The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team came away from the sixth round of the MXGP and MX2 World Championships in Kegums, Latvia, with two reasons to celebrate.
Once again Jeffrey Herlings was the stand out rider for the team, sealing another two race wins for a sixth straight MX2 GP victory. He has won every race of the season in a very dominant style. The Dutch rider simply made short work of a track that was soft and sketchy on the surface but frequently hard and slick underneath, and where many other riders were caught out because of the level of difficulty it offered. He crossed the line 32 seconds in front of the second-placed rider in the opening moto, and by more than a minute in race two, surprising riders down to eighth place as he charged past them with apparent ease.
Herlings: “I felt good all weekend and I started out fast in the practices so I got the inside gate for the qualifying, which is pretty good for this track. We managed to pull a good start and won the qualifying for the best gate pick for the main races. Both starts were good for us. I think I was fourth at the start of the first race and got to the front in the first two laps and managed to win. Then I pulled a holeshot in the second moto and did what I had to do.” Herlings said he suffered with a little arm pump in the first moto but put it down to the big time gap between the warm-up and the races.
It was not such a successful day out for Herlings’ teammate Pauls Jonass, racing in front of his home crowd in Latvia. Jonass had a solid third in the first race but got spat off his KTM 250 SX-F just seven minutes into the second race and had to fight his way back into the points from place 22nd. He did well to scramble back to 14th place to save overall seventh. He is currently third in the championship, but Herlings is way out in front with 300 points, and a 70-point lead over second placed Jeremy Seewer.
Jonass: “Everything was going quite good until the last moto. I was second in qualifying and third in the first moto and my riding was pretty good except for the last moto. We changed the suspension a little and maybe that didn’t work out for me. There was a crash at the beginning of the second moto, then I crashed again on my own and I’m really disappointed that my riding was bad in the first lap. But I have a lot of things to learn and the season is long. Now I’ll go home and do the work so we get back to where we should be.”
Tony Cairoli was the second fastest qualifier on his KTM 450 SX-F and got away well in his first race, which quickly developed into a tough three-way battle between him, Tim Gajser and Max Nagl. Initially Cairoli held off a hard-charging Gajser in the opening laps then sat at second until three laps before the end when Nagl also made the pass and he had to settle for third place. Meanwhile Cairoli’s younger teammate Glenn Coldenhoff got tangled in a multi-rider first lap melee and had to fight back from well down in the field. He did well to eventually cross the line in tenth place.
Cairoli had another fast start in the second moto but once again was hotly pursued by Gajser and Nagl, who in the early stages both went down when Gajser made a mistake in the wave section and took Nagl down with him. This left a battle at the front of the pack between Cairoli and French rider Romain Febvre who whittled away at Cairoli’s lead to finally make the pass with eight minutes left on the clock.
With both Gajser and Nagl on the attack, the overall GP result was not decided until the final stretch. In the end, Gajser’s fourth place finish in race two was enough to give him the overall just a single point ahead of Cairoli, with Febvre one point behind him, Febvre now holds a one-point lead in the championship over Gajser. Cairoli, who was also on the podium in the last round in Patagonia, is on the ascendency and increasingly finding form and confidence after a pre-season injury setback. Coldenhoff’s 10-15 moto result put him at 13th overall in Kegums.
Cairoli: “I’m still missing the feeling that I’ve been looking for. I know that the beginning of the season I wasn’t ready but now its getting better and better. I’m happy about the season so far except perhaps the race in Mexico where we messed up a bit and I lost a lot of points, otherwise we would be very close in the championship. But I am always in the top five and I’m looking forward to the next GP. This one was close to the win.” Cairoli said he was still not in 100% condition, adding: “We still have a lot of work to do. For next weekend my goal, as always, is to win the GP and to stay on the podium for the championship.”
Coldenhoff: “A lot went wrong for me this weekend. We worked all day yesterday to find a good setup for the bike and this morning it looked like we had found it because I felt much better. I felt good all day, but I had some bad luck. A few guys moved at the start of the first moto and I almost hit the gate, but luckily I was able to stay behind it. I managed to go solid into the first turn but then I held up by someone. I still finished tenth, which wasn’t so bad. The speed was okay and I felt good out there, I think I was fourth at the start of the second moto but Townley crashed in the first lap and a few others went down. Then I crashed as well and the bike was stuck on a jump and it took me a while to get going again. What is positive is that I was riding well. Now I will work hard, we will do some tests next week and try to bounce back at Teutschenthal.”
KTM’s two Factory Juniors Jorge Prado of Spain and New Zealander Josiah Natzke were also in action at Kegums in the EMX250 class this weekend after moving up from a successful season in the EMX125 competition where they finished 1-2 in the championship.
Prado, still not completely fit from a pre-season injury picked up a 12-12 for overall 11th but admitted he was lacking race practice and was riding a little stiff. “The start is important here and I didn’t have such a good position. I was in the middle of the gate and I got the holeshot but in heat one I rode very stiff and that makes me really tired. I was very motivated going into race two and thought I could do better. I tried to go to the front in the early laps but I got stuck behind one rider and I lost my rhythm. I just need more riding and race practice and for sure it will be better next weekend in Germany.”
Next Race: May 8, 2016 – Teutschenthal (GER)
Results MXGP Kegums 2016
1. Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda (1-4)
2. Tony Cairoli (ITA), KTM (3-2)
3. Romain Febvre (FRA), Yamaha (5-1)
4. Jeremy van Horebeek (BEL), Yamaha (4-3)
5. Max Nagl (GER), Husqvarna (2-5)
Standings MXGP 2016 after 6 of 18 rounds
1. Febvre, 260 points
2. Gajser, 259
3. Cairoli, 213
4. Nagl, 203
5. Van Horebeek, 200
Results MX2 Kegums 2016
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), KTM (1-1)
2. Max Anstie (GBR), Husqvarna (2-2)
3. Jeremy Seewer (SUI), Suzuki (4-3)
4. Petar Petrov (BUL), Kawasaki (6-4)
5. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA), Kawasaki (5-6)
Standings MX2 2016 after 6 of 18 rounds
1. Herlings, 300 points
2. Seewer, 230
3. Jonass, 193
4. Petrov, 165
5. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS), Yamaha, 163
Results EMX250 Kegums 2016
1. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN), Husqvarna (1-1)
2. Bas Vaessen (NED), Suzuki (2-5)
3. Darian Sanayei (USA), Kawasaki (6-3)
4. Kevin Wouts (BEL), KTM (9-2)
5. Maxime Renaux (FRA), Yamaha (5-4)
Standings EMX250 2016 after 2 of 10 rounds
1. Kjer Olsen, 90 points
2. Hunter Lawrence (AUS), Kawasaki, 70
3. Wouts, 64
4. Vaessen, 63
5. Heibye, 60