Tony Cairoli faces medical checks this week after he went over the bars in the opening Swiss MXGP race and injured his knee. He carried on to ride the second moto but was not 100% fit.
He said: “The weekend started good with the win in the qualifying race and I felt good with the track but my start was not that great in the first moto. When I saw Jeffrey had the lead I pushed hard and I knew I had to stay with him to have the chance to win. I passed some guys, reached Febvre and then Desalle and arrived a little bit too fast in one section and I stalled the bike. I went over the bars and felt something immediately with my knee.
“It felt weird and my handlebar was bent and my front brake was broken. It was difficult to keep the rhythm after that. I had some ice in the break and the knee was not 100% and I didn’t know what to expect in the second moto. The start was OK and I could run with the guys in front for twenty minutes but then became a bit tired because I was riding in a strange position. I dropped to sixth, which was still OK but the priority now is to check the knee and hopefully I can finish the season without any problems.”
Jeffrey Herlings increased his margin at the top of MXGP from 36 points to 58 over teammate Tony Cairoli thanks to another sledgehammer of statistics in Switzerland. He logged his fourth perfect scorecard in a row and has swept Grands Prix in Holland, Italy, Portugal, Latvia, Germany, Britain, France, Indonesia, Czech Republic and Belgium. He has 25 chequered flags from a possible 32, 13 wins from 16 and has missed the podium only once.
The Dutchman surprisingly suffered a crash early in Saturday’s Qualification Heat which opened the door for Cairoli to engage in some excellent racecraft and secure his fourth Pole Position of 2018. Herlings came back to 6th and did not repeat the mistake on the second turn of the opening moto on Sunday: the Dutchman attacked the corner with verve and was soon past Clement Desalle and controlling the 30 minute and 2 lap dash from the front.
The second moto was another display of authority by the championship leader as Herlings again ran free. Cairoli rode brightly in spite of the distraction of his knee and his 6th place meant 7th overall and just the third time in 2018 he has missed an MXGP podium ceremony.
Herlings said: “It is pretty amazing to go 1-1 on what is a tough track for me. It was not easy, so I have to give-it-up to Red Bull KTM for the great bike and the great work those guys are doing. Only four races to go and we did good things for the championship this weekend. To win at this level and to go against guys like Tony, a nine times world champ, and all the others you have to be 100% physically and mentally and not be worrying about anything. It is hard but if you are winning then it’s worth it.”