Red Bull Teka KTM riders Ken Roczen and Jeffrey Herlings delivered two of the most exciting motos of the season at the GP of Europe in Gaildorf Germany on Sunday to finished 2-3 in the GP, enough points margin for the teenage factory riders to secure enough points to settle the top two places in the 2011 championship with one round still to go.
Roczen’s victory gave Germany their first MX world champion in more than 40 years but his 16-year-old teammate Herlings, the only other rider with a mathematical change of the title did everything in his power, especially in the second moto, to take the title fight to the final round in Italy.
Right from the gate drop of the first moto it was clear that Herlings was ready to meet the challenge. Riding on the deeply gnarled and rutted hard pack track the two KTM riders took command of the lead but within minutes, Roczen lost the front end and went down allowing Herlings to take the lead and raise the adrenalin levels of both riders and team members. A handful of laps later it was Herlings who took a tumble and while he quickly scrambled back into the action, Roczen had the advantage and went on to win the race.
In a last do-or die effort to extend his title chances Herlings made a charge out of the start gates in the second moto and led for most of the race. The moto quickly evolved into a three-way battle between the two KTM riders and Tommy Searle of Britain who were no more than a second apart with Herlings, Searle and Roczen running at 1-2-3. It was only when Searle made as successful move on Herlings that it changed the points ratio and guaranteed the title went to the 17-year-old German.
Searle won the GP, Roczen finished second and Herlings third but with the world tile going to the brilliant young German rider the results of the GP took second place to celebrations of the Red Bull Teka KTM Factory Team who were already on a high after Tony Cairoli won the MX1 title after the first MX1 moto.
Roczen and Herlings have been the dominant riders in the MX2 season while their teammate Jeremy van Horebeek has been plagued with injury. Now Roczen, only 17, goes to the US to race for Red Bull KTM in the 2012 Supercross and Motocross seasons while his younger teammate Herlings will remain in Europe to race the World Championship season. Before all that, the three orange riders will be on the track and fighting for a glorious season’s finish at Fermo, Italy next weekend.
To add even more glory to Austrian manufacturers’ list of honors this weekend, young KTM rider Romain Fevre of France also won the 2011 title for EMX. KTM also settled the Manufacturer’s titles in MX1 and EMX after having won the MX2 Manufacturer’s title at the end of the last round in Matterley Basin UK.
Ken Roczen: “It’s unbelievable for me. It’s my biggest moment ever. I went over the line and I could barely stand. I was crying and seriously this is the best feeling I ever had. I’m really happy with how things are gone and with all the team so a big thanks to everyone.”
Jeffrey Herlings: “Hopefully next year will be my year. I think I didn’t do such a bad season but I still had some mistakes and that’s what cost me the championship but at the end of it all I’m really pumped. I'm definitely second in the championships, I already won four GP’s and I’ve been on the podium 10 or 11 times.”
1, Tommy Searle, UK, Kawasaki
2, Ken Roczen, Germany, KTM
3, Jeffrey Herlings, Netherlands, KTM
4, Arnaud Tonus, Switzerland, Yamaha
5, Gautier Paulin, France, Yamaha
7, Joel Roelants, Belgium, KTM
8, Nicolas Aubin, France, KTM
10, Jose Butron, Spain, KTM
11, Jordi Tixier, France, KTM
14, Jake Nicholls, UK, KTM
16, Nick Triest, Belgium, KTM
1, Ken Roczen, Germany, KTM, 635 [MX2 World Champion 2011]
2, Jeffrey Herlings, Netherlands, KTM, 585
3, Tommy Searle, UK, Kawasaki, 526
4, Gautier Paulin, France, Yamaha, 458
5, Arnaud Tonus, Switzerland, Yamaha 391
9, Nicholas Aubin, France, KTM, 269
10, Joel Roelants, Belgium, KTM, 253
12, Jake Nicholls, UK, KTM, 205
13, Jordi Tixier, France, KTM, 189
15, Jose Butron, Spain, KTM, 147
17, Jeremy van Horebeek, Belgium, KTM, 139
MX2 Manufacturers’ Standings
1, KTM, 686 [Manufacturer’s title already won by KTM after last round in Matterley Basin U/K/]
2, Kawasaki, 575
3, Yamaha, 525