Hunter Lawrence narrowly misses MX2 overall podium
Todd Waters on the move with a 16-14 result
In a first for the FIM Motocross World Championship, a round was held in Afyon, Turkey, with Jeffrey Herling taking the first premiere class round win at the venue, while in MX2 Thomas Covington took the overall by appearing on the podium across both races.
Tim Gajser took the second step on the MXGP podium from Clement Desalle, with Herlings now holding a 95 point lead from Antonio Cairoli, who had a shocker of a weekend.
The MX2 championship saw Prado leave Turkey with a 24 point lead from KTM’s Paul Jonass, while Thomas Kjer Olsen is a distant third.
Aussie Hunter Lawrence missed third overall by the narrowest of margins, tied on points with third placed Thomas Kjer Olsen, and leaves Turkey ranked ninth in MX2. Fellow Australian Todd Waters took a 16-14 result over the weekend and continues to make steps forward.
Joining in the event to open the first MXGP of Turkey in Afyon was Youthstream Vice President Mr. David Luongo, FIM Europe President Dr. Wolfgang Srb, FIM/CMS Director Tony Skillington, Ministry of Sport and Youth Representative Omer Altunsu, Governor of Afyonkarahisar Mustafa Tutulmaz, Senator of Afyon Dr. Veysel Eroglu, Mayor of Afyonkarahisar Burhanettin Coban, Tourism General Director of Afyon Irfan Onal, TMF President Yunus Bekir Ucar, along with five-time Supersport World Champion and Senator of Sakarya Kenan Sofuoglu among many other official representatives.
Jeffrey Herlings continues on a roll towards his first MXGP World Championship title. Today was another impressive showing from the Dutchman who did exactly what was required to win.
Race 1’s start was a close fought battle between Herlings and Tim Gajser and while the Slovenian took the Fox Holeshot Herlings was into the lead by turn 2. Glenn Coldenhoff was just behind Gajser but lost spots quickly to Clement Desalle and fellow KTM rider Antonio Cairoli.
By lap 2 Cairoli was up to 2nd past Desalle while Herlings pulled away at the front. Jeremy Van Horebeek took 5th away from Coldenhoff on lap 4 but made no further progress.
Cairoli made his way around Gajser just after the finish while Jeremy Seewer was also moving up a spot to 7th past Gautier Paulin. At the finish it was a win from Herlings with Cairoli just over 25 seconds back then Gajser, Desalle, and Van Horebeek.
MXGP Race 2 was led by Herlings again just after the exit of turn 2 but Desalle was the winner of the Fox Holeshot for his first time this year. Also getting around the Belgian was Paulin while his teammate Max Anstie fell which led to a crash from Cairoli.
A mistake from Paulin then allowed Desalle back past and into 2nd but Gajser took the spot quickly. Coldenhoff was also on a charge from 10th passing Tommy Searle followed by Ivo Monticelli and finally Shaun Simpson to take 7th.
Anstie continued to struggle but Paulin fought to hold 4th from the attacking Swiss rider Jeremy Seewer. Cairoli who at one point was back in 19th worked forward only a few spots to finish 15th.
At the front Herlings came under pressure from Gajser on the last few laps but responded to the intensity of the #243 well reopening a gap and winning by 4.6 seconds. Desalle took 3rd with Paulin and Seewer rounding out the top 5.
The only difference between the race 2 finish and the overall result was Van Horebeek in 5th with a single point more than Seewer. Herlings now leads the championship by 95 points heading into the MXGP of the Netherlands at Assen in 2 week-time.
“Absolutely a great weekend for me and that’s ‘three in a row’ of Qualification Heat and both moto wins, so I have to say a big thank you to the team for their great job: they have made a great sacrifice and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I’m looking forward to Assen because we are really close to the championship now and I hope to finish it off. Like I said, it will be a dream come true to win it at my home GP. The chances of taking this title during a rider’s career are small anyway but to potentially do it in my home country would be amazing. We’ll just go out, do our best and try to stay healthy to get it done.”
“It’s been a good weekend and I really enjoyed it. The track was nice and I was feeling good on it; together with the team we worked hard and found a good set-up – and I felt as one with the bike. The qualifying race was good yesterday, but in race one today I struggled to find good lines and ended up pushing too hard. The second race was much better, and I made some passes at the beginning and then tried to close the gap to Jeffrey. In the end I got really close to him, but I couldn’t make a pass. Still, second overall is a great result, especially as it’s the second time in a row – and I’m now looking forward to Assen.”
