Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tony Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings were the main protagonists in a riveting duel for the eleventh round of nineteen in the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship.
Cairoli produced another come-from-behind performance on Saturday and after a mediocre start in the qualification heat to secure his fourth pole position by overtaking Arminas Jasikonis on the last lap. The show of competitiveness primed the 33,000 crowd at Ottobiano on Sunday for another Cairoli classic and in the first moto run in blazing conditions the championship leader was in no mood for thrills. Cairoli entertained in a different way by controlling proceedings from the second corner and setting a furious pace to keep Jeffrey Herlings at bay while forging a gap over thirty-five seconds ahead of Gautier Paulin in third spot. Herlings seemed to follow and stalk his teammate with the goal of a last ditch attack but Cairoli set his personal best lap-time with the Dutchman looming and #84 was forced to settle for second place with the temperature reaching a new high for raceday. Glenn Coldenhoff just missed out on fifth position when Max Anstie passed him on the final circulation.
The afternoon sun had lost a slither of its power by the time of the second moto but 31 year old Cairoli was still on-fire. Herlings, who had been suffering with a stomach complaint was again #222’s nearest pursuer after the pair had dispensed with the early threat from Jasikonis. Herlings barrelled to the front and created a four second cushion over his rival but Cairoli was measuring his teammate and soon pegged back the Dutchman, who was physically drained and could offer no resistance once Cairoli assumed the lead once more to send the crowd into rapture. The double moto haul was the second of the year for Tony and allowed him to extend his margin over Gautier Paulin in the points table. Jeffrey, who needed some light medical attention for dehydration after the second moto, is still fourth but just 26 points from the top three of the standings.
Herlings: “We were fast! I had been feeling sick all day and I just got dizzy half way through the motos. It is not normal that I black out like that and don’t remember too much of the second race; apparently I got second! I do know it was cool to fight like that: Tony is a great rider and a great athlete for the sport. It was nice to battle with him and hopefully many more will come.
The Grand Prix of Portugal – the first on the distinctive reddish soil of Agueda for four years – will constitute round twelve of MXGP next weekend.
Next Round: July 2 2017 – Agueda (POR)
Results MXGP Ottobiano 2017
1. Tony Cairoli (ITA), KTM (1-1)
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), KTM (2-2)
3. Max Anstie (GBR), Husqvarna (3-2)
5. Max Nagl (GER), Husqvarna (7-4)
5. Romain Febvre (FRA), Yamaha (4-6)
Standings MXGP 2017 after 11 of 19 rounds
1. Cairoli, 431 points
2. Paulin, 364
3. Desalle, 361
4. Herlings, 335
5. Gajser, 282