Jorge Prado toasted his seventh MX2 success in Loket at the 2018 Grand Prix of Czech Republic and now tops the MX2 World Championship standings for the very first time.
Jorge Prado conquered a gripping MX2 contest on his works 250 SX-F after winning the second moto at Loket and heading a narrowly split podium trio of Calvin Vlaanderen and Thomas Covington as team-mate Pauls Jonass classified fourth overall.
Both Red Bull KTM riders had to negotiate a slick and wet track on Saturday and after mediocre starts away from the metal gate grill left them both buried deep in the pack. Jonass found his way back to 16th (after a crash) while Prado managed 10th. Despite the adventure the duo were firmly in the mix on Sunday.
Prado was part of a thrilling dice for second place in the first moto and then defied Covington to claim the second chequered flag. His achievement meant a ninth win of 2018 and seventh GP.
The 17-year-old Spaniard now grasps the red plate for the first time in his young career.
He leads Jonass by 11 points as the Latvian managed a 4-5 on the day and now has an authentic battle on his hands for a title defence.
“It was a really good weekend,” said Prado. “The track was pretty sketchy but they left it rough from yesterday so the bumps were big from warm-up and it was very physical.
“I tried to attack Covington in the first moto but made a mistake with the goggle and Vlaanderen passed me. I rode strongly at the end but couldn’t rise higher than third.
“In the second moto I had a really good start and could handle the pressure from Covington in the last laps as well which means first place overall and the championship lead.
“I was able to fight for every single point and having the red plate is great. I know I need to keep doing what I am doing and keep the focus.
“I’ll be happy to get back to Belgium now and train in preparation for Lommel – a really tough track where I won last year. It is important to ride relaxed in the sand and not push too much.”
Jonass said: “It is never easy to lose the red plate but I’ll try to stay positive. I was feeling really good on Saturday but something – some click – was missing on Sunday. I was fighting with the track and not really flowing; my bad starts didn’t really help and it wasn’t easy to pass.
“I was riding well in the first 15 minutes of the first moto but then just ‘lost’ it a bit. For sure I am a bit disappointed but we’ll keep working and fighting. There are still six races to go and you only need to win a championship by one point.”
From hard-pack to deep sand – arguably the hardest and most physically demanding fixture of the season now awaits in two weeks time with the Belgian sand of Lommel prepped for the first of six remaining dates on the 2018 calendar.