While Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Antonio Cairoli seems to be doing what he does every year, making a nice gap between himself and his competition in the points race, there are a couple of traffic jams in the top ten.
With a 30 point lead over equal second placed riders Gautier Paulin and Jeremy Van Horebeek the always consistent Italian can’t really be happier than he is now. While the defending World Champion marches towards his 8th World title, his rivals are fighting hard for the honour of being his runner-up.
From second to fifth positions, only two points separate Gautier Paulin, Jeremy Van Horebeek, Clement Desalle and Max Nagl. What makes the battle even more exciting is the fact they all race for different teams, which makes the MXGP class interesting as KTM, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda factory teams go head to head for the greatest prize of all.
While Cairoli has gone 2-3-1-1-1-1 in the opening three rounds, the other top five riders have had the odd poorer result. Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team rider Paulin has gone 3-1-4-9-6-2, not a bad start to the season, but when you are racing Antonio Cairoli, it just isn’t good enough.
Yamaha Factory rider Van Horebeek has been the standout of the MXGP riders outside Cairoli, but has also struggled at times, starting the season with 5-5, but then going 3-3-2-4, brilliant stuff from the Belgian. Desalle, who races for the Rockstar Energy Suzuki World team, was coming off a long injury recovery was not his normal self in Qatar, scoring just 9-6, but has also been very consistent since with 2-2-3-3. HRC rider Nagl, who won the opening moto of the 2014 season, has gone 1-4-6-4-4-5, also very respectable.
While the guys from second to fifth are close, how about the guys from sixth to 10th? Just 12 points separate this group and it could get even tighter after the next few rounds are run.
The third Belgian in the top ten points race is Kevin Strijbos, and he also brings Suzuki another solid performer, although his 7-8-5-14-13-6 is not that impressive or consistent, for sure not after his brilliant start to the season with a qualification moto win.
Next up is Frenchman Steven Frossard, the second of the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team. Frossard is also back from a long injury period, but he has the potential to run with anyone, including Cairoli. His opening GP result of 4-2 was really impressive, unfortunately in Thailand he went 12-DNF, then followed that with 14-9 in Brazil.
Australian rider Todd Waters of the Red Bull Ice1 Husqvarna Factory Racing team could be the big improver as the series gets into the later rounds. Making his GP debut in Qatar and after a massive crash on the Friday he finished with 14-11, not that impressive, but then again not bad for a debutant. What has been impressive is his improvement, going 10-6-7-10 and looking stronger by the minute.
The last two Evgeny Bobryshev and Joel Roelants have been up and down, Bobryshev suffering from a foot injury going 8-9-11-5-5-DNF and Roelants finishing with 10-10-14-12-8-11, so consistent, but not fast enough just yet to climb into the top five. Full marks to Roelants, who is the only privateer in the top ten.
What is also interesting is the fact we have four Belgians in the top ten, two Frenchman, and one each from Germany, Australia, Russia, and Italy. Add to that the fact we have four Honda riders in the top ten, two Suzuki men, two Kawasaki, while Husqvarna and KTM have one rider each in the top ten.