Red Bull KTM factory rider Tony Cairoli returned to GP-winning form on Sunday when MXGP visited Switzerland for the first time since 2001.
The Italian wrapped up his weekend with a 1-5 moto result for the victory while Tim Gajser and Romain Febvre took the minor podium places.
Cairoli was the fastest qualifier on Saturday and a dominant win in the opening moto on the KTM 450 SX-F, where he charged through the finish line 7.5 seconds ahead of the next rider put him in the box seat for the overall victory on the very technical track. Cairoli also had a powerful start in the second moto and was in the lead in the early stages, mapping out the same path that had allowed him to win the first.
He hit the front just after the first corner and settled into the race looking comfortable. But Gajser, who had finished back in ninth place in the first race, was on a mission to take back points. While the two front-runners fought hard for the lead in the first half of the race, Cairoli’s team-mate Glenn Coldenhoff and Romain Febvre were also major players. Febvre went on to finish second in the race with Coldenhoff behind him in third. Cairoli had a small tip over halfway through the last lap after some difficulties with a lapped rider but crossed the line in fifth place to secure the overall win.
“It was a very good weekend and we are back on the 450 this weekend,” said Cairoli. “We’re still testing these past weeks but I immediately felt very good with the bike. We won the qualifying and the first moto, and today I was in the lead in the second race.
“Tim (Gajser) and Romain (Febvre) were pushing very hard and also taking some risks in some places. I tried to stay with Tim but I was a bit tired from the first moto. I’m still adapting to the 450 and changing is not always easy, so I settled into third place. Then the last lap the track was very rough and the ruts were deep and they were not easy to get out of. The lapped rider crossed my line so I made a mistake and I crashed. It took a while before I could start again so Glenn and Bobryshev went past.
“I was disappointed then because I wasn’t sure it I could still win the GP. It is good to go into the two-week break with a win and I’ll try to regroup for the sand in Assen.
“My goal is to win the remaining races and to finish as close as possible to the top. So let’s see how we finish the season.”
It was a good day out for Coldenhoff who wrapped up his day in overall fifth with a moto score of 11-3 for a season’s best result for the Dutch rider.
“The feeling and the speed were both good over the weekend but everyone was very close and when you take a bad start like in the first moto, it’s difficult to come back and through the pack,” said Coldenhoff. “I pushed hard but I only managed 11th and I was disappointed not to be in the top 10. I pulled a good start in the second race and I rode all the moto with the riders up front. We’ve been looking for these results, so it was good. I want a good result in Assen because that’s been my goal for a long time. We’ve also made a step up with the bike over the last couple of weeks and everything is working really well, especially on a technical track like this. I’m really happy with the bike at the moment and I can’t wait for Assen.”
KTM Motorsports director, Pit Beirer, commented: “I think the whole weekend went really well. It was even a great Motocross week for us with signing an extended contract for Jeffrey [Herlings] and now being sure that our Americans will join the SuperMotocross Riders’ Cup. We immediately saw yesterday that Tony was really on it and he wanted to win this GP. There was no doubt about it so I was so confident that he would win today. But in the end, you have to put it down on paper and the competition is so tough in MXGP. All these boys are doing such a fantastic job. I really want to congratulate our competitors but our real champion is back and very strong.
“We made some changes to the bike lately. We tried some really crazy stuff but now we found the right package to make him strong again so we’re looking forward to the last couple of races.
“With Glenn, we try not to make any pressure but when he makes the starts and rides on his level, he’s a top three or top five guy in his class. Let’s hope that the good finish in the second moto gives him some positive thoughts for the last races. He’s one of our family and we need to finish the season strong. When you see how many factories are involved and how many factory riders, Glenn’s still in a good position in the championship. Everything is good and let’s hope we get all our injured riders back and have a strong end of the season.”
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The MX2 class in Switzerland was without the services of the four members of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team, who are all still recovering from injuries.
Jeffrey Herlings, who has sat out the last three rounds to heal a collarbone fracture continues to lead the class points and will go into the next round at home in Assen with a 43-point lead over second placed Jeremy Seewer. In the absence of Herlings, and team-mate Pauls Jonass, the MX2 went to Britain’s Max Anstie who prevailed after two hard fights and some very thrilling racing against home favourite Seewer.
French rider Benoit Paturel finished with the podium third. Dutch rider Calvin Vlaanderen was the best KTM rider at fifth. Brian Bogers and Ivo Monticelli brought their KTM 250 SX-F machines in at sixth and 10th. KTM’s Davy Pootjes and Jorge Prado were also both unable to start because of injuries.
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The round in Switzerland’s Frauenfeld-Gachnang, near Zurich, also saw the 10th and final round of the EMX250 championship for 2016, an opportunity for KTM Factory Junior Josiah Natzke to deliver a season’s best result with a 2-3 for overall second.
“I think I maybe found some more confidence,” offered the young New Zealander after his races. “I was more comfortable with the bike and I believed in myself and focused on the job. I got my head down, I had good starts and just twisted the throttle. I loved the track and I like how the ruts and dirt were really grippy.”
Natzke was also excited that he was recently named to race for New Zealand at the Motocross of Nations. “I got the call and I was really stoked to be representing my country at just 17 years-old. It’s not often anyone gets to do that.”
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