Red Bull KTM factory riders Tony Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings both delivered gutsy rides in their respective MXGP and MX2 GPs on Sunday at Pietramurata Italy to come away with two podium seconds.
Cairoli finished with equal points to GP winner Max Nagl but took second place by virtue of his 1-2 result, as against Nagl’s 2-1. After four rounds it is also clear that the 2015 MXGP Championship is developing into a highly competitive and thrilling series.
Cairoli is now third on the points table, again with equal points to Nagl – each have 170 – while Clement Desalle continues to hold the red plate but only has a one-point lead.
Cairoli got away cleanly in his opening moto. He grabbed the holeshot and rode in the lead all the way to the checkered flag. But Nagl and the American Ryan Villopoto were in his shadow. And with 10 minutes to go Desalle joined the lead group and it was clear it was anybody’s race. Cairoli fended off an attack by Nagl with three laps to go and then Desalle counter attacked and moved into second place. Cairoli held his ground and went on to take the win.
Cairoli did not get away as cleanly in the second moto and was never able to catch Nagl, but the competition was tight for the minor places between him, Villopoto and Desalle. By then the hard pack track was very gnarly after a big day of competition and the sun had gone down behind the Dolomites. Then in quick succession Villopoto went out after a spectacular crash and Desalle also had difficulties, leaving the way open for Cairoli to take second.
Tony Cairoli: “The first race was very good but I would like to win the first GP for the Italians here. I tried to keep Max behind me but it was a very close race between four of us. I tried to get a good start in the second race but Max was quicker and he just pulled away in the first laps. I saw a lot of crashes during the race, the track was very sketchy and it was easy to crash so I didn’t really like it. It’s not one of my better tracks but I was better this year than last.”
Cairoli’s teammate Ken de Dycker finished a respectable overall seventh and Tommy Searle, returning after a six-week injury break was overall thirteenth.
Ken de Dycker: “This week we made some changes to the suspension and the bike is now much easier for me to ride. I still have a problem with the start, but despite that I still had a good speed even though the track was very slippery.”
Tommy Searle: “Obviously I need to realize how seriously I was injured. I was in a brace for four weeks and I started to exercise one week, ride the bike and then come here with just two days on the bike. I’m happy to finish two races and have something to build on. The track was very difficult. I felt better than I thought I would and it’s nice to be here with the team.”
Earlier in the day Jeffrey Herlings rode a spectacular opening MX2 moto and crossed the line 15 seconds ahead of his nearest rival. But he missed the start in his second race letting Slovenian Tim Gajser escape at the front. He was already in podium contention after a handful of laps and steadily trimmed the time deficit over the rest of the race. Herlings put himself in contention to make the pass in the final lap but cross-rutted in part of the course that was half shade and half sunlight. He scrambled back onto his KTM 250 SX-F and crossed the line in second.
Jeffrey Herlings: “The start was not good in the second race but overall we had a good Sunday. We won the qualifying on Saturday and the fist moto pretty easy. I had a really bad start in the second moto but I worked my way up to the front then I had a stupid crash that was my fault. I picked up some points so I look forward to next weekend. I am not sure I would have caught Gajser. For sure I could have been close but obviously he did a great job. Hopefully I can take the win in Valkenswaard in front of my home crowd. I’ve already won there five times in a row. So that’s what we are hoping for.”
Herlings teammate Pauls Jonass finished eleventh overall and maintains third overall in the points.
Pauls Jonass: “I was struggling the whole weekend to find the rhythm and I didn’t feel very confident on this track because I had a crash yesterday when I lost the back wheel. I’m happy to be going home safe and I’m looking forward to Valkenswaard.”
KTM Factory juniors contest EMX125 The three-rider KTM Factory Junior Team was out in force for the opening round of the EMX 125 class and Jorge Prado Garcia of Spain finished third in his first outing in the class. Josiah Natzke, newly arrived from New Zealand to join the Stefan Everts-managed team was a solid fifth overall in his first appearance and British rider Conrad Mewes finished eighth.
Jorge Prado: “I’m really happy after this because I trained hard this winter to get the feel for the 125 bike so to be already on the podium means a lot to me. I will try to be like this all season. I though I could be near the front but not on the podium. There are a lot of good riders so I didn’t expect that.”
Josiah Natzke: “I struggled with qualifying so that’s something I have to learn. It was a bit up and down in the races but it ended okay. In the second race I was up to fifth or sixth and I made some good passes on the first lap. I’ve got a lot of things to work on for next weekend especially in the sand.”
Conrad Mewes: “We put in a lot of effort building up to this race. I wish I could have finished in a better position. The starts are the most important part of the race so if I can get that sorted I think my speed is enough to run with the top guys.”
KTM rider Adam Sterry finished with a podium third in the opening round of EMX 250, while KTm factory rider Davy Pootjes was ranked 12th.