The weekend at the sandpit that is Valkenswaard has come to an end, as Red Bull KTM Factory riders Jeffrey Herlings and Tom Vialle dominate the MXGP and MX2 classes at the MXGP of The Netherlands. KTM Factory now leave round two of the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship with two red plates as they lead both championships.
Coming into the weekend, all eyes were on Herlings and what he could do on a sandy circuit and in front of his home fans and one of the biggest questions is who would join him on the podium.
In race one, it was Red Bull KTM Factory’s Jorge Prado with the FOX Holeshot closely followed by fellow KTM factory rider Jeffrey Herlings and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP rider Jeremy Seewer. Just a couple of moments later though, Seewer made a mistake and crashed out of the race.
A lot happened on the first lap, as Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Arnaud Tonus and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider Pauls Jonass also came together with both riders going down, loosing quite a few positions. Also getting caught up in a bit of drama was SM Action M.C Migliori – J1 Racing’s Henry Jacobi and the Standing Construct GasGas Factory rider Glenn Coldenhoff. Both riders crashed out and were left with a lot of work to do. Meanwhile Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider and qualifying race winner, Arminas Jasikonis was in seventh position, making his way through the field.
On the official first lap of the race, it was Prado who led the way followed by Team HRC’s Tim Gajser, Herlings and Jasikonis. SS24 KTM MXGP privateer Shaun Simpson got off to a good start and was running in an impressive fifth place.
Gajser didn’t wait long and made a swift move on the MXGP rookie, Prado. Herlings also followed, bringing Jasikonis with him, pushing the young Spaniard down a further two position. A few laps later and Gajser had already ran away with it, extending his race lead to 7.425 second over Herlings who was being chased down by the #27 of Jasikonis.
With the top three making a run for it, the battle was then on for fourth place. Simpson was clearly feeling good out on track and was taking time out of Prado who was ahead of him. He may have pushed a little too hard though, as he took a pretty big fall, finishing the race in 25th.
Having a good ride in the race was the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP rider Gautier Paulin who was in fifth, before making a pit-stop for goggles, losing a position to the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing’s Clement Desalle. With fresh goggles, the Frenchman was able to catch the Kawasaki rider and muscle his way through to move back into P5. Both riders finished the race in fifth and sixth respectively.
With just a few laps to go, Herlings was pushing to find new lines and improve his lap times, but by this point Gajser was already 13.967 second ahead, as Jasikonis continued to follow in third. In the end Gajser took the first race win, as Herlings was forced to settle for second, and Jasikonis finishing third.
Coldenhoff made a good come back from the back of the field, as he placed ninth ahead of Red Bull KTM Factory’s Antonio Cairoli who rode a steady race, despite his struggles with his knee injury.
Then it was time for race two, and the second time around it was Herlings with a flying start, to secure the second FOX Holeshot of the weekend. Cairoli, Gajser and Jasikonis followed in tow, while Jonass had another unlucky start to the race, going down in the opening lap.
Gajser wasted no time in this race, knowing that he couldn’t let Herlings run away just yet, he made a quick move on Cairoli and put his head down to chase down the Dutch rider. Not long after Jasikonis also found his way past the nine-time world champion to move up to P3. Pushing not to lose the guys ahead, Jasikonis was improving his sectors as it was clear that he was set on making sure he was stood on that podium at the end of the race.
Getting another good start in the second MXGP race was Shaun Simpson who was down in fifth, ahead of the PAR Homes RFX Racing pilot Evgeny Bobryshev and Team Honda SR Motoblouz rider Jeremy Van Horebeek.
All the while, Gajser had his sight set on the win, as he took a chunk of time out of Herlings, with just 2 seconds separating 1st and second. While it was obvious that Gajser was keen to secure a win here in Valkenswaard, he may have been pushing a little too hard at times, as he made several mistakes in one lap, losing around 2 seconds on the leader.
Keen to make up for the crash in race one, Simpson was moving quick and it paid off as he was able to catch and pass Cairoli for P4, pushing the KTM Factory rider to fifth.
As Herlings continued to lead the way with two laps to go, it looked like Gajser had found a second breath of air and by the following lap had already halved that gap between him at 1st place, and that’s when the race for the win was really on.
Though Gajser pushed hard, it wasn’t quite enough, and it was Herlings who took the second race victory, to take the overall win in front of his home fans in Valkenswaard. Gajser finished second, with Jasikonis able to hold on to third, despite a big crash and a pit-stop to change his goggles.
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Shaun Simpson finished in a strong fourth position, followed by Cairoli and Van Horebeek as well as Glenn Coldenhoff who finished the race in seventh.
Red Bull KTM Factory, Jeffrey Herlings: “It’s been a great weekend for the whole Red Bull KTM Team, it was very demanding but I’m very pleased to win my ninth overall here in Valkenswaard. We had great battles, my team did a very good job, I’m so glad to be on top at my home GP. Everything so far is better than last year, I’m really happy but it’s a long season and many things can happened that I think the most important thing is to stay consistent and that’s my goal for this year”.
Team HRC, Tim Gajser: “Overall I’m super happy, especially with what happened yesterday and also with the gate pick that I had for today, it was difficult to make a good start but I managed to make two solid ones in top 5. First race was nice as I was able to make quick passes in the beginning and a little gap to control the race. In the second race I was behind Jeffrey and we were really pushing. In the second lap I got roosted and could see properly but anyway I tried to stay with him. Overall I’m super happy and already looking forward to Argentina”.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory, Arminas Jasikonis: “The last race was really tough. The last 15 minutes were difficult in my mind, not physically. I had quite a big crash but that didn’t stop me, I stopped for goggles because it was so difficult with lappers. Overall it was a tough race, but it was worth it for a podium. It’s been a long way for me and thanks to all my team, they always kept believing in me, they gave me a chance, and this is a little payback for their hard work but for sure I will keep going for many more”.
