MXGP Latvia: Kjer Olsen halts KTM MX2 steamroller

Picture: Juan Pablo Acevedo

Thomas Kjer Olsen (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) finally halted the Red Bull KTM steamroller when he raced to overall victory in the MX2 class at today’s MXGP of Latvia, round seven of the FIM Motocross World Championship.

The tall Dane took just his second career victory – his first coming in Latvia last season – with a pair of powerful performances in the sand at Kegums, running one-two to end the Pauls Jonass/Jorge Prado monopoly of the top step of the podium.

“It’s amazing that it’s come here again in Kegums but I’m not complaining,” he said. “I rode really well all weekend and I’m just so happy to come out on top here.”

Olsen holeshot the opening 30-minute plus two lap race as defending champion and series leader Jonass drifted wide and Prado, who topped yesterday’s qualification race, failed to cut across the field into the first turn.

Worse was to come for the young Spaniard who, caught up in the chaos of the opening lap, hit Thomas Covington (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) in the fifth turn and crashed. All the way back in 29th after the first lap, he faced the biggest test of his career so far as home hero Jonass – who he trailed by 20 points in the championship heading into Latvia – motored clear in second from Germany’s Henry Jacobi (STC Racing Husqvarna).

After coming up short so far this season, Olsen was not hanging around and he quickly dropped Jonass – just as he did in the qualification race – to win by over 11 seconds.

Covington moved past Jacobi at half-distance and the American, despite racing with no ACL in his left knee after crashing in Portugal, held it to the flag to come home comfortably clear of Belgian Jago Geerts (Kemea Yamaha) who was less than one-and-a-half seconds in front of his British team-mate Ben Watson.

A fading Jacobi held on for sixth ahead of Italy’s Samuele Bernadini (TM Factory Racing) with Brit Conrad Mewse (Hitachi ASA KTM UK) pulling through to eighth from Calvin Vlaanderen (Team HRC) and Prado who completed a remarkable comeback to take 10th from Michele Cervellin (Martin Honda) two corners from home.

When the gate dropped on race two Prado was out to make amends and he nailed the holeshot from Geerts and Watson with Olsen sitting fifth as Jonass found himself mired in the pack in 19th.

The Latvian made a succession of quick passes and by the end of the opening lap was already up to 13th but any chance he had of taking his first-ever home GP victory were effectively over.

As Prado pulled clear Watson was all over his 16-year-old team-mate and just before half-distance made a pass but immediately got off line and almost crashed which let the Belgian schoolboy back through. After losing his rhythm, Watson then came under pressure from Olsen who put on a charge to pass the Brit and then just one lap later move ahead of Geerts.

At the front Prado was in total control before a small mistake at the start of the pitlane straight caused him to crash and although he was still in the lead when he remounted it made for a few nervous final laps as Olsen closed and dragged Geerts with him.

On the final lap Prado managed to establish a gap to take his fourth race win of the season but it was Olsen who took the overall from Geerts who claimed a career-best second on a tie-break ahead of Jonass who charged all the way up to fifth behind Watson with a champion’s performance.

Prado was fourth overall from Watson as Mewse slipped down the order with his 16th in race two dropping him to 15th overall.

In the championship Jonass extended his lead over Prado to 22 points with Olsen a further 16 points off the pace. Watson still holds a comfortable fourth but lost ground on the leading trio and Mewse slipped to 10th in the table.

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