PR- Bright conditions and a bumpy and rutty hard-pack Pietramurata track was the setting for the Arco di Trento fixture and the first of three Grands Prix staged in Italy this season. Around the tight and narrow layout on the foot of the Dolomite mountain range the starting prowess of both man and machinery was key to success at this fourth event of twenty on the 2018 MXGP schedule.
The milestones from this particular GP: Red Bull KTM continuing to rule both GP classes, Jorge Prado secured his first MX2 ‘spurs’ of the year, Herlings recovers the red plate with his 70th career triumph and all three KTM 450 SX-Fs filled the top three positions for the initial phases of the second MXGP moto.
Herlings aced his first holeshot of 2018 to win the first moto with a comfortable margin over Clement Desalle and Romain Febvre. The Dutchman, who celebrated his first Qualification Heat success of the season on Saturday, then overhauled teammate Tony Cairoli early in the second moto to again pull free. The 1-1 represents Herlings’ second double of the season (his third overall GP win) and takes his chequered flag tally to five from eight outings. #84 now has 70 winner’s trophies and heads the MXGP standings by ten points from Cairoli.
Herlings: “It is amazing to win in this way and we have worked hard on our starts. There was a big improvement for us this weekend and I hope we can keep it this way. This is not one of my favourite tracks even though I enjoy coming here. It was a great two days. It is pretty amazing to have won so many races and with just one brand. There is a lot of love with KTM and to do all of that together is pretty special. I’m looking forward to Portugal.”
Tony Cairoli classified 3rd. The world champion was the focal point for most of the crowd within the Pietramurata complex. He struggled with a stone lodged in his front brake in the first moto and persevered to capture fourth position. In the second race the 32 year old made the ideal getaway from the line but was powerless to match Herling’s rhythm. He was runner-up at the end of thirty minutes and two laps.
Cairoli: “For the championship it is good to always finish on the podium but I wanted a bit more today. Jeffrey was really fast in that second moto and it was difficult to beat him for speed and consistency. In the first moto something happened in the first corner and some stones hit my brake and the front [end] felt strange for the first few laps. It was very sketchy. I dropped to eleventh and then the wheel felt free again so I could push but then it was hard to pass on this track. We will try to be more consistent at the next GP.”
A solid weekend for Glenn Coldenhoff with 5th overall. #259 rode to 7th place in the opening moto and was part of a flying triple behind Herlings and Cairoli in the second sprint. Glenn lost a slot to Clement Desalle but equalled his highest ranking of the year to-date with a steady 4th.
Coldenhoff: “Close to the podium again and I had a great weekend. I made a slight mistake at the start of the first moto and managed to pass two guys to finish seventh; which was OK but I wasn’t that happy with it. I had a great start in the second moto and I was third for a while. Desalle started pushing and I made a few errors but after a breather I could push again and stay with him. Fifth overall is a decent result and I’d like more weekends like this. The bike is great and I enjoy riding it. I’m happy.”
Using the power and agility of the KTM 250 SX-F Jorge Prado swept to the opening moto holeshot and proceeded to dominate the race. The Spaniard, who toasted his very first Grand Prix win at Pietramurata last year in what was just his sixth GP appearance, repeated the blast-off in the second moto. Leading from the front and the initial drag down the start straight the sixteen year old again set about setting the pace at the front of the field. He was eventually hunted and demoted to second spot by a rampaging Thomas Covington. Prado’s 1-2 was still good enough for him to record back-to-back victories at Trentino.
Prado: “It is great to win here again and to close up some points in the championship. I’m pretty confident on this kind of dirt and these kinds of tracks. It was a very decent weekend. The goal was to get a good start and that meant first place and I did that on Saturday and the first moto, with a clear track you can ride a bit more relaxed. My lap-times were good every time I went out and I am getting more confident and stronger.”
World Champion Pauls Jonass who had claimed victory in all six motos in 2018 coming into the weekend was 5th at the end of the day. #1 rarely looked in confident form across the Pietramurata surface and was 4th in moto one and suffered a collision with Henry Jacobi in the second dash to finish 9th. The Latvian keeps hold of the red plate with a 28 point advantage over Prado.
Jonass: “I would say the speed was there this weekend but I didn’t get the best starts. The track was really difficult for passing and I didn’t find my flow. Fifth overall is still OK and some good points for the championship so we’ll look towards the next GP.”
MXGP floats west in the coming days and to the red soil of Agueda for the Grand Prix of Portugal next weekend.
Next race: MXGP of Portugal, Agueda, April 15th
Words: KTM Pics: Ray Archer