Cairoli, Herlings, Prado and Coldenhoff talk Assen!
Jeffrey Herlings had the job ahead of him at the start of MX2. He had a DNF with a technical issue in Saturday’s qualifying and had to start from the outside gate. To complicate matters, there was a massive downpour at the Dutch circuit just before the opening moto, churning up the deep sand track and adding another level of difficulty for the riders.
Riders crashed all over the track in front of Herlings who had to find his way around the melee but Jorge Prado, fastest qualifier on the KTM 250 SX-F and the youngest member of the Red Bull KTM factory lineup was raising eyebrows out front. After 17 minutes, Herlings worked his way into third, while Prado had drifted back to a mid pack position. The race eventually went to Thomas Covington but Herlings claimed second to be in good shape for the second moto.
Meanwhile Prado had regrouped for the second race. He grabbed the holeshot and hung doggedly onto the race lead through the opening laps. Herlings eventually made the pass stick after lap six and began to pull away. To the excitement of the Dutch crowd he went on to win the race by 34 seconds, but Prado was second, enough to put him on the podium in third behind Dutch KTM rider Brian Bogers.
Herlings: “I think the weekend turned out very positive. We had some bad luck yesterday with the mechanical failure and I had a very bad gate pick regarding the weather circumstances. So I’m very happy to walk away with the win and to gain so many points on Seewer. So we are looking very good for the championship next weekend. I don’t want to think about but now it’s so close we just have to make it happen.” Speaking about the coming races in the USA, he commented: “It gives me more motivation to race against the Americans but we just have to concentrate on the championship and not on going head to head with those guys.”
Prado: “Yesterday was perfect and today was also pretty good. The first moto was difficult because the track was actually not so good for me, but I still enjoyed it. I got the holeshot again in the second moto and in the first laps I was battling with my teammate ‘The Bullet’ (Herlings). He’s the best sand rider so I enjoyed it a lot.” Responding to compliments from Herlings about his riding talent, the Spanish teenager said: “He’s one of my idols and one of my favorite riders. Every time he says something nice about me I get really motivated.” It was Prado’s first weekend in the MX2 class and he leaves Assen with 31 championship points.
Herlings picked up his 60th career GP win and further secured his position in the title fight. He added another 47 points to his total, while his closest rival, Jeremy Seewer, finished with a 15-13 for 14 points. Herlings has a 76-point lead going into the next rounds.
The premiere class was no less spectacular for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team. Tony Cairoli put in two very spirited rides to finish with a 4-1 for overall second behind Clement Desalle, while teammate Glenn Coldenhoff responded to the home crowd to deliver a 3-3 for the podium third.
The tension was palpable at the track before the opening MXGP moto because point leader Tim Gajser needed only a single point more than Cairoli to secure the title. Coldenhoff grabbed the holeshot and Cairoli, the fastest qualifier on the KTM 450 SX-F, was close behind him in the opening lap. Then KTM rider Shaun Simpson grabbed the advantage in conditions that favored the Scottish rider and hung on for the opening moto victory. Gajser, who was back at 24th at the start, crossed the line in 12th place to put Cairoli in a better position in the points. There was much more to come.
Coldenhoff and Cairoli went out hard and fast in the second moto, but by the fourth lap Desalle had made his intentions clear. While Coldenhoff slipped back several places, it was the Belgian rider who settled in behind Cairoli. Then mid race things went very wrong for Gajser. He was pitched off his bike, which cartwheeled off the track and got wedged into the fence, breaking the brake lever and resulting in a DNF. Cairoli went on to win the moto in front of Desalle and Coldenhoff and leaves Assen with his championship hopes intact. Gajser added only nine points, while the popular Italian accrued 43. The two leading riders go into the final two rounds separated by 65 points with 100 more up for grabs.
Cairoli: “It was a good weekend overall but for sure it could have been even better. Especially in the first moto the track was in horrible condition. It was not fixed as it should have been, and it was very dangerous and very slow, but the same for everybody. I was bit stiff in the beginning then I had a crash and Glenn and Desalle passed me. I tried to close the gap but in the end Glenn was on the gas and he also didn’t get tired. I knew it would be difficult to take the overall from fourth place. Now in the next rounds we will do our best to make it difficult for the championship and maybe also even chase the title.”
Coldenhoff: “It was an amazing weekend but I always have a good feeling when I come here. I know what I can do here and the last few races have gone very well, especially the last one in Switzerland where I was third, so the confidence is building up. We’ve made a big step with the bike and I feel really comfortable with it, also the suspension was working very well today and everything came together.”
Dirk Gruebel, MX2 Team Manager: “Yesterday was really weird for us. I don’t think we had any technical failures for 18 months. We had a big struggle on Saturday and that led to a DNF for Jeffrey and we even had some problems with Prado’s bike, even though he won. But we sorted it out and luckily all the bad vibes turned to good ones. Both boys rode really well in the first heat, which was very difficult. Jeffrey even finished second and that was more or less a miracle from his starting position. Prado did well in his first GP. He used a lot of strength in his first heat and I wasn’t really expecting anything for the second but he was even stronger. Jeffrey rode just brilliantly in the second race and turned it completely around. He made some valuable points on Seewer and that was very favorable for us.” Gruebel said the 2-3 result in MXGP was “perfect” and had some encouraging words for Coldenhoff. “Glenn in my opinion could have won that GP. I don’t know if he knows it himself but he tried everything when he was a bit late in the second heat.”
Next Race: September 3, 2016 – Charlotte Motor Speedway (USA)