It was a day of mixed feelings for KTM MXGP aces Jeffrey Herlings and Tony Cairoli at the Valkenswaard GP. For Herlings, he took his first MXGP podium but it was the first time he’d ever been beaten in a GP at his home track.
And for Cairoli, he took a race win but a bad start and vision problem robbed him of his chance to take overall victory.
Cairoli – fresh from thrilling Motocross fans across the world with his sensational comeback ride and overall victory in Italy last week – ran to a dominant Pole Position without a hint of opposition on Saturday. The first moto around a course that seemed to get rougher and trickier by the lap saw the Sicilian suffer a poor start, get stuck behind a crashed rider and then have his vision affected by sand inside his goggles and had to slow his pace to take ninth position. Determined to make amends #222 gunned his KTM 450 SX-F to first place at the opening of the second moto and rode with his usual skill and acumen in the sand for a clear win. Cairoli is now just 14 points behind Tim Gajser at the top of the MXGP standings.
Cairoli said: “It was a race where I should have gone 1-1 so I’m disappointed. I like the sand and the bad start should not have happened; when you are in the pack you cannot control the rest of the people so I got stuck between some crashes. I then used all my tear-offs and later had some sand and irritation in my right eye that made my vision blurry and I had to slow. I was really disappointed with that moto. My eye was still bothering me a bit in the second moto and I wasn’t 100% but I tried for the good start and it worked. To take twenty-five points for the championship was good but it wasn’t my goal for the weekend.”
Jeffrey Herlings came to Valkenswaard with an incredible unbeaten seven-year record in MX2 and showed signs of promise to come from twelfth up to fourth place in the Qualification Heat. The Dutchman was part of two fantastic battles for second position in both sprints and had the crowd cheering with his efforts. #84 was second overall thanks to a 3-3 and his best day so far after six appearances in MXGP.
Herlings: “I’ve been winning here seven years in a row and even though things haven’t been going well lately I think the fans still expected a podium and that’s what we did. I felt like we were close to the win. We had a really bad start to the season with the broken hand and we were riding but we weren’t really ‘riding’ and I just went from GP to GP. I felt terrible. I was in positions I shouldn’t be in and I even felt embarrassed, but now I’ve been on the bike a few weeks so we can work on being better and better and get back in the shape where we should be. I didn’t expect these (MXGP) guys to be so fast and it is like all-out war from the moment the gate drops to the finish flag and it is something we haven’t been used to. But we are getting back the speed and we just need to get those starts together.”