Dutchman Jeffrey Herlings pulled off two perfect races to extend his MXGP championship lead at Loket in the Czech Republic. In both motos, his arch rival and current world champ Tony Cairoli led from the start to take his 15th then 16th holeshot awards. But both times Herlings swept past on the opening laps and from there was unchallenged.
In the first race he immediately pulled away, but in moto two Cairoli stayed closer for a handful of laps. But in either case, the Dutchman just rode coolly and smoothy to consistently stretch out his lead while Cairoli had no answer. He took two seconds to keep his dreams of a 10th title alive.
Herlings, who had two MX2 wins at the track before this maiden MXGP win, now leads the series by 30 points going into the next round in the sand of Lommel – a favourite of both Herlings and Cairoli. It’s his 11th overall GP win of the year. After breaking his collarbone in training in June, Herlings saw his title lead down to 12 over Cairoli but is now steaming ahead.
Herlings said: “It was a good weekend on what is definitely not one of my favourite tracks. To get two good starts was awesome. The track was sketchy, though. To win here at Loket is a big thing for me.
“At the begining I was stuggling to find my thythm but after ten minutes I got going.
Cairoli, who won the qualifying race on Saturday before revealing he’d broke two bones in his hand at the recent Indonesian round, was in some pain from the hand. He kept taking his hand off the bars to shake it out for some comfort during the motos. He took a fine pair of second places for second, while Honda’s Tim Gajser was third in both motos and had lonely motos.
Cairolo said: “It was very difficult. In moto one I tried to save my energy for the second moto. In that one I tried to respond to the attack of Jeffrey but I could barely hold on. I tried my best but it’s very tough. Hopefully with a week to rest I’ll try to be competitive in the sand. I know it’s going to be difficult.”
Gajser, third for two GPs in a row, said: “Actually all weekend I was struggling with bike set up and I got arm pump in the last ten minutes. But I’m happy to be on the podium in front of so many fans from Slovenia.”
The scrap was fourth was a titanic one between Yamaha team-mates Romain Febvre and Jeremy Van Horebeek. They finished level on points but Febvre took fourth overall due to a second race fourth.
It wasn’t a great weekend for the Brits as Tommy Searle clashed with Shaun Simpson, Todd Waters and Evgeny Bobryshev in moto one, then went down in moto two on the trickiest uphill. Searle was 15th in the opener but pulled out of moto two.
Max Anstie, who led the qualifying races, had poor starts. In the first race he took 11th, one place in front of Simpson who hit the deck after clipping Searle’s rear wheel. Moto two saw Anstie 11th and Simpson 14th. British champ Graeme Irwin had a 21st in the first then 20th in the second race.