The last significant weekend of action, preparation and tests before the start of the 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship in Argentina on March 5th saw Tony Cairoli wrap his sixth MX1/Elite/Supercampione national title by taking a double victory in the sand of Mantova in Italy. Cairoli had won motos in Sardinia, Sicily and then again at the former Grand Prix venue in central Italy to earn his first accolade of 2018 on the works KTM 450 SX-F.
Cairoli: “I had a great start in the first moto and a good rhythm to make a gap on Van Horebeek and controlled that until the end on what was a difficult and sketchy track. Another good start in the second moto but Febvre was close all the time and the track was getting deep with the ruts and I didn’t want to take any risks. We tried to stay as safe as possible and made the win happen. I’m really happy for this title and now looking ahead to Argentina.”
It was the 32 year old’s tenth crown in domestic competition (without counting junior championships) and replicates the start of the 2017 campaign where #222 would go on to claim his ninth FIM world championship medal. KTM rider and teenager Rene Hofer was also noticeably quick on his KTM 125 SX as the Austrian ran to the chequered flag in Lombardia and was runner-up overall.
Meanwhile, further north, and Jeffrey Herlings, Glenn Coldenhoff and Pauls Jonass took their speed and form from the Hawkstone Park International in the UK last week down to the south of France and to Lacapelle-Marival where they again faced a host of MXGP peers and rivals also in the final shakedown stages towards the opening Grand Prix.
Herlings topped the time sheets and classifications all day (Free & Timed Practice, both MX1 motos and the Superfinal) while Coldenhoff, in good form and fresh from some impressive days riding in the region, tweaked his troublesome left hand in the first race and elected to sit out the next two starts. MX2 World Champion Pauls Jonass took his KTM 250 SX-F to fourth position overall. The Latvian holeshotted and aced the first outing but a broken goggle lens forced a pitstop in the second affair and he just miss out on the overall top three.
Herlings: “A great weekend: I felt good on the bike and on the track and there was a lot of riding today. I missed my start in the Superfinal but worked my way up from fifth place and felt really comfortable. The bike is awesome at the moment, so I have to give-it-up to Red Bull KTM. The whole team is working hard and I really appreciate that and what they have done for me. I cannot wait for the season to start.”
Coldenhoff: “I had some good days in the south of France and felt happy through Free Practice and Timed Practice this morning but managed to overstretch my finger in the first moto; it lead to some pain and I had no strength or power there for the clutch. I did not want to risk making it worse – we need to make it count in two weeks time – so decided not to start the second and third motos and work to be 100% for Argentina. Aside from today I’m feeling really good on the bike in general and physically I am strong so I have a positive outlook for the new season.”
Jonass: “That’s all three pre-season races under my belt now and I’m feeling good for Argentina. I holeshot and won the first race and then had a small goggle issue in the second race and had to throw them away and pit for new ones. So it was a bit of a struggle but I bounced back for the Superfinal and finished 5th behind the 450 guys, which was pretty good. I’m happy with my riding and the bike. A couple of small things to do and we’ll be ready for the first GP.”
Red Bull KTM will now direct all their attention to the final details and long journey to Neuquen, Patagonia for the first round of nineteen in 2018 MXGP.