Courtesy of KTM Racing
The sweeping corners and fast layout of the acclaimed Matterley Basin circuit was the host for the British Grand Prix and round nine of twenty in 2018 MXGP. Red Bull KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings and Tony Cairoli went 1-2 respectively for the fifth time this year while Pauls Jonass and Jorge Prado dominated in MX2.
Sunshine and warm conditions greeted the FIM World Championship field for the annual visit to Winchester in southern England and the atmospheric British round of MXGP. The vast Matterley Basin site entertained top level racing for the first time since the Motocross of Nations in October.
Saturday’s practice and qualification saw Red Bull KTM complete a rout in both categories. Tony Cairoli rode to his second Pole Position of the season with the works KTM 450 SX-F and headed a 1-2-3 with Jeffrey Herlings in second place and Glenn Coldenhoff in third. In MX2 Jorge Prado claimed his fifth Pole of 2018 on the KTM 250 SX-F – with yet another holeshot in the Qualification Heat – and led teammate Pauls Jonass.
Fans were treated to another KTM duel in the premier class as the contest between Cairoli and Herlings intensified and the pair again separated from the rest of the MXGP pack in both motos. Cairoli fronted the first race until a coming together between the #84 and #222. Herlings powered out of a corner and contract left the world champion on the floor. Cairoli remounted to finish second behind the current series leader.
In the second moto Herlings took his time to pursue a holeshotting Cairoli, who led for thirteen laps, before moving past on the last circulation. The Dutchman posted his sixth 1-1 and seventh win in nine rounds, maintained his 100% podium record in 2018 (with his 100th career trophy) and extended his margin in the MXGP standings to 54 points. Cairoli took the second step of the rostrum with a 2-2 and to again uncork champagne after missing out in Germany two weeks ago.
Glenn Coldenhoff completed a trio of ‘6’s. The Dutchman had a typically solid and sturdy day at Matterley (and scene of his maiden GP triumph five years earlier) by going 6-6 for 6th overall.
Herlings: “KTM have been a family to me and to achieve 100 podiums with one brand is not something that happens often. 74 GP wins is simply amazing so a big thanks to everyone at KTM and especially Pit [Beirer] for believing in me almost ten years ago and bringing me to where I am now. We’ll go to France next with the same goal of making the podium. If we can take a win then great, if not – or even a podium – then we’ll do our best and see how it turns out. The start is really important at St Jean and it is tough to pass. We’ll see how things go.”
Cairoli: “It was a positive weekend and one in which I found the good starts that were missing in Germany as well as excellent race pace, even if it was not enough to win. I had a great feeling in practice on a track that was well prepared and full of lines, and in the qualifying race I managed to ride as I wanted and win. Today in both heats I managed to ride well; unfortunately the contact with Jeffrey in race one was unexpected but motocross is like this sometimes. In race two I tried to get away but in the end he caught and passed me. It’s a shame to lead 25 of the 28 laps without winning the Grand Prix but we must also say that the pace compared to the others is much higher and we have improved a lot compared to last year. We will not give up and will continue to attack next week in France.”
Coldenhoff: “We struggled with set-up on Saturday but made some changes and the bike worked great; to take 3rd and make a 1-2-3 for KTM was really nice. I felt motivated to do well on Sunday but they had really watered the track for the first moto and it was difficult on the first lap. By the time I settled then I was sixth and everyone was running the same lap-times. I didn’t have a good start in the second moto but made a decent first lap. I was just a little off the pace of the guys ahead of me. After a very good Saturday I expected a bit more from today but on the other hand I had two solid results and points.”
MXGP domination was mirrored in the MX2 class with another ‘Jonass-Prado’ show. The teenage Spaniard aced another pair of holeshots but was overhauled by the world champion in both motos. In the first dash Jonass was pressurised by his teammate all the way to the flag and less than a second split them at the line; the superiority of the Red Bull KTM riders across the quick but occasionally rutty terrain was emphasised by the massive 48 second gap to Thomas Covington in 3rd place. Jonass shadowed Prado for eight laps in the second outing before again finding a way into the lead; the window was 1.2 seconds at the Finish Line arch and a comprehensive 38 seconds from Calvin Vlaanderen.
The achievement represented Jonass’ fifth success of the season and drew his moto win total up to 11 from 16. Both KTM athletes have only missed two podiums in the 2018 term so far and are split by 28 points in the MX2 table with Jonass holding onto the red plate.
Jonass: “I was struggling with the track on Saturday but turned it around for today. I had the chance to pass Jorge in the first moto after he had the holeshot; and that was really good because once Jorge gets a rhythm it can be difficult to overtake him. I was happy about that and then controlled the race but it was not that easy with Jorge always pushing. In the second moto I made a couple of mistakes at first but then found my lines and flow quite quickly. I was disappointed with my results in Germany, so this was much better and when I saw Jorge escaping again in the second moto I thought ‘not again…’ I think the second race was one of the best of the season for me. I tried to do a ‘Jeffrey’! We trained together last week in France and we motivated each other a bit.”
Prado: “The race went really well. This weekend Pauls was pushing really hard and we were so far ahead of third position in the first moto so you can imagine how hard we were going every single lap. I’m happy because I did my best; this weekend Pauls was the fastest and maybe next weekend it will be me. We are very similar right now and small details can make the difference. I’ve never had a podium here so I’m pleased about that also. I think the bikes and team we have here are the best-of-the-best.”
MXGP heads over the Channel this week and forms-up at the hillside and hard-pack circuit of St Jean D’Angely for the popular Grand Prix of France as the 2018 campaign reaches round ten and the midway point.
Next race: Grand Prix of France, St Jean D’Angely, June 10th
Results MXGP Matterley Basin 2018
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), KTM (1-1)
2. Tony Cairoli (ITA), KTM (2-2)
3. Romain Febvre (FRA), Yamaha (5-3)
4. Clement Desalle (BEL), Kawasaki (4-4)
5. Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda (3-5)
6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED), KTM (6-6)
Standings MXGP 2018 after 9 of 20 rounds
1. Jeffrey Herlings, 436 points
2. Tony Cairoli, 382
3. Clement Desalle, 314
4. Romain Febvre, 291
5. Gautier Paulin, 267
7. Coldenhoff, 237
Results MX2 Matterley Basin 2018
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT), KTM (1-1)
2. Jorge Prado (SPA), KTM (2-2)
3. Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA), Honda (4-3)
4. Ben Watson (GBR), Yamaha (6-4)
5. Thomas Covington (USA), Husqvarna (3-9)
Standings MX2 2018 after 9 of 20 rounds
1. Pauls Jonass, 401 points
2. Jorge Prado, 373
3. Thomas Kjer Olsen, 288
4. Ben Watson, 279
5. Jed Beaton, 234