Last weekend might prove to be the turning point of the MXGP season.
Tony Cairoli had all the momentum coming in and was expected to win both motos and close the gap to Jeffrey Herlings to six points at least, presuming the Dutchman could even get two runner-up finishes after breaking his collarbone 16 days before.
In race one it looked to be going the way it should have, Cairoli had the pace no-one could match even if Herlings rode a very strong race to take second and hold off, Desalle, Gajser and Febvre in the last couple of laps.
But it was race two that really changed everything. Herlings promised to not go for the win but within a lap he had moved past both Cairoli and Tim Gajser to take the lead! Cairoli went from first to third and immediately lifted the intensity, catching Herlings until he got kicked over the bars coming out of the left hand corner. Amazingly it was Herlings who pressured Cairoli into a mistake and not the other way round.
But Cairoli wasn’t done. He regrouped despite pain in his thumb and caught Herlings from eight seconds back, then with three laps to go, Herlings bit the dust only for Cairoli to crash a few turns later in the exact same corner he crashed earlier in moto!
Herlings consequently took a heroic win and then promptly apologised to his team for winning! It means he keeps his 12 point lead in the title chase as Cairoli nurses a badly swollen thumb as they enter part of two of the 2018 Indonesian MXGP story.
Herlings got a huge shot of momentum and Cairoli lost his in one corner, twice. The pressure will be on Cairoli even more this weekend, but he isn’t a nine time champ for nothing and he will fight back, but was this the key moment Cairoli handed back the the MXGP crown to teammate and legendary rival or is it just the latest twist in a fascinating championship?