Red Bull KTM factory riders Tony Cairiol and Jeffrey Herlings both picked up wins in the MX1 and MX2 GPs of France at Saint Jean d’Angely on Sunday to extend their leads in their respective championships.
The two victories put the team back on top in results and spirits after failing to make any podiums in the muddy race in Brazil in the difficult last round.
Cairoli looked very comfortable on the technically challenging and often slick course on his KTM 350 SX-F factory bike but he came under heavy pressure from a slew of French riders who were determined to put on a good show for the large home crowd. In his first race he held the lead from flag to flag and also had a very strong start in race two. But after a handful of laps he made an uncharacteristic mistake and to the collective joy of the French fans he allowed Steven Frossard to slip past. What then followed was an all-out battle over the following laps where only three seconds separated the top six riders. Cairoli held on to his second place and plotted where he might retake the lead and made his move when conditions were favorable. He went on to take his second victory of the day finishing four seconds ahead of Christophe Pourcel.
“I’m very happy about my weekend. Yesterday I was not so fast and struggled a bit but today everything went well. The bike was perfect and its cool to win here in the home of my main contenders,” Cairoli said. Now we go to Portugal and Agueda is a sandy track and I have won a lot of GPs there so its one of my favorites and I am looking forward to it.”
Factory teammate Ken de Dycker of Belgium had some difficulty with his starts but still managed to move up through a good part of the field in both races to finish with a 7-10 result. De Dycker admitted it was difficult to recover from a bad start on this track but said he was able to show good speed and the riding was also improving.
Strong weekend for Red Bull KTM’s MX2 team
KTM’s MX2 team also had a solid weekend on the French track with Jeffrey Herlings spearheading the team effort with another GP victory on his KTM 250 SX-F. The Dutch teenager had a comfortable win in the opening moto by a margin of eight seconds but had to work much harder in his second race. He didn’t get the start he would have liked and eventually had to settle for second behind his toughest rival in the championship, Britain’s Tommy Searle, who won the race by a margin of 3.7 seconds. Herlings 1-2 finish gave him a 2-point edge over Searle allowing him to pick up another red plate and he now has a 22-point lead in the championship.
“My first race was quite easy after I took the holeshot but I had a bad start in the second moto and was back at 10th and had to work my way back to second,” he said. Regarding a touch he had with Arnaud Tonus of Switzerland he commented that he saw it as just a race accident that came about when both riders were fighting hard for the best race line.
It was also a very good weekend for the team’s Jeremy van Horebeek of Belgium. He was riding in pain after having his foot crushed earlier by another bike and still had a great first race to finish second to Herlings and followed it up with a third place for overall third.
“I hurt my ankle really bad and I thought it might be the end of my season but I had some x-rays and they told me the ligaments were just a bit sprained,” van Horebeek said. “It was fine for the first moto and I felt really good but I just didn’t have that bit extra to challenge Jeffrey. I made a small mistake in the second corner of the second race and dropped back to fifth and then I twisted my ankle again and had to let Jeffrey pass me”. He underlined that there was no obligation to let his teammate past and there is no team order. He still considers the championship open. “I know I have the speed and I will do my best,” he said.
Jordi Tixier, the third member of the factory team also put in a solid two motos to finish overall fifth in front of his home French crowd. “I had two good starts and I tried to have a good feeling on the bike and I managed that so I am very happy with my results,” he said.
The French circuit also hosted the opening round of the UEM European MX 250 Championship and with three KTM riders making top ten positions – Dennis Ullrich of Germany was seventh, Tim Gajser of Slovenia was eighth and Brent van Doninck of Belgium in tenth.
The factory riders now reconvene at the Portuguese circuit of Agueda next weekend for Round 7 of the championship.
Results MX1 GP Rd. 6
1, Tony Cairoli, Italy, KTM 1-1
2, Christophe Pourcel, France, Kawasaki
3, Gautier Paulin, France, Kawasaki
4, Clement Desalle, Belgium, Suzuki
5, Xavier Boog, France, Kawasaki
9, Ken de Dycker, Belgium, KTM
12, Kevin Strijbos, Belgium, KTM
13, Matiss Karro, Latvia, KTM
MX1 Standings after Rd. 6
1, Cairoli, 253 points
2, Pourcel, 214
3, Desalle, 213
4, Paulin, 212
5, De Dycker 179
MX1 Manufacturers Standings
1, KTM, 264
2, Kawasaki, 259
3, Suzuki 223
Results MX2 Rd. 6
1, Jeffrey Herlings, Netherlands, KTM 1-2
2, Tommy Searle, UK, Kawasaki 3-1
3, Jeremy van Horebeek, Belgium, KTM, 2-3
4, Joel Roelants, Belgium, Kawasaki
5, Jordi Tixier, France, KTM
6, Valentin Teillet, France, Kawasaki
7, Jake Nichols, UK, KTM
8, Max Anstie, UK, Honda
9, Petar Petrov, Bulgaria, Suzuki
10, Romain Febvre, France, KTM
12, Julien Lieber, Belgium, KTM
14, Jose Butron, spain, KTM
MX 2 Championship standings after Rd. 6
1, Herlings, 270
2, Searle, 248
3, van Horebeek, 231
4, Roelants, 188
5, Anstie 160
6, Tixier, 159
7, Nichols, 144
9, Butron, 110
MX2 Manufacturer’s Standings after Rd. 6
1, KTM 283
2, Kawasaki 271
3, Yamaha 169