The 2018 MXGP of Latvia is off and running with the Qualifying races of the FIM Motocross World Championship being led from start to finish by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings and Jorge Prado!
With a new track layout and new first turn today’s races were action packed from the very start. The new and longer right hand first turn left riders banging bars for position as they relied on only their front brakes for stopping power.
MXGP’s Saturday racing was full of impressive action, mostly from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings. Setting an unmatched pace in every session today Herlings left many wondering how. In Free Practice Herlings was 3 seconds a lap faster than the rest of the field and almost 2 seconds quicker in Time Practice.
At the start of Qualifying Herlings lined up in the furthest inside gate and charged into the first turn with the Holeshot, behind the “Bullet” was Monster Energy Kawasaki Factory Racing’s Clement Desalle and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Romain Febvre.
With Herlings in the lead many looked to find out where his title rival and defending MXGP Champion, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Antonio Cairoli was placed. Cairoli came across the first timing sector in 24th position after a first turn crash with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin, Team Honda Redmoto Assomotor’s Arminas Jasikonis, BOS GP’s Evgeny Bobryshev, and more.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff was also riding well from the start fighting for 4th position. Team HRC’s Tim Gajser who started outside the top five moved past Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Jeremy Van Horebeek along with Coldenhoff by the end of the 6th lap.
Gajser’s fill-in HRC teammate Todd Waters was running an impressive 8th and closing in on Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s Jeremy Sewer who ran 7th when a crash took Waters out of racing and left the Australian with a fractured collar bone and the unlucky Team HRC again down to 1 MXGP rider.
Herlings gapped Desalle and Febvre as they battled over 2nd and Gajser ending up taking advantage catching the pair before passing Febvre for 3rd. Cairoli meanwhile was making impressive work of the field calmly passing his way up to 7th with 2 laps to go.
On the penultimate lap Gajser crashed dropping him to 7th while Cairoli passed Coldenhoff for 5th and then both Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP riders, Van Horebeek and Febvre on the last lap. Cairoli’s amazing comeback to third place from well outside the top 20 was however overshadowed by the massive Herlings win where he was nearly 4 seconds a lap faster on average then 2nd place, finishing 50 seconds ahead of Desalle in 2nd.
Jeffrey Herlings in the Press Conference said: “It was a walk in the park today but it doesn’t mean anything for tomorrow, it is a gnarly track and a lot of things can happen as you could see in the pile up on the first turn. I feel I am really one with the bike here on this track and my confidence is growing, I definitely had a good start, I had another Holeshot so that was pretty nice and I could just do my own thing.”