Two chequered flags, two more trophies and another brace of podium champagne soakings; the Grand Prix of Portugal was another memorable day in the FIM Motocross World Championship for Monster Energy…just as much for the action on show in MX1 and MX2 as the silverware bagged.
Agueda was a tough nut to crack as a wet and slippery track in the first rain-hit motos and then a varied, bumpier and faster prospect as the sun appeared later in the afternoon. 18,000 spectators ignored the changeable skies and were treated to a fantastic duel in MX1 between Kawasaki’s Gautier Paulin and KTM’s Tony Cairoli that went down to the last lap with the Monster Energy rookie taking the chequered flag. The thrills were just as plentiful in MX2 where Kawasaki’s Tommy Searle edged a duel with title rival Jeffrey Herlings down to the wire and defeated the Dutchman on the final run to the finish line.
Paulin was second overall thanks to a scorecard of 4-1 in the two 35 minute and 2 lap motos but his flight to first position and demotion of an attacking Cairoli within sight of the flag was the final proof that the talented Frenchman has made the grade in the premier class. Countryman Christophe Pourcel was fourth with 2-4 on the day.
Searle banished a couple of mistakes from the first moto – where he took third place – to shadow Herlings for the entire second race. The pair blazed a trail at a phenomenal pace, leaving Honda’s Max Anstie in third by well over a minute. They lapped up to seventh position and a controversial finish that involved Herlings making a mistake trying to pass impressive Yamaha rider Mel Pocock who was in seventh spot was a dramatic climax to proceedings.
Paulin is third in the MX1 standings while Searle continues to breath down Herlings neck and 24 points separate the pair in the dice for the MX2 crown.
The motocross guys won’t pause for breath. The teams are already packed up and on the road back north and through to Bastogne for the Grand Prix of Belgium next week. Round eight of the series will not only happen on a cool and kick-ass new track but also under the watchful glare of AMA Supercross champ and Monster Energy Kawasaki star Ryan Villopoto.
Don’t forget that another American legend, Ricky Carmichael, will be in Europe for his Ricky Carmichael University track days at FatCat in the UK on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th, right after the action in Belgium. There are still places available. Email firstname.lastname@example.org