Gautier Paulin and Tommy Searle scored a resounding double victory for Kawasaki at the second round of the FIM World Motocross Championship at Sevlievo in Bulgaria.
On a warm sunny day on a hard dry pack track, Frenchman Paulin raced to the MX1 class win at the Bulgarian GP, taking second place in the first moto and first place in the second moto to secure the round win from fellow Frenchman Christophe Pourcel who also had a win and a second place finish for the day.
Paulin was awarded the round win due to his better result in the second moto with Red Bull KTM rider Antonio Cairoli rounded out the podium in third position.
Both Kawasaki riders moved quickly to the front in both races and neither Paulin nor Pourcel were ever seriously challenged by their rivals. The Bulgaria results sees Paulin move to second in the world standings, just nine points from the lead, whilst Pourcel, despite his disappointing display two weeks earlier at the series opener, is already back to fifth in the points.
Main Photo : Gautier Paulin scored a 2nd and a 1st on his way to the overall round win - Credit: Kawasaki Racing Team
The win marked Paulin's first win for his new team, and also marked the Kawasaki Racing Team's first GP victory since 2008.
"It's a very emotional day for me to win my first GP for the Kawasaki Racing Team." said Paulin. "I knew when I joined them that this was the right team for me and we have all worked hard all winter for this result."
"Even though I finished second in the first race I rode a little tight, but I felt good, the bike was perfect, and I really enjoyed my riding in the second race." Paulin concluded.
The second place overall along with the first moto win also proved that the team Christophe Pourcel started for himself looks to be successful decision with the Team CP377 bikes finishing second and tenth as his team mate and brother Sébastien Pourcel finished the day in tenth place.
Pourcel was happy with the weekends result after a tough opening GP at round one - Credit: Kawasaki Racing Team
Christophe Pourcel was feeling pleased to get himself and his new team on the podium after a bad weekend at the opening round in the Netherlands, after making some changes to the bike between rounds, Pourcel is feeling more comfortable on is machine.
"I knew that I had to get back on the box here after my bad weekend in the Netherlands." said Pourcel.
"We made some changes to the settings of the bike since then as it was actually too powerful for me and I couldn't give my all. And it worked." he added.
"I got two great starts and was soon able to build a gap in the first race, but Gautier surprised me in the second race. He was quickly five seconds ahead and we had the same speed so I couldn't catch him, but this is a great result for Team CP377." concluded the team owner/rider.
Following the two Kawasaki's home in third position was Italian rider Cairoli aboard his Red Bull KTM. Cairoli had a 4-3 result on his KTM 350 SX-F for his overall third to put the ghosts of last year's ride here in Bulgaria behind him when he injured his knee, making the first races of the 2011 season difficult.
The current MX1 champion was not unhappy with his performance and said he had the speed on a track that is certainly not his favourite.
"Today was really very hard," said Cairoli "When it gets like this you have to stay on one line and stay smooth and clean."
"I did make some mistakes and after 3-4 laps I had some arm pump and both Pourcel and Paulin were riding really good on this kind of track." he explained. "
I like my performance today. The speed was there and now I just have to train a bit more on this kind of surface and be confident going to Fermo next weekend." the Italian concluded.
Cairoli still holds the championship points lead in the MX1 class after his 3rd place finish Credit : R.Archer
It was also a very strong day for KTM rider Ken de Dycker the factory team's stand-in rider for the injured Max Nagl who was right up with the leaders in the second MX1 moto and even challenged Cairoli for third at the midpoint of the second race. De Dycker finished the day in a very impressive fourth place overall.
"I have won one race here before." De Dycker explained. "You need to get a good start and you need some luck."
For me it's still difficult because I don't know the bike so well yet. I have only had two GPs only six starts with the guys lined up next to me so I am still getting used to it." he concluded.
Evgeny Bobryshev defied pain and discomfort from a recently dislocated thumb to score an excellent fifth position overall and be the leading Honda rider across the line,
"I did my best so I'm happy." said Bobryshev. "I stayed on two wheels and made no mistakes."
"I had lots of pain on the impact of coming down the hills and jumps. It was hard to even hold on and the pain was pulsing. I had to slow down sometimes, but I didn't want to give up." the Russian rider explained.
"I just gritted my teeth and got on with it. The painkillers helped but not so much. I just hope it might be a bit better in Fermo. The team did a great job and the whole group has been really supportive so I am very thankful to them." he added.
