Red Bull Teka KTM MX1 factory rider Tony Cairoli finished third in the GP of Sweden at the Uddevalla circuit on Sunday but even more important than the podium, the Italian reigning world champion secured enough points to take the coveted red plate as championship leader for the first time this season.
Cairoli has had some minor but debilitating injuries that have at times hindered a full training program but has been slowly but surely been picking up points.
The Italian had a spectacular ride in the first moto after crashing in the chaos of the first corner. With dozens of bikes and riders descending on him he crouched low an amazingly came out unscathed, dusted himself off, checked the levers on the handlebar and took off in pursuit of the rest of the field. Trailing right at the back of the field, Tony then put his head down and picked of riders one by one until he was up with the leaders. With only two laps to go he was up to challenging championship leader Clement Desalle, admittedly riding with an injured shoulder this weekend. He finally slipped past the French rider and went on to finish the first moto in fifth place, but still had taken enough points to claim the provisional red plate.
Ken Roczen once again put his own stamp on the MX2 class at the GP of Sweden on Sunday when he pulled off two overwhelming victories in both motos to pick up more silverware for his trophy cabinet.
The younger of Red Bull KTM Teka’s two teenage riders Jeffrey Herlings also put in two solid rides for a 3-2 moto result and second overall. While the Dutch teenager got out of the gates well and put in two good races he was unable to keep pace with his German counterpart who completely shut out all opposition on the tricky Uddevalla track.
Roczen’s performance in the opening moto on the Swedish circuit was pure copybook. Starting on pole as the fastest qualifier, Ken took the holeshot, led the race right to the checkered flag and crossed the line 18 seconds in front of second placed Gautier Paulin. To the delight of his team and the many KTM fans at the Swedish circuit, the young German went out and repeated the performance again in commanding style in the second moto to give him is eighth career GP win since he started racing MX2 mid season in 2009. Roczen can now look forward to going to his home GP in Teutschenthal Germany next weekend where he will be supported by a huge number of local fans.
Also impressive on his return to the track after a prolonged injury break was the third member of the Red Bull Teka KTM squad, Jeremy van Horebeek of Belgium. He finished 5-9 for overall seventh place in the GP to send a strong signal that he is back and ready for good results. Jeremy said he was quite stressed returning to racing after such a long break and this cost him some strength. He said he was a disappointed not to have done better in the second moto but was pleased to be back on what he described as his ‘awesome’ bike