Cairoli and Herlings on their battle at Valkenswaard
PR- After the sunny conditions of Argentina MXGP rediscovered a harsh winter climate at the Eurocircuit for the traditional Grand Prix of Europe and the visit to southern Holland. Rain, snow and plunging temperatures that dropped as low as -2 degrees added an extra physical edge to the bumpy Dutch sand.
Antonio Cairoli aced the first holeshot but Herlings, who started from 19th pick in the gate, was already up to third position by the third lap. Closing in on the Italian Herlings then benefitted from a mistake by Cairoli when he slipped and fell through one of the deep (and few) hillside ruts. In the second moto Cairoli was even stronger and formed a comprehensive lead only for Herlings to again cut through and find a way to pass his teammate. The Dutchman’s 1-1 was his first with the KTM 450 SX-F on a surface where he was raced undefeated for seven years with the KTM 250 SX-F; taking his record to an amazing eight from nine victories. Cairoli was runner-up overall with a 2-2. Glenn Coldenhoff almost made the day a 1-2-3 for the Red Bull KTM crew. His 5-4 scorecard saw him draw level on points with Gautier Paulin for the final podium position but #259 had to sit 4th overall due to the second moto ranking.
Herlings heads Cairoli in the MXGP standings by just 6 points with Coldenhoff 6th in the table.
Herlings: “I’m super-happy. We worked hard for this and it seems like we are getting better every week. I want to thank the team and everybody around us who has been pushing so hard. To get results like this is amazing. I’ve been riding at Red Sands a lot and the guys there did a great job with the track. I hope we’ll find some kinder temperatures next weekend!”
Cairoli: “A very good race again and we managed to make it to the podium. That’s the goal: to always be top three. I knew Jeffrey would be very strong here at his home GP and that I’d struggled in Valkenswaard for the last few years. I made some mistakes and we need to work on those and figure out why I am crashing but at least we saved the result today and made the podium. I want to be strong and healthy each weekend and again we showed we have a different speed from the rest. The aim is to try and win the next one and have fun again.”
Coldenhoff: “It was a great weekend and I felt very good on both days. I had two starts and rode solid both times. I was a little tight in the first one because I wanted to follow those guys [Cairoli and Herlings] and I wasn’t smooth. I had to slow down a little bit. It was very tough because there were a few guys behind me. I pulled another good start in the secod moto and I could see Tony was going way-faster! I tried to follow Jeffrey as well but quickly understood those two were a level above everyone else. Anyway, same points as the third place guy and it is such a shame not to be on the podium here because I have never made it at Valkenswaard. I’m going home a little disappointed but knowing that I rode well and being up there was good for my confidence.”
MX2 belonged to Pauls Jonass for his second consecutive Grand Prix success (and his second triumph at Valkenswaard on the trot). The Latvian remains unbeaten in 2018 after running to another 1-1 rout ahead of lively teammate Jorge Prado. A close chase between the pair in the second moto and around the damp and rough Valkenswaard sand meant a tense finale of the contest for overall GP honours. With second position overall Prado claimed his first podium finish of the year.
Jonass: “It’s nice to start defending the title with 1-1 in the two first GPs and I so happy with the results so far. Today wasn’t so easy because I was a bit sick after Argentina. I was a bit stiff and not so aggressive as usual. Anyway, we have one week now to get ready for Spain. I hope it is warmer there because here was so cold! I was happy to see a lot of Latvian flags out there!”
Prado: “The first GP was not the best so I’m happy I could get on the podium here; especially last year when I messed it up. I’m really glad to take second place and to be fighting for first place both times with Pauls. In Argentina I could not really feel my strength and all my work in the winter but today I felt better than ever and was very consistent. Pauls is riding really well and the other guys are far behind so this means we are riding good. I’m happy. Now for the home GP.”
The Grand Prix of la Comunitat Valenciana at the new Red Sands circuit will bring MXGP together for round three next weekend.
Next race: MXGP of la Comunitat Valenciana, Red Sands, March 25th
Words: KTM Pics: Ray Archer/ KTM
Results MXGP Europe 2018
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), KTM (1-1)
2. Tony Cairoli (ITA), KTM (2-2)
3. Gautier Paulin (FRA), Husqvarna (7-3)
4. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED), KTM (5-4)
5. Romain Febvre (FRA), Yamaha (6-5)
Standings MXGP 2018 after 2 of 19 rounds
1. Herlings, 97 points
2. Cairoli, 91
3. Clement Desalle, 67
4. Febvre, 65
5. Paulin, 64
10. Coldenhoff, 55
Results MX2 Europe 2018
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT), KTM (1-1)
2. Jorge Prado (SPA), KTM (2-2)
3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN), Husqvarna (3-3)
4. Conrad Mewse (GBR), KTM (5-4)
5. Thomas Covington (USA), Husqvarna (7-5)
Standings MX2 2018 after 2 of 19 rounds
1. Pauls Jonass, 100 points
2. Olsen, 82
3. Hunter Lawrence, 67
4. Jorge Prado, 63
5. Ben Watson, 61