Red Bull KTM put on a sensational show in Argentina taking double victory
The first round of nineteen in ‘MXGP’ took place in cloudy and cool conditions for the Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina and at the end of the summer. Tony Cairoli and Pauls Jonass dominated Saturday proceedings for their first Pole Positions of the season.
The MXGP contest on Sunday couldn’t have been more gripping. Cairoli sprinted clear with the opening moto holeshot to lead almost the entire race until Herlings closed the gap and applied immense pressure in what was a grandstand finale.
Cairoli managed to secure his first-ever chequered flag in Argentina by just one second at the line. The second moto was almost the same. The Sicilian set the pace and Herlings had to battle for fourth and third positions until arriving to second place with less than ten minutes remaining and a nine-second deficit to his teammate. The Dutchman worked hard to close the gap – his rhythm and speed through the waves section making the difference – while several small mistakes by Cairoli shrunk the distance further.
The dispute heated-up on the final lap and when Herlings made his move it stuck and he toasted his seventh career GP victory with the KTM 450 SX-F. The duo shared the points but Herlings walked the top step courtesy of his second moto spoils.
“It was a good day, Herlings said. I made a charge in the first moto but couldn’t make the pass; Tony was riding really well and deserved to win. In the second race I got pushed wide at the start again and had some battles going on for fifth, fourth and third. I knew there was only ten minutes left in the moto but I worked on the gap and was really glad to make it happen. I’m blessed to have won the first GP of the year and the hard work of the winter is showing. This is only the first race of nineteen and there will be a lot of good competition ahead. I feel good on the bike, even better than the end of last year. I want to thank the team because they are always supporting me through thick-and-thin.”
“We almost made it with the perfect weekend,Cairoli noted of his close battle with his teammate. In the second moto – I had a good start and made a good lead – but ran into some lappers and changed some lines. I made some mistakes and almost went out of the berm in some corners. I hit some kickers and had to slow down a little bit but if you do that then the seconds quickly go away. Jeffrey came closer and was stronger in the end. I was making mistakes and was tired and he took his chance to go around me: it was a good move. It is great for KTM to be 1-2 in both motos and I’m looking forward to continuing this championship. It will be an interesting season.”
Glenn Coldenhoff picked up a small injury to his left leg after a tumble in Saturday’s qualification heat race but the Dutchman, struggling for peak race fitness after his recent hand injury, was able to race to a 10-11 for 10th overall.
In the MX2 class Pauls Jonass raced with the No.1 plate to denote his position as reigning champion; the first time the number has been seen in Grand Prix since 2015. The Latvian was brilliant in Argentina, taking the fastest times in all practice sessions, Pole Position and both moto wins on the new KTM 250 SX-F.
“We did the pre-season races and I knew I had the speed and the fitness because I had worked hard in the winter time, he said. I came into this race confident…but I did not expect to win every single session when we went on the track. It is a boost for us but we won’t let it get to our heads too much because there is still a long way to go. The new bike worked so well and we can see all that testing and work in the off-season paid off. I didn’t get any holeshots today so we still have something we can improve on!”
Teammate Jorge Prado suffered a crash through the waves section on Saturday and competed with a painful right elbow. The Spaniard hit the dirt again early in the first moto but recovered to 16th place. Later in the day he managed 7th for 11th overall.
The fledgling world championship standings are a carbon copy of the overall Grand Prix result with eighteen rounds and thirty-six motos still to run.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing will have just one week to recover from the lengthy trip back to Europe before the series lands at the Eurocircuit in Valkenswaard, just south of Eindhoven, for the Grand Prix of Europe on March 18th.
Results MXGP Argentina 2018
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), KTM (2-1)
2. Tony Cairoli (ITA), KTM (1-2)
3. Clement Desalle (BEL), Kawasaki (3-3)
4. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL), Yamaha (5-4)
5. Romain Febvre (FRA), Yamaha (4-5)
Results MX2 Argentina 2018
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT), KTM (1-1)
2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN), Husqvarna (3-2)
3. Hunter Lawrence (AUS), Honda (2-6)
4. Ben Watson (GBR), Yamaha (4-4)
5. Jed Beaton (AUS), Kawasaki (7-8)
11. Jorge Prado (SPA), KTM (16-7)