Ryan Villopoto Claims Maiden MXGP Victory With 1-3 Result

Clement Desalle Claims MXGP Red Plate

Author: Aaryn Minerds


Ryan Villopoto clinched victory for the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team in stifling heat at the Nakhonchaisri raceway, which hosted the Thai round of the FIM World MXGP Motocross.

The ten times US champion showed an immediate liking for the man-made track 35 miles west of the Thai capital Bangkok as he won the qualification race by an amazing 33 seconds as the hard work of midweek suspension testing in Europe paid dividends.

With temperatures soaring above 100 degrees Fahrenheit RV2 was content to control the first GP moto by a smaller margin on race day, but was never seriously challenged after sweeping past teammate Tyla Rattray for the lead before turn three.

"We only had two days to test when we went back to Europe but we made good progress with the bike." Villopoto stated after the race. "We made some big suspension changes and then some fine tuning here.

"I think the track here is not only new for all of us, it is also a little more jumpy than the usual GP track and suited me. For sure there will be weeks when a track suits me best, and other weeks when the track suits the European guys.

"I didn't ride this sort of heat for one and a half years, and it even started snowing when we were training in Belgium on Tuesday, so it was a shock change for all of us. I guess I have some things to learn too. I also backed off my pace in the qualifier but I think the other guys did so even more to save energy in the heat. There's a strategy to GP racing but I'm gradually getting used to it.

"I got pushed around a little in the first few turns of race two but when I got to third I just tried to be smart, and at this stage of the season a safe third is better than risking a crash. It's cool to come here to Thailand and see things which you would normally only see in the movies; it's a bizarre experience."
Clement Desalle went 2-2 to take second place overall and the championship lead - Credit: Suzuki Racing
Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP‰Ûªs Clement Desalle who took his works RM-Z450 to second place overall at Nakhonchaisri. With his second podium in a row the Belgian also now heads the MXGP standings by nine points over Antonio Cairoli.

Desalle opened the weekend brightly with the fastest lap in Timed Practice and a decent performance in the Qualification Heat on Saturday to secure second choice in the gate. Two lively starts continued the momentum on Sunday. He had no answer to Ryan Villopoto‰Ûªs speed in the first race and cruised to second place, trying to conserve as much energy as possible in the intense heat.

In the second moto he was able to harry Cairoli in the formative stages and when it was not possible to catch the Sicilian - Desalle also had a problem with his goggles when a stone hit the lens and knocked some dirt inside - defended his margin over Villopoto and was virtually faultless. From the first four motos of the year he has yet to finish lower than second.

‰ÛÏYesterday when I did my first lap of the track here I was quite surprised by it but then it became better and better." Desalle said. "My starts were better today and that's a positive thing. Two strong results and that‰Ûªs important because my goal for the moment is to be like that every moto.

"I‰Ûªm happy with my feeling on the bike and the control I have. I am trying to enjoy myself as much as possible because I know that is when the results come. We will do some testing now and I‰Ûªm excited about the chance to get a bit better in small areas. It is great to have the red plate for the first time since 2013. The bike will look nice in Argentina!‰Û
Antonio Cairoli was solid in race one and rocketed to a big race win in moto 2 to finish third overall - Credit: Ray Archer
MXGP Red Bull KTM factory racing's Antonio Cairoli had mixed fortunes on race one for his fifth place but came out strong and powerful in his second race to secure an impressive win to advance to overall third. Ryan Villopoto (1-3) took the GP win and Clement Desalle (2-2) was overall second.

Cairoli‰Ûªs dominant second-race win, where he took the flag almost 10-seconds ahead of Desalle and over 13 seconds in front of Villopoto, left little doubt about his intentions for the coming season. It was also payback time after a crash in qualifying on Saturday.

‰ÛÏI made some mistakes over the weekend, especially in the qualifying." Cairoli said. "Then in the race you need to have a good start to be in front and you need to be on the inside on the corner and that was very important.

"I was a bit too wide with my seventh place then I got pushed to the outside. I had to regroup and settle my speed but after I went outside the track I was back at about seventeenth and I tried to charge to be in front again.

"It was not bad to end up fifth but not what I expected from my race. Then I was able to get a good start in my second race to be out in front and to make a good rhythm on a track that was very dangerous. I like jumps but this was way too much and also some were very sketchy. It was very hot and you are not completely focuses so it‰Ûªs very easy to make a mistake."
Romain Febvre was outstanding in just his second MXGP race - Credit: Yamaha
Yamaha Factory Racing Yamalube‰Ûªs Romain Febvre rode superbly in the draining conditions to finish fourth overall and almost snare his first silverware on the works YZ450FM.

The Frenchman, in just his second appearance in blue for what was the second fixture of eighteen in the 2015 series, scored a top three result in the first moto with third place and then followed up with a fourth in the second race to classify fourth overall and just three points from the rostrum.

‰ÛÏYesterday I struggled with my starts so we improved the bike for today and I just had to focus." Febvre said. "If you don't get that part of the race right then its possible to lose fifteen seconds on the front guys.

