Saturday thoughts: Prado shines again

Jorge Prado controlled the qualifying (should be renamed sprint?) race at a bumpy Riola to show that he really is showing his best form on a 450 and is currently not only a title contender, but is the man to beat as the Spaniard made it three moto wins out of four in the opening motos of the season to extend his championship lead to seven.

Prado held the lead around 5-6 seconds all race with a pole lap earlier in the day 1.2 seconds quicker than anyone else. His speed is there in every session. So where was Herlings?

The Dutch rider got away third but as he followed countryman Glenn Coldenhoff, Calvin Vlaanderen riding like it was 2022, and passed Herlings after Jeffrey didn’t make the downside of a jump, then Ruben Fernandez, yes, Ruben Fernandez passed Herlings putting the sand king down to fifth! But, just as Vlaanderen was ready to attack Coldenhoff he binned it and then so did Fernandez just as he was searching for a way by Coldenhoff!

Herlings got promoted back to third and made a charge at Coldenhoff on the last couple of laps with every point now crucial as championship leader Prado collected maximum at the front, but he couldn’t make the pass either on a track that ofter forms one main line in the turns. But as is becoming increasingly evident, mistakes in the sprint race can be costly in the championship and Fernandez cost himself three with Vlaanderen five, but both look ready to battle tomorrow. Calvin showing just how important confidence is at the site of his only MXGP win and Ruben showing how far his sand skills have come over the winter – he probably never thought he would be passing Herlings in the soft stuff!

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All that carnage left Brent van Doninck in fourth and he was fast all moto battling with Febvre who took fifth ahead of Fernandez. Brent could be another dark horse for tomorrow’s races.

It was a championship disaster for Renaux who went down on the start with Pauls Jonass after being shoved mid-first turn by Fernandez in traditional first corner bumper cars. The Frenchman got back to 11th but that’s no championship points as Prado took maximum. These races are making a difference already in the championship and Renaux is already 20 down on Prado.

MXGP – World Championship Classification
1. Jorge Prado (ESP, GAS), 60 points; 2. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, HON), 53 p.; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 50 p.; 4. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 49 p.; 5. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 40 p.; 6. Pauls Jonass (LAT, HON), 36 p.; 7. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, GAS), 35 p.; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, YAM), 34 p.; 9. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, YAM), 29 p.; 10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 28 p.; 11. Alberto Forato (ITA, KTM), 20 p.; 12. Brent Van doninck (BEL, HON), 20 p.; 13. Brian Bogers (NED, HON), 19 p.; 14. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 19 p.; 15. Valentin Guillod (SUI, HON), 18 p.; 16. Ben Watson (GBR, BET), 15 p.; 17. Alvin Östlund (SWE, HON), 11 p.; 18. Hardi Roosiorg (EST, HON), 5 p.; 19. Joaquin Poli (ARG, KAW), 5 p.; 20. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, BET), 4 p.; 21. Agustin Poli (ARG, KAW), 1 p.; 22. Lars van Berkel (NED, HON), 1 p.;

In MX2 it was the predicted Geerts v de Wolf show with Jago doing enough yet again for the win to continue his unbeaten start to the season, but de Wolf was right there on the last lap until he decided to settle for second, their pace is on a level superior to the rest although Laegenfelder rode strong for third holding the pace in the first half of the moto.

MX2 – World Championship Classification
1. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 70 points; 2. Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), 52 p.; 3. Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 48 p.; 4. Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GAS), 45 p.; 5. Kevin Horgmo (NOR, KAW), 42 p.; 6. Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 40 p.; 7. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, HUS), 38 p.; 8. Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), 36 p.; 9. Rick Elzinga (NED, YAM), 34 p.; 10. Jan Pancar (SLO, KTM), 20 p.; 11. Lucas Coenen (BEL, HUS), 19 p.; 12. Emil Weckman (FIN, HON), 17 p.; 13. Yago Martinez (ESP, KTM), 16 p.; 14. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, KAW), 15 p.; 15. Tom Guyon (FRA, FAN), 12 p.; 16. Tomás Moyano (ARG, KAW), 10 p.; 17. David Braceras (ESP, KAW), 9 p.; 18. Leopold Ambjörnson (SWE, HUS), 8 p.; 19. Cornelius Toendel (NOR, KTM), 5 p.; 20. Franco Iavecchia (URU, HUS), 5 p.; 21. Pedro Jose Suarez Jaramillo (ECU, HUS), 4 p.; 22. Maximo Caceres (ARG, GAS), 3 p.; 23. Fermin Ciccimarra (ARG, YAM), 2 p.; 24. Juan Ignacio Salgado (ARG, HON), 1 p.; 25. Jeremías Schiele (CHL, GAS), 1 p.;

Lotte Van Drunen announced herself as the latest WMX star and maybe the best yet as she won her first WMX moto just fifteen and Andrea Bonacorsi took the win in the opening EMX250 moto underlining why he was a pre-season favourite for the title.

If they don’t touch the track overnight (as Vlaanderen wants) it will be absolutely brutally rough for the two 30 minute plus two Grand Prix motos tomorrow and fitness will be key but with Prado’s starts and speed so far it looks like he will the man the rest will be chasing again tomorrow, it’s question of can they catch and can they pass him!

Words: Jonathan McCready

Image: Danny Relouw