As it worked out, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team riders Jeffrey Herlings and Jorge Prado were the two men to come out on top.
MXGP’s two points leaders and standout Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders, Dutchman Herlings and Italian Antonio Cairoli both came into the weekend on the mend from injuries, Cairoli with the more recent fractures to his thumb and Herlings with the newly-plated collar bone. The injuries provided no change in the racing however as both led the field throughout the weekend.
At the gate drop of MXGP Race one, Cairoli was fastest but Herlings was quick to take the lead from the Sicilian. The spectator favourite at the weekend was Honda’s Tim Gajser, whose large following made the trip from Slovenia to cheer him on. Gajser’s start placed him in the battle for the top three.
Gajser was followed by Husqvarna’s Gautier Paulin and Kawasaki’s Alessandro Lupino. Gajser’s focus was however on Cairoli as he latched on to speed of the 9-time champion.
Paulin was first to make a mistake when he fell at the top of the uphill to Pit Lane allowing Lupino and Kawasaki’s Clement Desalle past. Desalle continued to make gains with a pass on Lupino.
Yamaha’s Jeremy Van Horebeek was also on the move forward climbing from eighth on lap one to pass KTM’s Glenn Coldenhoff and Paulin before making it by Lupino for fifth.
At the front Herlings continued to grow his lead and Cairoli kept Gajser at bay. Lupino would lose a position back to Paulin before having one more taken by Yamaha’s Romain Febvre. At the finish of race one, Herlings took the win 31.99 seconds ahead of Cairoli, Gajser, Desalle, and Van Horebeek.
Race two started nearly identical for Cairoli and Herlings with another Fox Holeshot going to the Italian but the first official lap belonged to Herlings. Gajser was again 3rd and Paulin 4th but Van Horebeek was off to an improved 5th. Yamaha’s Shaun Simpson was also riding much better than recently in 6th before losing a spot to Febvre.
Both Van Horebeek and Febvre found a way past Paulin in the same corner on lap 7. The following lap the Yamaha riders switched positions with Febvre in 4th and Van Horebeek 5th. Herlings began to find his rhythm and better lines around the halfway points which gave him the extra edge to pull a gap over Cairoli.
At the finish Herlings won, with Cairoli 2nd, then Gajser, Febvre, and Van Horebeek rounded out the top five. In the overall the podium was clear with the top 3 the same as in both races Herlings, Cairoli, and Gajser while 4th and 5th were taken by Febvre and Van Horebeek.
Jeffrey Herlings: “To come home from Loket with 50 points is amazing! I’m really looking forward and I’m extra motivated for Lommel. There is 2 more months this season and I can’t wait for the next 6 races to come!”
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten:
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:28.981; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:31.992; 3. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:35.048; 4. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:42.339; 5. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:47.791; 6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:51.183; 7. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:53.685; 8. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), +0:57.076; 9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +1:00.975; 10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +1:01.390.
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten:
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:33.827; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:31.568; 3. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:37.056; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:51.917; 5. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:57.637; 6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +1:00.420; 7. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +1:02.022; 8. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +1:02.791; 9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +1:03.549; 10. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, KTM), +1:30.621.
MXGP Overall Top Ten:
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 44 p.; 3. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 40 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 32 p.; 5. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 32 p.; 6. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 32 p.; 7. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 30 p.; 8. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 24 p.; 9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 24 p.; 10. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 19 p.
MXGP Championship Top Ten:
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 633 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 603 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 479 p.; 4. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 450 p.; 5. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 432 p.; 6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 419 p.; 7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 353 p.; 8. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 319 p.; 9. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 312 p.; 10. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 231 p.
Though the MXGP races were pretty clean cut the MX2 class was wildly unpredictable and thrilling until the final chequered flag had flown and the scores were tallied.
MX2 race one kicked off with the now common holeshot from Jorge Prado. Closely behind the KTM of Prado was the Husqvarna of Thomas Covington while his team-mate Thomas Kjer Olsen came through the first corner in dead last position.
Yamaha’s Michele Cervellin was impressive at the start of the race in 3rd with Honda’s Calvin Vlaanderen 4th. The MX2 red plate holder at the beginning weekend, KTM’s Pauls Jonass, was back in 6th position looking for a way by Husqvarna’s Henry Jacobi.
