A week after the fast and spectacular Grand Prix of Great Britain at Matterley Basin, MXGP travelled to the shallow and bumpy sand of the Eurocircuit in Valkenswaard a short distance south of Eindhoven. Pleasant and bright conditions cast memories of the snow-stricken 2018 edition of the Grand Prix further into the distance and Red Bull KTM were happy to welcome MX2 World Champion Jorge Prado back into action after the eighteen year old had recovered sufficiently from his left shoulder problem. The Dutch sand was rough, quick and demanding but it was also a stage for the talents and determination of the KTM troupe.
Still nursing a slight shoulder and neck complaint, Tony Cairoli dominated on the Valkenswaard terrain that was dusty and relentless. #222 was watched by World Champion and teammate Jeffrey Herlings. The track roughened for Sunday and Cairoli grabbed two holeshots on his KTM 450 SX-F to assist his breakaway from the pack. The first moto was relatively comfortable for the nine times world champion after early leader Max Anstie crashed out. But he faced late pressure from Tim Gajser in the second before posting his second 1-1 of the campaign.
Tony has now won five from the six motos so far in 2019, as well as all three Grands Prix in Argentina, UK and Holland. He elevated his career tally to 88 triumphs and holds a championship lead of 22 points over Gajser.
Tony Cairoli: “A very nice weekend. I didn’t really feel great all week. On hard-pack I was OK but this small shoulder problem in the sand made things difficult. Anyway, looking at the bigger picture we took two wins and you cannot get more than fifty points so it was a great weekend. Also no crashes, which was important on this track where we saw a lot of people going down. It will be a busy week now with my home GP but I hope to see a lot of public at Arco and KTM again on top of the podium.”
Runner up was Belgian Clement Desalle who took a great second in the opening moto then a fifth in race two. HRC’s Tim Gajser, who overcame a race one crash to finish seventh in the moto, tailed Cairoli second time out and took second to take third overall, equal on points with fellow Honda rider Jeremy Van Horebeek and Husky’s Arminas Jasikonis.
Jasikonis improved on the sixth-place overall result he claimed at the first two rounds of the series. Collecting two well-deserved fourth place moto results, the FC 450 powered rider collected the same number of points as the third and fourth-placed competitors but had to settle for fifth overall due to his fourth-place result in the final moto.
Arminas Jasikonis: “For me it was a really good weekend here in The Netherlands. I felt on top form and kept improving my pace every time I was on track. If my starts were a little bit better in the final motos, my overall result would have been even better. Not getting the best of starts in either race, I had to fight my way through the pack. Despite not getting great starts I ended up sharing the exact same points as third placed Tim Gajser and that gives me the extra motivation to continue pushing hard. I am really happy with where I’m at right now and I am looking forward to the next GP in Italy.”
Former MX2 World Champion Pauls Jonass continued to make progress following his return to competitive action. At Valkenswaard the young Latvian finished with 11th/14th place results for 11th overall at the GP. Making a strong debut at the FIM Europe EMX125 European Motocross Championship, TC 125 powered Kay de Wolf earned 5-2 results for fourth overall at the GP of The Netherlands..
Pauls Jonass: “I’m happy with the progress we’re making. My results might not look that good yet, but honestly I feel I am making some great progress in each race. There is a large group of racers battling for the top six and I feel I am getting closer and closer to them. My speed is quite good considering I have limited timed on the bike, but I am still lacking the fitness to sustain the full motos. I know the track at Valkenswaard quite well and for this weekend my goal was to continue improving without taking any unnecessary risks. My speed in the opening part of the second moto was very positive. There is still a lot of work to do and I’m looking forward to the one-month break after the following GP in Italy.”
Jorge Prado initial aim for the weekend was to ‘attempt’ the Grand Prix where he finished as runner-up in 2018 after almost two weeks without being able to train. The Spaniard’s weakened left shoulder felt up to the task of setting the pace on his KTM 250 SX-F and, like Cairoli, he benefitted from two holeshots on Sunday to streak ahead at the front of the MX2 field. Jorge maintained his 100% win ratio after dominating the season-opening Grand Prix of Argentina and pushed up to fourth in the championship standings (36 points behind Thomas Kjer Olsen) after missing the British fixture last week.
Jorge Prado: “It was a great weekend. Four days ago I could not think about riding. I had too much pain and I didn’t really know how my body was reacting. I had to rest these weeks and take it easy. I wasn’t happy at all to miss Matterley Basin. I don’t think we really expected these results here this weekend: the goal had been just to ride and get some points! On Saturday I had some issues and didn’t feel comfortable but today I woke up and I felt better. So to win both motos was great and to get some points back. I took some painkillers today just to be safe but everything that we did for this weekend turned out well. It is a long championship and my rivals are riding well. We just need to keep going, keep focussed, limit the mistakes and keep trying to improve.”T
Entering the GP of The Netherlands with the points leader’s red number plate on his FC 250 machine, Thomas Kjer-Olsen put in two solid performances in the Dutch sand. Getting a good start in the opening MX2 moto, Kjer-Olsen found himself in second position at the end of the first lap. Putting is consistent lap times, he went on to secure the runner-up result.
Well-placed in second shortly after the drop of the gate in moto two, Thomas had to settle for an eventual third-place result following a last lap pass by Jago Geerts. Collecting 42 valuable points at the GP of The Netherlands, Kjer-Olsen has extended his MX2 World Championship lead to 23 points over second-placed Henry Jacobi.
Thomas Kjer-Olsen: “We picked up some good points here in The Netherlands and that’s what matters the most for me. Knowing the track would be rough, my goal coming into the weekend was to remain safe and do my best to maintain the lead in the championship. In the first moto I had a decent pace and crossed the line in second. Then in the final moto I got passed by Geerts while running second again, just before the chequered flag, so I ended up third for second overall. This season will be very long and my goal is to remain consistent until the end of it.”
Briton Ben Watson took a solid sixth overall and Adam Sterry ended up eighth. But Conrad Mewse hit troubled as he crashed in moto one after hitting a crashed rider. He pulled out and was in too much pain to finish moto two.
Next Race: Grand Prix of Trentino, Arco di Trento (ITA) April 7th
Results MXGP Valkenswaard 2019
1. Tony Cairoli Red Bull KTM (1-1)
2. Clement Desalle (BEL) Kawasaki (2-5)
3. Tim Gajser (SLO) Honda (7-2)
4. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL) Honda (5-3)
5. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU), Husqvarna (4-4)
Standings MXGP 2019 after 03 of 19 rounds
1. Tony Cairoli 147 points
2. Tim Gajser 125
3. Clement Desalle 103
4. Gautier Paulin 102
5. Jeremy Van Horebeek 102
Results MX2 Valkenswaard 2019
1. Jorge Prado (ESP) Red Bull KTM (1-1)
2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN) Husqvarna (2-3)
3. Jago Geerts (BEL) Yamaha (7-2)
4. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED) Honda (4-4)
5. Henry Jacobi (GER) Kawasaki (3-6)
Standings MX2 2019 after 03 of 19 rounds
1. Thomas Kjer Olsen 136
2. Henry Jacobi 113
3. Calvin Vlaanderen 107
4. Jorge Prado 100
5. Ben Watson 95