Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders Tont Cairoli of Italy and Dutch rider Jeffrey Herlings were once again in a class of their own on Sunday, winning both the MXGP and MX2-class GPs of Britain at the Matterley Basin circuit.
After round eight, the halfway mark of the 2014 season, both KTM factory riders lead the points in their classes and have laid a solid foundation in their quest to defend their respective world titles.
Heavy rain on Saturday had made qualifying a muddy affair. The track dried out for Sunday but got progressively rougher and more difficult to ride as the day went on and ruts and berms more daunting.
Cairoli wrapped up a great day on the British circuit with a 1-2 moto result that not only saw him deliver near impeccable riding on the KTM 350 SX-F, but also, just one week after the unexpected death of his father, a really heroic personal performance.
“It’s been a tough week for sure for me,” said World Champion, Cairoli. “When you lose someone really close, it’s not so easy to go on but that’s what he always wanted, for me to ride, so try to continue what was his dream”
KTM’s MX1 Factory team manager Claudio Di Carli also paid tribute to Cairoli’s winning performance, saying: “Tony is a great rider and a great person. He wanted to win here to do his best to honour his dad who always believed in him right from the beginning of his racing career.
“Tony’s father was also like a family member for all the team. Once again Tony has shown us what a special person he is.”
Cairoli was a start gate to flag leader in the opening moto and while he was back at sixth at the start of his second, he had worked his way up to second place and was doing after the race win with 12 minutes and two laps remaining.
He then set about closing the gap on leader Clement Desalle, cutting it right back to three seconds before he ran out of race time. Tony also had a small problem with a broken spoke in the rear wheel after coming hard off one of the jumps, and the pit crew had signalled him to settle for the overall victory. Desalle and Jeremy van Horebeek, both of Belgium picked up the two minor podium places.
Cairoli said he always likes racing at the Matterley Basin track. “I like it here. It’s one of my favourites. There are lots of lines and it’s not so difficult as some of the other tracks we race. This weekend it was a little wetter than normal but it was still nice,” he added.
Cairoli’s GP win was number 68 in his racing career and his display of riding on the deeply rutted circuit was, as always, thrilling and admirable. Factory team-mate Ken de Dycker put in his first complete GP after a very long injury break that has seen him sidelined for the first half of the season. He finished overall 21st position.
Ken de Dycker commented: “Now I am able to train more and this was the first time I could ride without a brace so that was already better. I don’t have so much power but if I ride look then its okay. My physical condition is getting better.”
Double moto victory for Jeffrey Herlings in MX2 Herlings got the race program off to a great start in his opening moto. Riding the KTM 250 SX-F, he carved his way to a seemingly effortless victory by a margin of 21 seconds, leaving the rest of the field way behind. Herlings was again impressive in the second moto, keeping up an unrelenting race pace as the track continued to break up to seal yet another race win Arnaud Tonus of Switzerland and Tim Gaijser of Slovenia placed second and third overall.
A winner of seven of the eight GPs this season – Herlings missed the Brazil GP through injury – scored his 38th GP victory and still managed to claim yet another career first by taking his first GP win in Britain.
“I finally made it happen here,” said Herlings. “I got two good starts, I had no crashes and I felt good all weekend. I had lots of support from the fans so that also makes it nice to race here. This track has everything – a lot of grip, a lot of line choices and it’s easy to overtake other riders. It was great fun. Pretty cool.”
Herlings team-mate Jordi Tixier wrapped up his weekend with a solid fourth overall, despite being hampered by an injured hand in the second moto.
“I took two good starts and I had a really good rhythm in the first moto so I am pretty happy with my riding,” says Tixier. “I got the holeshot in the second moto but then Tonkov went straight and hit my hand pretty hard. I was around 10th in the first lap but fought my way back to fifth, but more was not possible because I had a lot of pain in my left hand.”
The program also included rounds of the EMX300 and EMX 250 classes. KTM riders took four of the top five in the EMX250, including the overall victory by Belgian rider Brent Doninck. Italian Marco Maddii also powered his KTM home to third place in the EMX300 class
Round nine is the GP of France at Saint Jean d’Angely on June 1