Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tony Cairoli on Sunday picked up the win at the MXGP of Spain at Talavera on his debut ride on the KTM 450 SX0-F in the sixth round of the 2015 World Championship.
Team-mate Jeffrey Herlings made a heroic recovery from a second moto crash to claim second overall in the MX2 to make it a good day out for the factory team on the challenging Spanish circuit.
Cairoli finished second in the opening moto after making a solid recovery from a fifth place start. He settled down to reel in the lead riders in the second half of the race and was third at the flag.
He got away cleanly in his second moto and was tucked in behind race leader Roman Febvre mid-race. But when the French rider stalled his bike he quickly moved into the lead.
Cairoli, a Red Bull athlete finished the second race seven seconds ahead of the opposition to finish with equal points with second placed Max Nagl – but took the overall victory by virtue of his better result in race two.
Speaking about his decision to race the KTM 450 SX-F, Cairoli said: “Yeah, I think it is the time to make some changes and get some new motivation.
“We test a lot with the new 450 and I like it a lot. I was sure I should ride with it from the first race (of the season) but I was not so fit. I still had some injury problems from the Nations (MXoN).
“The ‘350’ (KTM 350 SX-F) was our ‘baby’ and we brought it to the top. I won a lot of races and championships with the bike, but its time for new challenges.” It was the defending world champion’s first GP win of the season and he is currently third in the points.
Cairoli’s MXGP factory team-mates had a difficult day. Tommy Searle crashed hard in the sixth lap of the second race and had to retire to be ranked 17th overall at the end of the day. Ken de Dycker was back at overall 21st at the end of the day.
Herlings recovers from dramatic second moto crash
Earlier in the day Red Bull athlete Jeffrey Herlings took one of his copybook race wins in the opening MX2 moto but showed commendable fighting spirit to battle his way back into contention after a massive crash at the beginning of his second race.
The Dutch rider escaped relatively unscathed from a melee immediately after the gate dropped but both rider and bike went flying after he hit a hole and lost the back end of his KTM 250 SX-F in the opening lap.
He managed to scramble back into the action but was way back at 21st in the 27-rider lineup. Herlings immediately began to pick off riders and by lap 11 had recovered 10 places and trailed the race leader by 38 seconds.
He finally fought his way up to seventh position to finish just one point behind GP winner Valentin Guillod. Herlings leaves Spain with a 56-point lead in MX2 after six rounds of the championship.
“I definitely had a good start in the first moto, won it and stayed out of trouble,” said Jeffrey Herlings. “I didn’t have such a good start in the second and was around 10th. I worked my way up to sixth and then I had a big crash. But I came back from the back of the field and almost won the overall.
“There’s some work to do, but I still got some good points for the championship.”
Herlings MX2 team-mate Pauls Jonass had a solid day out claiming a 4-10 race result for overall seventh and retains his third place in the championship points.
Jonass managed a very good start in the opening race and although Max Anstie and Jordi Tixier passed him, he pushed in the final laps and felt confident ahead of the second moto. “But I struggled with the track in the second moto and I didn’t find the flow. It’s not the result I wanted but I got good points and that’s important for the championship,” Jonass said.
Great day for KTM Factory Junior Team in EMX125
Jorge Prado (ESP), Josiah Natzke (NZ) and Conrad Mewes (GBR) also had a great day out at Talavera, with Prado and Natzke claiming the top two places in the EMX125 class with Mewes finishing sixth overall.
The young riders drew praise from their team manager Stefan Everts. “We have to give everything to Jorge today riding in his home GP, and with the fans behind him he managed to ride a smart race. Coming here with the red plate already gave him some pressure but he’s already shown us great things. He is a super talented kid.”
Everts said the track was also perfect for the young New Zealander Natzke. “The first two rounds were not easy, but this track is perfect for him and yesterday [in the opening moto] he showed us his potential.
“He was disappointed he didn’t win the overall but I am happy he was on the podium. Both riders had equal points but Prado took the win after taking the second moto.”
“It was amazing to win here in front of the Spanish fans,” said Jorge Prado. “I worked really hard the while weekend. I gave 100 per cent and tried not to make any mistakes. I don’t feel the pressure here in Spain, I’m more motivated.”
Josiah Natzke commented: “I was able to take the win yesterday but today I didn’t get as good a start and I had to work my way through. We both wanted it and I pushed as hard as I could the whole moto.”
Mewes said he has struggled with his starts this season but added he was benefitting from training with Prado and Natzke.
KTM Factory Junior Davey Pootjes contested the EMX250 class and wrapped up his day with an 8-5 for sixth overall after struggling with arm pump but making a strong recovery from 14th to fifth in his second race. He said hew as happy with his riding, which is improving week by week.