The 2017 Fiat Professional MXGP of Belgium finished in amazing fashion today! After a soggy Saturday, race today started with the sun shining as the best MXGP and MX2 riders took to the demanding sands of Lommel. Focus, strength, and skill all combined into winning performances for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado Garcia.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings came into the weekend focused on winning on the sand and as racing 1 started he found himself second on the first lap sandwiched between his teammates, Glen Coldenhoff, and Antonio Cairoli.
Coldenhoff led the his fellow countryman while Cairoli gave chase to the two dutch riders. Coldenhoff managed to hold his own against the man know as the sand master, Herlings, for the first laps. It was on lap 6 that Herlings found his way by and looked to check out from Cairoli and the rest.
While Herlings led, Coldenhoff responded to the charges of Cairoli well for the next 5 laps at which point Cairoli went by. The battle for the position wasn’t over though and thanks to a mistake from Cairoli, Coldenhoff slid back by for another lap before Cairoli reclaimed the spot and took second and 27 seconds behind Herlings.
As Coldenhoff took third it looked as if Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team’s Romain Febvrewould take fourth but the french rider fell on the last lap which gave his teammate Jeremy Van Horebeek the position. Finishing out the race 1 top 5 was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl.
Race 2 started with another FOX Holeshot from Cairoli but Herlings was second across the chalk and he went to work quickly making a pass on the Italian before even reaching the green flag. From there the two newly found rivals went all out in a brilliant race.
Behind the battle for the lead and ultimately the race win was 2nd in the MXGP championship Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing’s Clement Desalle. The Belgian soon made a mistake which opened the door for Team Suzuki World MXGP’s Arminas Jasikonis and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Anstie.
Desalle picked himself up behind Anstie but then Jasikonis crashed out of the race moving Anstie to third and Desalle to 4th ahead of Coldenhoff. Confidence from his race 1 podium pushed Coldenhoff to pass Desalle for the position and 2 more overall points.
Back at the front Herlings and Cairoli were having the battle that fans had been dreaming of. Cairoli showed aggression in a pass for the lead pushing the #84 out wide. Half a lap later Herlings dove to the inside of Cairoli but it was answered immediately by the Sicilian. Banging bars for several laps Herlings again passed Cairoli in the same corner but this time brake checked the #222 machine. Herlings antics provided him with the lead as he sprinted away from Cairoli.
Cairoli backed off from his charge and settled for second in the race and overall dropping his pace the final laps. Cairoli in the press conference: “I’m really happy for sure, fighting against Jeffrey, he is one of the fastest in the world in this kind of soil, and we had good racing, also with Glenn in the first race he was very fast so it was fun.”
Herlings not only took double race wins and the overall but he leapt past Desalle for second in the championship chase. Herlings in the press conference: “I had a really good weekend, I won yesterday, won both motos today, and I had a pretty good start last race, I’m happy with that. It was clean racing and I enjoyed it, I’m happy a got the better of him (Cairoli) this weekend.”
Coldenhoff took the final podium spot making it a Red Bull KTM Factory Racing sweep as Desalle and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin round out the top 5. Coldenhoff in the press conference: “It’s great, it has been a while since I have sat here, so it’s really good. I had a good weekend, coming into this GP I felt really strong, and I’ve had some very competitive days in the sand.”
Last year’s Motocross World Champion, Team HRC’s Tim Gajser, struggled with mistakes on the sand including a fall which resulted with an 11th overall.
The weekend wouldn’t be complete without the MX2 racing and the KTM bikes proved strong again. To start race 1 it was Team Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer taking the FOX Holeshot but the young Spaniard, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Jorge Prado Garcia, took the lead immediately.
The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider and points leader Pauls Jonass was around 5th off the start but by the end of the first lap had already passed LRT KTM’s Julien Lieber and Hitachi KTM UK’s Ben Watson.
Jonass took only 3 laps to catch Seewer in 2nd, passing the #91 on lap 4. Jonass put his head down and caught Prado who remained determined putting up a fight to hold his position even against his points leading teammate. Jonass eventually broke away from Prado and took the win while Seewer took third ahead of Kemea Yamaha Official MX Team’s Benoit Paturel and the #33 of Lieber.
Race 2’s FOX Holeshot went to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington with Seewer again towards the front. A mistake in the first turn swallowed up a handful of riders including race 1 winner Jonass and third 4th place finisher Paturel. Jonass was among the last to get going again and on the opening lap was in 32nd position.
In the meantime Prado led with Covington and Lieber battling for 2nd and as Lieber passed Covington, Seewer fell out of 4th. The golden opportunity to gain points on Jonass started to slip away as Seewer remounted in 9th.
Jonass was instead moving forward through the pack at an amazing pace gaining 12 positions by lap 2 and he didn’t stop there and by the end he would pass 27 competitors to place 5th. Jonass in the press conference: “I had that crash in the second race and I came from dead last to 5th place so it was not so bad. They say you win the championship on your bad days and think this was one of the days.”
Seewer too moved forward but only back to where he had started in 4th.
Covington fell out second and he would not rejoin the race which gave Lieber second behind race 2 and overall winner Prado. Prado in the press conference said: “I’m feeling pretty happy, you know it is pretty difficult to win a GP, everybody is riding really fast so it is hard work. This weekend the track was pretty tough and you really have to give it your all which I did.”
In the overall Jonass took second behind Prado but ahead of Lieber, Seewer, and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen. Lieber in the press conference: “I’m really happy to be back on the podium after a long time, I have struggled a lot the last races but this weekend was good.”