The fifth round of the 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship played out on the Portuguese circuit of Agueda, where Jeffrey Herlings and Jorge Prado’s consistency ensured the KTM duo’s eventual victory.
The MXGP of Portugal will be remembered as one the best tracks of the year, with a multitude of lines for passing and a high level of technicality, as Agueda without doubt challenged many of the world’s top riders.
The MXGP racing started with Qualifying Race winner, Jeffrey Herlings taking his second Fox Holeshot of 2018, with Herlings just beating Tim Gajser and Clement Desalle.
2018 rival of Herlings and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Antonio Cairoli started the race in 4th but lost 2 positions on the first lap when he stalled his KTM. Taking advantage of the mistake from Cairoli was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Romain Febvre.
On the 4th lap of 16 Paulin pushed his way past Desalle who was suffering from a clutch issue. Desalle pulled off the track and into Pit Lane immediately but soon discovered he would not be able to finish the race. Desalle who came into the race 3rd in the championship was understandably disappointed to have a scoreless result.
With the loss of Desalle, Febvre moved into 4th but was soon moved back to 5th after Cairoli passed him on lap 7. During the next 7 laps the top 5 remained the same until Cairoli found his passing spot. One lap after another Cairoli passed Paulin and then Gajser on the entry to the corner just before the straight in front of Pit Lane. With one lap remaining and broken goggles Cairoli was unable to catch Herlings who took the race win by 6 seconds.
Race 2 started with Cairoli ahead of Herlings but both behind Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s Shaun Simpson who took his first Fox Holeshot of 2018 and the Factory Yamaha of Romain Febvre. By the end of turn 2 Cairoli take over the lead and blocked Herlings but shortly after lost the spot to the #84.
On the opening lap the 4th place finisher from Race 1, Gautier Paulin pulled of the track and of the race with an unknown technical issue. After the first complete lap Herlings already had more than a 7 second lead on Cairoli who had Desalle, Febvre, Gajser, and Simpson following.
On the second lap Simpson was passed by his Wilvo Yamaha teammate Jeremy Seewer and continued to loose positions lap after lap. Herlings grew his lead to just over ten seconds before a fall cost him 6. Herlings, still over 4 seconds ahead of Cairoli, remounted his KTM and again put down multiple fast laps.
Cairoli struggled throughout the race with a swollen right eye after the impact of the rock through his goggle in Race 1. Regardless of the hinderance Cairoli still pulled away from Desalle but was unable to keep up with Herlings.
First across the finish line, taking his 7th race win of the year, was Herlings 34 seconds ahead of Cairoli, then Desalle, Febvre, and Gajser. The most impressive ride outside of the win from Herlings was perhaps the constant charge of his dutch Red Bull KTM teammate Glenn Coldenhoff. Coldenhoff came from 15th on lap 1 to finish 6th.
In the overall standings Herlings’ perfect performance took 50 points over Cairoli’s 44 while Gajser achieved his first podium of the year with 36 points. The championship points lead of Herlings over Cairoli is now 16 with Febvre taking over 3rd from Desalle.
“We led all the way in both motos and I had a small crash after 4-5 laps in the second race when I just tipped over but aside from that it was a perfect weekend. The starts were great and we’ll keep pushing like this. I have so much motivation right now so a big thanks to Red Bull KTM; I feel like we are in a great position. I know if Tony is behind me I really have to go full speed and in the first moto I was in the luxurious position that he had to come through so I could go a bit easy. The rest of the field were still pushing strong and Tim [Gajser] had a good race. I think this track was one of the best we’ve had so far this year. It was a little spongy but thanks to that we had a lot of different lines. The rain turned out to be good for the track.”
“It is a good championship and very difficult. It is always me or Jeffrey out front at the moment. I’m happy with today but made some mistakes in the first moto, first at the start by going a bit wide and then when a stone hit my goggles and I struggled to pass. I eventually found some good lines and could overtake quickly in some places; and I was really happy about that. My eye bothered me more in the second moto and I was losing some focus. Jeffrey passed me and he was riding very fast as always. Two times second is OK. We know we are not 100% physically because it is a long season. My only regret so far is that fourth place last week in Arco. That was not part of the script but we are looking forward to the next race.”
“Obviously I’m really happy to be back on the podium. I felt good throughout the weekend: the track was very technical with many lines available, and I enjoyed it a lot. I got a good start in race one and I was able to follow Jeffrey but Toni passed me with two laps to go. My jump in race two was not as good and I got caught in the middle of the pack, then I almost crashed at turn two. Fifth place was enough for the podium, so I’m happy. This is a very important result after a rough start to the year, so I want to thank my team who helped me getting back near the front. I feel like our season is starting now, so I look forward to Russia.”
