The second phase of the 2018 MXGP campaign began with the Grand Prix of Lombardia and the third event in three weeks after trips to Great Britain and France. For the ninth time this year Red Bull KTM owned both MXGP and MX2 classes with the KTM 450 SX-F and KTM 250 SX-F. Ottobiano presented a rough, sandy and fast prospect.
Tony Cairoli had a tough Saturday when a fall on the first lap of the Qualification Heat prompted a hard charge back to 7th. Determined to avoid similar misfortune, #222 made two decent starts on Sunday. He controlled the first moto from the opening corner until the flag and then recovered from a brief tumble to defeat Tim Gajser in the second race. It was the World Champion’s second success and second ‘1-1’ in 2018 and allowed a maximum gain of 50 points. Cairoli repeated his triumph from Ottobiano in 2017.
Glenn Coldenhoff classified 9th overall with 9-11 in what is usually strong terrain for the Dutchman. #259 suffered with set-up and could not find his flow on the terrain.
MXGP World Championship leader Jeffrey Herlings missed the Grand Prix due to corrective surgery on his right collarbone last Wednesday. The Dutchman picked up the injury while training but is hopeful of being fit and ready to race for round twelve in Asia in two weeks time.
Herlings still fronts the standings by 12 points from Cairoli and Coldenhoff is 7th in the list.
Cairoli: “I’m really happy with the weekend. Unfortunately Jeffrey got injured but this is something that can happen to any of us. We have been going at a very high speed. This weekend was good for the championship because we could come very close. It was important to have a good result in front of my home crowd and with two good motos. The second one was a good show; racing at home brings a lot of pressure but it is also nice to give the fans a win. They gave me a big push.”
Coldenhoff: “I’m not sure what happened this weekend. After France I had a great feeling. We took it easy on Saturday because we knew it would be hard today but I didn’t feel good. It was a difficult one and I’m very disappointed with my results. I should have had at least one good race here. Bad weekend but Indonesia is coming and I want to be stronger there for sure so we will make a good plan in the coming weeks.”
Pauls Jonass and Jorge Prado had appeared on five of ten MX2 Grand Prix podiums together prior to the eleventh outing for the class at Ottobiano. That statistic rose to six in the sand. Prado levelled with the world champion on five overall wins and has now posted three victories from the last four races to enforce his fierce run of form.
Both Red Bull KTM riders had to follow Thomas Covington in the first moto but serial holeshotter Prado decided to set the pace in the second. The Spaniard demonstrated the degree of his progress. Twelve months earlier the teenager could not withstand the Italian summer heat and on this occasion was almost uncatchable. With a 2-1 Prado achieved his ninth podium appearance. Jonass went 3-3 for 3rd overall (his eighth trophy of 2018).
The gap between the pair at the top of the MX2 table is now just 9 points in Jonass’ favour.
Prado: “It was an incredible weekend. I cannot say it was unexpected because I have worked so hard and waited a whole year to come back here and prove people wrong. At the end of the second moto I was so happy because it was so, so tough. It was very physically demanding, so to win a race like this makes me happy. It gives me the motivation to keep training. This is almost the hardest conditions we can have and if we can survive this then other races will be easier.”
Jonass: “Nothing really went as went as I wanted today. I didn’t get the best starts in both motos. In the first race my left hand became numb after the first fifteen minutes and I don’t know why. I was struggling with the braking bumps and just managed to hold on. In the second moto I was ready to attack in the last minutes but a blister burst open and it was so painful going through the waves. Anyway, overall, I just didn’t ride my best this weekend and the speed wasn’t there. We’ve struggled for the last few weeks so now I’m looking forward to getting back on top of the podium in Indonesia. I’m not worried about the championship because I’m not at 100% at the moment and I know we’ll work on getting that gap bigger in the next few races.”
MXGP heads overseas and for a double Asian stop with rounds twelve and thirteen taking place on back-to-back weekends in Indonesia. Pangkal Pinang – that entered the world championship for the first time in 2017 – will play host again on July 1st.