Meanwhile in MX2, it was Red Bull KTM Factory’s Tom Vialle who claimed the first FOX Holeshot in MX2. Then came his Red Bull KTM Factory team-mate Rene Hofer, followed by the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider Jed Beaton. Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 riders Jago Geerts and Ben Watson were down in sixth and seventh, looking to charge forward and end the weekend with top results.
In the first few laps, SM Action M.C Migliori – J1 Racing’s Maxime Renaux was already making his way forward as he chased down Beaton for second. Shortly after Beaton was then locked in battle with Geerts, who was keen on taking third place from the Australian. Vialle continued to lead with Renaux in second, as Beaton and Geerts were left fighting for who will fill that third spot in the race.
PAR Homes RFX Racing rider Josh Gilbert got off to a good start in the opening MX2 race, as he rode in 11th ahead of Mitchell Harrison of BUD Racing Team.
By lap four, Vialle had already formed a 5.969 second lead over Renaux and Geerts who had finally moved into third. The following lap, Hofer and Hitachi KTM fuelled by Milawaukee rider Conrad Mewse were both able to pass Beaton, who was followed by F&H Racing’s Roan Van De Moosdijk.
At the same time, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider Thomas Kjer Olsen was also making his way back into points following a pile-up at the start of the race. From virtually last, Olsen was back in 19th, wasting no time to take as many positions as he could so salvage vital championship points.
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Meanwhile at the front, Geerts had managed to pass Renaux for second and was six-seconds down on the race leader, with Vialle next on his agenda. By lap nine, Geert was taking some time out of Vialle, as the leader started to make his way through traffic. Backmarkers began to play a huge part, as Geerts was able to hammer down and catch Vialle and just two laps later was on his tail chasing him for the win.
With two minutes plus two laps to go, the race for the win was on and all to play for. Geerts managed to catch and pass Vialle, winning race one here in Valkenswaard.
In race two, it was once again Vialle with a perfectly timed start, as the young Frenchman crossed the white chalk line first to take the second FOX Holeshot in the Netherlands. The KTM Factory rider was followed by Hitachi KTM fuelled by Milwaukee rider Bas Vaessen who got a fantastic start, behind him was the Diga Procross GasGas rider Jeremy Sydow and Honda 114 Motorpsorts’ Nathan Crawford.
Meanwhile, Geerts was extremely unlucky and crashed out in the start. He was left winded and had to get going again in last, about a minute behind the riders ahead. As Geerts got going, Crawford came under attack in sixth and ended up losing two positions Simon Laegenfelnder of Diga Procross GasGas and Beaton.
While in second, Renaux made a mistake and went down, going from third down to eighth. As Mathys Boisrame of F&H Kawasaki Racing inherits Renaux’s position in the race. But that didn’t last long as Sydow chased down the Kawasaki rider and the two began their battle, with both riders swapping positions quite a few times before Boisrame was able to retain the position.
By lap three, Vialle was already leading by an impressive 13 seconds, before Vaessen had an issue and was forced out of second place. A heartbreaking end to his race in which he was looking really strong. Boisrame moved up into second, with Beaton moving up a position, pushing Sydow down to fifth.
In lap six, Geerts had already made some progressed as he moved into the top 20. Boisrame then went down out of second place, while Vialle made a mistake of his own, but that didn’t change the results as the young Frenchman was 45 seconds ahead in the race.
As Mewse pulled in for fresh goggles, this allowed Watson to move up into sixth. Laengenfelder also took a position from Sydow moving into third. Renaux then came after the GasGas rider and took another position from him, pushing him to fifth.
With four minutes and two laps to go, Geerts was already up into 13th and a couple of laps later was inside the top 10. For the next three laps the Yamaha Factory rider put his head down and pushed hard passing Boisrame and Sydow on the last lap finishing the race in an impressive seventh place.
But it was Vialle who took the race win and with it secured the overall Grand Prix victory here for the MXGP of the Netherlands. To make the victory even sweeter, he also took the red plate from Geerts, becoming the new championship leader going into the Argentinian GP in a couple weeks’ time.
Red Bull KTM Factory, Tom Vialle: “I’m really happy with this weekend, I felt really good on the track already yesterday. Today I had a good first race, I got the holeshot and was leading almost the whole race until Jago passed me and in the second race I got the FOX holeshot again and was leading the race. It was really good and I was feeling really good on the bike. First time I take the red plate so I’m really happy about that”.
SM Action MC Migliori – J1 Racing, Maxime Renaux: “It was a good weekend in Valkenswaard, I finished second overall, my second podium in MX2 class, the last one was in Imola in 2019, so really happy to start the season like that. Really happy about the team and the bike, as well as the starts, so everything went really well today. Just need to keep going and dig deep for the championship now that the season has started”.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2, Jago Geerts: “It was still a pretty good weekend for me. third overall is not so bad. In the first race I didn’t get the best start but in the end I could pass Tom and win the race. But in the second race I had a good start, I was in second, then on the second corner I had a really big crash and hurt my ribs a little bit. I started from last and I still came back to seventh so still some solid points and was still a good weekend”.
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