The second of three Grands Prix in 2020 MXGP to take place at the Kegums circuit in one week saw Red Bull KTM Factory Racing occupy two spots on the premier class podium: Tony Cairoli registered his 90th career win and the first since the Grand Prix of Lombardia in May 2019 while series leader Jeffrey Herlings filled 3rd position for his first trophy since the 2020 restart.
The Grand Prix of Riga put the MXGP and MX2 teams back into action at Kegums with only slight modifications to the bumpy and sandy circuit. Bright but cooler conditions compared to the hot opening Latvian event last Sunday helped riders adjust to the 2020 FIM world championship’s pace through the one-day format and after the forced five-month break.
MXGP provided some close and captivating scenes. Cairoli, nursing a sore right knee after the Grand Prix of Latvia last Sunday, made an ideal start in the first moto and followed teammate Jorge Prado in a KTM 450 SX-F ‘1-2’. The formation was short-lived as Prado suffered a broken front wheel and had to pit, losing a lap and would reach the finish line in 29th. Cairoli was free to mark his own pace and defend a comfortable gap to the flag. Jeffrey Herlings meanwhile had been caught in a first-corner crash and had a busy race flying through the pack to reach 3rd.
It was Prado’s turn to suffer at the start with the launch of the second moto. The Spaniard was pushed wide and spent the 30 minutes and 2 laps trying to regain ground to 13th. At the front Cairoli led until he was passed by Herlings and Arminas Jasikonis, and then filled part of a close-running quartet. Herlings surprisingly crashed on a small waves section with two laps remaining and by quickly picking up his racebike forced Cairoli into evasive action and the nine-times world champion also briefly fell. By the end of the moto Herlings was just two seconds behind winner Jasikonis for another 3rd place while Cairoli cruised to 4th and secured the overall victory.
Herlings may have lost his chance at a third triumph of the four-round season so far but managed to increase his MXGP championship lead thanks to Tim Gajser’s DNF. The Dutchman has an advantage of 28 points with Cairoli now up to 3rd in the rankings.
Tony Cairoli: “I’m really happy to be back on the podium and with a win. Last Sunday wasn’t my day and I was dealing with another injury to my knee. I didn’t know what to expect. I went to the hospital to get some fluid and anti-inflammatory treatment. It was pretty sore and swollen. In the first moto I stayed out of trouble, made my rhythm, kept smooth and tried to keep my feet up. I was really happy with how it went. In the second moto I made another good start but Jeffrey and [Arminas] Jasikonis were riding really fast. I just tried to follow, and I knew my condition was OK: if I could be with them then I could push even more at the end. At one point in the waves I saw the yellow flags and Jeffrey on the floor. He picked up and started very fast in front of me and I was a bit shocked and had to brake. I lost the front wheel. I had a gap over the others so held my position and watched what would happen. I’m really happy with the result and the improvement over last weekend – especially with the starts – so now I’m looking forward to the next Sunday. Hopefully the knee can be a bit stronger and ready for the battles we all want to see.”
Jeffrey Herlings: “After getting stuck behind the pile-up in the first moto I had to pretty much regroup and come back again, like I did in the second moto last Sunday. I made it to third and was on the rear wheel of [Romain] Febvre but couldn’t pass him. The start was way-better in the second moto – up to 3rd and my best since we arrived in Latvia – I passed Tony and was leading up until two laps to go when my front wheel washed-away. I still managed 3rd and apologized to Tony because he might have crashed because of me! Anyway, we are both on the podium and we extended our points lead in the championship. Hopefully next Sunday we can finally be on top of the box.”
Jorge Prado: “I had a better gatepick compared to last Sunday and had a perfect jump out of the gate. It was good to lead for a while but then the front wheel broke and I had re-join the race, more or less in the same place but a lap down! I let Tony through and then just followed him. Just bad luck. Another rider hit me from behind at the start of the second moto and pushed me completely to the outside. I had to start charging hard and passed many guys until [Gautier] Paulin blew-out a full berm in front of me and I was already committed to the line. My front wheel grabbed the sand and I almost went over the bars. It was another situation that I could do nothing about, and I lost the rhythm. It’s a pity. Luck was not on my side today but I’m happy in a way because I made big progress with my riding from last Sunday. I’m hungry for even better this weekend.”
Tom Vialle finished 4th in both MX2 motos and had little answer to the speed of rival Jago Geerts. The Frenchman kept consistent and error-free to capture 36 points and maintained his hold on the red plate. Teammate Rene Hofer was part of a first corner melee in the opening race and unfortunately crashed and fractured his left shoulder while running inside the top ten later in the afternoon. The Austrian travelled to the local hospital for a full examination but plans to leave Latvia for surgery to repair the joint.
Tom Vialle: “I made the starts today but struggled a bit with my rhythm. I was able to fight with Mathys [Boisrame] and Roan [Van de Moosdijk] for a little bit although I lost the tow after. We will work a little bit on my suspension setting for next Sunday. We still lead the championship and it is not too bad to take a 4-4 on a track where I wasn’t feeling so good today. Sunday will be a new day and I hope we will be able to fight for the win again.”
The ‘Grand Prix of Kegums’ represents the third and final race-day in Latvia this Sunday with more alterations to the track layout expected.
Results MXGP Grand Prix of Riga 2020
1. Tony Cairoli (ITA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (1-4)
2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI), Yamaha (4-2)
3. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (3-3)
4. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU), Husqvarna (8-1)
5. Romain Febvre (FRA), Kawasaki (2-11)
17. Jorge Prado (ESP), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (29-13)
Standings MXGP 2020 after round 04
1. Jeffrey Herlings 170
2. Tim Gajser 142
3. Tony Cairoli 129
4. Arminas Jasikonis 121
5. Jeremy Seewer 120
9. Jorge Prado 82
Results MX2 Grand Prix of Riga 2020
1. Jago Geerts (BEL) Yamaha (1-1)
2. Roan Van de Moosdijk (NED) Kawasaki (2-2)
3. Mathys Boisrame (FRA) Kawasaki (3-3)
4. Tom Vialle (FRA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (4-4)
5. Maxime Renaux (FRA), Yamaha (7-5)
20. Rene Hofer (AUT), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (17-DNF)
Standings MX2 2020 after round 04
1. Tom Vialle 170
2. Jago Geerts 162
3. Jed Beaton 123
4. Maxime Renaux 116
5. Roan Van de Moosdijk 115
10. Rene Hofer 73