“It was a tough day as I had to retire in the first moto. I had a pretty good start and was third until I had to stop after ten minutes. I recovered mentally for the second race but I got wheelspin on the metal plate; thankfully I had an inside gate so I could do some good moves in the first turn to come out in fourth place. I finished third despite a small mistake at the end of the race and at least I brought home a moto podium. We didn’t know what we would find here as they have had a lot of rain in Portugal; I must say that they did a great job to prepare the track between the races.”
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:14.689
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:06.260
Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:08.257
Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:10.742
Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:13.248
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:42.068
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:45.249
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:57.082
Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Suzuki), +1:13.250
Julien Lieber (BEL, Kawasaki), +1:29.151
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 35:12.692
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:34.373
Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:43.349
Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:48.023
Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +1:13.648
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +1:22.962
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +1:26.309
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +1:37.942
Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Suzuki), +1:41.051
Maximilian Nagl (GER, TM), +1:49.071
MXGP Overall Top Ten
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 44
Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 36
Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 34
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 29
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 28
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 27
Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, SUZ), 24
Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 20
Maximilian Nagl (GER, TM), 20
MXGP Championship Standings Top Ten
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 241 points
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 225
Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 169
Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 165
Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 147
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 140
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 132
Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 113
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 110
Maximilian Nagl (GER, TM), 88
Perfection wasn’t only achieved by Jeffrey Herlings in MXGP it was also accomplished in MX2 by Jorge Prado. Prado won Qualifying and took the momentum straight into the start of MX2 Race 1 claiming the his 4th Fox Holeshot of 2018.
Prado was chased by Thomas Covington for the opening 6 laps but Covington unfortunately twisted his recovering knee and was unable to continue with the pain. The extent of the injury is unknown but hopefully we will see the American racing in two weeks time for Russia.
With Covington out Jed Beaton assumed second position after taking full advantage of his 3rd gate pick from qualifying on the start. Beaton held the spot for two laps before the hard charging rider Pauls Jonass made it past. Beaton then managed to hold off Olsen the remaining eight laps even applying pressure to Jonass along the way.
At the finish Prado won with Jonass, Beaton, Olsen, and Ben Watson rounding out the top five, while Beaton’s F&H Kawasaki Teammate Adam Sterry took 6th.
MX2 Race 2 came into the first turn led by Prado once again now with 5 Fox Holeshots this season. Jonass positioned himself much better to start the race, coming across the first lap in second. Jonass however was quickly caught off guard by Olsen on lap 2.
Australia’s Beaton was the next to go around Jonass along with Ben Watson on the following lap. Jonass clearly struggled to find a rhythm as he ran in fifth for seven laps then hit neutral in a rut and fell, dropping three more positions.
Back up front Watson had made his way around Beaton and closed on Olsen for 2nd. During the final laps Olsen maintained his gap over Watson by around 2 seconds but on the final lap a handful of bobbles from the Dane allowed Watson right to his back wheel. Battling through the final turn in a race that went to the wire, Watson just lost out by 17 hundredths of a second.
The nail biting finish and ability of Olsen to hold of Watson gave Beaton the final spot on the podium behind Olsen with Prado the clear winner. Jonass finished the race in 7th and took 5th overall losing ground in the championship to his younger teammate.
“I didn’t expect two wins today because the track was very difficult and I’m not used to theses kinds of surfaces with so many ruts but this year I pretty strong and I can handle it. That’s two-in-a-row now and last year I took three all season! I’m getting near where I want to be. Training hard pays off. Last weekend in Italy was almost perfect but I made it happen here; I’m really happy.”
Thomas Kjer Olsen
“I was looking forward to a good result coming into this weekend. My goal was to remain solid and I’m really happy I got away with one more podium result for the season. In the opening moto I got a decent start and after a steady race I managed to get fourth. Then in moto two I got myself up into second and stayed there for most of the race. In the last few laps a few small mistakes allowed Ben Watson to get really close but I am happy I managed to retain second for second overall at the GP. I am just so happy to finish on the podium and I want to thank all my team for all their hard work and dedication.”
“It’s always good to be on the podium; that’s what we all aim for! The track was tough but I started with a good qualification on Saturday; the ground was really soft after all the rain they have had here and there were many ruts but I like the technical tracks and had a lot of fun riding here. Everything gelled together and I really enjoyed this weekend. My season is building with the help of the team and Kawasaki and I feel like I’m getting better on all sorts of track. It was a nice surprise to make the podium already here at the fifth round of the series and for sure we will continue to progress further.”
“It is still nice to have the championship lead but I am disappointed with my weekend. The first moto was not too bad but I couldn’t find a rhythm or flow in the second one. I was struggling a lot with the track and had a small-tip over. I’m happy we have two weeks now before the next race because it gives us some time to work hard and be back in Russia.”
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