"I was up there in the first heat, passed a few and was third for most of the moto. I was a bit stressed. I had a big gap over Nagl but it was the first time on the 450 being there with the ‰Û÷big guys‰Ûª and I put too much pressure on myself. I lost a lot of energy because of that.

"The team worked so hard to put the bike on the podium and I tried my best also ‰ÛÒ like every time ‰ÛÒ and it felt great to get into the top three. At the start of the second moto I was looking for the GP overall podium but I did not get away so well.

"I made some good moves but I was stuck behind Butron. I lost a lot of seconds to the leaders. I caught Jeremy, who was struggling, but then that was it. I almost had the same points as Cairoli and nearly made it.

"I‰Ûªm happy though. It has been a really tough GP, the hardest. We came from minus temperatures to more than thirty degrees!‰Û
Kevin Strijbos gave Suzuki two riders inside the top five - Credit: Suzuki
Kevin Strijbos finished in fifth place for his Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP team and felt an improvement with his right wrist compared to the discomfort he suffered in Qatar last week.

The Belgian took to the gate in 13th after an eventful qualification on Saturday. In the first moto he was able to circulate as high as third after Tyla Rattray and Gautier Paulin collided and eventually crossed the finish line in sixth.

His start was a little lacklustre in the second race and he rode well to push into the top five. The ‰Û÷#22‰Ûª is now seventh in the standings and 12 points from Gautier Paulin.

‰ÛÏIt was OK today." Strijbos said. "I wasn‰Ûªt great out of the gate in the first race but I turned inside and came out well, in sixth or something. I got up to fifth and then Tyla and Paulin came together which let me get to third.

"I tried to push but felt straight away that the pace was too fast. So I slowed down a bit. I had a lot of trouble with the heat and I saw others struggling and crashing. Sixth was OK. In the second moto I was better out of the gate but still not good enough and I again went for the inside and it didn't work out as well.

"My riding was pretty good and I came up to fifth; the top five was not too bad. Considering my wrist and being unable to train I think I can be happy. We definitely need to be better though and we have two weeks now before Argentina.‰Û
Crashes in both races cost Gautier Pualin a much better result in Thailand - Credit: Honda Racing
Gautier Paulin suffered from crashes in both races, finishing the day in 6th place aboard his HRC Factory Honda, while round one winner Max Nagl could only manage 7th aboard his Husqvarna at round two.

Australian Todd Waters racing for the ICE One Factory Husqvarna team put in two solid races, moving forward throught the field in each to recored a 8th place overall result.

Monster Energy Kawasaki's Tyla Rattray finished the day in 9th overall after starting both moto's up front, with David PHilippaerts rounded out the top ten.

Australian Dean Ferris finished the round in 13th overall off the back of a fine 9th place result in moto two. A crash late in the first moto while running inside the top ten cost the Queensland a chance of a top ten overall result for the weekend as he returns to full fitness.

MX1 Round Results:
1. Ryan Villopoto - 45 Pts
2. Clement Desalle - 44 Pts
3. Antonio Cairoli - 41 Pts
4. Romain Febvre - 38 Pts
5. Kevin Strijbos - 31 Pts
6. Gautier Paulin - 29 Pts
7. Max Nagl - 28 Pts
8. Todd Waters - 26 Pts
9. Tyla Rattray - 26 Pts
10. David Philippaerts - 20 Pts
11. Evgeny Bobryshev - 20 Pts
12. Shaun Simpson - 17 Pts
13. Dean Ferris - 13 Pts
14. Glenn Coldenhoff - 13 Pts
15. Davide Guarneri - 11 Pts
16. Rui Goncalves - 11 Pts
17. Jose Butron - 8 Pts
18. Paul Coates - 7 Pts
19. Steven Frossard - 6 Pts
20. Kei Yamamoto - 5 Pts
MX1 Podium - Credit: Ray Archer
MX1 Championship Standings After Round 2:
1. Clement Desalle - 88 Pts
2. Antonio Cairoli - 79 Pts
3. Max Nagl - 78 Pts
4. Ryan Villopoto - 70 Pts
5. Romain Febvre - 67 Pts
6. Gautier Paulin - 67 Pts
7. Kevin Strijbos - 55 Pts
8. Evgeny Bobryshev - 45 Pts
9. Todd Waters - 40 Pts
10. Shaun Simpson - 38 Pts
11. Tyla Rattray - 35 Pts
12. Jeremy Van Horebeek - 32 Pts
13. David Philippaerts - 31 Pts
14. Davide Guarneri - 28 Pts
15. Glenn Coldenhoff - 27 Pts
16. Jose Butron - 25 Pts
17. Dean Ferris - 17 Pts
18. Steven Frossard - 16 Pts
19. Rui Goncalves - 14 Pts
20. Ken de Dycker - 8 Pts

Top Image: Ryan Villopoto won his first MXGP Moto and Round in Thailand

Credit: Kawasaki Racing
Ryan Villopoto celebrates with his Monster Energy Kawasaki Team - Credit: Monster Energy Kawasaki

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