Who impressed: MXGP at Assen
1. Tony Cairoli – The Italian not only won his ninth world title but almost but pressured Jeffrey Herlings all the way in the first moto to do it! Indeed, if it hadn’t have been for a couple of back-markers at the wrong time in the last couple of laps, Cairoli might have even been able to make the move to win the moto. Yet again Cairoli showed just how fast he could go but his title was proof that he still can play the long game when it matters. Cairoli is an incredible rider and deserves all the plaudits he is has been getting this week.
Cairoli said: “I know what it takes to make a solid and consistent championship; we made it and I’m really happy about this. It was an amazing season, one of my best. It is amazing I can still improve myself after almost fifteen years of the world championship. I’m proud of this. It is the first with the 450 KTM for me, which is very special. We had a good weekend.”
2. Jeffrey Herlings – The Dutchman has been on superb form in recent weeks and took his first home GP win in he big bike class at Assen. This was the form and speed everyone had been expecting from Herlings all year and if it wasn’t for that pre-season injury then maybe this title would be going down to the last round! Nevertheless Herlings says he is glad to even get second in the championship after coming from, “a very deep hole” at the start of the season. Herlings also appears to be learning when to push and when to relax his pace, which could prove a deadly combination in 2018.
3. Romain Febvre – A week after being knocked out at the USGP, Febvre rode really well at Assen to claim second overall. The Frenchman is even getting his starts consistently good allowing him to contend at least around the top five off the start in recent motos. It will be interesting to see if Febvre can run with Herlings and Cairoli on the hard pack in France now that he seems to be back in good form – and getting the starts. It also bodes well for the French team to have the Yamaha rider on his game again.
Febvre commented: “It has been a good weekend. I didn’t start the weekend how I wanted to yesterday, but I knew I could get good starts and that’s what I did today. I got two good starts. I only got passed in the last part of the first race because of a lapped rider, so I was really disappointed. But that made me more focused for the second race. Tony Cairoli crashed so he gave me third, but I got really close to Max Nagl at the end but I couldn’t make the pass. I am disappointed to not have finished one place better in both races, but I am still on the podium so that is good for me, and for the team.”
4. Max Anstie – The Brit was on the podium again and came through the field to do it. Anstie looks equally at home on the hard pack and sand on the 450 and might just be Husqvarna’s strongest rider in the MXGP class right now. He has also moved into tenth in the MXGP standings. Anstie’s fitness is on point and he is always strong at the end of his motos. The chatty Brit is beginning to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together in the premier class.
Anstie said: “I felt strong all weekend. The track was rough and the final motos felt more like we were at a beach race. With all that rain on Saturday, organisers had to work really hard to prepare the track for Sunday’s motos. I had some good battles in both motos and I’m happy the speed was there and I could make some good passes. In the first moto I came from eighth in the first turn to cross the line in third. Then in the second race I started inside the top 10 again and gradually found my way up to fourth. I feel that we’ve been making some good progress during the last few GPs and it’s nice to be on the box for the second time this season. We’ve all been working really hard so this podium result is good for me and for the whole Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team.”
5. Tanel Leok – The Husky man was a superb eighth overall after two impressive ninth places in the treacherous sand. leok doesn’t seek publicity but his hard riding and famous corner speed is still getting the job one at GP level and he deserves credit for his determination and work ethic to keep pounding the laps out after all these years and still getting top ten results. Leok has been quietly very good this year.