Red Bull KTM Factory Racing came away from the MX GP of Italy with Jeffrey Herlings grabbing the MX2 GP and Ken de Dycker and Tony Cairoli finishing 2-3 in MX1. That was enough for Cairoli to leave the historic Maggiora with the red plate.
Herlings retained his perfect scorecard for the season while Cairoli’s third place finish blemished his record slightly. But he has still not finished lower than second all season.
The six-times World Champion did make a valiant charge in the final two laps of his second moto to close in on the leader Gautier Paulin. But despite being urged on by a hugely vocal Italian crowd, he wasn’t able to make it stick.
After a fourth place in the opening moto following two small offs, Cairoli would have finished overall second to Paulin if he had taken the second moto victory. He eventually settled for a 4-2 result for overall third, leaving second overall to his KTM factory team-mate and friend de Dycker of Belgium.
Cairoli said he probably “threw away” the GP in the opening moto. “It was my mistake. They watered the track and I lost the front end and slipped over. I twisted my knee and I had some pain so I was riding a little stiff for the rest of the race.”
He said he went all out to win the second moto but after some treatment on his knee he didn’t feel so good for the first ten minutes. “I got a good start but I wasn’t riding with confidence but then I warmed up and could push more,” said the defending champion.
For de Dycker the race was a confidence booster and he said it was great to be back on the podium after a period where he had been having problems with back pain. “I needed that to be mentally strong again,” he said and added that he had enjoyed riding on the circuit with the support of the big crowd of Italian fans.
In MX2, Herlings did the business on the slick, steep and very technical Italian track. He won both motos to take his ninth GP win for the 2013 season and the twenty-fifth of his young career. The Dutch teenager continues to head for a firm place in the sport’s history books and has dropped only three points in the 2013 season. Yet another double moto win came as no particular surprise to his growing number of fans.
But Herlings had to work slightly harder for his wins this weekend, largely due to a pair of dogged rides by Russia’s Alex Tonkov who was first out of the gate in the opening moto and who held the lead for the first 18 minutes.
The Russian’s efforts eventually went unrewarded when he crashed just before the finish and while is bike slid across the line, he was deemed not to be on it at the time. Race officials subsequently took away his points. Tonkov challenged the dominance of Herlings again in the second moto but this time The Bullet took the lead in the first phase of the race. He eventually won the motos by margins of seven seconds and 4.4 seconds respectively on the remodelled northern Italian circuit. Herlings now has a massive 124 points lead going into the second half of the season.
“Tonkov was tough for me this weekend. He made three good starts but in the end I managed to pass him and made a pretty big gap,” Herlings said after the race.
He now returns to race next weekend in the Dutch Championship and to prepare for the next GP in Sweden. “I’ve never won there but I hope to do so this time,” added Herlings.
MX2 Factory team-mate Jordi Tixier picked up a couple of fourth places in the two motos over the track that is marked by impressive hills and deep ruts and was totally unforgiving for any rider who made a mistake. In the end he was narrowly deprived of third overall in the last lap when a late move by Italy’s Lupino spoiled his party. Tixier, who is still second in the championship points, said he was disappointed.
“I pushed hard and I had the best lap time of the race, but I had problems with the start. Now next week I will train in Belgium and we will try to get the start problems sorted out before the next GP in Sweden. Hopefully I will make a better start and maybe I can win there,” he said.
KTM’s Head of Motorsports Pit Beirer said it had been a great GP if a little difficult for his factory team. “I think this is one of the nicest GPs we’ve had in recent years and maybe we need to think about coming back more often to these traditional tracks where we have such a lot of fans,” he said.
“For us this was a difficult weekend but we had some good fights and that’s good for the fans. Jeffrey managed to win again today but of course the crowd wanted to see Tony win. But if you can make the best out of difficult days, that’s how you win championships. We’re still in very good shape regarding the overall points”