Red Bull KTM Factory riders, Tony Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings were in complete control of the first ever MXGP of Thailand on Sunday.
There was no shortage of motocross fans at this venue as 17,000 braved the oppressive heat to watch a KTM master class.
Cairoli led superbly from the front on both of his trips to this new track with a brillant display of riding skill and tactics on the KTM 350 SX-F that left riders on the bigger 450 cc bikes little chance to match him.
Herlings only arrived in Thailand on Friday morning but it didn’t show as he followed up his convincing 40 seconds win in the MX2 race with a fourth place behind MX1 riders Cairoli, Gautier Paulin (Kawasaki Racing) and Clement Desalle (Rockstar Energy Suzuki) in the hard-fought Super Final.
In similar fashion to last week’s race in Qatar, Herlings got himself in front of 17 other MX1 riders and looks to be thriving under the new overseas MXGP format.
At one point Herlings almost made a pass on third placed Clement Desalle in the closing lap of the Super Final but when the MX1 rider opened the gas Herlings elected to back off and settled for fourth.
He will now have to wait for the GPs in Mexico and Brazil for another chance at the bigger machines.
CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit’s Tommy Searle looks to be getting stronger on his new machine with fifth place in the first race and then one place behind his old MX2 rival (Herlings) in the Super Final.
In general the British riders didn’t have the best round in either class – Max Anstie was the best placed Brit rider in MX2 with 3rd in race one and ninth overall.
British riders MX1 race one: Tommy Searle (5th), Jamie Law (17th), Jason Dougan (21st)
British riders MX2 race one: Max Anstie (3rd), Mel Pocock (15th), Jake Nicholls (19th), James Cottrell (24th), James Dunn (27th) and EBB (28th)
British riders Super Final: Tommy Searle (5th), Shaun Simpson (23rd), Mel Pocock (26th), Max Anstie (31st) – Jason Dougan, Jake Nicholls and EBB didn’t make the Super Final.
Following the GPs of Qatar and Thailand, the factory teams now return to Europe where action will resume on the Easter weekend in Valkenswaard, Netherlands – a track where Herlings and Cairoli are known to excel in its soft sand.