Red Bull KTM have ended the three-races in one-week spell in Latvia still in control of the 2020 MXGP and MX2 FIM Motocross World Championships. Jeffrey Herlings picked up his 89th career win for the Grand Prix of Kegums while Jorge Prado captured his first podium finish in the premier class. Tom Vialle walked the rostrum for the second time this week in MX2.
The third and final Grand Prix to take place at the Kegums circuit occurred in sunny and hot conditions and across an altered layout of the shallow sand that was still a fast and very bumpy test for the MXGP and MX2 riders. Red Bull KTM completed their extended stay in the country for rounds three, four and five with a total of six podium results and three victories between four racers.
MXGP Jeffrey Herlings rode to Pole Position – his first of the Latvian chapter – in the morning Timed Practice session and placed his KTM 450 SX-F first into the gate for the two motos. The Dutchman didn’t make the best of starts in the opening race and a small crash and a bout of arm-pump limited him to 4th. Herlings blasted free from the rest of the pack in the second sprint however to earn his first checkered flag from the six motos at Kegums and his third overall triumph of the season (following successes in Britain and Holland earlier this year). Herlings went 5-3-1 for the week and has a 46-point margin in the MXGP standings as he profited from problems affecting rival Tim Gajser. Jorge Prado marked a small milestone in his career by riding to a 4-3 scorecard and finishing 3rd overall on the day. The reigning MX2 Champion has been blighted by a broken leg and collarbone for his first term in the premier class but started well and guided the KTM 450 SX-F to his maiden trophy in the MXGP division. Tony Cairoli, who won the Grand Prix of Riga the previous Wednesday, suffered with a mistake at the start of the first moto and had to recover positions to make 9th place by the flag. The nine-times world champion was a stronger front-runner in the second moto. He battled with teammate Prado and then tried to catch Herlings in the later stages of the 30 minute and 2 lap chase but classified 2nd for 4th in the final rankings.
Jeffrey Herlings: “The competition gets higher every year and we are all closer to each other, so the starts are key. I struggled a bit in the first moto, with arm-pump also, but it helped to be 4th and then leading the second moto from the second lap meant the overall. Another GP win, so another good day and I want to thank Red Bull KTM because the bike was awesome. I’m happy with the week here in Latvia. I had a few little ‘gifts’ here and there but it was good for the championship.”
Jorge Prado:“The road up until the restart of MXGP has been very tough with two injuries. The femur was horrible and the another one with the collarbone: it meant hardly any time on my bike. This year has been crazy and despite the lack of the training and the riding I could still manage a 3rd overall here. It was a very hard day. I felt good in the first moto but at the beginning of the second I was suffering. I went very, very deep. I’m super-happy to keep that position to make the podium and to come away from these races without any crashes. I hope to keep going like this.”
Tony Cairoli: “Another OK weekend but I feel it was possible to win again today. I paid for the mistake and crash at the start of the first moto because I had to come from far back and could only make 9th. It should have been more. The second moto was better even if I was not riding so free because I hit my back on a landing towards the end of the first race. I tried to stay as close as possible to the front. I tried to catch Jeffrey but I was a bit tired from the first moto. Not too good, not too bad. Let’s see what we can do when we race again.”
Tom Vialle was 6th fastest in the MX2 Timed Practice with his KTM 250 SX-F and the ranking was enough for a decent slot towards the inside of the start gate. The Frenchman led from start to finish in the first moto for his second win in Latvia. In the second race he dueled with main title rival Jago Geerts and ran 2nd behind the Belgian, earning the same overall result as the pair tied on points. Vialle defends an 8-point gap in the championship picture. Teammate Rene Hofer had flown back to Austria the previous weekend for surgery to fix a broken left shoulder.
Tom Vialle: “It is close with Jago. We shared the points and the guy who is 3rd behind us is a little bit further. It is quite tough to always fight with the same guy but I think we can say this is one of his favorite tracks, so I was happy to be there with him winning some motos and one GP. Today I didn’t lose points. I’ve improved a lot in the sand since last year. My starts were good all week, so it has been positive in Latvia and I liked the format and doing the three races here. We’ll see what is going on with the calendar now.”
Dirk Gruebel, Team Manager: “We can be happy with the results because we came here with two red plates and we leave with two red plates. Tom lost a little bit of his lead, but Jeffrey extended his by quite a lot, especially over Tim Gajser. The format was OK for the riders and also the crew but racing three times a week was pretty heavy. We could see some riders struggling on Wednesday because they are not used to going again two days later. Maybe it is something they have to get used to in these times. We didn’t have any issues this week apart from Rene’s injury, which was sad to see but it’s the bad side of this sport. Technically we were fine. We are on the right path but we just have to see how the calendar moves now.”