Honda signed him for) to record a fourth overall. OK so it’s not done much to improve his eleventh place but still it was great to see ‘Bobby’ on form.
Yet all this pales into the background for British fans compared to the storming GP that Shaun Simpson had in Lierop. SS24 was blindingly good in the relentless sand, running at the sharp end of the pack in both races. He was unluckily pipped at the post for a third place finish in the second race as Bobryshev and Leok squeezed past in the final part on the race but hats off to Shaun, this was a fantastically ridden couple of races within a stacked GP field.
With so many riders suddenly finding form, Faenza might prove a bit of a mix up in the overall points, and strong performances could boost end of season places. With the French riders certain to do well in Italy, the results are hard to call – except the winner!
Prediction Cairoli, Nagl, Desalle
On the scorecard it looks like Herlings’ victory in Lierop was similar to Cairoli’s. Yet it was so much more. Herlings destroyed the entire MX2 class like an orange artillery shell. His performance at last weekend’s GP was nothing short of magical. To lap up to second place is truly staggering, and brings back memories of Ricky Carmichael in the 2006 AMA series at Millville when RC4 was at his peak. But Carmichael managed his feat in wet conditions where most of the field was struggling, whereas Herlings put on his own master class in perfect conditions in Lierop. This may have been the best sand race win ever seen.
Taking this type of performance forward to Faenza, Herlings looks unstoppable in his quest for the 2012 title. With Tommy scoring only 36 points in Lierop, his chances of snatching the MX2 title from the KTM rider are nonetheless slimmer than a cigarette paper on a diet. Searle is 65 points adrift behind Herlings and despite his best efforts cannot seem to close the gap.
Van Horebeek rode strong in Lierop too, the only one to escape the Moto 1 onslaught, and looks set to continue this form into Italy. As predicted, Jake Nicholls moved up to fourth in the championship and will want to maintain this momentum into the final two rounds.
But what about Anstie? At precisely the time he needed to show his sand prowess, especially with Simpson having a good couple of races, Max comes up with the goods in fine style. Neil Prince might have been regretting his selection if Simpson was the only one kicking butt in the sand, but Max’s stormer for an unexpectedly strong result and podium is exactly why he was picked. If he can find a couple of these rides at the Nations, he’s going to be on the box with Jake and Tommy. Three good results in Faenza might not win the championship for our boys, but hell it will make them head for Lommel with a bit of well needed swagger…..
Prediction Herlings, Searle, Anstie
Words Julian Challis
Image by Ray Chuss