Jonass found a way into the top 5 in lap 2 while Vlaanderen passed Cervellin for 3rd. 2 laps later Cervellin was dropped further back as both Jonass and Honda’s Hunter Lawrence made passes on the Italian. Clawing their way through the field after poor starts were Thomas Kjer Olsen and Yamaha’s Ben Watson.
Just before halfway through the race Vlaanderen gained massive ground on Prado in second and by lap 10 was past the Spaniard. Vlaanderen’s confidence showed in his riding and 4 laps after passing Prado he was pressuring Covington for the lead.
With 4 laps to go Vlaanderen claimed the lead and gapped both Covington and Prado. Across the finish Vlaanderen won by 2.5 seconds over Covington with Prado 3rd, Jonass 4th, and Lawrence 5th.
Prado’s holeshot prowess showed again in Race 2 for his 17th holeshot of the season. One of the few other riders to score a holeshot this year is Jacobi who was second on the first lap today. Covington was 3rd and struggled to make it past Jacobi until lap 2 at which point Prado had grown a sizable gap.
Again 6th on the first lap was Jonass with Yamaha’s Maxime Renaux just ahead. Vlaanderen was back in 8th behind Watson who fell on the finish during lap 3 and would be unable to rejoin after his bike was damaged. Jonass charged past Olsen and Jacobi after also getting Renaux. The moves of Jonass got him to third behind Covington who responded and started to close on the lead of Prado.
Vlaanderen was also charging forward and was one of the fastest rider on track with the exception of the start. By the 7th lap the HRC rider was up to 4th and closing on Jonass who had lost ground to Covington. In the later stages of the race Vlaanderen was all over Jonass for third and the pair swapped positions.
Jonass then lost ground to Olsen while his team-mate Prado was losing time to the other Husqvarna of Covington. Olsen made his pass on Jonass with 3 laps to go but Covington wasn’t able to do the same for the lead. Making stabs at Prado for the race win and overall proved fruitless and Covington was forced to settle for 2nd. With Prado taking the win, Covington 2nd, and Vlaanderen 3rd the overall went to Prado’s 3-1 opposed to Vlaanderen’s 1-3 while Covington’s 2-2 gave him the final podium spot. Prado’s victory combined with the 4th overall from Jonass gives the Red plate to Prado for the first time in his career with a 11 point advantage heading to Lommel in two weeks’ time.
Jorge Prado: “Already yesterday everybody was riding really fast and today again. It was hard in the first race battling from the beginning till the end. I am really happy with the win and now leading the points”
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten:
1. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Honda), 33:49.461; 2. Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:02.429; 3. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:03.000; 4. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:04.957; 5. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Honda), +0:06.680; 6. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:16.661; 7. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:31.581; 8. Henry Jacobi (GER, Husqvarna), +0:37.706; 9. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:43.039; 10. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:47.676.
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten:
1. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 33:59.877; 2. Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:01.736; 3. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Honda), +0:10.271; 4. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:14.561; 5. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:20.793; 6. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Honda), +0:40.508; 7. Michele Cervellin (ITA, Yamaha), +0:45.749; 8. Henry Jacobi (GER, Husqvarna), +0:46.400; 9. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:53.877; 10. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:57.247.
MX2 Overall Top Ten:
1. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 45 points; 2. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, HON), 45 p.; 3. Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 44 p.; 4. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 34 p.; 5. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 32 p.; 6. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, HON), 31 p.; 7. Henry Jacobi (GER, HUS), 26 p.; 8. Michele Cervellin (ITA, YAM), 24 p.; 9. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 24 p.; 10. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 22 p.
MX2 Championship Top Ten:
1. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 595 points; 2. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 584 p.; 3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 454 p.; 4. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 427 p.; 5. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, HON), 414 p.; 6. Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 375 p.; 7. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 310 p.; 8. Michele Cervellin (ITA, YAM), 279 p.; 9. Henry Jacobi (GER, HUS), 249 p.; 10. Davy Pootjes (NED, KTM), 218 p.
Photo courtesy MXGP
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