Xavier Boog's sixth place gave Kawasaki three riders in the top six, while David Philippaerts was the highest finishing Yamaha rider in 7th position.
Desalle was looking strong before a big over the bars crash in race two ruined his day - Credit : Suzuki Racing
Clément Desalle looked like he was going to be a challenger for the final step on the podium after finishing third in the first moto after a hard fought battle with Cairoli in the closing stages of the first race. Desalle was in a great position to place himself on the podium for the second straight GP in race two before a big over the bars crash put him out of contention.
The result seen Desalle move from potential championship leader at the end of the day to now being placed fourth in the championship standings.
"The first moto was not too bad." stated Desalle. "I got into my rhythm and passed Cairoli and pushed all race to try and close on Paulin."
"Third was OK and some good points." he added.
"My start was similar in the second moto and again I got by Cairoli. I was riding my own race and trying not to take risks because the track was difficult; a small mistake could easily turn into a big one."
"I made a small error before the finish line double and it sent me out of shape after the take-off. I came up a bit short and made a big crash. The bars and radiator were bent and I lost time to stop and straighten the bike." he explained.
"I went out to try and get some points and managed three; better than nothing but it was not what I expected from this GP. This is part of racing though and I will continue to do my best. I have some pain in my ankle but nothing is broken and I will see if I can ride this week." Desalle Concluded.
Shaun Simpson finished in ninth place, with Sébastien Pourcel completing the top ten.
Australia's Dean Ferris aboard his ICE 1 Kawasaki has a successful return to racing after a pre season elbow injury has him sidelined for round one of the series. Ferris rode two consistant races, finishing 20th in the first race before improving to 16th in the second race.
Tommy Searle looks to be a real championship threat in 2012 - Credit: Kawasaki Racing Team
Just like the MX1 class, MX2 was dominated by green machines with Floride Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit's Tommy Searle having a near perfect weekend in Sevlievo.
After winning the qualifying race on Saturday, he went on to win his first overall round for the season with a 3-1 result. Searle was racing away with the opening race of the day before his front brake broke.
Even with no front brake Searle was still able to run a pace that made it difficult for his rivals to keep up, however his team mate, Joel Roelants eventually made the pass and went on to win the race. Jeffery Herlings was also able to capitalise on Searle's misfortune and moved to second place late in the race.
In the second race Searle was one again able to get to the front early and with not brake issues hampering his second race, he rode to the race win ahead of Herlings in second and Jeremy Van Horebeek.
Roelants finished the race in fourth spot handing the round win to Searle by the slimmest of margins with Herlings a single point behind the British rider and Roelants a further one point back in third.
"My Kawasaki is even faster than last year and I had no problem to take the holeshot in both motos." explained Searle. "That always make the races easier and I was unlucky not to have a double win this weekend."
"We're still not sure how it happened but I lost the front brake in the first race; I had to change my lines and it was difficult on a track with so many steep downhills but I only lost two places and I knew that a win in race two would give me the overall GP victory." he concluded.
Herlings second place finish was enough to hold onto the points lead in MX2 Credit : R.Archer
After a crash in the qualifying race on Saturday left Herlings with an outside gate pick for both races on Sunday, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider was very satisfied with his performance.
"My riding was really tight for the first six laps and it was pretty good towards the end." Herlings stated.
"In the second moto I got close to Tommy and I almost managed to pass him." he added
"Now I have a seven-point lead on Tommy and for the big picture we just lost one point. I really wanted to win the overall but there are still 14 rounds to go." Herlings concluded.
Roelants won the opening MX2 race before taking 4th in moto two - Credit: Kawasaki Racing Team
After never having a good result at the Sevlievo venue, Roelants was happy to be on the podium and put the performance down to a combination of his Kawasaki race machine and his great relationship with his team mate Searle.
"I never got a good result at this track before, but the team and the bike are so good." said Roelants.
"I quickly got into second place behind Tommy in the first race so I could see his lines and we built a big lead over the rest of the field." he explained.
"We have a really good relationship and help each other in training; when he had a problem I was able to take over for the moto win and back it up with another result in race two to end the day on the podium." he concluded.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Van Horebeek rode two solid motos this weekend and ended fourth overall. Max Anstie completed the top five this weekend thanks to his 6-5 result.