Dramatic weekend in Saint Jean d’Angely for KTM’s MX2 riders
The MX2 GP of France at Saint Jean d’Angely produced some characteristically brilliant riding from the Red Bull Teka KTM teenage factory riders and while both Ken Roczen and Jeffrey Herlings shone in the first and the second moto respectively, neither of them finished on the podium at the end of the day.
Roczen who despite his mixed day on the French track still has a firm hold of the red plate as championship leader was out of the gates like a rocket in the first moto. He took the holeshot, relinquished the lead for a brief time during the first lap then systematically built up a massive advantage, taking the checkered flag almost 14 second ahead of his nearest rival. Relaxed and confident at the end of the moto, Roczen said: “I had an awesome start and I was able to take control of the race and save some energy for the second moto.” Despite this, Roczen admitted after the race that he had struggled with the track and had arm pump problems the whole weekend.
Meanwhile sand specialist Jeffrey Herlings had his share of problems in the first moto. He was fourth going into the opening corner then crashed, fought his way back through the field, crashed again and finally scraped through at seventh at the flag.
But the tables were turned in the second moto. Again Roczen charged to the front but his chances of domination were cut short when he had a huge off that sent him cartwheeling high above the track. He scrambled to get back into the race but shortly after was in the dirt again on a track that had been made slippery and heavy after a big storm on Saturday night. But while Ken was locked in combat with the track at the French venue, Herlings had taken control of the second moto and right up to the final three laps he looked set to dominate. But the 16-year-old Dutch rider had knocked his ankle in the heat of the battle and in the final laps had to relinquish the lead to Tommy Searle. Herlings: “I was leading the race right up to the last three laps but then I was overtaken so I wasn’t on the podium. But I closed one point on Ken in the championship so while I didn’t win, I didn’t lose either.”
Ken Roczen: “I had two amazing starts, like I was two bike lengths ahead, it was unbelievable but then in the second moto I made a mistake in the first lap and went down hard. I kept going but then I had another small crash and ended up eleventh. Now I am 13 points ahead. I lost one point but that’s not too bad. I’m not badly injured. I have a little pain but I think it’s going to be worse tomorrow because I’m going to be stiff.”
In the final shakeout the two riders escaped with their two leading places in the standings intact and had to settle for fourth (Herlings) and fifth (Roczen) on the score sheets of the French MX2 GP.
Next week the Red Bull Teka KTM factory riders head for Portugal for the sixth round of the championship.
MX2 Championship Standings
MX GP of France yields podium second for Cairoli
Reigning MX1 champion Toni Cairoli continued to work his way back into contention for the MX1 season’s honors this weekend picking up a useful second place in the GP of France after a hard fought two motos that yielded him 42 points from his 2-3 score card for the weekend.
Riders had a hard day on the track that had been made heavy by an overnight thunderstorm. Tony however took the day’s outing on the difficult track in Saint Jean d’Angely in France in good spirits and said while he can no longer feel any pain from his earlier knee injury that he had lost physical condition because he had not been able to run or cycle for more than a month. “Now its time to get back in shape and go after the red plate,” he said. “I am looking forward to the two GPs in Portugal and Spain and I would like to use them to close the points gap in the championship.”
Red Bull Teka KTM teammate Max Nagl of Germany unfortunately was not able to convert a good result in Saturday’s qualifying into a podium but still left with a useful 26 points from his 7-9 result. Tony is now just six points shy of championship leader Clement Desalle while Max is currently in equal third with 179 points.
Max Nagl: Both my starts were quite okay but each time I messed it up in the first corner. I wasn’t riding aggressively enough in the first heat so I went out very aggressive in the second. I crashed in the second lap, I managed to come back but then I got stuck behind Townley and then I crashed again. Now we go to Portugal and Spain. I like these two GPs and I hope to get good results there.”
MX1 Standings after five rounds