The weekend’s Dutch motocross Grand Prix at Assen was a huge occasion for the Red Bull KTM Juniors race team, with two of their riders finishing 1-2 at the top of the European 125cc Championships.
Spain’s Jorge Prado and New Zealand team-mate Josiah Natzke, from Hamilton, wrapped up the EMX125 championship in first and second spot overall, a glorious end to what was a fantastic season for both young men.
The 14-year-old Prado started the weekend with a single point advantage over 16-year-old Natzke.
Prado surged ahead in the points after a decisive win in the first moto on Saturday and went into the final race of the season with a 15-point lead on his team-mate.
Prado backed up his race one win by finishing 10th in race two to finish third overall on the day in the deep soft sand at Assen, the circuit built on the infield of the road-race track especially for the GP, but Natzke’s outing at the famous raceway was not so happy.
An early crash in the second race put him back in the field and he finished out of the points in the final reckoning but was still unbeatable in second place in the championship.
“I didn’t expect the title this season, but after a few races when I had the red plate, I really wanted to go for it. Now I managed to do it I’m very happy about it,” said Prado.
Natzke went into the final round one point behind Prado but did not have a good weekend at Assen.
“It was a tough day I had a difficult first moto on Saturday, with a bad start, but I never gave up and got back to tenth,” said the obviously disappointed Kiwi.
“Today (Sunday) I had a better start, I had nothing to lose, so I gave it everything. But I made a move up the inside of a rider and we collided and I went down. Again I didn’t give up and I pushed right to the end. It was a hard race but this year I proved I can fight and I can win.
“Today wasn’t what I wanted, but this year has been all about learning and I take each learning experience as something positive which will make me stronger for my future.
“There have been highs when I went 1-1 in France (round five of the series) and there have been lows, like today. Each makes me want to be mentally stronger heading into next year’s season.”
The Kiwi’s disappointment is easy to understand, especially considering that he won more races this season that any other rider, his five race wins for the series eclipsing that of eventual champion Prado, who won four times, meaning the pair of them won nine of the 16 races in the championship.
A third KTM Factory Junior Team rider, British charger Conrad Mewse, wrapped his season up with style with a 4-1 moto result for second overall on the day, his first podium of the season. Mewse also finished fourth in the final rankings, 24 points behind French Yamaha rider Maxime Renaux, to wrap up a very successful inaugural year for the newly-formed KTM Factory Juniors team.
Mewse is looking forward to next year when he will step up to the 250cc class.
“I struggled at the start of the year but towards the end I started getting better and better, it’s working really well at the minute,” said Mewse.
“Hopefully I can come out stronger in the 250 class (next season) and it’ll be a really good year.”
MXGP of The Netherlands at Assen:
EMX125 results of round 8 of 8:
- Jago Geerts, BEL, KTM, (2 – 2)
- Conrad Mewse, GBR, KTM, (4 – 1)
- Jorge Prado Garcia, ESP, KTM, (1 – 10) – Prado wins title
- Miro Sihvonen, FIN, KTM, (7 – 3)
- Ruben Fernandez Garcia, ESP, KTM, (5 – 8)
- Nathan Renkens, BEL, KTM, (3 – 12)
Final EMX125 standings:
- Prado Garcia, 308 (2015 EMX125 Champion)
- Natzke, 284
- Maxime Renaux, FRA, Yamaha, 245
- Mewse, 221
- Sihvonen, 206
© Photo by G Maes
© Words by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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