16th Rd. Motocross 2018 – Frauenfeld-Gachnang (Switzerland)
Red Bull KTM’s shutout of 2018 MXGP continued at a packed Grand Prix of Switzerland as Jeffrey Herlings secured a 13th overall victory from 16 rounds with his 11th 1-1 performance of the year while Jorge Prado celebrated his 9th MX2 success of the campaign. The duo has won the last four Grands Prix.
For the third year in succession the Frauenfeld-Gachnang circuit staged one of the more memorable rounds of MXGP with fine weather, a technical, fast and challenging course and a hefty attendance enhancing the Swiss Grand Prix experience. The largely flat layout involved rutty and bumpy soil and was home to more Red Bull KTM glory.
Jeffrey Herlings increased his margin at the top of MXGP from 36 points to 58 over teammate Tony Cairoli thanks to another sledgehammer of statistics in Switzerland with his KTM 450 SX-F. #84 logged his fourth perfect scorecard in a row and has swept Grands Prix in Holland, Italy, Portugal, Latvia, Germany, Britain, France, Indonesia, Czech Republic and Belgium. He has 25 chequered flags from a possible 32, 13 wins from 16 and has missed the podium only once.
The Dutchman surprisingly suffered a crash early in Saturday’s Qualification Heat which opened the door for Cairoli to engage in some excellent racecraft and secure his fourth Pole Position of 2018. Herlings came back to 6th and did not repeat the mistake on the second turn of the opening moto on Sunday: the Dutchman attacked the corner with verve and was soon past Clement Desalle and controlling the 30 minute and 2 lap dash from the front. Cairoli struggled with a crash that cost him time and positions – as well as a tweaked knee and damaged motorcycle – and crossed the finish line in 8th.
The second moto was another display of authority by the championship leader as Herlings again ran free. Cairoli rode brightly in spite of the distraction of his knee and his 6th place meant 7th overall and just the third time in 2018 he has missed an MXGP podium ceremony.
For the second Grand Prix in a row Glenn Coldenhoff just missed the rostrum with 4th overall. The Dutchman placed his KTM 450 SX-F into the gate with the 16th pick after being held-up by Herlings second corner qualification fall on Saturday. Coldenhoff had a great first performance on Sunday when he rode to 4th spot (following-on brightly from his 3rd in Belgium two weeks previously). #259 then recovered from a poor start to make the top seven in the second moto. Coldenhoff remains a clear 7th in the MXGP points table.
Herlings: “It is pretty amazing to go 1-1 on what is a tough track for me. It was not easy, so I have to give-it-up to Red Bull KTM for the great bike and the great work those guys are doing. Only four races to go and we did good things for the championship this weekend. To win at this level and to go against guys like Tony, a nine times world champ, and all the others you have to be 100% physically and mentally and not be worrying about anything. It is hard but if you are winning then it’s worth it.”
Cairoli: “The weekend started good with the win in the qualifying race and I felt good with the track but my start was not that great in the first moto. When I saw Jeffrey had the lead I pushed hard and I knew I had to stay with him to have the chance to win. I passed some guys, reached Febvre and then Desalle and arrived a little bit too fast in one section and I stalled the bike. I went over the bars and felt something immediately with my knee. It felt weird and my handlebar was bent and my front brake was broken. It was difficult to keep the rhythm after that. I had some ice in the break and the knee was not 100% and I didn’t know what to expect in the second moto. The start was OK and I could run with the guys in front for twenty minutes but then became a bit tired because I was riding in a strange position. I dropped to sixth, which was still OK but the priority now is to check the knee and hopefully I can finish the season without any problems.”
Coldenhoff: “I was really disappointed after the second moto and after starting the weekend pretty well, even if being stuck behind Jeffrey and losing my rear brake meant that the qualifying heat was far from easy and cost me a good gate for today. You just have to deal with situations like that and I think I did this in the first moto. I had a great start into fourth place and rode consistently. I had a tough race with [Jeremy] Seewer because the fans were going crazy for him; but it was good motivation for me to stay in front of him. I was happy with fourth and felt that today might bring my first podium. With the sixteenth gate pick I ended up with a place that had a huge hole just off the grill and by the time I saw it then it was too late. I messed up the start because of that and was far back, around 20th I think. I passed people and was feeling good again and came back to 7th. I wasn’t happy because I had my eyes on the podium and was 4th overall, which is a good result but I want more. Looking positively that’s two 4th positions in a row now and hopefully we can make that last step to the box in Bulgaria.”
Jorge Prado and Pauls Jonass treated the Swiss crowd to a fantastic first MX2 race where the battle for the chequered flag went down to the final minutes. Jonass resisted his teammate and claimed his first victory on the KTM 250 SX-F since the Grand Prix of Indonesia, three rounds previously.
The pair swapped positions in the second moto. Prado’s typically proficient starts helped him to create an early gap as Jonass toiled to relegate Ben Watson. Once into second, the Latvian tried to shrink the deficit to the Spaniard but ran out of time.
The duo shared the same points but Prado registered his fourth overall win on the bounce courtesy of his second moto triumph; this was the eighth occasion this year that the seventeen year old was able to excel at the second time of asking at a Grand Prix. Jonass uncorked champagne again after missing out in Czech Republic and Belgium.
The window between #61 and #1 remains pegged at 28 points with a maximum of 200 left.
Prado: “Pauls was riding really good in the first moto and with two laps I tried to push but made a small mistake and he pulled away. I had a problem with my breathing in the second moto and it was so hard, especially in the last laps through all those bumps where you need to be compact and strong to tackle them. But, we won, and didn’t lose any points so now onto Bulgaria. I won the 65cc European Championship at Sevlievo and I believe it will be good for me with all those uphills and downhills. We’ll see!”
Jonass: “I was feeling really good this weekend and normally this is not my favourite track with those deep ruts but I was riding well. I managed to pass Jorge in the first race with ten minutes to go and that was good! In the second race I took too long to pass Watson and Jorge pulled a bit gap. I tried to close it but with two laps before the whoops I made a mistake and did a bit of Freestyle for the fans. Anyway, 1-2 results and it is nice to be back on the podium and going the right way again. For sure I still believe I can do it [defend his title] and it will be key now to show my best races. Everything can happen; there are eight motos and lots of points that can be won or lost. Our goal is to move to the MXGP class as champions.”
MXGP shuffles immediately east this week and returns to the former award-winning circuit of Sevlievo for the first time since 2014 for the Grand Prix of Bulgaria in seven days time.
Next race: Grand Prix of Bulgaria, Sevlievo, August 26th
Results MXGP Frauenfeld-Gachnang 2018
Text and images courtesy KTM Sportsmotorcycles GmbH