MXGP latest: Paulin on 3 Grands Prix in one week, Jonass’ training smash recovery & the Latvia formbook
-OTOR #201 will be online next week and one of the features inside will involve views and thoughts from MXGP riders on the prospect of running three Grands Prix in seven days. The scheme will take place twice: for rounds 3-4-5 in Latvia next month, and at Lommel, Belgium in October for races 12-13-14 of the truncated 2020 calendar. The hard-pack of Faenza in Italy will stage two GPs in five days in September. Racers will have a slight ‘reprieve’ thanks to the one-day format in place for European events in 2020 but the motos will come thick and fast. Essentially, they will have to swap one kind of intensity for another. Monster Energy Yamaha’s Gautier Paulin was one athlete that we asked about the ‘shifted landscape’ and the prospect of eight of the fourteen races slated in 2020 taking place on sand.
“Racing three GPs in one week is very different but the ‘one-day’ makes it less physical,” the Frenchman said. “It’s a totally new situation that we will have to adapt to, but that’s fine for me. I’m positive about the tracks we have on the calendar although I would not be surprised if we’ll see some changes.”
“I hope we’ll have some variation, even if we do stay in just three-four countries,” Paulin added. “The main thing is to be back racing for the sponsors and for the fans. For sure, it will be a strange year in almost every aspect because of the smaller crowds and the social distancing when motocross is a close sport to the fans.”
Check out the magazine next Wednesday to learn how other FIM world championship competitors will handle the new-look contest.
-Somebody who is unlikely to be on the line in Kegums is local hero, Rockstar Energy IceOne Husqvarna rider Pauls Jonass, who is rehabbing from a practice crash that saw the 23-year old suffer three broken ribs among other injuries. “I’m not sure when I’ll be back on the bike and ready to race again, it’s pretty unclear,” the former MX2 World Champion said.
The Latvian is recovering in his native homeland and suffered similar frustration at the beginning of 2019 and his rookie term in the premier class when he missed vital winter training due to right knee surgery. He went-on to score three podiums in an impressive debut season on the factory FC 450. Now the former Red Bull KTM rider has to plot another recovery path due to the costly training accident.
“I wouldn’t say it was a stupid crash, but things went wrong and I landed off the jump without the bike,” he explained from a physical rehab centre where he is undergoing multiple daily sessions and treatments to heal faster. “It was a big impact, and I was almost two weeks in hospital before coming to the centre here to get back on my feet and to get going again as soon as possible.”
“In the end the injury was a bit more serious than we thought,” he added. “I had three broken ribs, six broken spinous processes and some damaged vertebrae that thankfully did not need any surgery. I just need to do as much exercise as possible at the moment but by doing ‘baby-steps’ and I cannot rush. I’m unsure when I will be on the bike but I’m looking forward to it.”
Jonass’ angst not only comes from being unable to compete on home turf next month but by the setback to his progress to further establish his name in MXGP. “It was at the worst time,” he adds. “It was my last week in Latvia before I planned to head back to Belgium and start working with the team. I was feeling so good on the bike and we’d done a lot of work.”
-And what about Kegums? The circuit and organisers have enjoyed positive funding and support since they came into the Grand Prix picture in 2009 and hosted the Motocross of Nations in 2014. The venue has demonstrated accessibility and flexibility in the past through revisions and changes to the layout and embracing European Championship support classes from the first days of EMX joining the MXGP race card. Depending on the weather the Kegums loose/sandy soil can be rough and physical or dry, slick (with a hard base) and fast.
It has been a happy hunting ground for Red Bull KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings, HRC’s Tim Gajser and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Romain Febvre: the trio have won nine of the ten motos between them since 2015. Herlings in particular has been rampant. Kegums was the site of his very first MXGP class triumph in 2017. He did a moto double that year and also in his superlative 2018 championship term. He claimed the first moto of 2019 with a broken foot before sitting out the second race ahead of his second set of surgery in what was a miserable campaign. Herlings therefore has claimed five of the last six races at Kegums.
By Adam Wheeler @ontrackoffroad
Photos by Ray Archer @rayarcherphoto