By Adam Simpson
THIS weekend will see the return of the 2017 MXGP World Championship following a two-week break.
Now in the second half of the season, round 13 of the series will see a packed field of rested riders return hungry to the hard-packed and technically challenging track at Loket.
Italy's Tony Cairoli currently leads the MXGP championship, with KTM Factory Racing team mate Pauls Jonass on top in the MX2 class. Cairoli has been on fantastic form so far this season and after taking a comfortable lead in the 2017 championship is currently the man to beat.
The 2016 MXGP champion Tim Gajser is said to now be fully recovered from his injuries and set to be back to full race pace after a difficult start to the season. Although he may be too far behind in the points to challenge for the championship, you can bet the HRC rider will be looking to be at the front of the pack, battling with the front runners for the rest of the season.
“I have used the last three weeks to get fit with the focus on coming back stronger this weekend,” Gajser told Youthstream. “I have spent some time out mountain biking and just enjoying training again. Loket is very slick hard surface but I really like tracks like that and last year here I had a really good race with Max Nagl so I hope that I can have some good battles again this weekend.”
Another rider to keep an eye out for in the Cech Republic will be Britain's Max Anstie. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider has been adapting well since moving up to the MXGP class from the MX2 at the start of this year. After getting on his first MXGP podium a few races ago, he'll be looking to continue his improvements in Loket.
Last year's MXGP of Czech Republic winner Max Nagl cannot be counted out as a serious contender this weekend either.
On the hardware front, the Czech MXGP will see Yamaha's Arnaud Tonus debut the all new 2018 YZ450F, so all eyes will be on the Swiss rider to see if the changes to the blue bike take effect on the race track. The new bike, with its electric start and supposedly improved braking and traction, has received good feedback from riders so far
"I'm pleased I get to ride the 2018 YZ450F at Loket this weekend.” Tonus told Youthstream. “I got to test it a couple of months ago and I felt good straight away. Since then, I haven't had too much time on the bike but I have been able to get out on it a few times and I feel really comfortable on it. My speed is good, and the bike feels strong so I am confident I can do well on it."
As always qualifying will take place on Saturday with the racing on Sunday. For more info on the MXGP of Loket head on over to www.mxgp.com
Current MXGP Championship Points Standings:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 478 points
2. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 387 p.
3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 383 p.
4. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 382 p.
5. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 310 p.
6. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 309 p.
7. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 289 p.
8. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 267 p.
9. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 267 p.
10. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, YAM), 253 p.
Current MX2 Championship Points Standings:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 501 points
2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 463 p.
3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 377 p.
4. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 363 p.
5. Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), 355 p.
6. Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 303 p.
7. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 241 p.
8. Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), 233 p.
9. Brent Van doninck (BEL, YAM), 221 p.
10. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, SUZ), 199 p.
11. Michele Cervellin (ITA, HON), 187 p.