Herlings and Prado top MXGP Qualifying in Portugal
Jed Beaton a career best third in MX2
Kiwi Courtney Duncan wins WMX Race One
The MXGP of Portugal is off and running and for the second week in a row Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings and Jorge Prado were the best of the field and will each take pole position in their respective classes tomorrow.
Aside from the MXGP and MX2 competitors qualifying races the 2nd round of both the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship and the European 250 Motocross Championship had their first race of the weekend today.
In the Women’s racing Altherm JCR Yamaha’s Courtney Duncan lined up to the gate first after having a time practice lap time 2 seconds faster than the reigning champion, MXFONTA RACING Yamaha’s Kiara Fontanesi.
Duncan proved her speed again in race 1 taking the lead early and never looking back. Behind Duncan was Nancy van de Ven and last week’s winner and red plate holder Larissa Papenmeier.
In the EMX250 class Honda Redmoto Assomotor’s Mathys Boisrame was victorious over Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Racing’s Mikkel Haarup who had a strong ride returning from injury.
MXGP’s Qualifying racing started with the main contenders of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings 1st and 2nd. Cairoli led Herlings for several laps as the #84 searched for the best lines.
Just behind Cairoli and Herlings was Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Romain Febvre and Team HRC’s Tim Gajser. Both Febvre and Gajser latched onto the early speed of the two leaders eventually leaving Monster Energy Kawasaki Factory Racing’s Clement Desalle to race in a lonely 5th.
Desalle’s teammate, Julien Lieber, was the next rider and was first under pressure from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff and later Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin. Paulin found his way past Lieber on lap 7 just as Herlings took the lead from Cairoli.
The next lap Lieber crashed and dropped to 16th while Herlings started to pull away from Cairoli and Febvre started to catch the Sicilian. In the remaining laps Lieber only gained back to position to finish 14th but Cairoli put in a charge to catch Herlings.
At the finish line Herlings took the win 1.5 seconds over Cairoli, Febvre, Gajser, and Desalle. Herlings in the press conference said: “The track was really good, one of the best conditions we have had all year. So far here we have been good, we have been fastest in practice and time qualifying then won the race so looking forward to tomorrow and can’t wait to go racing.”
Last year’s Qualifying Race winner and overall podium finisher in Portugal, Honda Redmoto Assomotor’s Arminas Jasikonis, finished 10th.
Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s Jeremy Seewer who won the MX2 overall in 2017 finished 7th and said: “I’m trying to learn a lot and just get used to the MXGP class as everyone knows there is just so many good riders in there, with the exception of Tony and Jeffrey all the others are on a similar level and it is tough to battle with them every race.”
Portuguese motocross hero Rui Goncalves finished 20th in what was his first race since October 2017.
MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 24:36.707
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:01.541
Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:04.761
Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:08.175
Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:24.822
Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:27.661
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:42.055
Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Suzuki), +0:52.023
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:54.046
Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Honda), +0:59.735.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing has been on a roll in both of the MXGP and MX2 classes so far in 2018 and today was no exception. The MX2 Qualifying Race resulted in another race win for the team with Jorge Prado taking the lead and holding it until the finish.
Aside from the dominant win from Prado other young riders impressed such as Team HRC’s Calvin Vlaanderen. Vlaanderen split the Red Bull KTM’s of Prado and Pauls Jonass in second the first lap and a half before a mistake from Jonass 2 laps later repositioned the #10 into 2nd.
Jonass remounted his KTM in 5th not only allowing Vlaanderen through but also F&H Kawasaki’s Jed Beaton and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen.
Beaton’s F&H Teammates, Ruben Fernandez and Adam Sterry also ran up front on the first laps but crashes from both took them well outside the top ten.
Six laps in to the race Olsen passed Beaton for third and then the following lap Vlaanderen for second.
Also passing Vlaanderen was Beaton, then Jonass, and later Kemea Yamaha Yamalube Official MX team’s Ben Watson.
Across the finish first was Prado then Olsen, Beaton, Jonass, and Watson.
Jed Beaton’s third place finish is his career-best qualifying result. The Australian rode a superb opening lap to emerge in fifth place and continued to advance strongly within the lead group to third place after four laps; he maintained his speed to the end of the race to finish just five seconds behind the race-long winner. With third choice of gate for both GP motos he has every chance of a podium finish in the GP.
“Today was a good day. I didn’t get the best start but after two turns I managed to come inside the top ten and then I worked to pass several riders to finish third. It was a good race and I have a good gate pick for tomorrow so I’m looking forward to it; let’s hope that the weather will stay decent tonight to preserve the track.”
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