“I’m really happy with my third podium in a row. I didn’t feel so good yesterday because this new track was so fast and we were on the limit but the track developed really well through the weekend; today it was really technical and I felt better every time I rode. The team has been working really hard on small details to get us ever closer to the win but it is not easy against Herlings. It was a good feeling for the team to get another holeshot award today after my teammate also got one in Switzerland.”
“I’m satisfied with my performance in moto two. The weekend started with me not getting a good position in the Qualifying Race and this made my life harder for the final motos. Starts are really crucial and I had to dig deep to make the best out of my starting position. In the first moto I struggled a bit with track conditions and my lines were not the best ones. Luckily I managed to get a good start coming from the outside in moto two, so placed myself in a much better position for the rest of the moto. Getting fourth in moto two for fourth overall at the GP is quite positive. My bike is working great at the moment and I hope we can continue with the same momentum at the next two GPs.”
Jeremy Van Horebeek
“I have to be happy with this weekend. I was inside the top five all weekend long, I am happy with how I rode. It has been tough to get through everything that has happened this year, but I believe that I still have it. I know that if I am 100% fit and healthy I will fight for the podium. I feel like I struggled with my starts this weekend, but was lucky to be on the inside, which allowed me to make some good moves in the first two turns, and I finished fifth or fourth overall. I am happy with that. I enjoyed this weekend, I am enjoying every minute I get to ride at the moment as there is no telling if these next three race will be the last of my career or not.”
“I was fifth in the second moto, and that is the goal at the moment, so I have to be happy with that. If I passed Paulin in the last race I would have been fourth or fifth overall, but this is what racing is like in the 450cc class. Overall, I feel I adapted really well because this track is nothing like we get at most of the other Grand Prixes. I had good starts today and I just want to finish inside the top-five overall, but I have two more chances and I look forward to getting back in the sand for the next Grand Prix in Assen as I feel my best results have been in the sand.”
Todd Waters was sixteenth and fourteenth in the two encounters, showing some more steps forward in what was a hot day in Western Turkey.
Todd Waters 16-14
“In race one I couldn’t find the flow to attack the track the way I wanted, while in the second moto I got a great start. Even though the first ten minutes were not really good, and after getting passed by a few riders I tried to relax and ride smoothly, and that’s when my speed improved. I stayed with Strijbos for most of the race and then everything was a lot easier! Overall I’m happy to leave with the good feeling I had on the last laps and hopefully we can build on that for the next race. I want to thank the team because they gave me a great bike.”
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 33:57.381
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:25.513
Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:29.532
Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:42.173
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:46.354
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:52.976
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:55.735
Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:56.936
Shaun Simpson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:58.123
Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +1:01.027
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:38.520
Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:04.656
Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:31.485
Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:35.466
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:37.832
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:46.893
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:52.943
Shaun Simpson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:53.732
Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:54.544
Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), +1:11.577
MXGP Overall Top Ten
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points
Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 42
Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 38
Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 31
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 31
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 30
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 29
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 28
Shaun Simpson (GBR, YAM), 25
Tommy Searle (GBR, KAW), 23
MXGP Championship Top Ten
Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 833 points
Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 738
Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 619
Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 591
Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 544
Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 514
Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 475
Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 423
Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 404
Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 328
While MXGP racing was dramatic on its own the MX2 class was just as epic as the two title contenders of Pauls Jonass and Jorge Prado from KTM Factory Racing spared off while Thomas Covington took the win.
Race 1 started perfect for Covington as he scored a long desired Fox Holeshot over Prado. Jonass took the lead from Covington at turn 2 however and Prado was right alongside to add extra pressure.
Hunter Lawrence jumped past Ben Watson in a close move to take 4th as Thomas Kjer Olsen and Henry Jacobi fought over 6th.
Prado was trying on many occasions to pass Covington for second and the American was only able to keep the #61 at bay for the first lap and half. As soon as Prado took 2nd he had his sights set on the win and beating his teammate Jonass.
