Afyon drew the MXGP series to the midway point with another outing around the fast, flat and modern facility located on the outskirts of the Afyonkarahisar. Hot sunshine and a light breeze guaranteed stable racing conditions for the hard-pack that was rutty and bumpy in sections and slick in others.
Jeffrey Herlings clocked his fifth Pole Position of 2021 in Timed Practice. The Dutchman now has more than double the next nearest rider. Herlings was part of a breakaway quartet in the first moto with holeshotting teammate Jorge Prado holding the lead for 4 of 19 laps until the Spaniard crashed at the beginning of Sector 2 and would remount to finish 21st. Herlings circulated behind Romain Febvre and with Tim Gajser in close company as Tony Cairoli made up a lot of time from 10th to join the trio by the last two circulations. As Febvre made a mistake on the final lap Herlings was there to seize the moment and won the moto from an energetic Cairoli by just half a second.
The second moto was more dispersed. Tim Gajser escaped Herlings’ attentions in the later phase of the race and Cairoli won a close duel with Prado for 3rd place. Herlings’ 2nd place allowed the 26-year-old to win for the second time this week in Turkey and move up to 4th in the world championship, just 34 points behind Gasjer and the red plate.
Jeffrey Herlings: “I started the day strong with Pole Position and it was important to be on the inside of the gate here, especially against Jorge! The first race was good, and busy! I could not really attack because I had Tim [Gajser] behind me and I had to defend my line but at the same time I had a bit more speed on Romain [Febvre]. It was so hard to pass on this track. I managed to hold second until the last lap but then Romain made a mistake and I had the win handed to me, so it was a bit of a gift. In the second moto I was looking for lines but again I had to defend and attack at the same time with Jorge and Tim. Tim was faster the second moto. I was struggling a bit with grip. The track got hard and slick and I had a few sketchy moments so at one point I decided to settle for second and minimize the risk. I knew I had the GP win, my 93rd. It’s been a good day and two good races here in Turkey. I want to thank Red Bull KTM for the great bike they gave me.”
The Grand Prix of Sardinia on September 19th will take MXGP to the sandy Riola Sardo circuit for the first of seven consecutive race weekends that also involves the Motocross of Nations at Mantova, Italy.
Results MXGP Afyon 2021
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (1-2)
2. Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda (3-1)
3. Tony Cairoli (ITA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (2-3)
4. Romain Febvre (FRA), Kawasaki (4-5)
5. Pauls Jonass (LAT) GASGAS (5-6)
10. Jorge Prado (ESP), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (21-4)
Standings MXGP 2021 after 09 of 17 rounds
1. Tim Gajser 355 points
2. Romain Febvre 327
3. Tony Cairoli 326
4. Jeffrey Herlings 321
5. Jorge Prado 315