By Dick Law. The factory Red Bull KTMs dominated the podium at Sunday’s Hawkstone International as Jeffrey Herlings let everyone know he is up to speed and ready for this year’s GPs by winning both MX1 races for the overall and the superfinal with his team mate Glenn Coldenhoff backing him up in each of the races. While Herlings and Coldenhoff were doing their thing in the MX1, their MX2 team-mate and reigning world champion Pauls Jonass was cleaning up in the MX2 class with two strong wins and backed that up with fourth in the superfinal and was the first MX2 rider home.
Herlings proved he has no ill efects from his crash in Italy last week, starting the day showing he meant business as he set the fastest qualification time, just under a second and a half faster than Max Anstie, Gautier Paulin, and Coldenhoff. Herlings got the holeshot at the start of the first MX1 race from Coldenhoff and seemed to spend the rest of the racing just doing enough to maintain a comfortable lead and looked to have some more pace in hand, should he need it.
Coldenhoff, on the other hand had Anstie breathing down his neck for all 12 laps as the pair crossed the finish line separated by less than a second with Paulin being dropped to fourth almost seven seconds off the leader.
Graeme Irwin, on his new Hitachi ASA KTM, spent all race fighting over fifth place with Evgeny Bobryshev as the pair swopped places several times. It seems like that rivalry will spill over to this year’s Maxxis rounds.
Kawasaki’s Tommy Searle who came from a ninth place start to seventh at the flag, as the Brit got more and more comfortable as the race went on.
Enduro star and runner up in this year’s Le Touquet, Nathan Watson messed up his start and ended the first lap way down in 21st and was the biggest mover of the race ending up in ninth place.
It was Coldenhoff’s turn for the holeshot in race two with team mate Herlings in his wheel tracks from Paulin and Searle who had a much better start this time.
Herlings just seemed to take his time and sit close to Coldenhoff just waiting and with four laps to go slipped by his team mate to snatch his second win of the day.
Paulin spent all the race in a lonely third place with Searle doing the same in fourth, albeit finishing almost a minute behind the leaders. But Searle, riding a production Kawasaki against the factory rivals, was looking stronger as the day went on. He rode more aggressively, and set lat time that matched those of leader Herlings – surely a great sign for the season ahead.
Irwin had gated fifth with Liam Knight sixth but as the race reached two thirds distance were gobbled up by Bobryshev, Watson and Yentel Martens.
But it all went wrong for Anstie as after making a bad start down in 14th place, he was pushing his way to the front and was up to ninth and five laps to go when the joint at the ankle of his boot came apart and was catching on the side panel of his Rockstar Husqvarna. He called in to the work area and his team cut away part of the side panel, but the boot was unsafe to continue the race with so Anstie was out and with it the hope of a podium.
So, the overall MX1 podium was Herlings from Coldenhoff and Paulin but the next three overall finishers were Searle, Bobryshev and Irwin, all separated by three points.
There was not stopping Jonass in the MX2s as he led race one from start to finish in his smooth style but behind him and after a fantastic start Martin Barr on his new Revo Husqvarna was pushing him for the early laps and then settled in to a comfortable second place at the end.
Thomas Kjer-Olsen moved up from a fifth place start to third but was never a threat to Barr’s second place while Conrad Mewse followed Kjer-Olsen in to fourth with Ben Watson fifth. Both Brits looked strong and comfortable on their new rides.
A revitalised Davy Pootjes got the holeshot at the start of the second race from Barr and Jonass, but it took just three laps for Jonass to take the lead and cruse to a second race win.
Barr had a series of three crashes and ended his race in ninth but he was pleased with the new bike and the progress the team had already made this year.
Former British champ Adam Sterry, coming back form a injury-blighted 2017, gated fifth but managed to work his way to third by the end of the race dragging Mewse and Watson with him in to fourth and fifth places.
