Italy’s Antonio Cairoli finished second and sixth, fourth overall at the penultimate round of the Motocross World Championships in the Netherlands at the weekend, and that was easily enough for him to clinch his ninth world crown.
One of the most competitive seasons of the FIM Motocross World Championship’s history took to Assen for the MXGP of the Netherlands in what was the penultimate round at the weekend.
Topping the weekend’s racing in their respective classes were MXGP class hero Jeffrey Herlings and his young Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mate in the MX2 class, Spain’s Jorge Prado Garcia, although nothing could stop Cairoli wrapping up the MXGP title.
To add to the excitement of a MXGP and MX2 title chase the veterans of motocross together with the Women and Honda 150 European Championship took to the Assen circuit.
The Veterans Motocross World Cup’s race one saw Niko Kalatie lead every lap from start to finish but video evidence showed him jumping on waved yellow flags and he was in turn penalised 10 positions.
Inheriting the race win was the man who kept the pressure on Kalatie and ran second every lap, Martin Zerava. The only riders who made a pass in the top five were, the two-time champion Mats Nilsson and Ronny Van Hove when both passed Paul Woldendorp for fourth and fifth position. Meanwhile Christian Ravaglia finished in the same spot where he started which was third.
In race two Kalatie had a point to prove after his first race penalty. Kalatie started the race in second behind Ravaglia but only took one lap to pass the Italian for the lead and eventually the race win. Race one’s winner started the first lap in 8th but dropped to 13th on lap two. The Veteran never gave up though and came back to second on lap 10 of 13 surprising Serge Guidetty who had been in the position most of the race. The pair swapped positions lap after lap but in the end Guidetty took a hard fought 2nd as Zerava took third which was good enough for the overall win. The overall podium was completed by Nilsson and Kalatie.
Thousands of Dutch motocross fans came to watch the MXGP world championship title chase between Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Cairoli and Herlings.
Herlings is well known as the fastest sand rider in the world and at the weekend he showed why. Race one started with a holeshot by Cairoli as he just edged out Team HRC’s Tim Gajser. Gajser almost slid out nearly taking Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Romain Febvre down but both managed to stay up right.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Jeremy Van Horebeek was into fourth quickly as he passed Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev. Meanwhile Herlings spun on the starting grid but he moved forward quickly, passing Febvre for third on lap three and on lap seven took second from Gajser. By then Cairoli had a gap of around seven seconds as Herlings pushed to catch the red plate holder.
Herlings and Cairoli eventually met making the fans come to life as the battled for the lead. Cairoli though he didn’t need to win was no push over as Herlings passed him Cairoli responded quickly. Further down the track Cairoli made a small mistake, jumping to the edge of the track, which let Herlings go by.
From that point Cairoli settled into second but kept Herlings honest the rest of the race. At the finish Herlings won but the celebrations began for Cairoli, his team and supporters as he claimed his 9th FIM Motocross World Championship.
Race two started without the likes of Gajser or Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Clement Desalle as both had hard crashes in Race 1 and were unable to finish. On the start Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl took the holeshot ahead of Van Horebeek, Febvre, Herlings, and his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team-mate Max Anstie, who finished third in race one. Herlings with an improved start moved to the on lap two making passes left and right.
Cairoli, with the pressure off of his shoulders, started in 6th but remained determined to win. Cairoli passed Anstie, Van Horebeek, and Febvre to get to third but a mistake caused him to tip over in the sand a lose the positions back.
The other Dutch hero and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Glenn Coldenhoff took sixth in race one but was involved in a wild crash in the second corner of race two, taking him to 15th place finish for 10th overall.
Nagl weathered the Cairoli storm and in turn finished second in the race and fifth overall. Herlings’ double victories took the overall and in the press conference he said: “I want to say thank you to all the fans who came out to support not just me but all the riders, all of us really appreciate it. It has been a good GP so far and I am very happy to get second in the championship, obviously it is a good end to the weekend after the start of my season. I really enjoyed my time racing not just because I won but because I felt that it was a good and a safe track for sure. I felt like the organization did a very good job and I think it was a positive turnout of people so hopefully we will comeback in the feature.”
Febvre’s 5-3 gave him his second podium of the season with a second overall. Febvre in the press conference said: “I feel good, the first race I was third all the race and then I got passed by Max (Anstie) on the finish jump. I was disappointed and just wanted to have a strong second race which I did. I think that it was a good weekend, yesterday was not so good for me so I am happy with how I turned it around.”
Max Anstie also took his second podium of his rookie MXGP season with 3-5 finishes putting him on the third step of the podium. After the race Anstie stated: “It’s always nice to be on the podium, myself and my team work really hard, I have to give it up to them. With my teammates we ride together and we train together a lot so we are trying to push the level and you have to because all these guys are really fast. It is great to be able race with them, I have a lot of respect for all the guys the top 15 are so fast in the MXGP class and its hard if you don’t get a good start. I think overall it has been pretty good we are solid. I feel good I just want to go faster that’s all.”
Fourth overall but 2017 MXGP Champion, Cairoli started his season to many as an underdog. Many questioned if he was on his way out but his performances this season have shown nothing of the like. From the first race of the championship in Qatar to his amazing comeback at the MXGP of Trentino, Cairoli defined what a champion is and, after eight prior Motocross World Championship wins, this year may be the most impressive as he claimed it with three races still to go in 2017.
