The first ever visit to China brought a successful MXGP term to a close with a second consecutive MX2 world title, a breakthrough rookie season from Tom Vialle – who sealed fourth in the standings thanks to the runner-up position in Shanghai – and more silverware for the KTM 450 SX-F after Jeffrey Herlings’ double triumph in Turkey and now China and Tony Cairoli’s four victories in the first five rounds.
2018 MXGP World Champion Herlings harried Standing Construct KTM’s Glenn Coldenhoff in the first race as the two riders finished within a second of each other at the flag: Coldenhoff celebrating his fourth moto win from the last four rounds.
In the second race Coldenhoff again set the pace but once Herlings had moved into second place he set about chasing his countryman hard in the final five minutes.
The Red Bull KTM man had to push to close a three second gap but relegated Coldenhoff with less than two laps remaining to secure his second overall win in a row thanks to his 2-1 scorecard.
Coldenhoff made sure of his fifth consecutive podium and outpointed Gautier Paulin to rise to third place in the final standings.
After dominating 2018 both Cairoli and Herlings were the victim of injuries this season but still managed to collect eight podium results between them despite only 12 appearances.
Jeffrey Herlings: “I wanted to finish the year strongly: I owed Red Bull, KTM and all my partners that after the injury. I gave everything I had and I’m very grateful to have won the last two GPs. I’ll race in the sand next week for the final preparation for Assen.
“Hopefully with Team Holland we can go for the win. Then, next year in MXGP, I want to fight hard to get the title back. I really enjoyed the track here – it was tough to pass in places – but we won the GP and that’s the most important thing.”
Jorge Prado took first place in the start gate on Sunday afternoon courtesy of his 14th Qualification Heat victory of the year on Saturday and from 17 attempts through 2019.
Tom Vialle followed his teammate to create the second 1-2 for the MX2 racers in their Saturday efforts.
In the first moto Vialle and Prado assumed their customary positions at the start of the field around the opening corners of the 1.6km layout. Prado took control by the end of the lap and rode home to his 30th win from 33 appearances. Vialle was a lonely 3rd but comfortably ahead of Jago Geerts.
The last outing of the season saw Prado despatch his MX2 career in the best possible way after earning his 23rd holeshot. Vialle slotted into second place and kept close to the #61 machine until the chequered flag.
After 17 Grands Prix and 34 motos Prado claimed 16 (13 of those with 1-1s) and 31 wins and completes the year with a 113 point margin over Thomas Kjer Olsen.
Vialle secured six podium results in his maiden term and just missed out on the top three by 6 points.
Jorge Prado: “Another great season and after 2018 we managed to do it again with some great races, consistency and another title. I cannot be happier. It was incredible. This weekend was my last GP with the MX2 bike and I wanted to do well and finish on the top.
“Tom was riding well today so I had to push. Two weeks on the 450 now before the Nations and some solid training to arrive there in good form. It will be a big challenge and we’ll see how it goes. I have great memories at Assen and I’m really motivated.”