Suzuki's Kevin Strijbos and KTM's Jeffrey Herlings won the MXGP and MX2 qualifying heats at Uddevalla in Sweden to qualify on pole for tomorrow's GP, the 11th round of the championship.
While it was obvious Herlings had lost none of his speed following an operation to plate the collarbone he broke on the first lap of the German GP two weeks ago, the week off has not seen world champ Tony Cairoli back to his best. Still nursing the hand he broke at the Italian GP yet rode with in both Italy and Germany, the KTM rider could only muster 12th place. He was a single spot in front of returning Brit Nathan Watson.
The start of the race saw Husqvarna's Dean Ferris lead from Strijbos, Gautier Paulin and Glenn Coldenhoff around turn one but Strijbos soon took the lead while new red plate holder Romain Febvre was on the charge through the pack.
After passing Coldenhoff, Febvre turned the battle between Ferris and Paulin into a three-way scrap but neither could match his phenomenal speed. As the race went on, Febvre continued to shave seconds off of his lap times and soon challenged Strijbos for the lead. After a solid three lap effort, Febvre settled for second while his Yamaha team-mate Jeremy Van Horebeek started to challenge Ferris until they collided and went down which left Van Horebeek eighth and Ferris back in 11th.
Brit Jake Nicholls had to pit on the first lap for repairs but fought back to 24th ion his return to GP racing after more than a year out through injury.
The race was missing Steven Frossard who spilt from his British-based KTM team on the eve of the event. It's believed he may be signed up by Kawasaki for the rest of the season as Ryan Villopoto is out injured.
he MX2 qualifier went down to the wire as the four fastest riders in the world went bar-to-bar to determine their grid positions for tomorrows racing.
Herlings couldn't have asked for a better return form injury as led the way around turn one from his team-mate Pauls Jonass. But with Jonass dropping back fast, second place at the end of lap one was occupied by Kawasaki's Jordi Tixier, celebrating the news he has signed for the factory Kawasaki team in his move to the MXGP class next season. Tixier was pushed for five laps by Yamaha's Valentin Guillod who who got around Tixier, while right in on the battle was Honda's Tim Gajser who threw everything he had at Tixier but couldn't get the job done.
Herlings managed to hold off Guillod for his eighth qualifying heat victory of the season, while Tixier and Gajser were only 2.7 seconds back in third and fourth.
MX2 Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 24:21.717; 2. Valentin Guillod (SUI, Yamaha), +0:00.869; 3. Jordi Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:02.062; 4. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:02.764; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:18.826; 6. Max Anstie (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:19.978; 7. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:26.868; 8. Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +0:29.807; 9. Julien Lieber (BEL, Yamaha), +0:33.020; 10. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, Honda), +0:37.581
MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), 24:12.498; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:04.589; 3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:12.068; 4. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:18.685; 5. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +0:20.152; 6. Tommy Searle (GBR, KTM), +0:21.503; 7. Todd Waters (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:29.100; 8. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:36.430; 9. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:37.860; 10. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:38.600.