Netherlands – For the fourth year in a row the temporary and spectacularly set motocross course laid over the stadium section of the TT Circuit provided a rough, tight and curvy test. The sand benefitted from a slightly revised layout for 2018 but made largely the same inventive use of space next to the vast grandstand that was filled with most of the 40,000 attendance.
Red Bull KTM came to the 19th round of 20 in MXGP having mathematically confirmed both MXGP and MX2 world titles and expecting to see the first of the season-long duels between Herlings and Cairoli as well as Jonass and Prado decided on the bumpy Dutch terrain.
Herlings secured his first world championship with the KTM 450 SX-F in the premier class of the FIM series – becoming the first Dutchman to do so for 30 years – and the fourth of a career that begun with his current Red Bull KTM team in 2010 at the tender age of fifteen.
Setting off from the first pick in the gate after posting his twelfth Qualification Heat victory on Saturday, Herlings passed Cairoli before the end of the first lap and was cheered all the way to the chequered flag. The 24 year old cruised to the line almost forty seconds ahead of the pack and began the celebrations. He provoked a gasp from most of the circuit in the second moto with an early race crash but then hiked the entertainment factor by cutting his way through to win once more. It was Herlings’ seventh Grand Prix triumph in a row and 14th moto success; he was last beaten in Indonesia in July.
After 19 Grands Prix (of which he contested 18) and 36 motos, Herlings has won 16 and 31 and never finished lower than third in those 36 starts. He has dropped only 17 points all season and boasts a 100% podium record in just his second season in the category.
Tony Cairoli sealed the position of number two for 2018 meaning Red Bull KTM has classified 1-2 for the second consecutive year. The Sicilian has finished on the rostrum 14 times despite dealing with small injuries to his thumb, hand and knee and raised his runner-up trophy thanks to a 2-2 at Assen; walking the rostrum for the first time since the Grand Prix of Belgium.
Coldenhoff nearly gave the team a full podium sweep. #259 was fast and competitive at the track where he marked a podium finish in 2016 and charged to a fine 3rd position for a Red Bull KTM 1-2-3 in Saturday’s Qualification Heat. He was running inside the top three in the first moto until a frightening crash that saw him topple off the track. He thankfully retrieved his racebike and rode to 5th place. In the second moto– after holeshotting and leading the opening laps – Glenn fought off the attention of Max Anstie to classify 3rd and missed his first spray of champagne this season by just two points.
Herlings: “It has been an amazing day and it was a blessing to be in my shoes. Everyone had been saying ‘enjoy the day’ but it just ‘went’! To do this in front of my home crowd here at the TT Circuit #assen is amazing: a special day and it was nice to do it in style. I pretty much led the whole of the first #moto and then in between races it was hard to stay focussed because there are many friends, family, sponsors who want to congratulate you and I couldn’t really do my normal routine! I tried to pass Glenn in the second #moto but went down and had to pick up from tenth position and then work to get back to the lead. I managed to get little gap over Tony. It was a great day and it has been a special year. I have to give it up to Red Bull KTM; we’ve been together through this all the way so a big thanks to all the team and all the guys at the factory. Going 1-1, winning the championship, home crowd: enough said.”