Red Bull KTM factory riders Tony Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings both launched their bids for 2012 World Championship titles in MX1 and MX2 respectively on Easter Monday at the first GP of the 2012 World Championship season in Valkenswaard.
Both Cairoli on the KTM 350 SX-F and Herlings on the KTM 250 SX-F took double moto wins for maximum points in a display of near perfect riding in the soft wet sand of this Dutch circuit. It was also a solid day for the other riders in the factory team with Ken de Dycker of Belgium standing in for the injured Max Nagl finishing overall sixth. Herlings’ two MX2 teammates Jeremy van Horebeek and Jordi Tixier finished overall 4-5.
While Cairoli was his usual stylish self, the day perhaps belonged to Jeffrey Herlings, the Dutch teenager who put on a stunning display of sand riding at his home circuit at Valkenswaard. He was 51 seconds ahead of the field at the end of the first moto, lapping up to seventh place and 37 seconds ahead in the second moto, lapping up to sixth place. While the undisputed best sand rider in the World championship series, Herlings now has to put his head down and prove he is just as strong on other surfaces. It was the third season in a row that Herlings has won in Valkenswaard.
MX2 Jeremy van Horebeek of Belgium missed the podium by one place, he did well to be twice fourth on a surface that is not his favorite on a day when riders had to contend with stinging rain and restricted visibility. Valkenswaard was also good for the team’s rookie signing Jordi Tixier of France who exceeded his pre season desire to finish top ten over the first half of the 2012 competition. Tixier was 7-6 in the individual motos for overall fifth.
Cairoli turned in two near perfect motos on what he says is his favorite track to pick up yet another red plate for his collection and he had a chance to put his experience to the test in the second moto. He came out of the start in fourth place and quickly tucked behind settled into third on the back of Clement DeSalle and Steven Frossard. He then waited his chance to overtake them while they expended energy fighting against each other for the lead. Once Tony hit the front he stretched out the advantage and at the checkered flag he was a very comfortable 13.5 seconds ahead of the dueling pair that followed. Near the end of the second moto it also looked like DeDycker would finish overall fourth but finally finished with a 5-6 moto results and overall sixth, a result that satisfied the team.
Tony Cairoli: “I just rode a smart race with not so many mistakes. I had a good speed and also good fitness levels so everything was good to take the won. Riding in the sand is just fun for me and I don’t really get tired. Now I look forward to see what my speed is like on hard pack!”