Red Bull KTM Factory Racing claim three of the four motos in both categories at a cold Eurocircuit in Valkenswaard for the Grand Prix of Europe – round six of nineteen in the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship – with Jeffrey Herlings finishing as runner-up in MXGP for his first trophy in the premier class and Pauls Jonass toasting his third MX2 triumph of the year with a 1-1 sweep of the motos. Tony Cairoli was fourth overall and clinched an easy win in the second MXGP race.
Cairoli – fresh from thrilling Motocross fans across the world with his sensational comeback ride and overall victory in Italy last week – ran to a dominant Pole Position without a hint of opposition on Saturday.
The first moto around a course that seemed to get rougher and trickier by the lap saw the Sicilian suffer a poor start, get stuck behind a crashed rider and then have his vision affected by sand inside his goggles and had to slow his pace to take ninth position. Determined to make amends #222 gunned his KTM 450 SX-F to first place at the opening of the second moto and rode with his usual skill and acumen in the sand for a clear win. Cairoli is now just 14 points behind Tim Gajser at the top of the MXGP standings.
Cairoli: “It was a race where I should have gone 1-1 so I’m disappointed. I like the sand and the bad start should not have happened; when you are in the pack you cannot control the rest of the people so I got stuck between some crashes. I then used all my tear-offs and later had some sand and irritation in my right eye that made my vision blurry and I had to slow. I was really disappointed with that moto. My eye was still bothering me a bit in the second moto and I wasn’t 100% but I tried for the good start and it worked. To take twenty-five points for the championship was good but it wasn’t my goal for the weekend.’
Jeffrey Herlings came to Valkenswaard with an incredible unbeaten seven-year record in MX2 and showed signs of promise to come from twelfth up to fourth place in the Qualification Heat. The Dutchman was part of two fantastic battles for second position in both sprints and had the crowd cheering with his efforts. #84 was second overall thanks to a 3-3 and his best day so far after six appearances in MXGP.
Herlings: “I’ve been winning here seven years in a row and even though things haven’t been going well lately I think the fans still expected a podium and that’s what we did. I felt like we were close to the win. We had a really bad start to the season with the broken hand and we were riding but we weren’t really ‘riding’ and I just went from GP to GP. I felt terrible. I was in positions I shouldn’t be in and I even felt embarrassed, but now I’ve been on the bike a few weeks so we can work on being better and better and get back in the shape where we should be. I didn’t expect these (MXGP) guys to be so fast and it is like all-out war from the moment the gate drops to the finish flag and it is something we haven’t been used to. But we are getting back the speed and we just need to get those starts together.”
Glenn Coldenhoff was also in action in front of his fans and at a circuit only twenty minutes from his home in the Netherlands. He registered a 9th place finish overall thanks to a 8-10 but was frustrated by his getaways from the line. #259 now looks at the Grand Prix of Latvia and the venue of his first MXGP victory in 2015 in two weeks time.’
Coldenhoff: “I’m not really happy to be honest. OK, I had some solid results but I didn’t feel that I could give all my energy in the motos. The races were pretty similar: my starts were not great and the first few laps didn’t go like I wanted them to. I couldn’t give any extra. There were good and bad points about today – my speed was good sometimes – but overall I’m not too pleased about the weekend.”
Pauls Jonass stated his claim for a third Grand Prix win of the year with a decent Qualification Heat victory on Saturday ahead of Thomas Kjer Olsen, which gave the Latvian his third Pole Position of the season.
In the first moto on Sunday he followed the formbook perfectly with the holeshot and then controlled a small margin over LRT’s Julien Lieber (steering a production KTM 250 SX-F) until the final stages of the 30 minutes and 2 lap duration when he broke free from the Belgian to win comfortably. #41 then went on to repeat his excellence in the second race. The twenty year old now has six moto wins and three shut-outs in 2017 and leads the FIM world championship by 19 points in the run-up to his home Grand Prix in Latvia.
Jonass: “I felt good all weekend and we made improvements from yesterday to today and actually all the time with the bike. I enjoyed the track even if it was rough and pretty sketchy in places because it was hard underneath with some square-edge bumps but it was nice to ride. I cruised in the first moto. I like riding here and to go home with the 1-1 means I am looking forward even more to my home GP next.”
Jorge Prado was still fresh after his very first Grand Prix win in Italy last week and was poised to vie for more podium honours in the first MX2 race until he lost control over the first jump on the course and crashed. The Spaniard remounted and regained ground to seventeenth position. Later in the afternoon he seized the second moto holeshot but had another big ‘off’ at the same spot. Jorge finished the race but outside of the points.
Prado: “This weekend I didn’t have any luck. I think I had the speed and condition to make a good result but it just didn’t happen. I don’t know how I crashed in the first moto but it was a big one. I tried to lift the bike up and lost control. It was a hard hit. I tried my best after that and the result was not too bad after such a big crash. I went to the second moto knowing I didn’t have anything to lose and had the holeshot but just lost the rear of the bike. I was lucky to land just to the side of the fence. So I was fortunate in some ways but not in others. It has been a bittersweet week, and I need to learn from it.”
Julien Lieber pulled out of the second moto with an unspecified injury, and in the second around of the EMX250 European Championship Miro Sihvonen walked the top step of the rostrum with his KTM 250 SX-F.
Next race: May 7th, 2017 – Kegums (LAT)
Results MXGP Valkenswaard 2017
1. Gautier Paulin (FRA), Husqvarna (1-2)
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), KTM (3-3)
3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL), Yamaha (2-5)
4. Tony Cairoli (ITA), KTM (9-1)
5. Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda(6-4)
14. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED), KTM (8-10)
Standings MXGP 2017 after 6 of 19 rounds
1. Gajser, 234 points
2. Cairoli, 220
3. Paulin, 192
4. Van Horebeek, 182
5. Bobryshev, 176
8. Herlings, 124
12. Coldenhoff, 101
Results MX2 Valkenswaard 2017
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT), KTM (1-1)
2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI), Suzuki (4-2)
3. Brent Van Doninck (BEL), Yamaha (5-3)
4. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN), Husqvarna (9-4)
5. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED), KTM (6-7)
23. Jorge Prado (SPA), KTM (17-23)
Standings MX2 2017 after 6 of 19 rounds
1. Jonass, 242 points
2. Seewer, 223
3. Lieber, 197
4. Olsen, 188
5. Paturel, 173
9. Prado, 121