Jeffrey Herlings re-asserted his grip on the 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship with his eighth 1-1 moto haul of the season thanks to victory at Semarang and the Grand Prix of Asia.
Round 13 of 20 in 2018 MXGP meant another hot episode of action in Indonesia and the second of back-to-back dates in the country. After the cloudy humidity of Pangkal Pinang the teams and riders faced the searing mid-30s heat of Semarang with a wide, fast and spectacular clay circuit hosting the Grand Prix of Asia.
Jeffrey Herlings aced an emphatic return from collarbone surgery to own both Grands Prix. The Dutchman had finally been able to train and ride with a degree of normality after his surprising success in Pangkal Pinang and went to Semarang with rising confidence.
He deposed of Tim Gajser late in the first moto to win, and then controlled the second moto from the front to record 19 chequered flags from the 26 run in the 2018 competition so far.
The 23-year-old was able to extend his lead in the championship from 12 to 24 points over team-mate Tony Cairoli. The World Champion suffered through two long races with an injured left thumb to register results of 3-4. The ranking gave #222 fourth place overall and meant that he missed the MXGP podium for just the third time in 2018.
Glenn Coldenhoff, who has just announced his switch to Standing Construct KTM for 2019, was 17th overall. The Dutchman had initially chased hard and placed in the top 10 of the first moto but was then penalised by 10 positions after race direction adjudged #259 to have jumped while medical flags were being waved. He classified 14th in the second moto.
What the Red Bull KTM riders said
Herlings: “I don’t think we could have dreamt of these results.
“We came to Indonesia totally unprepared but to go 2-1 last week and then even better today – with the Qualification Heat and both motos – is absolutely awesome. We couldn’t have wished for anything better.
“This is not the ‘normal’ Jeffrey Herling yet but to leave Indonesia with two GP wins is a blessing.
“Red Bull KTM have done such an incredible job and I loved spending all this time with them. The team gave me a perfect bike and I would not be winning without them.
“I’m now looking forward to Loket in two weeks time. It is not my favourite track but the goal will be as many points as possible.”
Cairoli: “I was very worried this week because I had a lot of pain and until Friday I could barely ride around on a scooter! I tried on Wednesday and it was so painful so I knew it would be hard to race, especially at this hard-pack track that is so tough on the landings.
“On Saturday it was almost impossible to ride without painkillers and for Sunday we decided to have an injection. The pain slowed a little bit but only for 15-20 minutes.
“The first moto was good actually – third place and I didn’t expect that I could be top five with this problem. It was a surprise.
“I had a good start in the second moto but was pushed a little bit wide by Jeffrey on the first corner and we both lost the lead as we were 1-2.
“I made another mistake on the jump, came short and hurt the thumb again so I dropped back to ninth and I knew I needed to regroup. In the end fourth was good and just one point from the podium. We know we have lost some points for the championship but there are still a lot of GPs to come.”
Coldenhoff: “I didn’t feel that great on the track on Saturday and had a bad start in the first moto on Sunday – it was really hard to come through and not easy to pass. In the end I should have been eighth but was penalised for not respecting the yellow flags.
“Normally I’m the first person to slow when I see the flags but this time I really could not see them in time. We complained after the moto but nothing could be done. 18th was really disappointing. I made some small mistakes in the second moto but was very far back. I gave everything I had but I think it wasn’t my moto. I don’t really know what happened but we’ll analyse it and work on it.
“We need to improve and forget this one. I’m not happy going home but on the other side I am happy to be going home! I want to re-group, work hard and come back swinging in Loket.”
What’s next for Red Bull KTM?
MXGP will have a free weekend to recover from the travel and jetlag before the slick hard-pack of Loket at the Grand Prix of Czech Republic on the weekend of July 22.
But there will be little rest for Herlings as he prepares to take on the final round of the 2018 Dutch Masters of Motocross at Zwarte Cross on July 15.
Herlings has a 30-point lead on Gautier Paulin with Max Anstie another nine points back.
Will Herlings be in top shape after his gruelling Asia race schedule? Likely not. But considering what he achieved over the last two weekend’s you would need money to burn to bet against The Bullet as he chases down the Dutch championship title in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans.
It could be an emotional weekend at Lichtenvoorde.