MX2 Qualifying Race
If anyone was hoping that Herlings was not going to dominate at Valkenswaard yet again, the qualifying race made it clear that this was never going to happen. The fact that he had to do it from a poor start made no difference – in fact it made his overall lead of 25 seconds even more impressive.
Open Gallery20 Images
Yet for British fans, there was a massive boost with Jake Nicholls getting the holeshot on his Nestaan JM Racing KTM, and leading the race convincingly for the first five laps. Behind his a thundering pack of Van Horebeek, Searle, Roelants and Tixier were tussling for every inch of the rutted and blisteringly fast track. Lurking back in 8th place on lap one, Herlings was on full chat, taking Teillet and Searle in lap one to move to fifth, then going on to pass Butron, Van Horebeek and finally Nicholls on lap six.
After that it was another master class with Jeffrey slamming the track into submission as he checked out to the delight of the home crowd. Searle pushed forward from his initial sixth, and although he was overtaken by Roelants, this was a brief moment as the Belgian bobbled and fell back into the pack. Anstie was similarly on a charge, gunning the Gariboli Honda from 11th through to a creditable sixth place finish.
By the chequers, Herlings took the race from Van Horebeek in second with Tommy in third. Jake maintained his pace to get an astoundingly promising fourth ahead of the great ride from Spain’s Jose Butron.
Jeffrey Herlings – Red Bull Factory Racing KTM
“I was in the inside gate and my jump was completely f**cked to be honest. By the sixth lap I’d got to the front and was three to four seconds a lap ahead of the others, so I was happy. I’m hoping that I can do the same tomorrow and win. I think I have really good speed this year and can make many wins. It means a lot of pressure but I think I can do it”
Tommy Searle – Floride Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki
“This is my first race of the year, and as it’s in sand it was always going to be hard. People get very excited on the first round, but in the end it’s just the first round. I’m really confident for this year, I can race sand or hard pack, so I can do well. I got a good start this race but I braked too early for some reason. We all know that Jeffrey is very fast on this track, so it was always going to be difficult to beat him here. I just need to win races, get on the podium and do my best. The bike is really good this year so that is going to help – I just need to get to those hard-pack tracks and get the wins”
MX1 Qualifying Race
In an astoundingly similar scenario to the MX2 race, the clear favourite did not have the best of starts but was able to slice through the competition to take the win. But it was the injured Evgeny Bobryshev that got the drop off the gate, leading for a brief time before the Factory Honda developed a mechanical issue, gifting the number one slot to the Monster Energy Yamaha of Steven Frossard. The French rider kept in front for three laps ahead of the HM Plant KTM of British Championship leader Kevin Strijbos. Cairoli was sitting back in third, but with metronomic precision, Antonio charged forward to take both of them by the fourth lap. Behind the front three, the usual suspects of Philippaerts, DeSalle, Paulin, Leok and Boog were having good races, as was an astoundingly on form Ken De Dycker, dwarfing the new KTM like he was on an SX85. By half distance, DeSalle had begun to drop the hammer, muscling his way past Strijbos on lap seven, then Frossard by lap ten.
At the end of the race, Cairoli had pulled a modest but sufficient eight second lead from DeSalle in second and Frossard in third.
Antonio Cairoli – Red Bull Factory Racing KTM
“Yes I’m happy, it’s the first race and everyone is very excited. I like this track and tomorrow it will be very rough. I don’t want to make mistakes; I just want to be consistent this year. Winning is important but the goal is to win the championship again. The off season was good for me – I had some good races in the Italian championship with David Phillipaerts. I’m really happy with the power of the bike this year – it’s exactly what I was looking for.”
Images by Ray Chuss
Words by Julian Challis
1 222 Cairoli, Antonio ITA FMI KTM 25:04.092 12 0:00.000 0:00.000 1:53.473 2 47.588
2 25 Desalle, Clement BEL FMB Suzuki 25:12.260 12 0:08.168 0:08.168 1:54.544 4 47.143
3 183 Frossard, Steven FRA FFM Yamaha 25:12.776 12 0:08.684 0:00.516 1:55.096 1 46.917
4 19 Philippaerts, David ITA FMI Yamaha 25:16.437 12 0:12.345 0:03.661 1:55.283 2 46.841
5 22 Strijbos, Kevin BEL FMB KTM 25:17.712 12 0:13.620 0:01.275 1:55.107 1 46.913
6 9 de Dycker, Ken BEL FMB KTM 25:20.746 12 0:16.654 0:03.034 1:55.007 2 46.954
7 21 Paulin, Gautier FRA FFM Kawasaki 25:21.166 12 0:17.074 0:00.420 1:55.709 5 46.669
8 4 Leok, Tanel EST EMF Suzuki 25:27.350 12 0:23.258 0:06.184 1:55.365 2 46.808
9 121 Boog, Xavier FRA FFM Kawasaki 25:45.503 12 0:41.411 0:18.153 1:57.472 2 45.968
10 999 Goncalves, Rui POR FMP Honda 25:47.753 12 0:43.661 0:02.250 1:57.184 2 46.081
1 84 Herlings, Jeffrey NED KNMV KTM 24:42.751 12 0:00.000 0:00.000 1:51.884 4 48.264
2 89 van Horebeek, Jeremy BEL FMB KTM 25:07.828 12 0:25.077 0:25.077 1:54.542 1 47.144
3 100 Searle, Tommy GBR ACU Kawasaki 25:15.944 12 0:33.193 0:08.116 1:54.725 8 47.069
4 45 Nicholls, Jake GBR ACU KTM 25:20.198 12 0:37.447 0:04.254 1:54.977 3 46.966
5 17 Butron, Jose ESP RFME KTM 25:30.025 12 0:47.274 0:09.827 1:56.646 1 46.294
6 6 Anstie, Max GBR AMA Honda 25:30.301 12 0:47.550 0:00.276 1:55.419 2 46.786
7 34 Roelants, Joel BEL FMB Kawasaki 25:31.973 12 0:49.222 0:01.672 1:53.451 8 47.598
8 37 Teillet, Valentin FRA FFM Kawasaki 25:35.388 12 0:52.637 0:03.415 1:57.593 6 45.921
9 66 Tonkov, Alexander RUS MFR Honda 25:42.091 12 0:59.340 0:06.703 1:56.400 1 46.392
10 911 Tixier, Jordi FRA FFM KTM 25:44.464 12 1:01.713 0:02.373 1:57.621 1 45.91