Quick thoughts: Arco MXGP – KTM glory!

After a lot of changes in the off-season with riders in MX2 and even the team structure and mechanics, KTM had a day to remember in Arco. It was a day that had everything for the Peirer Mobility group as a whole.

Their two long-term project riders in MX2 went 1-2 in only their fourth GP as factory riders giving Antonio Cairoli his first GP win as team manager and a huge boost for the whole squad as was evident by the joy of a jubilant Cairoli running on track to congratulate his boys, this was a huge win for all concerned.

Adamo and Everts were fantastic in both motos. Adamo showing he could pass his rivals and Everts showing what he could do with a good start, hounding Geerts all moto in race one and holding off de Wolf in race two and then even catching Adamo on the last couple of laps, a pass on Adamo would have given Everts the GP win!

That team has something special going on, it was nice to see Dirk Gruebel back at the track too and with Joel Smets there plus the knowledge of Cairoli and the elite mechanics, the system works – but did they expect to be this successful in MX2 so quickly? Adamo and Everts are still teenagers and in GP terms don’t have that much experience at world level yet they are both showing they can run at the front already, the confidence this will give both for their careers will be huge.

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Everts has had to ride with pressure and expectation his whole life but in Arco on the same track his dad had a podium in 1991 en route to his first world title, Liam showed everyone including himself that he is that good and deserves to be seen as one of the elite MX2 riders in the world. To get a podium and make it three generations of the Everts family to finish top three overall in a Grand Prix, is frankly, unbelievable. Liam not only had measure up to one all-time great but two, and whatever happens from here has put his name in the Everts history books adding to the families achievements. This will hopefully, in some ways, take the pressure off slightly, although he will no doubt be chasing a GP win and more, but he has still done something that mentally, will mean so much not just for him but for the family name. Everts has arrived.

Adamo got his first podium last year and slightly surprising was his surprise at taking the win! But Adamo is sneaky good even if he does go under the radar at times. Last year he had some strong performances and a win this year was never out of the question, especially with how well he was going in pre-season. The question was could he keep it going when the GP’s began, and the answer has been yes. Even in race two he showed composure to do what he had to to do to take the win, the aggressive pass on Geerts, and not riding over his head to catch Laegenfelder while not making a mistake in the last two, pressure fueled laps with his home crowd roaring to give the GP to Everts who was closing in. Adamo was fast but measured and it worked. Adamo is now second in the world championship and has to be put into the same bracket as Benistant and de Wolf, he is a title contender trying to stop Geerts.

Then there was Herlings. After being off the pace in Switzerland with arm pump then on the ground in the first Sunday moto in Arco, things could easily have trended in the wrong direction. But Herlings showed the fight he has always been known for and unleashed the speed he has always had, and that no-one else on earth possesses. A great ride in race one to ninth was eclipsed by race two. Herlings has been riding almost Stefan Everts like this year, controlled, taking what he can get and taking a win, like in Riola, if the opportunity presented itself. But with the Dutch rider losing points int he championship the last two weekend’s it felt like in that second moto when he started tenth and his title rivals were 1-2-3, it was like Herlings said enough was enough.

He coudn’t ride controlled anymore and had to take the restrictions off and unfurl the real speed. Herlings with a title on his mind and frustration in his soul, went back to basics and just rode as fast as he could. Once again, as we have seen his whole career, when Herlings is on, no-one can stop him. Prado, Febvre and Renaux were on a good pace, the class of the field, but Herlings caught and passed every one of them. This was a statement moto victory, that even had Prado and Renaux admitting they couldn’t run his pace when he came by.

Everyone knows, especially Herlings now, that he is still the fastest man on the planet when he needs to be. It was KTM’s and Herlings first moto win this season and it was huge. Herlings knows he still has it, and that he doesn’t need to ride like that all the time either if he can stay close in the series, but the starts need to improve to minimize the risk of having to catch and pass Prado, Renaux and Febvre every week. Even for Herlings that’s not an easy route to a sixth world title. But, he’s still the one man that can still pull of a work title starting tenth every weekend.

MXPG Trentino 2023, Pietramurata Rider: Langenfelder

To add the perfect weekend, the other GP motos were won by Gas Gas rider’s KTM’s cousins. Prado won his first GP to stabilize his MXGP points lead and Simon Laegenfelder won the second moto in style in MX2 cursing his first turn crash in race one that cost him the chance of an overall win. Add to that the three Husqvarna boys, de Wolf, Coenen and Van de Moosdijk impressing all year, two with a moto win already plus Coenen’s poise and speed at just 16, and the entire KTM group has had a superb start to the season.

You have to hand it to Pit Beirer, his decisions work out 99% of the time. From top to bottom that group is run superbly. Let’s not forget in the USA Cooper Webb is very much in title contention for the supercross title, they have Vialle coming for outdoors in the 250 class, a brand new $53 million dollar home and heavy rumours that the rapid Chase Sexton has signed for 2024.

Whether it’s short term or long term goals , KTM make it happen, and usually quicker than even they expect!

Article: Jonathan McCready

Images: Ray Archer