ASSEN (The Netherlands) 15 September 2018 - The 19th round of 20 in the 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship has begun at the Dutch circuit of Assen. The MXGP of the Netherlands hosted Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Dutch superstar Jeffrey Herlings and Spanish young gun Jorge Prado as they took the Assen sand by storm for Qualifying wins today.
Along with the MXGP and MX2 World Championships in Assen this weekend is the penultimate round of the FIM Women's Motocross World Championship. Race 1 of the women's weekend took place this morning and was full of action but rising to the occasion with a consistent day was MXFONTA Racing Yamaha's Kiara Fontanesi. Fontanesi has taken the points lead with Altherm JCR Yamaha's Courtney Duncan out with injury. Taking second today was Germany's Stephanie Laier while Nancy Van de Ven took third.
The European Championship of EMX125 presented by FMF Racing and EMX250 also join in the action this weekend with both having their first races today. In EMX125 presented by FMF Racing F4E Racing KTM's Kjell Verbruggen took the race win but all eyes were on the two title contenders of MJC Yamaha's Thibault Benistant and Team Maddi Racing Husqvarna's Mattia Guadagnini. Benistant came into the race with the chance to capture the title but the tricky sand of Assen made it one of the most testing races of his season so far. After a poor start and a crash Benistant fought through all to score 20th position for a single championship point. The single point however was the most important and gave him the 26 point gap needed to clinch his first ever European championship title in dramatic fashion.
With the Bulgarian round crowning Honda RedMoto Assomotor's Mathys Boisrame 2018 EMX250 Champion a few weeks ago this weekend's season finale is an all out sprint from all to score an overall win. Taking full advantage of the final weekend of the year so far is Team Suzuki Germany's Jett Lawrence after he passed LRT KTM's Tom Vialle for the race win while Creymert Racing's Kevin Horgmo took third.
This weekend in the Netherlands could very well see Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Jeffrey Herlings be crowned the 2018 FIM Motocross World Champion and today put him one step closer to his dream. Herlings rocketed out of the gate to take today's Qualifying race lead away from title rival and Red Bull KTM Teammate Antonio Cairoli who then followed in 2nd.
With the lead and clear track ahead Herlings pulled away and keep his distance from any potential threats. Cairoli was chased by Team HRC's Tim Gajser and Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team's Clement Desalle. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Glenn Coldenhoff put on a strong ride for his home crowd as he passed Desalle who then lost another spot to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Max Anstie.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP's Jeremy Van Horebeek was in 7th but then fell on the second lap and fought his way to a 14th place result. Gajser was next to lose positions as Coldenhoff continued forward into third and Anstie took another spot from the Slovenian.
Honda RedMoto Assomotor's Petar Petrov was battling with Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP's Jeremy Seewer before losing control and ejecting off his bike over the finish. Petrov got up and rode away while Seewer's Wilvo Yamaha teammate Shaun Simpson battled with Desalle. After close racing between the pair Simpson clipped the back of Desalle and fell before finishing 9th, 2 spots ahead of Seewer.
At the finsh Herlings took the win nearly 18 seconds ahead of Cairoli with Coldenhoff making it a Red Bull KTM 1,2,3 finish as Max Anstie took 4th while Gajser took fifth. Gajser's HRC teammate Brian Bogers returned to action after missing the entire season with injury to take 19th.
Jeffrey Herlings: "Today was good, fastest in free practice, fastest in time practice, and taking the qualifying win. The energy you feel when you pass the fans here is pretty amazing so it is a lot of fun to race and I'm looking forward to racing here tomorrow. I am actually pretty calm and relaxed... I hope to have the same thing tomorrow and everything is working well with the bike and the team. I can't wait to hopefully have the championship under my belt, it is my long term dream and we have been working so hard, it would really be a dream if we can pull it off."
Brian Bogers: "I wanted to ride here and I have been riding for 3 weeks now which isn't much but I'm feeling ok on the bike. The free practice and time practice were stressful but the qualifying was already much better, every time I'm on the track I'm feeling better."
MXGP Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 24:10.420; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:17.945; 3. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:20.619; 4. Max Anstie (GBR, Husqvarna), +0:26.627; 5. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:30.909; 6. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:47.821; 7. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:54.214; 8. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:58.863; 9. Shaun Simpson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:59.670; 10. Julien Lieber (BEL, Kawasaki), +1:12.143
Main Photo: Jeffrey Herlings
Bottom Photos: 1. Antonio Cairoli; 2. Glenn Coldenhoff
In the MX2 Qualifying Race Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Jorge Prado had a near identical race to that of Herlings with the lead off the start through to the finish. In second was not the expected Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machine of Pauls Jonass but Hitachi KTM UK's Conrad Mewse.
A first turn crash claimed the 2 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing riders of Thomas Covingtonand Thomas Kjer Olsen along with Kemea Yamaha Official MX2's Anthony Rodriguez. In a sportsman like move Rodriguez assisted the Husqvarna riders as they were caught together. All 3 remounted and rejoined the race while a separate start crash took down Honda 114 Motorsports' Hunter Lawrence.
While Lawrence got up his Honda 114 Motorsports teammate Bas Vaessen was up in third with Team HRC's Calvin Vlaanderen giving chase in 4th. Yamaha SM Action MC Migliori's Alvin Ostlund was also riding impressive in 5th.
Jonass was 6th but took Ostlund's 5th away on the first laps while Kemea Yamaha Official MX2's Ben Watson lost traction and spun out. Vlaanderen then muscled his way by Vaessen as Covington fell again and was unable to finish the race.
Jonass started to try to pass Vaessen several times but small mistakes hindered his progress. Taking advantage of the mistakes from Jonass and charging into the top 5 was STC Racing Husqvarna's Henry Jacobi. Jacobi not only got by Jonass but flew past Vaessen as well.
Jonass then got by Vaessen and battled with Jacobi for a second time but the German prevailed. Vlaanderen then fed off the energy of the dutch crowd rooting him on as he passed Mewse for second.
At the finish it was the 9th qualifying race win of 2018 for Prado ahead of Vlaanderen and Mewse while Jacobi and Jonass round out the top 5. Olsen and Lawrence fought their way back from the back of the pack after their first turn crashes to finish 7th and 8th behind Ostlund.
Jorge Prado: "I feel really good on this track already for the last few years. Today went pretty good, I felt good all day long and once the gate dropped in Qualifying a got a good start which made it all a lot easier, it was a good race, I'm happy with the win, and looking forward to tomorrow."
MX2 Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 24:46.693; 2. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Honda), +0:07.813; 3. Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), +0:12.442; 4. Henry Jacobi (GER, Husqvarna), +0:32.068; 5. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:33.957; 6. Bas Vaessen (NED, Honda), +0:35.086; 7. Alvin Östlund (SWE, Yamaha), +0:42.086; 8. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:47.558; 9. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Honda), +0:57.332; 10. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +1:05.183.
Main Photo: Jorge Prado
Bottom Photos: 1. Calvin Vlaanderen; 2. Conrad Mewse