Calvin Vlaanderen crashed hard at the end of the pit lane straight while in tenth but was lucky to get back up in 16th uninjured. A battle ensued for the lead between Jonass and Prado peaking when Prado dove past Jonass who jumped and landed on the rear of points leader’s bike sending the Latvian down hard and Prado off track.
Jonass remounted and rejoined the race in 6th while Prado came back on track in 3rd. Inheriting the lead and 2nd place was Covington and Lawrence.
At the finish Covington took the race win followed by Lawrence, Prado, Watson, Olsen, and Jonass.
The first race put Jonass another 5 championship points back of the 30 Prado led by coming to Afyon. Another Fox Holeshot from Covington started race 2 with Watson 2nd, Prado 3rd, and Jonass 4th.
Jonass made 2 quick moves in the first turns to get past both Prado and Watson for 2nd. Lawrence then passed Prado for 5th and the Spaniard continued to drop positions to 7th.
Covington rode a solid race at the front while Jonass tried to force an error and with 4 laps to go Covington tucked the front end on a roller. The mistake gave Jonass the lead and Olsen 2nd while Covington got up in 3rd.
The top 10 held their positions for remainder of the race which meant a win for Jonass followed by Olsen, Covington, Watson, and Lawrence. In the overall Covington took the GP victory for the first time this season with his consistent 1-3 finishes over Jonass and Olsen.
The points gap which started as 30 then went out to 35 is now 24 and Prado still maintains the red plate with the 3-7 finishes as the championship heads to Assen.
“I’ve been waiting for a long time for this overall victory. I feel like I should have had a few of these by now. Me and my trainer Joel Roelants have been grinding away each week and it’s finally good to get a win in the bag. Overall, it’s been a good GP for me. I got two holeshots here in Turkey and was able to find a good pace in both motos. After getting the win in moto one I tried to put in some solid laps in the second moto to wrap up the weekend with a double moto victory. That was my motivation for most of the moto, but a small mistake two minutes before the end had me settle for third in moto two. I’m really happy with my performance and looking forward to the next round in The Netherlands.”
“I was feeling really good all weekend and managed to lead the first moto. Hitting Jorge on the jump was really unfortunate and I was really disappointed about that. I did not see it coming from his side. It was a huge crash and I was lucky to walk away with only a stretched ligament in my knee. It was then difficult in the second race to find the flow in the first laps. I was a bit scared for the knee because I did not want to catch it in a rut and make it worse. I managed to put pressure on Covington all the time and eventually he made a mistake. It is not nice to see a rider crash but he made the mistake and it’s part of racing, so I could win. Second again and a six point gain in the championship, better than last week and better than nothing. It’s still not over: four races to go and still some points.”
Thomas Kjer Olsen
“I’m really happy about my ride in Turkey. In the opening moto I struggled a bit to get into the groove of things, but we made some good changes in the right direction so I could come back a lot stronger in moto two. The bike was great and I could just hit my lines perfectly. I could follow Thomas [Covington] and Pauls [Jonass] for most of the race and when Thomas made a mistake I got up to second. I’m just so happy with this podium and I’ve got to give it up to my Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team and all the people who support me.”
“It was a bit of a strange GP but I am going home quite happy. We are leading by 24 points which is still good. I had a good first moto and was the fastest guy so it was a bit weird to go from that to struggling a lot in the second. I did what I could. I did my best. If I raced again now it would be the same so I need to learn from that second moto and when the track was challenging and hard for me. I was not feeling that great. It was up-and-down this weekend and I’m happy I was not hurt in the first moto. Assen is a good track for me and I haven’t finished off the podium there. For sure Pauls and I will both be pushing but we’ll be happy to be back in Belgium and I’ll be confident going there.”
It was bitter disappointment for Hunter Lawrence who just missed out on a fully deserved podium spot. With four laps to go, Lawrence was sitting second overall, but a change of the lead and all of a sudden and he was relegated to fourth place, level on points but losing out on the second moto tie-breaker.
“The first moto was really positive, I was second and I felt my riding was good. I did have to push pretty hard though to keep up with Thomas Covington and I think that hindered my riding in the second race. I got an average start in that race which didn’t help and I wasn’t able to move forward as quickly as I wanted to but I felt pretty fatigued. It turned into a bit of a survival mode and although I came close to the podium again, I was quite feeling as good as the two previous rounds. Now I’ll recover and get in some sand training before the next round in Assen.”
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