Red Bull KTM ruled the MXGP podium at a damp and slick Loket for the Grand Prix of Czech Republic as Jeffrey Herlings posted his ninth 1-1 in 2018 MXGP.

World Champion Tony Cairoli came to Loket (with several marked new improvements to the track to drop the speed and heighten the technical demands of the course) with two fractures in his left thumb but started brightly on Saturday to obtain his third Qualification Heat win of the year.

It was team-mate and principal title rival Jeffrey Herlings who was the strongest in the opening laps of the two points-paying motos on Sunday. The Dutchman controlled the two 30 minute and two laps sprints on his 450 SX-F factory machine; lap-times were tight and it was not always easy to gain time on rivals. The first circulations of each race were therefore crucial.


“It was really good today,” said Herlings. “We had a good start gate and I passed Tony [Cairoli] on the first lap of the first moto and pulled a gap directly. In the second moto I was again leading early-on and battled with Tony for a while but was able to escape.

“I’m really happy with this win and [I’m ready] now to get to Lommel in two weeks time. I’ll do my best and go for the win in Belgium – the podium is the goal but it is a sand race and quite close to my house so I definitely want to fight for the best we can get.”

Herlings’ triumph represented his first at Loket since 2013 and his 11th in 2018. Cairoli went 2-2 to limit the numerical damage in the championship standings and the gap is now 30 points between the KTM stars.

Cairoli said: “It was a difficult week after we found out about my thumb but Qualification was good on a dry track and it was easier to ride. Today it rained and I couldn’t really find a good rhythm – the track was very bumpy with a lot of ruts and I had a lot of pain, especially in the second moto and after the first 15 minutes I could barely ride. I was fast behind Jeffrey but when he dropped the times I could not really follow him. Hopefully now we have more time to heal again and be in Lommel with less problems and pain and be able to fight for the win.”

Glenn Coldenhoff rode well to recover 12th position after a tumble on Saturday and posted two top 10 results with a brace of ninth places in the motos for the same ranking overall.

“The weekend started good and I felt very good with the bike and track,” said Coldenhoff. “In the first moto I went from ninth to fifth in the first lap – afterwards I made a mistake and rode very tight to finish ninth.

“For the second moto I had a great start but got block-passed from the inside in the first corner and was down in 24th. I pushed very hard all moto and had some good battles – the result didn’t show the effort. In terms of riding I was happy with the day but the results were a bit disappointing.”