Overall it was Jonass with two wins from Kjer-Olsen and Mewse with a happy Sterry, clearly getting back to the sort of race speed he’s capable of, in fourth.
The superfinal was all about the Red Bull KTMs again as Coldenhoff got the holeshot from Herlings and Searle.
Paulin passed Searle on the opening lap for third while Jonass worked his way from seventh at the start for fourth and the first MX2 rider.
Searle held on for fifth place as Anstie came from 14th place to sixth as two MX2 riders of Kjer-Olsen and Mewse finished seventh and eighth and as the Watson brothers finished out the top ten with younger brother beating big brother Nathan over the line.
The three race MXY2 part of the day was won by Ben Clark on a RFX Crescent Yamaha with two wins and a third place, while Dominic Lancett looks to have made the transition from the small bikes to the big ones very well was second overall.
The second RFX Crescent Yamaha and winner of the last race Joel Rizzi was third overall with Sam Nunn just missing out on a podium by two points.
1 Jeffrey Herlings (Red Bull KTM) 25 + 25 = 50
2 Glen Coldenhoff (Red Bull KTM) 22 + 22 = 44
3 Gautier Paulin (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) 18 + 20 = 38
4 Tommy Searle (Bike It DTR Kawasaki) 14 + 18 = 32
5 Evgeny Bobryshev (Lombard Express Suzuki) 15 + 16 = 31
6 Graeme Irwin (Hitachi ASA KTM) 16 + 13 = 29
7 Nathan Watson (Red Bull KTM) 12 = 15 = 27
8 Yentel Martens (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) 11 + 14 = 25
9 Liam Knight (Evoteck RFX KTM) 9 + 12 = 21
10 Ryan Houghton (RHR Yamaha) 10 + 10 = 20
1 Pauls Jonass (Red Bull KTM) 25 + 25 = 50
2 Thomas Kjer-Olsen (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) 20 + 22 = 42
3 Conrad Mewse (Hitachi ASA KTM) 18 + 18 = 36
4 Adam Sterry (F & H Kawasaki) 14 + 20 = 34
5 Martin Barr (Revo Husqvarna) 22 = 12 = 32
6 Ben Watson (Lemea Yamaha) 16 + 16 = 32
7 Davy Pootjes (LRT KTM) 15 + 15 = 30
8 Mel Pocock (Revo Husqvarna) 13 + 14 = 27
9 Jago Geerts (Kemea Yamaha) 11 + 13 = 24
10 Mikkel Haarup (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) 12 + 9 = 21
1 Jeffrey Herlings (Red Bull KTM)
2 Glen Coldenhoff (Red Bull KTM)
3 Gautier Paulin (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
4 Pauls Jonass (Red Bull KTM)
5 Tommy Searle (Bike It DTR Kawasaki)
6 Max Anstie (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
7 Thomas Kjer-Olsen (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
8 Conrad Mewse (Hitachi ASA KTM)
9 Ben Watson (Lemea Yamaha)
10 Nathan Watson (Red Bull KTM)
1 Ben Clark (RFX Crescent Yamaha) 25 + 25 + 20 = 70
2 Dominic Lancett (KJS Racing Team KTM) 18 + 20 + 22 = 60
3 Joel Rizzi (RFX Crescent Yamaha) 7 + 22 + 25 = 54
4 Sam Nunn (Yamaha) 20 + 14 + 18 = 52
5 Denny Rapson (Team Dean Husqvarna) 22 + 18 + 11 = 51
6 Adam Collings (Vega Solutions KTM) 15 + 15 + 16 = 47
7 Cullen Scott (Tiso Blackstar KTM) 16 + 13 + 14 = 47
8 Josh Peters (Cab Screens Honda) 14 + 15 + 6 = 35
9 Max Ingham (Hardcore Yamaha) 10 + 5 + 15 = 30
10 Ryan Thompson (Drysdale Husqvarna) 6 + 8 + 12 = 30