Red Bull KTM finished 1-2 for the eighth time from twelve rounds of the 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship with Jeffrey Herlings making an emphatic return from collarbone surgery to claim the Grand Prix of Indonesia.
MXGP touched down for the first of two back-to-back events on Indonesian soil and for the second meeting to take place at the Pangkal Pinang circuit. Thankfully the rain that almost washed out the 2017 edition of the fixture did not afflict a busy twelfth round of the 2018 campaign but conditions were tough for the riders with high humidity, temperatures around thirty degrees and a very rutty and rough course to negotiate.
Jeffrey Herlings again made headlines. The Dutchman returned to the saddle of his KTM 450 SX-F just seventeen days after surgery to fix a broken collarbone. The Championship leader talked of settling for points and “damage control” in Indonesia but ran to Pole Position on Saturday and then posted a strong and surprising results sheet of 2-1 in the sweaty motos on Sunday.
Once again Herlings’ most direct rival was teammate and reigning world champion Tony Cairoli. The Sicilian won the first race (his sixth chequered flag of the year and from 23 motos) but suffered from several mistakes in the second outing. The veteran rode superbly to close a gap to front-running Herlings – who made a dramatic Grand Prix finale by crashing with three laps remaining – but then made a error immediately after assuming the lead and damaged the front brake and had to deal with an injured thumb. Herlings was able to retake control and his second race spoils (his seventeenth win in ’18) meant a ninth triumph of the term. The duo continues to be split by just 12 points.
Herlings: “I’m very happy with the weekend and we couldn’t have dreamed it would have gone like this just two and a half week after breaking my collarbone. I wasn’t sure I would be able to race here so to come out with a win is pretty amazing. I lost a bit of feeling on the bike with the surgery and lack of bike time but physically I was OK and we’ll work to come back to 100%. Injury is part of this game when we are pushing. We’ll try and get the best out of the situation next week now.”
The majority of the MXGP paddock will remain in Indonesia this week and head south and east of Jakarta to Semarang for the second stop in the country and round thirteen of the series.
Next race: Grand Prix of Asia, Semarang, July 8th
Results MXGP Pangkal Pinang 2018
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), KTM (2-1)
2. Tony Cairoli (ITA), KTM (1-2)
3. Romain Febvre (FRA), Yamaha (5-3)
4. Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda (4-4)
5. Clement Desalle (BEL), Kawasaki (3-8)
Standings MXGP 2018 after 12 of 20 rounds
1. Jeffrey Herlings, 533 points
2. Tony Cairoli, 521
3. Clement Desalle, 407
4. Romain Febvre, 390
5. Tim Gajser, 368