KTM factory rider Max Nagl on Sunday won the opening MX1 GP in Sevlievo, Bulgaria on Sunday to take his career first red plate as championship leader with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Antonio Cairoli second on the podium on the new KTM 350 SX-F machine.
The 1-2 in the MX1 class wrapped up a perfect weekend for the factory team with KTM riders winning all motos and sweeping top podiums – also in MX2 and in the opening round of the Women’s World Championship. The result prompted KTM’s Offroad Director Pit Beirer to comment at the end of the day: “Six out of six. It doesn’t get any better than that!”
Max Nagl supreme in opening race
Nagl, onboard his KTM 450 SX-F, started the day on pole, and with great flair, to snatch his first holeshot in the opening moto, which he then dominated from the drop of the gate to the checkered flag. Max was never challenged throughout the race and crossed the finish line a comfortable 8.6 seconds clear of second placed Italian David Philippaerts. Cairoli found himself was back in the field at the start but looked like making his characteristic charge to the front when Frenchman Sebastien Pourcell crashed in front of him and he lost valuable seconds getting back in the race. The Italian had to settle for fifth place after the first moto.
Cairoli agile on new KTM 350 to win race two
Nagl again took the holeshot in race two and looked like he was going to mirror image his first race, but by then Cairoli was getting the very best out of the lighter and agile KTM 350 and he shot onto the lead two thirds through the race. Tony was first to the checkered flag by just over three seconds to give the factory team 1-2 on the overall podium and send a strong signal to the other teams about KTM’s intention to be a leading team in all categories.
Nagl happy to be fast out of the gate
“I’m really happy about my two starts,” Nagl said. “I twice got holeshots and that was my goal again this year because if you are good at the start it’s easier to stay somewhere in the top five. Now I’m really happy because I have the red plate for the first time now for sure I will try to keep it for as long as possible.”
The German rider was also hopeful about the next race in Mantova Italy next weekend. “It’s all good for me in Mantova. I like the track and fur sure it won’t be like the pre-season race where I was well back because I just took it easy. I’m looking forward to it. If the weather is good maybe I can have some nice fights with Tony so we can make another podium for KTM. That would be really good.”
A good weekend Cairoli says
Cairoli too was satisfied with the weekend. “I knew it would be hard for me to beat Max here because this is a hard track for the 350 bike because there’s a lot of up hills. But in the second heat I had a better start than the first heat. I did two laps behind David (Philippaerts) then I passed him and pushed to win the moto. The first heat I was not that satisfied with my riding. I was really stiff and I made a lot of mistakes but I like the track and now I’m on the podium and I never made the podium here before.”
The third in the trio of Red Bull KTM Factory riders, Rui Goncalves of Portugal was forced to sit out the opening GP. He is still recovering from corrective surgery on a shoulder injury and will miss the first couple of events. In Bulgaria just as a spectator, Rui said he was making good progress and would be back training on the bike soon.
Beirer and Everts congratulate entire factory team
KTM Offroad Director Pit Beirer was clearly delighted with the factory team’s performance in all categories. “What you did today, well I have no words for it because it’s unique. We won every single heat of the six heats and I don’t think a team has ever done this before in this championship. What was the nicest thing was that the whole team was strong.” Beirer congratulated each of the winners while factory team boss Stefan Everts said he hoped they would be able to continue the success next weekend in Mantova.
1. Max Nagl, Germany, KTM, 25—22—47
2. Antonio Cairoli, Italy, KTM, 16-25—41
3. Clement Desalle, Belgium, Suzuki, 20-16—36
4. David Philippaerts, Italy, Yamaha, 22-14—36
5. Steve Ramon, Belgium, Suzuki, 13-20—34
1. Max Nagl, Germany, KTM, 47 points
2. Antonio Cairoli, Italy, KTM, 41
3. Clement Desalle, Belgium, Suzuki, 36
4. David Philippaerts, Italy, Yamaha, 36
5. Steve Ramon, Belgium, Suzuki, 34