Herlings and Cairoli on their Russian GP
More podium success for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship as Jeffrey Herlings lifts a fourth trophy as runner-up and Pauls Jonass celebrates a fifth victory of the season in MX2 through a Grand Prix of Russia mudfest.
The impressive Orlyonok circuit welcomed MXGP for a maiden visit and the first Grand Prix on Russian soil in five years with the tenth round of nineteen in the 2017 campaign. A fast, hilly and hard-packed layout was reduced to a slippery and sludgy test of skill and caution on Sunday with heavy overnight and morning rain. Through the second authentic ‘mudder’ of the term Jeffrey Herlings guided his KTM 450 SX-F to a first moto victory ahead of Tony Cairoli and walked the second step of the premier class podium. Pauls Jonass showed maturity through tough conditions to maintain his 50% win ratio and extend his margin at the top of the MX2 standings.
Herlings performed confidently and shrewdly through the swamped terrain in the first moto to catch teammate Cairoli who had been setting the pace but was riding with one eye on his sizeable championship lead and keen not to make a costly mistake. The KTMs went 1-2 with Glenn Coldenhoff scoring twelfth after suffering a poor start and then a slip in the mud. In the second moto it was Herlings tasting the slime. The Dutchman and reigning MX2 World Champion was hit on the first corner and fell and he also dismounted twice more. #84 then managed to bring the 450 SX-F home in eighth to confirm his silverware and a third runner-up ranking of 2017. Cairoli was also in the mire.
The red plate holder ran into another rider on the first lap and had to come through the pack, #222 fought his way to ninth place for fifth overall. Coldenhoff made the best launch at the second time of asking. The Dutchman circulated on the edge of the top five on a slightly drier but heavily scarred track and ended the weekend positively with sixth (ninth overall). Cairoli holds a 47 point gap over Russian GP winner Clement Desalle. Herlings is now fourth and 90 points away, Glenn sits in eleventh.
Herlings: “It is a pity to be second: it is the third time this year! We made some improvements this weekend and have been analysing a lot. I almost had the holeshot in the second moto but the first turn was so slick and someone hit my front wheel, I went down again, and then again on the second lap and I was almost dead-last. I thought ‘it’s over’ but we kept going and managed to get enough points for the overall. I think we made the best of the situation; I’m not too familiar with mud because I don’t like it too much! But it is good to get on the podium. I’m looking forward to Ottobiano and I think I am capable of winning there.”
Cairoli: “This weekend was quite good and I prepared for this track by watching some videos and stuff; it wasn’t really my favourite. I was a bit worried with the rain this morning because my left knee is not so well in mud like this and I also felt that putting my foot down with so much weight [on the bike] it can be a big sketchy so I took it very easy. I had a great start in the first moto and led for twenty minutes until Jeffrey passed me; second place was OK. I slipped on the start grill in the second moto and someone hit me and I almost crashed close to Jeffrey. There was a little bit of drama at the start of the race but I got up to eighth and then crashed with another rider in a rut and hit my knee a bit. I was a little disappointed but I am pleased about the championship [situation] at the moment and now we go to Ottobiano which is a track I really like.”
Coldenhoff: “It was a new track for everyone and I rode a lot in the first two sessions to get used to it. There was a lot of rain and it changed things. The first moto was really strange. I had wheelspin in the gate and was last and then crashed on the first lap from there onwards I knew it would be a tough one but I kept it on two wheels to take twelfth and limit the mistakes. In the second one I went to the outside of the gate where it was quite clean and had less wheelspin; a much better start. I passed a few people – and a few got me back – but I was quite happy to finish sixth: to go home with a twelfth [as my best] would not have been so nice! I will work hard now towards Ottobiano.”
Pauls Jonass was unlucky to lose out on a fifth Pole Position on Saturday due to a problem with his front wheel that forced a visit to the pitlane for repairs. The Latvian re-joined the action but could only manage to acquire seventeenth place for the same slot in the start gate. On Sunday the works 250 SX-Fs were typically strong away from the line with Jorge Prado seizing both holeshots and Jonass not far behind. #41 was diligent in his laps and overtaking and worked hard to gain 2-3 for the first spray of champagne. Prado did his best to cope with the testing climate and was ninth overall; a second moto result of fourth giving the teenager cause for encouragement. Jonass is 45 points in front of Jeremy Seewer at the peak of the MX2 rankings. Prado has now risen to sixth.
Jonass: “I had some bad luck on Saturday which meant I didn’t have the best gate pick today and that was so important on this track and in the mud but I still managed to have some good starts and was inside the top eight-ten and was able to climb my way up to the top three. I was shocked when I found out I’d won the overall because I didn’t feel my riding was that great. This race was tough and it is the sort of one where you can win or lose a lot; I didn’t win a lot [in terms of the championship] but it was important to take something. I didn’t make any big mistakes and stayed calm in both motos. A big thanks to the team as well because the bike worked great in conditions that were really heavy.”
Prado: “The weekend was weird! On Saturday my feeling was OK and I think if it hadn’t have rained I could have done a really good race. Anyway a lot of rain came and the first moto was just through water! I got a holeshot but struggled a lot and just couldn’t push; I don’t know why. I wasn’t smart enough with my goggles also. The track was quite different for the second one. The rain stopped and the track was more mud than water so it was more technical and physical. I was pretty happy to finish fourth and to be back leading in terms of holeshots! We have moved forward in the championship and Ottobiano is next where I believe I made one of my best pre-season races. I’m really looking to that Grand Prix.”
MXGP will be able to regroup next weekend before the Grand Prix of Italy at Ottobiano on June 24-25.
Next Round: June 25 2017 – Ottobiano (ITA)
Results MXGP Orlyonok 2017
1. Clement Desalle (BEL), Kawasaki (3-1)
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), KTM (1-8)
3. Gautier Paulin (FRA), Husqvarna (5-3)
4. Max Anstie (GBR), Husqvarna (4-5)
5. Tony Cairoli (ITA), KTM (2-3)
9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED), KTM (12-6)
Standings MXGP 2017 after 10 of 19 rounds
1. Cairoli, 381 points
2. Desalle, 334
3. Paulin, 333
4. Herlings, 291
5. Gajser, 261
11. Coldenhoff, 200
Results MX2 Orlyonok 2017
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT), KTM (2-3)
2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI), Suzuki (7-1)
3. Brian Bogers (NED), KTM (6-2)
4. Benoit Paturel (FRA), Yamaha (2-12)
5. Alvin Ostlund (SWE), Yamaha (8-6)
9. Jorge Prado (SPA), KTM (15-4)
Standings MX2 2017 after 10 of 19 rounds
1. Jonas, 414 points
2. Seewer, 369
3. Olsen, 317
4. Lieber, 308
5. Paturel, 294
6. Prado, 230