Herlings secures MXGP title at home round | News
Red Bull Factory KTM's Jeffrey Herlings has secured the 2018 FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship, his first world championship with the KTM 450 SX-F in the premier class.
Setting off from the first pick in the gate after posting his twelfth Qualification Heat victory on Saturday, Herlings passed Tony Cairoli before the end of the first lap and was cheered all the way to the chequered flag. The 24-year-old cruised to the line almost forty seconds ahead of the pack and began the celebrations. He provoked a gasp from most of the circuit in the second moto with an early race crash but then hiked the entertainment factor by cutting his way through to win once more. It was Herlings’ seventh Grand Prix triumph in a row and 14th moto success; he was last beaten in Indonesia in July.
After 19 Grands Prix (of which he contested 18) and 36 motos, Herlings has won 16 and 31 and never finished lower than third in those 36 starts. He has dropped only 17 points all season and boasts a 100% podium record in just his second season in the category.
Tony Cairoli sealed the position of number two for 2018 meaning Red Bull KTM has classified 1-2 for the second consecutive year. The Sicilian has finished on the rostrum 14 times despite dealing with small injuries to his thumb, hand and knee and raised his runner-up trophy thanks to a 2-2 at Assen; walking the rostrum for the first time since the Grand Prix of Belgium.
Herlings: “It has been an amazing day and it was a blessing to be in my shoes. Everyone had been saying ‘enjoy the day’ but it just ‘went’! To do this in front of my home crowd here at the TT Circuit Assen is amazing: a special day and it was nice to do it in style. I pretty much led the whole of the first moto and then in between races it was hard to stay focussed because there are many friends, family, sponsors who want to congratulate you and I couldn’t really do my normal routine! I tried to pass Glenn in the second moto but went down and had to pick up from tenth position and then work to get back to the lead. I managed to get little gap over Tony. It was a great day and it has been a special year. I have to give it up to Red Bull KTM; we’ve been together through this all the way so a big thanks to all the team and all the guys at the factory. Going 1-1, winning the championship, home crowd: enough said.”
Cairoli: “I feel good. It has been a long season and many things happened. At the beginning I was good and very prepared but in the last part I made a lot of mistakes and also mentally I was going up and down with some crashes, mistake and this-and-that. No complaints, like Jeffrey said he won 16 races from 19, so he was the fastest and the strongest all the time. We have to work if we want to keep with him and it’s an honour to finish behind Jeffrey because he is the fastest rider in the world at the moment; I didn’t finish second to a slow guy. I know I can still be competitive and have to work a bit harder to be strong the whole race but it is a nice challenge. Thanks to Red Bull KTM for making all this happen and being 1-2 in the championship again. We’ll see for the next two races. For sure Italy in a couple of weeks will be very busy for me and then the Motocross of Nations also. There was an incredible crowd here and it was good for the sport.”
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “This is a special one. Jeffrey has been with us since 2009 and we have been through many ups-and-downs. When he was a kid everything was just getting better and better but then he got some nasty injuries and there were many tough days with this boy, but when you get to know him and see how much effort he puts in to get the results then he deserves this title more than anyone. Tony also had a fantastic season and it is impressive to see what he did but then Jeffrey just topped it off with his work. All our guys make a big effort but Jeffrey is outstanding. It is very emotional to see him at this level. For many years people have talked about him being the best rider in the world but he got injured before he could prove it on paper. Finally he did it, so it’s a special moment for all of us.”