Red Bull KTM arrived in Bulgaria one week after the Grand Prix of Switzerland. The circuit and country changed for the series but the formbook did not budge as Jeffrey Herlings won the MXGP class and extended his advantage in the respective categories.
The fast, wide layout of the Sevlievo hard-pack welcomed MXGP back for the first time since 2014 and gave the older element of the Grand Prix paddock the chance to reacquaint themselves with the steep uphills and hard braking tests of the descents. Good weather persisted through the weekend leading to a dry and rippled track with lap-times close between the athletes.
Jeffrey Herlings did not complete the clean sweep on Saturday. The championship leader was outpaced by Tim Gajser in Free Practice but set the quickest lap-time by almost two seconds in Timed Practice and cleared-off for his tenth Qualification Heat victory when it counted. Herlings then took charge of the opening moto from Gajser and ran free to his ninth chequered flag in a row. The second affair produced a similar outcome once Herlings moved past his teammate. Red Bull KTM classified 1-2 on the track but Herlings toasted his fourteenth overall GP win from seventeen rounds on the KTM 450 SX-F (the sixteen he has contested) and his twelfth ‘1-1’. He also stretched his margin in the MXGP standings to 73 points.
Herlings: “I think this is one of the most beautiful tracks…but not really one of my favourites with the hard and slick ground. I think Youthstream and the guys did a great job with preparation but it was tough with the high temperatures. We had an awesome weekend: winning Qualifying and both motos. It is all I can ask for. It is too early to talk about the title but it is definitely getting closer. Anything can happen still. We’ll wait and see but today we did a good thing for the championship and we’re leading by 73 points now.”
Back in MXGP and the first Grand Prix of Turkey for ten years will take place at the new circuit of Afyonkarahisar next weekend.
Next race: Grand Prix of Turkey, Afyonkarahisar, September 2nd
Results MXGP Sevlievo 2018
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), KTM (1-1)
2. Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda (2-3)
3. Clement Desalle (BEL) Kawasaki (3-4)
4. Tony Cairoli (ITA), KTM (8-2)
5. Romain Febvre (FRA) Yamaha (4-5)
Standings MXGP 2018 after 17 of 20 rounds
1. Jeffrey Herlings, 783 points
2. Tony Cairoli, 710
3. Clement Desalle, 581
4. Tim Gajser, 549
5. Romain Febvre, 544