MXGP of Portugal

Dutch teenager and Red Bull Teka KTM factory rider Jeffrey Herlings came away from the MX2 GP in Agueda with 44 points, the overall GP victory and for the first time in his young career, the coveted red plate as championship leader.

The first moto saw Roczen uncharacteristically missed the start from his pole position, while Herlings shot out of the gate like a bullet and surged ahead to put around seven seconds between him and the rest of the pack. Two thirds of the way through the race it looked like being a one man show, but in the end it just turned into a 1-2 KTM show. Roczen hit the gas, turned up the adrenalin and went after riders like a man possessed. One by one he brushed them aside as he carved away at the time advantage to his teammate. Then he tucked in behind him in the final three laps and the race was on to see which one of the two young KTM factory riders would be the first to the flag. Herlings defended well almost up to the final lap but in the end it was Roczen who prevailed. The dominance of the two KTM riders was again obvious as they rocketed across the finish 25 seconds ahead of third placed Zach Osborne.

In the second moto, it was Roczen who hit the front in the early stages and it looked as though he was again going to dominate the race. Then a mistake on the bumpy track proved costly as he was pitched over the handlebars and landed hard on the dirt track, taking a blow to the chest and head. The German rider who has been attracting attention on both sides of the Atlantic then had no other option but to return to the pits, leaving the way open for Herlings to take control of the race. Jeffrey hung onto the lead until the final third of the race but came under strong attack by Tommy Searle, the only other rider who has won a GP so far this season. Searle had something to prove after registering a DNF in the first moto when his bike picked up a swathe of the green netting that marks the track. In the end Herlings took the cautious approach and settled for a comfortable second place, knowing both the GP victory and the red plate was safely in his hands.

Jeffrey Herlings: “I’m six points ahead of Kenny now and I have to keep it like that. It’s going to be really hard because Ken is in very good shape and he’s really fast, but all in all it was a good weekend for me. I’ll try to be cool, that’s the main thing I have to do to hold onto the red plate. It will be hard but I’m looking forward to the races next weekend and I hope to keep it.”

Ken Roczen on the other hand was in a lot of pain after his big crash. He was taken to the hospital by team officials for a full medical check but now has the all clear to stay on with the team as they remain on the Iberian peninsular to prepare for the GP of Spain next weekend.

KTM factory rider Tony Cairoli rode two strong motos to finish second on the podium for the MX1 GP of Portugal in the first of two outings for the Red Bull Teka KTM Factory Team in the Iberian Peninsular.

In the first moto Cairoli found himself back at around seventh at the start of the Agueda circuit, a location where he has always performed well. He worked his way through the pack in the first half of the race to sit comfortably behind the two leaders with a handful of laps to go. In typical wily Cairoli style he carefully plotted out the best place on the track to make a move on second placed Steven Frossard then made his move with three laps to go. Cairoli then turned up the throttle and went after Clement Desalle, edging wheel to wheel close to him over the nail biter last two laps. But he ran out of time and eventually had to settle for second place.

Cairoli’s start was much better in the second moto and he was well in the running for the top place as he was several times within a wheel’s distance from the leader Desalle but again would have needed another lap to settle the moto for him. His two second places still yielded 44 championship points and kept him in the running to retain his title. After the race he said he was gaining in physical fitness after having to cut back on training to recover from injury and was still feeling confident about the remainder of the season.  Cairoli has had a lot of past success on the track at Agueda and said: “I like this track a lot. I have won four GPs and 11 motos here during my career, so actually tis one of my favorite GPs. But today it was pretty hard. It hasn’t rained here for a long time and there were a lot of strange bumps on the track where you can make a lot of mistakes.

r.Archer photos


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