MXGP ventured from the heat of Imola to the slightly cooler climes of Uddevalla in northern Europe for the Grand Prix of Sweden. A 22,000 attendance surrounded the tight course of rutted hard-pack as rainfall in the build-up to the sixteenth round of eighteen (that helped soften the mud) stayed away during the weekend. The fans witnessed an FIM World Championship celebration as Jorge Prado obtained the points necessary to confirm his second #1 plate in the MX2 class and rank as the eighth different Red Bull KTM MX2 champion since creation of the category in 2004: KTM have now claimed MX2 eleven times from sixteen seasons.
Uddevalla presented Tom Vialle with a career milestone. His 2-2 results not only permitted his sixth visit to the rostrum in his rookie season but also allowed him to savour his very first GP triumph.
In the MXGP division Jeffrey Herlings made a notable comeback in the Swedish sunshine (12th overall in just his second Grand Prix outing of 2019) while Standing Construct KTM’s Glenn Coldenhoff was able to climb the top step of the podium for the second weekend.
Prado entered the weekend trying to shake the effects of a cold but soon established his feeling and speed around Uddevalla. He rode to his twelfth Qualification Heat win of the season on Saturday.
From first position in the gate he flew to his 20th holeshot of the year in the opening moto and then comfortably controlled the race ahead of teammate Tom Vialle. The Frenchman was looking to forget the disappointment of his double DNF the previous weekend in Italy and succeeded admirably by equalling his joint-highest moto ranking, and best classification since the Grand Prix of Asia. Prado crossed the finish line into scenes of jubilation.
Pressure and expectation removed, Prado however made a slip while moving through the top five in the second moto. The renewed champion completed one of his most effective performances of the year to come back to 4th position and was just three tenths of a second from taking third place, which would have delivered his fourteenth overall win in a row. Instead Prado had to surrender his usual place of honour to Vialle who had holeshotted and led until a mistake handed the lead to Calvin Vlaanderen. Vialle nevertheless secured another 2nd to initiate his own celebrations.
With a lead of 145 points and just 100 left to win this season, Prado has been confirmed as only the third double-winning champion in the history of the MX2 division. Vialle’s haul has allowed him to move up from fifth to fourth in the table.
Jorge Prado: “It has been a perfect season. I won every GP I raced up until now and many motos and many qualifying races. I was feeling very good this year with the bike set-up and physically. My start was OK in the second moto but then I made a small crash and bent the clutch lever. I had to deal with a race without a clutch and passing riders was tough in the beginning. I had to get used to it. I got better and better and at the end of the moto I made very good laps. I was so close to getting Adam on the last lap. I think it was one of the best races of the year and I felt very comfortable in that second moto. I liked the track a lot and it was prepped very well this weekend. Overall I think I made a clear step from last year to this year: I was riding better. I’m very happy. No mistakes. It’s important to be like that and to keep consistent in a long championship.”
Tom Vialle: “A fantastic weekend for us – both for me and for Jorge. I felt good in the first race and pushed a lot to follow Jorge and when I took the holeshot in the second race I waited until three laps before I looked behind and Jorge wasn’t there. After Imola this was the best reply. Last weekend was really bad, for the championship standing also, and I learned a lot from my mistakes and made it better this weekend.”
Robert Jonas, VP of Offroad: “Full congratulations to Jorge and the whole team for what has been such a strong season. It was hard for us in MXGP after a dominant 2018 championship but it was a relief and so satisfying to see Jorge continue to improve to keep having great success in MX2. It is clear we are seeing the progress of another amazing talent and the amount of victories and the superiority Jorge has on the 250 SX-F is down to his fantastic ability, his work with Claudio and David De Carli and the crew and the competitiveness of our bike that has been bringing in all those trophies for so many years. 2020 will be another challenge for our double champion but for now he should enjoy everything he has earned.”
2018 MXGP World Champion Jeffrey Herlings made a late decision to attempt the Grand Prix in Sweden with a view towards extra race time and mileage as part of the recovery process from a fractured right ankle. The Dutchman had been riding his KTM 450SX-F for a couple of weeks and made the call to use Uddevalla as a valuable chance for more conditioning.
Herlings earned a brilliant Qualification Heat victory on Saturday and then proceeded to lead most of the first MXGP moto until he tired with arm-pump and a small crash led to another rider hitting the prone KTM. He had to retire due to the damage. In the second moto he found a more effective rhythm to take a solid 4th.
Standing Construct KTM’s Glenn Coldenhoff continued his scorching run of form by going 1-2 in the motos with his 450 SX-F. It meant a third consecutive podium – and second victory – for the Dutchman.
Jeffrey Herlings: “The problem was that I took the holeshot! Yesterday [leading] was fine for twenty minutes but in the first moto I was really struggling with arm-pump. We made some changes to the bike to have the suspension a bit softer because I was not at my normal pace. I led for the first twenty and then couldn’t hold on so well and had a small tip-over. Another rider hit my bike and damaged it pretty bad so I couldn’t finish, which was a shame because I think I could have been fifth-sixth. In the second moto I didn’t get a holeshot: which was pretty good because I don’t feel comfortable leading yet. I was around 8th and worked my way up to 4th. Together with 1st yesterday it hasn’t been bad practice for less than two weeks on the bike. We can still work for a few more races until the ultimate goal in Assen.”
Just two rounds remain on the 2019 schedule and the penultimate meeting of the year will occur around the hard-pack of Afyonkarahisar for the Grand Prix of Turkey in two weeks time.
Results MXGP Sweden 2019
- Glenn Coldenhoff (NED), KTM (1-2)
- Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda (3-1)
- Pauls Jonass (LAT), Husqvarna (4-3)
- Jeremy Seewer (SUI), Yamaha (7-5)
- Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL), Honda (5-7)
Standings MXGP 2019 after 16 of 18 rounds
- Tim Gajser 709 points
- Jeremy Seewer 511
- Gautier Paulin 468
- Glenn Coldenhoff 446
- Arnaud Tonus 443
- Tony Cairoli 358
- Jeffrey Herlings 75
Results MX2 Sweden 2019
- Tom Vialle (FRA), Red Bull KTM (2-2)
- Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA), Honda (4-1)
- Jorge Prado (ESP), Red Bull KTM (1-4)
- Adam Sterry (GBR), Kawasaki (4-3)
- Maxime Renaux (FRA), Yamaha (6-5)
Standings MX2 2019 after 16 of 18 rounds
- Jorge Prado 737
- Thomas Kjer Olsen 592
- Jago Geerts 467
- Tom Vialle 460
- Henry Jacobi 442