Red Bull Teka KTM factory rider Jeffrey Herlings finished his MX2 season on a high note on Sunday when he wrapped up a victory in the final GP of the season with an impressive charge to the finish line in extremely hot conditions.
The young Dutch rider, who celebrates his 17th birthday on the day following the race won six single motos this season and clinched his fifth GP. He picked up the silver medal for finishing second to teammate to Ken Roczen, who settled the title last weekend at home in Gaildorf, Germany.
As the business of the title was well and truly over, Roczen decided to have some fun this weekend and rode a KTM 125 SX in the field of 250 cc machines. He finished fifth on the smaller bike in the first moto and was in fourth place in the second when he crashed and decided to retire.
Herlings was second in the first moto setting up a clash with eternal rival Tommy Searle. The two engaged in a vicious battle of attrition on the heavily watered, slippery and chopped up Italian circuit, fighting also against extreme heat that saw thermometers sore over 35 degrees Celsius. The KTM rider took a lead with 20 minutes to go and put five seconds between him and the British rider. Searle fought back, reduced the gap to just over two seconds then crashed with nine minutes left to ride, leaving Jeffrey a clear run to the checkered flag
To add more credit to the Orange machines, KTM riders soaked up places five, six, seven, eight and nine in the final GP. Roczen finished 11th overall even though he didn’t pick up any points in the second moto.
Jeffrey Herlings: “I had a small crash in the qualifying heat and even though I had a good start in the first race my riding was bad. But I got away well in the second moto and I managed to get past Tommy (Searle). This year I was just 20 points off the title so I hope I can make it happen for KTM next season and follow in Ken’s footsteps.”
Ken Roczen: the first race was really good and I finished fifth. Then my start wasn’t as good in the second race and I came from way back to fifth place. Then I jumped into the ruts and it was very slick because it had been watered and I just couldn’t stay on the bike. My handlebars were bent so I couldn’t go on. For sure I’m a bit disappointed because I was on a good way to get on the podium.”
All photos R.Archer