The senior titles at the Italian International MX Championship were safe in Orange hands when the three-round series concluded on Sunday at the northern Italian circuit of Arco di Trento with Tony Cairoli picking up both the MX1 and the Elite silverware.
MX 1 teammate Ken De Dycker finished second in the MX1 championship and third in the Elite class while Jeffrey Herlings had a great start to his season, winning both the MX2 and the Elite race in his only appearance in the series.
Cairoli started the day with style with a great win in the 17-lap MX1 race, winning from Frenchman Steven Frossard by almost four seconds. Teammate De Dycker finished fourth giving both riders enough accrued points in the series to be 1-2 in the championship.
Then Herlings celebrated his return to the international circuit with a dominant victory in the MX2 class, crossing the line 28 seconds (!) ahead of eventual title winner Christophe Charlier of France and his KTM factory teammate Jordi Tixier in third. Herlings and Tixier only raced in Rd. 3. They were due to compete at the Hawkstone International in the UK, but the race was canceled because of bad weather. Herlings then continued his charge in the Elite race facing off against teammate Cairoli. The Italian had a comfortable lead on his KTM 350 SX-F and seemed set to deliver a perfect double. He had a comfortable lead through to the thirteenth of seventeen laps but then got tangled with a back marker and had to retire with a broken gearshift. Herlings, showing little respect for the rest of the MX1 riders in the field, then went on to win on his KTM 250 SX-F in front of Frossard. De Dycker took third and Tixier finished in ninth place.
Cairoli came away more than satisfied and said the series had been very good for him except for two small incidents. In Rd. 2 in Malagrotta he got a stone wedged in his rear brake and today there was the incident with the back marker. “I tried to pass him but just as I was going past he move out and I hit his back wheel with the gear shift. I tried to keep going but in the end I had to stop. I knew it was okay for the championship. It is also a long time since I rode on this type of gravel surface but lap-by-lap I got used to it. It was good to race here because this is a venue where we will have a GP this season.”
Ken De Dycker had been ill this week and was not at the top of his game but he said he feels very confident ahead of the GP season. “It was nice to have three rounds on completely different surfaces and I think we are ready for the first GP. This year I have had the best training and I feel stronger and fitter than ever before, especially with the new bike.” De Dycker rides the KTM 450 SX-F
Jeffrey Herlings: “I haven’t been so happy with my pre-season preparations but today was great and I know I’m always there when the gate drops. I’m glad to have won the MX2 race by almost half a minute and also to win the Elite race even though it was because Tony had some bad luck. Now it’s two weeks of hard training before the first GP.”
Tixier however was not so satisfied with his races at Trento and admitted that he struggled a bit on the slick gravel surface. “I worked hard in the preparations but this wasn’t a good day for me. I was too slow in the opening lap and the track was very slippery. I just didn’t feel confident.”
Team managers Claudio de Carli and Stefan Everts were also satisfied with their teams ahead of the season.
Claudio De Carli said it had been very good to have three races close together and on three different surfaces. “This is very useful for the riders because we will have these conditions in the GPs this season. The first race in Sardinia was on sand. Then there was the hard pack of Malagrotta and now the gravel in Arco di Trento, which was very different and had not much grip. I am very happy with the races and with the pre season preparation. Today was the reward for all the hard work the riders have done.”
Stefan Everts said he was happy with his two MX2 riders’ performance at Arco. “Jeffrey had two solid races and two good wins today. Jordi struggled with his confidence on the gravel surface, which was very slippery but I have confidence in him for the season and at the end of the day I am happy with the both.”
The Red Bull KTM Factory team will now prepare for the opening races of the 2013 World Championship season to be held on March 1, for the first time in Qatar and under lights.
Image courtesy KTM