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Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Jeffrey Herlings rode to 3rd with his KTM 450 SX-F at Sardegna. Does this result mean the Bullet is back?

MXGP faced its first authentic sandy test of 2024 as the Grand Prix of Sardegna plunged the MXGP and MX2 classes into the rough and rippled Riola Sardo terrain for round three of twenty in 2024. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing toasted an MXGP podium on the sunny Italian island as Jeffrey Herlings rode to 3rd with his KTM 450 SX-F in Sardegna and Liam Everts was the pick of the finishers in MX2 with 5th place scored on the KTM 250 SX-F.

For the fourth year in a row the challenging Riola Sardo sand was the scene for a demanding and technical MXGP Grand Prix. The circuit is familiar to most of the FIM World Championship field as a regular winter testing location as well as a habitual host of a date in the Internazionali d’Italia ‘pre-season’ series. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing travelled to Sardinia after races in Argentina and Spain and with some of the squad keeping in competitive trim during domestic competition last weekend.
On the international stage Riola was a stern test of man and machine with a hot spring climate adding to the difficulty. Jeffrey Herlings was the best performer from the four-rider roster on Saturday for the RAM Qualification Heat. The Dutchman was 3rd in MXGP despite battling some discomfort from a practice fall. Liam Everts managed a 6th in MX2 while Andrea Adamo recovered from a first corner crash to 12th while Sacha Coenen was 10th.
Herlings was the main focus for the MXGP motos and as the most prolific racer in the history of the sport continues his path back to full speed, confidence and potential. Although he needed some painkillers, Jeffrey attacked the sand to confirm 3rd place in the first race and his second top-three classification of the season so far. In the second outing he started better and was stalking the rear wheel of leader Jorge Prado when a small slip dropped him to 3rd. He confirmed 3-3 for the day: his first silverware of 2024 MXGP after marking 8th and 4th in the previous rounds.
Adamo’s determined rise to 3rd place in the second MX2 race should have given him a scorecard of 4-3 for the day and ensured a second podium finish in a row. The Italian was disqualified however for failing to stop in the pitlane when he briefly entered during the 30 minutes and 2 lap distance and therefore dropped to 12th overall.
Everts, still making gains after his pre-season thumb injury, left Sardinia with a well-earned top five with 8th and 4th across the sand. His 5th position was four spots better than Coenen who again showed his superb starting skills with two holeshots (now up to 5 in total for the season) but mistakes nudged him down to 13-6. All three factory KTM 250 SX-Fs were roaming in the leading places out of the gate in the second moto.
MXGP retains an Italian flavor but heads to the mainland for the Grand Prix of Trentino next weekend. The series will change sand, sea and sun for the epic Dolomite mountain landscape and punishing Arco hardpack. The 2023 event was notable as the scene of Andrea Adamo’s maiden GP victory and Liam Everts first career podium result.
Jeffrey Herlings, 3rd and 3rd for 3rd overall in MXGP: “I had a massive one on Saturday morning and had the wind knocked out of me, which didn’t help. I had an issue with my ribs all weekend then and the track was so bumpy. No excuses…but it meant the GP was a struggle. The second moto was the first time this season I had the pace to go with Jorge…until the crash! Overall, this was a step forward. I’m not as fast as the other guys yet but I’m much closer than I was in Argentina and closer again than I was in Spain. I’ll keep growing. It’s a long season and a lot more motos to go. I’m happy to be back on the podium for now.”