MXGP rediscovered sunshine and pleasant temperatures in Agueda for the Grand Prix of Portugal and the sixth round of eighteen in the FIM World Championship. The rain and cold of Mantova, Italy the previous weekend was forgotten with decent racing conditions and a rough, fast and flowing race track that was surrounded by plenty of Spanish fans keen to see Jorge Prado repeat his 2018 triumph at the venue.
Tony Cairoli was a major protagonist in both MXGP motos after securing his second consecutive Pole Position on Saturday. Tim Gajser closely pursued him in the first race until a small mistake landing into a corner saw the nine-times world champion stall his racebike and concede control to the Slovenian. Cairoli fought back hard but the Honda man took the chequered flag. Both riders pushed for the lead again in the second moto, with Clement Desalle also involved in the formative stages, but another mistake by the championship leader gave Gajser a winnable margin.
Cairoli went 2-2 on the day and still holds the red plate at the top of the standings by 34 points from Gajser. #222 has also finished either first or second in all six fixtures of MXGP to-date and his scorecard in Portugal meant a 165th career podium (113 with Red Bull KTM).
Tony Cairoli: “On one side I’m happy because the goal is to always be on the podium but in another way I’m disappointed. In the first moto I made a silly mistake and I stalled the bike but I could get back to Tim. In the second I was swapping lines. Where I crashed was a lottery, there was a lot of mud and I chose another line at the last moment and there was a rock that twisted my front end. I’m happy I didn’t hurt myself.”
Jorge Prado was unstoppable in both MX2 motos at Agueda. The Spaniard kept a menacing Mitchell Evans at bay in the first race and beat the Australian again, as well as the fast Henry Jacobi in the second.
Prado has entered ten of the twelve motos so far this season (missing the British Grand Prix through injury) and has won all of them, including the last eight in a row in Holland, Italy (twice) and now Portugal. His success in Agueda has allowed him to resume the top spot in the championship standings for the first time since round one in Argentina. He defends a narrow 3 point gap over Thomas Kjer Olsen who was second in Portugal.
Tom Vialle suffered from a crash in Saturday’s qualification heat that put him 19th in the gate for the Grand Prix motos on Sunday. The French rookie made it to 6th in the first moto and was then 13th in the second for 7th overall. The points he gathered in his first visit to Agueda allowed #28 to enter the top five of the championship.
Jorge Prado: “This is the closest to a home GP and so many fans came out and were cheering for me, so I really enjoyed it. I went top of the table today and I think everybody wants a race like this. It was a great weekend. I had two great starts and could make it happen again. We needed to get that red plate.”
Tom Vialle: “The weekend started well with 4th in Timed Practice but the crash in the Qualification Heat made things complicated today. I was happy with the first moto and 6th, but the second race was difficult after the start so 13th was OK. 7th overall means I’m pretty happy with the weekend. I cannot wait to be in France now. It’s a good track and I’m excited to ride in front of the French fans. I’ll be giving my maximum as always.”
MXGP travels to the hard-pack hillside of St Jean D’Angely for the Grand Prix of France next weekend and the third meeting in as many weeks.
Words: KTM Pic: Ray Archer