On a weekend where Red Bull KTM again owned the AMA Supercross series in Atlanta with Cooper Webb their international spoils spread down to South America with a clean sweep of the first round of nineteen in MXGP; the third Grand Prix in a row where the team have collected overall wins in both MXGP and MX2 classes with the factory KTM 450 SX-F and KTM 250 SX-F.
MXGP World Champion (and winner of the Patagoni-Argentina Grand Prix last year) Jeffrey Herlings was missing due to his broken right foot leaving just Tony Cairoli to steer the works KTM 450 SX-F. A technical problem for the Sicilian in Saturday’s Qualification Heat meant he was one of the last to enter the gate for the first moto (28th place) but he made a superb start and had control of the pack by the end of the opening lap. The 33 year old defended a narrow margin from Romain Febvre but was then able to cross the finish line first.
In the second race Cairoli again made a bright start and was in third place pursuing Tim Gajser and Romain Febvre for what was a battle for the overall win. Again #222 could triumph and toasted his first success at Neuquen with a resolute 1-1.
Tony Cairoli:“I’m really happy about this race because we unfortunately had a problem yesterday and on this track the start is really important because there is not much difference between the riders and the lap-times. I did my best to get to the front both times and it worked; I was in the top ten and could manage to work my way through. It was a nice race and nice event. So many fans, it is like being in Italy for me!”
MX2 World Champion Jorge Prado blasted free of the pack on the first lap to win the opening moto by a comfortable distance from Thomas Kjer Olsen. It was the Spaniard’s first chequered flag in Argentina where he proved to be a popular draw for the many fans. In the second moto Prado was again unbeatable. He led the Danish rider once more and rode unhindered to his third consecutive win. Rookie Tom Vialle made a decent statement with the very first holeshot of the season and then ran inside the top five against far more experienced opposition for long stretches of the moto, eventually finishing 7th. An 8th place in the second race gave the eighteen year old Frenchman 7th in the overall standings.
Jorge Prado:“It’s great to be back at the GPs and I had a lot of fun. I had two really good starts and that was important for the racing here. The priority was to get this first race done with good points and to be healthy and in the end we managed a win in both motos. I felt very good on the bike today and physically very strong. I couldn’t start the season in a better way. We’ll keep working hard up to the next round in England.”
Tom Vialle:“A super-good weekend: a holeshot and running top three in MX2! I was pleased with my riding and the top ten pace. I cannot complain about this weekend and my first GP. The experience also gives me a lot of motivation to train harder and to keep getting better. I like Matterley Basin so I’m excited to go there and to continue to learn.”
MXGP moves back east and into the European stint of the calendar that will occur across the vast Matterley Basin circuit for the British Grand Prix on March 24th.
Results MXGP Neuquen 2019
1. Tony Cairoli Red Bull KTM (1-1)
2. Tim Gajser (SLO) Honda (2-2)
3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL) Honda (6-3)
3. Clement Desalle (BEL) Kawasaki (4-6)
5. Gautier Paulin (FRA), Yamaha (5-5)
Standings MXGP 2019 after 01 of 19 rounds
1. Tony Cairoli 50 points
2. Tim Gajser 44
4. Jeremy Van Horebeek 35
3. Clement Desalle 33
5. Gautier Paulin 32
Results MX2 Neuquen 2019
1. Jorge Prado (SPA) Red Bull KTM (1-1)
2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN) Husqvarna (2-2)
3. Mitchell Evans (AUS) Honda (5-3)
4. Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA) Honda (4-4)
5. Henry Jacobi (GER) Kawasaki (3-5)
7. Tom Vialle (FRA) Red Bull KTM (7-8)
Standings MX2 2019 after 01 of 19 rounds
1. Jorge Prado 50 points
2. Thomas Kjer Olsen 44
3. Mitchell Evans 36
4. Calvin Vlaanderen 36
5. Henry Jacobi 36
7. Tom Vialle 27