Jeffrey Herling went into the Valkenswaard round with his first ever red plate in MXGP and aced the weekend, with two race wins for 50 points, also taking home the overall championship lead, despite at first struggling in qualifying, where he went down at one point, rejoining in 35th position.
When MXGP race 1 started Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli took the Fox Holeshot and led the way for Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Jeremy Van Horebeek along with his Dutch Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Teammates Glenn Coldenhoff and Jeffrey Herlings.
After a quick pass on Coldenhoff, Herlings switched his focus over to the Belgian, Jeremy Van Horebeek. As Herlings chased Van Horebeek, Team HRC’s Tim Gajser was passed for 5th by the other Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP bike of Romain Febvre.
Gajser then threw away his goggles and soon after came under pressure from the pair of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing riders, Max Anstie and Gautier Paulin. Just after Anstie and Paulin made their way past Gajser, Jeffrey Herlings moved into the second spot.
Cairoli then started to lose time to Herlings as Anstie and Paulin passed Febvre. As Jeffrey inched closer to Cairoli the Italian lost balance in a rut and went down. From there Herlings took the lead and never looked back as Cairoli took second and Van Horebeek third.
Race 2 began with another Fox Holeshot from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli as Coldenhoff and Herlings chased. Cairoli then sprinted at the start of the race to grow a gap over Coldenhoff and Herlings. Herlings found his way around Coldenhoff on lap 3 and at nearly the same time race one’s 3rd place finisher, Van Horebeek, crashed out of the race but came away uninjured.
Herlings then started his charge to catch the distant Cairoli. Cairoli’s lead was near 13 seconds but dropped lap after lap, at one point Herlings gained 4 seconds in a single lap.
As Herlings came closer Cairoli sensed the #84 looking back on several occasions. When the time finally came Herlings made the pass look easy as he out braked Cairoli into the turn just after the finish line. Cairoli tried to retaliate but would cross the checkered flag 3.8 seconds after Herlings.
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser’s return to MXGP was a challenging one as he crashed twice in race 2, even so he managed to finish 9th overall.
“I’m super-happy. We worked hard for this and it seems like we are getting better every week. I want to thank the team and everybody around us who has been pushing so hard. To get results like this is amazing. I’ve been riding at Red Sands a lot and the guys there did a great job with the track. I hope we’ll find some kinder temperatures next weekend!”
“A very good race again and we managed to make it to the podium. That’s the goal: to always be top three. I knew Jeffrey would be very strong here at his home GP and that I’d struggled in Valkenswaard for the last few years. I made some mistakes and we need to work on those and figure out why I am crashing but at least we saved the result today and made the podium. I want to be strong and healthy each weekend and again we showed we have a different speed from the rest. The aim is to try and win the next one and have fun again.”
Finishing on the podium was Gautier Paulin who also took third overall after tying with Coldenhoff in points while Febvre scored his 2nd top 5 of the season.
“We managed to have a good setup on the bike and I was really happy with the bike and I put myself in the right position. That’s the first podium of the season, we are working hard but the speed wasn’t there today so we need to continue because I want to battle with those guys.”
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.