The new one-day format in MXGP does not allow time for a Qualifying Race, which means the riders need to make any required changes to the set-up of their YZ450FM’s in one practice session, and in that same practice session, they need to put in a fast lap. Lap times in the single practice outing determined gate-pick, so the faster the lap, the better the gate pick.
The lap times in Timed Practice were close with less than 1-second splitting Jeremy Seewer in second position with a 1:55.174 lap to Paulin in tenth with a 1:56.080. Between them, Tonus’ 1:55.863 lap was good enough for eighth.
In the opening race, Tonus and Seewer had their YZ450FM’s well-placed after rocketing out of the gate to enter turn-one inside the top-five. Tonus exited the first turn in third position while Seewer got shuffled back to eighth in the frantic hustle of the first lap. Seewer was fit, fast and vigilant in his pursuit to fourth position which he inherited after Tonus was thrown over the ‘bars and out of third position with 10-minutes left on the clock.
After a spectacular crash, Tonus was shaken and came home in 16th, while Seewer was nudged back to fifth at the flag by Jeffrey Herlings.
Good starts are vital in MXGP particularly at fast-paced venues where all of the riders are relative in speed. Paulin found himself stuck in tenth after stalling the bike but was able to capitalize on the fall of his teammate Tonus to finish ninth.
There is always talk of a first turn crash here in Kegums with its infamous 180-degree right-hander renown for the havoc it causes. While all three riders got around it cleanly in the opening race, Race 2 was quite opposite with both Paulin and Tonus tangled in turn-one carnage. Paulin did not fall in the mess at turn-one, but the handlebar of the fallen rider freakishly went inside of his boot.
As Paulin tried to free himself, Seewer put chase to the reigning World Champion Tim Gajser and entered a thrilling battle for second place. With 5 minutes left on the clock, Gajser fell while attempting a pass on Glenn Coldenhoff for the lead gifting Seewer second position.
With Gajser down, the 26-year-old Swiss star could sense an opportunity for a first-ever MXGP race win. He cut the gap to Coldenhoff down to 1-second going into the final lap of the race and put it all on the line as he took the challenge for the win to the flag.
With torn pants and an aching ankle, Paulin ran fast lap times and managed to fight back from last position to 11th.
Tonus struggled to bounce back from his enormous crash in Race 1 and with another two crashes in Race 2, he only managed to finish 25th for 20th overall.
The next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship will take place in two days, on Wednesday 12th August, right here in Kegums, Latvia.