Red Bull KTM factory riders Antonio Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings made it a weekend for KTM to remember at the MXGP of Italy at the iconic track in Maggiora, both taking double moto victories on Sunday to move further ahead in their respective MXGP and MX2 championships.
Herlings’ factory team-mate Jordi Tixier was also back in fighting form finishing 3-3 behind Herlings to give the factory team a 1-2 overall result in the MX2 class.
It was an emotional occasion for Red Bull athlete Cairoli, who has never won at the northern Italian circuit before and who admitted before the race that it was not one of his favorite tracks. But on a weekend when thousands of fans lined the hills around the circuit to support him, and who generated noise and greeted him with a sea of Italian flags and banners, the seven-time world champion did not put a wheel wrong.
Cairoli, in his fluorescent race gear and hallmark yellow boots was fast out of the gates, taking early control of both races and never looked like anything but an absolute winner. the Italian won each moto by a margin of more than four seconds, in each case from Jeremy van Horebeek, who was second overall. Kevin Strijbos was third overall to also make it a good day on the minor podiums for the Belgian duo.
“It’s always special to win a home GP especially on this historic track and with all these people,” said Cairoli. “Normally you only see a crowd like this at the Motocross of Nations. Its good for our sport and the public was great so it was amazing for us all.”
Cairoli, with 443 points from the 10 rounds so far is aiming for his eighth title and now has a 38-point lead in the championships. Clement Desalle is second and van Horebeek is currently third.
Carioli’s MXGP team-mate Ken de Dycker had an encouraging weekend moving up to 14th in the standings and registered a good seventh place in the second MXGP moto. De Dycker of Belgium is working hard to find form after a long injury break.
He said after the race that he had spent time in Rome training with Cairoli before the GP and this had helped improve his fitness and his confidence. “I am more motivated,” he said. “Today I had a good start and that helped. I no longer have any pain in my ankle but I do have some trouble with my fingers cramping up. But it’s getting better and better.”
Herlings delivers two faultless motos for his 40th GP victory
In MX2 Red Bull athlete Jeffrey Herlings had a triumphant day out on the Italian circuit to be rewarded with his 40th GP victory. This milestone is impressive because the Dutch teenager only joined the senior competition in 2010 and is already on his way to his third World Championship title.
“The track was pretty good and this weekend I felt strong,” said Herlings. “I made some good points on Tonus and now I have a 55-point lead and we are working hard to get the third world championship title. It’s my dream to win the title in Lommel (MXGP of Belgium – August 3). I know myself that I am the fastest guy out there. I just have to get a good start and out it all together.”
Herlings has raced nine of the 10 rounds – he was injured and did not compete in Brazil – and has won every race except two, where he placed second.
Red Bull athlete Tixier of France may have had a slow start to the season but as his result in Italy shows, he is gaining in confidence and adding more points to his tally for the year. He has now moved up to third place in the points standings and only Swiss rider Arnaud Tonus separate him from Herlings.
“I’m very happy with my GP, the jumps are pretty good here and you can have a lot of fun,” said a pleased Tixier. “I took two good starts so I didn’t need to pass too much but the track was quite slippery so you had to be careful. Second overall is my best result this season so hopefully I will continue this way.”