A sunny Grand Prix of Germany at Teutschenthal was the scene of a powerful Red Bull KTM Factory Racing performance with Tony Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings sharing moto victories and with the Sicilian grasping his third overall triumph at what was the eighth round of 19 in the 2017 campaign.
The undulating and hard-pack course provided its typical blend of speed, long ruts and bumpy sections and for the second year in a row Cairoli was able to master proceedings to go 2-1 in the two 30-minute and two lap motos and defeat Latvian GP winner Jeffrey Herlings.
Also riding a works KTM 450 SX-F, Herlings owned the first race (posting a scorecard of 1-2) and collected his third podium finish in a row as runner-up.
In the MX2 category Pauls Jonass classified third overall for his sixth rostrum appearance of the season and continues to hold the red plate as championship leader.
A relentless thunderstorm Friday evening gave the Talkessel mud a thorough dowsing, and ensured a rough and technical layout on Saturday with line choice and deep ruts the distinctive obstacles through the practice sessions and Qualification Heats.
Cairoli aced his third Pole Position of 2017 after Tim Gajser’s crash and Herlings’ flight from fifth place to second ensured a pair of 450 SX-Fs occupying the two first gate slots.
Cairoli – performing on the stage where he was victorious in 2016 and also memorably at the 2013 Motocross of Nations – set the pace in the formative stages of the first moto until a flurry of lap-times by Herlings (the only rider to dip into the 1min 47s) pulled the Dutchman to the front. From there the MX2 World Champion eased his pace and Cairoli caught up, instigating a close and tense chase through the backmarkers and ending with Herlings claiming his third consecutive moto victory by less than two seconds.
In the second moto Herlings was hunting his second win at Germany in a row (after MX2 glory 12 months previously) and to be the first to do so back-to-back in different categories but his start was not as effective as Cairoli’s and the championship leader escaped undisturbed to the chequered flag.
It was his fourth success at Teutschenthal and fifth podium from eight events in 2017, permitting a hefty 44 point gap over Gajser in the standings.
Don’t miss: Gajser talks about his ‘toughest’ weekend ever
See also: MXGP of Germany results
Herlings was able to able to defend second place from Gautier Paulin and his third rostrum in the last three GPs means he has risen to sixth in the MXGP table and is 84 points from his team-mate.
“It always feels amazing to win,” Cairoli. “Last year here I did it with more technique because the track had more ruts so it was a bit slower. This year was nice, very good ground and another technical level but the speed was a bit higher.
“I was able to push the whole moto so I’m very happy with this GP win. I have a good feeling with this track. I’ve had some good races here and I remember well the Motocross of Nations. It is a special place for me and one of my favourite hard-packed tracks. I think the ground is a bit similar to my track at home.”
“We have been very consistent the last couple of races and I feel like there are a lot of things possible in the world championship – I am not talking about the title but maybe to get some more positions towards the podium spots,” said Herlings. “I’ll keep working and keep charging. I feel like where I want to be. The speed is so high and you need to be focussed.”
Glenn Coldenhoff made a decent start in the first moto and held off the attentions of Romain Febvre to finish sixth – his second highest classification of the season. In the second outing he survived a scary off-track excursion and recovered his composure to register seventh place for sixth overall. The Dutchman is now in the top 10 of the MXGP rankings.
“We are heading in the right direction,” declared Coldenhoff. “We have done some different kind of training recently and it looks like it is paying off. A 6-7 means a couple of solid results and the starts were quite good. I had a sketchy moment in the second race when I ran off the track and from then on I started thinking a little bit and rode a bit easier because I didn’t want to go down. I think we can be happy with the day.”
After riding to a lively second position in Saturday’s Qualification sprint with his factory KTM 250 SX-F, Pauls Jonass led 12 of 18 laps in the first moto but couldn’t quite match Jeremy Seewer’s intensity and opted for a safe runner-up spot in spite of a brief crash. Jorge Prado was part of the group jostling for third place until the Spaniard needed to enter the pitlane for new goggles and dropped to 12th.
In the second race Jonass was again the fastest rider away from the line and the Latvian tried to keep a distance over the pursuing pack. He would ultimately bring the #41 machine across the line in fifth after displaying maturing and exercising caution. Prado also adopted the same approach in the search for an effective rhythm and was 10th.
Pauls has a 37 point margin over Jeremy Seewer in the MX2 contest with Jorge in seventh for what is his rookie Grand Prix term.
“I got two holeshots and led the first one until a tip-over,” said Jonass. “I lost a bit of confidence with the track and made some mistakes so to still finish second was really good.
“Teutschenthal is not my favourite track and doesn’t suit my style so well and I didn’t find the flow in that second moto. I tried to improve but was fighting the track a bit.
“Anyway third overall and only losing five points in the championship was not so bad. We’ll look forward to the next GP and getting those back.”
Prado commented: “My starts were not the best today and in the first moto I had a problem with my goggles and had to stop for a new pair. I started to regain ground up until twelfth. I was a bit too slow on the first lap of the second moto and many riders passed me. It was difficult to find a rhythm and three laps before the end I had a small crash that cost me one or two places. I’m not too happy…but it was a good experience today and I feel like I learned a lot.”
The FIM Motocross World Championship moves quickly west through Europe and to northern France where the hillside setting of Ernee will host round nine and a raucous and popular stop on the Grand Prix trail.