Jeffrey Herlings has continued his MXGP wnning ways, claiming honours in the Grand Prix of Czech Republic. Battling two fractures in his thumb, Tony Cairoli finished second overall.
The series headed back to Europe for round fourteen of twenty in the 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship and the compact, fast and narrow hard-pack of Loket again hosted the Grand Prix of Czech Republic. Overcast and occasionally showery conditions graced raceday and where a near-capacity crowd watched Red Bull KTM continue to stamp their dominance on both MXGP and MX2 classes.
World Champion Antonio Cairoli came to Loket (with several marked new improvements to the track to drop the speed and heighten the technical demands of the course) with two fractures in his left thumb but started brightly on Saturday to obtain his third Qualification Heat win of the year.
It was teammate and principal title rival Jeffrey Herlings who was the strongest in the opening laps of the two motos on Sunday. The Dutchman controlled the two 30 minute and 2 laps sprints on his KTM 450 SX-F; lap-times were tight and it was not always easy to gain time on rivals. The first circulations of each race were therefore crucial.
Herlings’ triumph represented his first at Loket since 2013 and his 11th in 2018. Cairoli went 2-2 to limit the numerical damage in the championship standings and the gap is now 30 points between the KTM stars. Glenn Coldenhoff rode well to recover 12th position after a tumble on Saturday and posted two top ten results with a brace of 9th places in the motos for the same ranking overall.
Herlings: “It was really good today. We had a good start gate and I passed Tony on the first lap of the first moto and pulled a gap directly. In the second moto I was again leading early-on and battled with Tony for a while but was able to escape. I’m really happy with this win and now to get to Lommel in two weeks time. I’ll do my best and go for the win in Belgium; the podium is the goal but it is a sand race and quite close to my house so I definitely want to fight for the best we can get.”
Cairoli: “It was a difficult week after we found out about my thumb but Qualification was good on a dry track and it was easier to ride. Today it rained and I couldn’t really find a good rhythm; the track was very bumpy with a lot of ruts and I had a lot of pain, especially in the second moto and after the first fifteen minutes I could barely ride. I was fast behind Jeffrey but when he dropped the times I could not really follow him. Hopefully now we have more time to heal again and be in Lommel with less problems and pain and be able to fight for the win.”