The Grand Prix of the Netherlands took place at the sandy Oss circuit for the fourth round of 2021 MXGP and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing were able to clinch both MXGP motos as Tony Cairoli grasped his third podium result of the year in the runner-up slot.
Valkenswaard, Lierop and Assen have all hosted Dutch rounds of MXGP throughout the last two decades, but Oss entered the calendar for its first Grand Prix of the Netherlands since the end of the 1990s. The track featured shallow sandy terrain that roughed-up considerably in the sunny and hot climate.
Local hero Jeffrey Herlings came to Oss with a superlative record on home turf and 14 Grand Prix wins in both classes since his debut at Valkenswaard in 2010. The 26-year-old was the center of attention for the small gathering of fans permitted to enter the circuit and took his third Pole Position of the season so far in morning Timed Practice.
Herlings’ first moto was action-packed as Ivo Monticelli landed on his back exiting the second corner. The Dutchman remained upright, bore the pain and steadily found a pace that pulled him up from 4th, through a frantic battle for the lead and into 1st to seize his second victory in succession. A scan between the motos revealed that Herlings had suffered a small fracture in his left shoulder blade and he had to sit-out the next race.
Tony Cairoli, who has recorded two podium finishes (1st and 3rd) in the three previous rounds, recorded 8th position in the first moto after a mediocre start and a brief last lap crash. The Italian was much more proactive in the second outing and his excellent race rhythm and conditioning saw him move through the upper echelons of the leaderboard to pass Tim Gajser and take his second checkered flag of the year.
Jorge Prado was unlucky to miss his first podium ceremony of the season. The Spaniard went 6-3 and led 13 laps of the second race. He was just one point shy of his first trophy of 2021 and is now 5th in the standings.
Tony Cairoli: “I’m happy with the overall result but not so much with the first moto. I know I have the skills and the physical shape to be better than 8th but I made a mistake and a bad start. The starts were not great today but the second moto was really good and I was pleased with how I could push to the front. A podium every week is the goal and I was a bit scared that the 8th from the first moto would make it…but we took 2nd in the end.”
Jorge Prado: “A great day and everything is progressing. I haven’t led a race like that for a long time, certainly since MX2, so I can be happy. I was struggling a bit, especially with breathing this weekend so it was tough to keep going at that pace. The guys built a great bike because we found a few things during training and I definitely had a KTM ready to win today. I was feeling good all day long even if it was such a physical track, so bumpy and not like a normal sand circuit. I was completely ‘done’ at the end of the second moto and Tony came past so strong. I’d like to add a message to Jeffrey to keep his head up, it is such a tough sport, and it was not his fault. Motocross can be cruel like this. Much respect for still winning the first moto: I don’t think there are many riders that can do that!”
Jeffrey Herlings: “What can I say about today? I had high hopes and wanted 1-1. I had a great start in the first moto but the start device did not disengage immediately up the hill and I did not jump as far as I usually do out of the waves. The rest is history. I had a lot of pain but thought I’d keep going to try and get 4th or 5th. I saw I was still able to catch the guys so I started passing them even though I could barely hold on for the last three laps. I have a small crack in my shoulder blade and I still don’t know how bad it is. We had a scan and it doesn’t seem too bad. I don’t have any pain now but racing a dirt bike is a different story. We’ll have another check tomorrow.”
For the second time in just four rounds Red Bull KTM Factory Racing entered the Grand Prix as holders of the red plate and leaders of the MX2 class. Reigning world champion Tom Vialle – dominator of the opening GP in Russia – was still sidelined due to his fractured right hand but rookie teammate and winner of the last race in Italy, Mattia Guadagnini, was able to attach the red number background on his KTM 250 SX-F.
It was Rene Hofer who shone at Oss. The Austrian started brightly and reached as high as 2nd in the sand before finally scoring 4th in the first moto. During the second race the 19-year-old didn’t get away from the gate as well and had to settle for 10th, meaning 5th overall and his second top-five of the campaign to-date.
Guadagnini suffered a bad start and two crahes in the first moto and was outside the points-scoring positions. He managed to track back to 14th and was more elevated in the second race. He classified 5th for 10th overall and the rookie sits 2nd in the standings.
Rene Hofer: “I’d call it a ‘50/50’ day. The first moto was really good, second moto pretty bad! It was a tough day, really physical and the track was super-rough. But, still, it’s a top five result in the sand, so I am happy, even though I still feel there is a lot of space for improvement. Next weekend we’ll try again. I am really looking forward to Loket as it is not so far from my home and I hope to see a lot of Austrian flags at the track! Thanks to my team for the fantastic effort!”
Mattia Gaudagnini: “Not the best day for me today. I enjoyed the track but the crash in the first race didn’t help. A rider fell in front of me on the first corner and I had to come from far back. I was riding well until I had another small crash! I had a good rhythm in the second moto and it was good to finish the day in a positive way, even if I did lose some points in race one. I’m still second in the championship as we are all close. I’m looking forward to Loket now.”
MXGP moves directly to Loket for the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic next weekend. Compared to the sandy demands of Oss, round five presents a different challenge with the narrow, hard-packed Czech course.
Results MXGP Netherlands 2021
1. Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda (3-2)
2. Tony Cairoli (ITA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (8-1)
3. Romain Febvre (FRA), Kawasaki (4-4)
4. Jorge Prado (ESP), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (6-3)
5. Ben Watson (GBR), Yamaha (9-6)
9. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (1-DNS)
Standings MXGP 2021 after 04 of 18 rounds
1. Tim Gajser 166 points
2. Jeffrey Herlings 143
3. Tony Cairoli 143
4. Romain Febvre 143
5. Jorge Prado 132
Results MX2 Netherlands 2021
1. Jago Geerts (BEL), Yamaha (1-1)
2. Jed Beaton (AUS), Husqvarna (2-3)
3. Kay de Wulf (NED), Husqvarna (5-2)
4. Maxime Renaux (FRA), Yamaha (9-4)
5. Rene Hofer (AUT), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (4-10)
10. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (14-5)
Standings MX2 2021 after 04 of 18 rounds
1. Maxime Renaux 141 points
2. Mattia Guadagnini 136
3. Ruben Fernandez 133
4. Mathys Boisrame 124
5. Roan Van De Moosdijk 119
8. Rene Hofer 108
15. Tom Vialle 50