PR- Round thirteen of twenty in 2018 MXGP meant another hot episode of action in Indonesia and the second of back-to-back dates in the country. After the cloudy humidity of Pangkal Pinang the teams and riders faced the searing mid-30s heat of Semarang with a wide, fast and spectacular clay circuit hosting the Grand Prix of Asia.
Jeffrey Herlings aced an emphatic return from collarbone surgery to own both Grands Prix in Asia on his KTM 450 SX-F. The Dutchman was finally able to train and ride with a degree of normality after his surprising success in Pangkal Pinang and went to Semarang with rising confidence. He deposed of Tim Gajser late in the first moto to win, and then controlled the second moto from the front to record 19 chequered flags from the 26 run in the 2018 competition so far.
The 23 year old was able to extend his lead in the championship from 12 to 24 points over teammate Tony Cairoli. The World Champion suffered through two long races with an injured left thumb to register results of 3-4. The ranking gave #222 4th place overall and meant that he missed the MXGP podium for just the third time in 2018.
Glenn Coldenhoff was 17th overall. The Dutchman had initially chased hard and placed in the top ten of the first moto but was then penalised by ten positions after race direction adjudged #259 to have jumped while medical flags were being waved. He classified 14th in the second dash.
Herlings: “I don’t think we could have dreamt of these results. We came to Indonesia totally unprepared but to go 2-1 last week and then even better today – with the Qualification Heat and both motos – is absolutely awesome. We couldn’t have wished for anything better. This is not the ‘normal’ Jeffrey Herling yet but to leave Indonesia with two GP wins is a blessing. Red Bull KTM have done such an incredible job and I loved spending all this time with them. The team gave me a perfect bike and I would not be winning without them. I’m now looking forward to Loket in two weeks time. It is not my favourite track but the goal will be as many points as possible.”
Cairoli: “I was very worried this week because I had a lot of pain and until Friday I could barely ride around on a scooter! I tried on Wednesday and it was so painful so I knew it would be hard to race, especially at this hard-pack track that is so tough on the landings. On Saturday it was almost impossible to ride without painkillers and for Sunday we decided to have an injection. The pain slowed a little bit but only for 15-20 minutes. The first moto was good actually; third place and I didn’t expect that I could be top five with this problem. It was a surprise. I had a good start in the second moto but was pushed a little bit wide by Jeffrey on the first corner and we both lost the lead as we were 1-2. I made another mistake on the jump, came short and hurt the thumb again so I dropped back to ninth and I knew I needed to regroup. In the end fourth was good and just one point from the podium. We know we have lost some points for the championship but there are still a lot of GPs to come.”
Coldenhoff: “I didn’t feel that great on the track on Saturday and had a bad start in the first moto on Sunday; it was really hard to come through and not easy to pass. In the end I should have been eighth but was penalised for not respecting the yellow flags. Normally I’m the first person to slow when I see the flags but this time I really could not see them in time. We complained after the moto but nothing could be done. 18th was really disappointing. I made some small mistakes in the second moto but was very far back. I gave everything I had but I think it wasn’t my moto. I don’t really know what happened but we’ll analyse it and work on it. We need to improve and forget this one. I’m not happy going home but on the other side I am happy to be going home! I want to re-group, work hard and come back swinging in Loket.”
Jorge Prado confirmed his status as Spain’s most successful Grand Prix rider ever with his sixth Grand Prix win of 2018 on the KTM 250 SX-F. The teenager ran to second place behind charging World Champion and teammate Pauls Jonass in the first race of 30 minutes and 2 laps duration but profited from a fall by the Latvian on the opening corner of the second moto.
Prado was free to escape to his eighth moto triumph and Jonass confirmed the resilient speed he had shown all weekend to fight his way back to 6th. #1’s 1-6 allowed him to walk the podium for the ninth occasion this year, alongside Prado who now has eleven trophies.
Sensationally the duo is now tied at the top of the MX2 championship with seven rounds and fourteen sprints left to dispute. Jonass keeps the red plate courtesy of his superior moto win advantage (12 to Prado’s 8).
Prado: “I had a great weekend. The track looked really good when we arrived on Friday and I thought this would be a decent place for me, even if the dirt is not the best for my riding style. I really enjoyed it and I’m happy with the overall win and to level with Pauls on points; I could not wish for a better weekend.”
Jonass: “This GP was much better than the last so I cannot be too disappointed as I tried my best and just had some bad luck at the beginning of the second moto. The speed and the fitness was there as was my feeling on the track. I’m really looking forward to get back to Europe. It has been a long week and I want to get back to a normal training programme and focus on making some more points again in the championship and to get that gap again.”
Now for the long journey home. MXGP will have a free weekend to recover from the travel and the jetlag back in Europe before the slick hard-pack of Loket and the Grand Prix of Czech Republic awaits on July 22nd.
Words: KTM Pic: Ray Archer