Jeffrey Herlings (Red Bull KTM) underlined his dominance with another double win – his fourth in a row – at round 10 of the FIM Motocross World Championship at the MXGP of France at St Jean d’Angely today.
On the hardcore hard-pack track, where deep ruts at the bottom of the perilously steep hills were replaced with polished limestone at the top, the Dutchman was at the top of his game and the result extends his lead over his team-mate and defending champion Tony Cairoli to 62 points – that’s two race wins and then some more – at the halfway stage of the series.
“The one word I say is unbelievable,” he said. “In race two I was a bit late on the start and came around 10th on the first lap but on this track to pass so many guys I think is pretty insane. I’ve felt so good all weekend. I’m looking forward to Ottobiano next week and going back to Italy and trying to give my best there too.”
So confident is Herlings at the moment, after qualifying first yesterday he chose the extreme outside gate for today’s opening race and was able to cut across the pack into the first right-hand turn for a conclusive holeshot, his fourth of the year, from Clement Desalle (Monster Energy Kawasaki).
With Cairoli sitting in fourth, Herlings was already two-and-a-half seconds clear of Desalle after two minutes as the Italian found himself stuck behind his team-mate Glenn Coldenhoff. The nine-time champion needed almost 20 minutes to make a pass for third and by the time he got through he was almost 12 seconds adrift of the leader.
With a clear track ahead, Cairoli set about closing down Desalle and with two laps to go had him in his sights but couldn’t get close enough to show him a wheel before a mistake let the Belgian break free.
At the flag Herlings was almost six seconds ahead of Desalle after backing it down in the final few laps with Slovenian Tim Gajser (Team HRC) snatching fourth from Coldenhoff with two laps to go. Swiss rider Jeremy Seewer (Wilvo Yamaha) was sixth ahead of home favourites Romain Febvre (Monster Energy Yamaha) and Gautier Paulin (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna).
Best of the Brits was Shaun Simpson (Wilvo Yamaha) who came through from 14th on the first lap to 11th at the flag with Max Anstie (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) in 17th, two places ahead of Tommy Searle (Bike It DRT Kawasaki), with Graeme Irwin (Hitachi ASA KTM UK) failing to score in 23rd.
Herlings’ outside gate didn’t work in race two as Febvre came across on him and Cairoli took the holeshot up the middle but at this stage in the game that’s just a minor inconvenience for the Dutchman who after the opening lap was already up to fourth.
Cairoli led from Gajser and Seewer but Herlings, displaying a new-found patience on the incredibly technical track, was content to hang back and work out his lines.
By half-distance he’d moved Gajser aside for second before setting about closing the seven-second gap to the leader which he did with ease before passing the Italian with five laps to go and running away to win by almost nine seconds.
Gajser was third for third overall with Desalle recovering from a lap-one crash to come home sixth behind Febvre and Paulin for fourth on the day.
Simpson was 13th to complete the top 10 as Searle’s race-two 11th earned him a hard-fought 15th but Anstie was disappointed with his 16th second time out only good enough for 18th overall as Irwin failed to score.