While Cairoli claimed the MXGP title in the early stages of the day the MX2 class had its own championship hanging in the balance. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass and Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer have been fighting for the title against one another all season long.
But, at the Dutch GP, it was neither Jonass or Seewer showing though. Instead it was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado Garcia who took the win.
To start Race one Jonass lined up on the far outside of the starting gate due to his 19th gate pick. Jonass somehow worked a miraculous start and took the holeshot. Following Jonass closely was Prado and just like last year Prado wasn’t deterred by his teammate’s title hopes. Prado continually pushed Jonass, showing him a wheel time after time. Prado took the lead on lap five but he was only able to hold it until lap seven when Jonass would again take the top spot.
Behind the KTM team-mates were the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing duo of Thomas Covington and Conrad Mewse. Mewse showed previously unseen top-five speed at one point, even battling with and passing Covington. Mewse unfortunately would fall shortly after moving to third and instead finish 6th.
Seewer started in sixth but struggled to move forward past an impressive ride from Jago Geerts. While Seewer struggled with Geerts, HSF Motorsport Team’s Calvin Vlaanderen took the 6th position from the title contender and went on to pass Geerts who later had a heavy crash. With the crashes of Geerts and Mewse, Seewer claimed 5th behind Jonass, Prado, Covington, and Vlaanderen.
MX2 race two kicked off with a holeshot from Mewse and Prado hot on his trail. Prado followed Mewse the first four laps before taking the Brits lead away. Jonass started the race around tenth and perhaps rode to cautious as he only made his way up to seventh by the finish.
Seewer and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen started in 5th and 6th and both worked the way forward with Seewer leading the way to 2nd and 3rd. The race was also another strong performance from Vlaanderen as he started and finished fourth just ahead of his HSF Motorsport team-mate Brian Bogers.
Prado managed to take his third overall win of his career and this season, two of which have come in the sand. Prado in the press conference: “It was good to get my second win on a sand track. I’ve learned a lot this year and I have to put it all together now to do better next year. The most important thing is to be consistent, as you see with Pauls. He is pretty much the fastest guy this year and it’s possible to learn a lot from him and use him as a reference. We didn’t train so much together this year because I was going to school. Now I’m looking forward to next weekend which should be a totally different kind of track.”
Jonass took the second spot on the podium and though he didn’t take the championship just yet he did gain slightly on Seewer who finish third overall. Jonass in the press conference stated: “For sure I wanted to win the title this weekend and after the first race it seemed to be possible but I didn’t get a good start in the second race and struggled on the first few laps. I had some close calls with riders next to me and took it carefully, maybe I was too cautious. I put pressure on myself and that was my problem in the second race. Saturday was very bad but I turned it around and got on the podium again. Now I have a 41 point lead but I will try not to look at that in the next race; as you saw with Tony today he took the holeshot and was pushing until the last laps to pass Jeffrey. I want to have the same approach next weekend.”
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RESULTS & STANDINGS:
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten:
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:21.318; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:01.010; 3. Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +1:11.012; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +1:11.079; 5. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +1:19.644; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +1:23.810; 7. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +1:42.530; 8. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +1:49.273; 9. Tanel Leok (EST, Husqvarna), -1 lap(s); 10. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), -1 lap(s).
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten:
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:14.288; 2. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:34.469; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:37.286; 4. Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:42.378; 5. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:44.058; 6. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:45.593; 7. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +1:06.082; 8. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +1:17.173; 9. Tanel Leok (EST, Husqvarna), +1:39.157; 10. Harri Kullas (EST, Husqvarna), +1:39.315.
MXGP Overall Top Ten:
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 38 p.; 3. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 38 p.; 4. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 37 p.; 5. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 33 p.; 6. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 30 p.; 7. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 26 p.; 8. Tanel Leok (EST, HUS), 24 p.; 9. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 21 p.; 10. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 21 p.
MXGP Championship Top Ten:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 710 points; 2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 627 p.; 3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 571 p.; 4. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 544 p.; 5. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 485 p.; 6. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 479 p.; 7. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 423 p.; 8. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 416 p.; 9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 398 p.; 10. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 396 p.
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 34:39.137; 2. Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), +0:00.907; 3. Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:13.155; 4. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, KTM), +0:16.555; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:18.834; 6. Conrad Mewse (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:29.481; 7. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:31.122; 8. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:34.664; 9. Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), +0:38.676; 10. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Suzuki), +0:39.750.
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten:
1. Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), 34:37.805; 2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:01.328; 3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:16.610; 4. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, KTM), +0:18.595; 5. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:18.789; 6. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Suzuki), +0:23.095; 7. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:34.000; 8. Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), +0:34.754; 9. Davy Pootjes (NED, KTM), +0:34.941; 10. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +0:41.962.
MX2 Overall Top Ten:
1. Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), 47 points; 2. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 39 p.; 3. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 38 p.; 4. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, KTM), 36 p.; 5. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 33 p.; 6. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 30 p.; 7. Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 28 p.; 8. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, SUZ), 26 p.; 9. Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), 25 p.; 10. Conrad Mewse (GBR, HUS), 24 p.
MX2 Championship Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 735 points; 2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 694 p.; 3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 556 p.; 4. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 504 p.; 5. Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 485 p.; 6. Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), 475 p.; 7. Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), 439 p.; 8. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 386 p.; 9. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, SUZ), 352 p.; 10. Brent Van doninck (BEL, YAM), 309 p.