Tuesday, June 8

HONDA PRO RACING - MX1

Honda Racing MX1 Race Summary – St Jean d’Angely, France

Following heavy overnight thunderstorms the MX1 riders woke up to a track that had changed drastically from the day before. However, the rain had stopped and it wasn’t long before it began to dry out, although by the time it did the ruts had become deep, adding further technicality to the hillside track. The cloudy conditions were a big change from the blazing hot sunshine and 30 degree temperatures of Saturday and it seemed that riders welcomed the cooler operating conditions.


Davide Guarneri had qualified best of the Honda riders, lining up in an impressive 5th spot. His LS Honda team-mate Tanel Leok finished 11th in the qualifying heat and was hoping for a better start on race day. Both CAS Honda riders, Gareth Swanepoel and Evgeny Bobryshev, had also qualified outside the top 10 and had the same ambition. Unfortunately Honda Racing MX Martin were left spectating, as MX1 rider Jimmy Albertson did not travel to France due to an injury sustained at his home GP in Glen Helen, USA just a week before.

In the first moto, Antonio Cairoli grabbed the holeshot on his KTM and began to move away from the field. Guarneri slipped his Honda CRF450R into second and began pursuit. Leok had got the good start he was hoping for and moved into the leading pack in a strong 5th spot.

CAS Honda riders Gareth Swanepoel and Evgeny Bobryshev had gated well and in the early stages and all 4 Honda’s were running in the top ten. At half-distance Guarneri and Leok had settled into 5th and 6th place respectively and were sticking in consistently close lap times as they battled between themselves. Suzuki man Steve Ramon and Cairoli were battling for the lead, swapping places in a fascinating dice.
As the sun began to break through, Leok turned the heat up on his Italian team mate before a small mistake put pay to his challenge. He eventually had to settle for 6th place, just one spot behind his team mate Guarneri in 5th. CAS riders Evgeny Bobryshev and Gareth Swanepoel had both failed to make in-roads into the top 10 and finished in 11th and 13th respectively. The race was won by Cairoli with Ramon keeping him honest all the way to the line.


In the 2nd moto, Guarneri got the holeshot and moved away from the field in the early parts of lap one. Yamaha’s David Philippaerts soon began to apply the pressure as the riders got into their stride. A scruffy second lap saw the Italian drop to 3rd behind Philippaerts and Suzuki’s Clement Desalle. Both CAS riders had poor starts and were running outside the top 10 as the race developed. At half distance, Bobryshev was forced to retire when a wire broke off the ignition coil, a rare and unfortunate event that left the Russian stranded at the bottom of one of the steep climbs.

Towards the later part of the race Guarneri was involved in a fearsome tussle with Ken de Dycker, at one point putting a fantastic overtake on him while in mid air, but his challenge faded and he was forced to settle for 8th, one place ahead of his team mate Leok. The remaining CAS Honda rider, Gareth Swanepoel, also suffered technical difficulties and came over the line in 13th place.

The result saw 3 Honda riders in the overall top 10 classification and a best result of the season for Guarneri in 6th overall. The Italian is certainly starting to come good and looks like mounting further challenges to the podium throughout the second half of the season.

Davide Guarneri, LS Motors Honda
In the end not bad, I took more points today then at any time in the rest of the season but I am not happy about the second moto as I made many mistakes and chose the wrong lines in the early part of the race and did not find my rhythm. The first moto went well but it is not really my favourite kind of track. I prefer it when it is not so rutted. I do not have the agility because of my size, I work better when it is slippery. I am happy but I want more.

Tanel Leok, LS Motors Honda
It was ok but can be better. I was hampered by illness as I have tonsillitis and I began to get quite tired towards the end of the second moto. My starts were good. I like the track, it is my kind of track, quite physical and demanding. It was just a shame that I was not on top form.

Evegeny Bobryshev, CAS Honda
It wasn’t so good. I had a big crash on Saturday. I had good speed but made a mistake and I went down. Sunday there was a lot of rain and the first race was difficult, lots of ruts and slippy ruts that made it hard going. I was stiff on the bike and not relaxed and therefore did not have good speed. In the second race I was much better. I started to find good lines and was much faster. The bike had a problem when a stone took out the cables and the bike just stopped. It wasn’t such a good day but I am hoping to find more luck next time out.

Roger Harvey, Honda Off-road Manager
It’s been a hard track, very difficult conditions. Leok and Guarneri were riding excellently but could have probably gone better in the second moto. Guarneri is struggling a little bit with fitness but you can see the confidence growing and his smooth style is a pleasure to watch. Leok did well to battle against illness all weekend and I am sure he will be back stronger in Germany. The CAS guys had an unfortunate weekend with technical difficulties and Bobryshev has hit a bit of a difficult patch with crashes which is expected in his first season in MX1. The Martin boys were sad not be involved in MX1 but we just have to wait until Jimmy comes back which should be next time out in Teutschental.