Thrilling second MXGP victory of 2017 for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tony Cairoli while Jorge Prado celebrated his first career success in the MX2 class and Pauls Jonass seizes the red plate.
The fifth round of 19 in the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship delivered stunning scenes at a packed Pietramurata circuit near Arco di Trento in the picturesque climes of northern Italy and close to Lake Garda.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tony Cairoli satisfied the clamour from most of the 29,500 crowd by riding to results of first and second despite a first corner stall in the second moto that left the Sicilian down in 22nd place.
Jorge Prado won a ‘battle of teammates’ in MX2 with his very first career success in what was just his eighth Grand Prix, but the Latvian rose to the top of the standings for the second time in 2017 after grasping the red plate with his runner-up finish.
31-year-old Cairoli set out his intentions from Saturday by claiming the holeshot in the qualification race and riding free to his maiden Pole of the year – permitting the first pick of slots in the metallic-floored gate and for the slightly uphill drag into the tight first and second turns.
On Sunday Cairoli gunned the KTM 450 SX-F to the holeshot and although he had Tim Gajser and Arnaud Tonus for company for the rest of the moto he remained ahead of the pack for his third race win of ’17.
The second moto start was dramatic.
#222 fell and was clipped by a large section of the pack. He remounted towards the rear of the field and on a tight, slippery and difficult track for overtaking his chances of victory had all but gone. The former six-time MXGP champion then produced a performance for the ages to trawl through to second position – using a lefthander from a step-up jump to remarkable effect – gaining five positions on five different laps from the manoeuvre alone, sending spectators (and his team) crazy.
The reception for Tony and his 79th Grand Prix success was emotional and ecstatic from the vast flock of public that rushed the start straight for a view of the final podium.
“I think this is one of my best races, best GPs ever,” declared Cairoli. “I hit the bank on the first corner and almost crashed into the mud but then crashed in the second corner and was hit by a lot of people. I was very p*ssed off that I made a mistake and then said ‘I need to put myself on the podium’.
“I did my best to come back from 20th place to do that. It was pretty sketchy in some places but I made it happen.
“When I got to seventh or eighth place I saw the group in front and thought it was possible to catch [Evgeny] Bobryshev for the overall win and kept pushing and pushing and making passes. I had some sketchy moments but that is part of racing: if you want to win you have to take risks.
“I’m really happy.”
See also: 2017 Trentino Grand Prix Race Results
Jeffrey Herlings was riding at the scene of past success in the MX2 division and made his bow on the around the Arco ruts and bumps. The Dutchman was 14th and struggled in the first outing but finally nailed a good start to slot into the top four in the second moto and gained his best finish in MXGP to date with fourth place by the flag for eighth overall.
Glenn Coldenhoff, who had recovered from his tweaked shoulder after a hefty crash in the Grand Prix of Mexico two weeks previously, started the first moto badly and circulated with Herlings – eventually taking 17th spot. #259 stuck with his countryman around the opening turns of the second sprint and completed the race with 10th and 14th in the Grand Prix classification.
“We had some issues on Saturday, made some changes and then felt much better,” said Coldenhoff. “We had a problem in the qualification heat and it made me a bit wary but I was hopeful for the motos because if I knew I had the start then I’d be okay.
“I had to use the clutch a little in the first start and didn’t get away well. I wasn’t comfortable in that moto and couldn’t do what I wanted. I was fighting hard but was stuck behind [Tanel] Leok for a while. I finished 17th and was really disappointed. The second moto start was much better and I was in the top four but didn’t have the speed like the top guys – I was a little bit off the pace. 10th is a solid result but I’m still disappointed.”
On the emotions of the weekend, Pit Beirer, KTM Sport Director, said: “Today was for sure one of the nicest race days I’ve seen…Tony – how he showed up yesterday and won the Heat, won the first moto and then got up from that crash and won when the GP was lost – just turned everything around.
“Hearing the Italian anthem on the podium, seeing that crowd and some of the strongest people in the paddock cry – it was such a special moment.
“It is amazing to see how much energy and power is in a team and then how the release is quite big. It really is an incredible day.”
MXGP barely pauses now with round six of the series taking place this coming weekend at the Eurocircuit, Valkenswaard in the Netherlands for the Grand Prix of Europe.