Red Bull KTM Factory Racing restart their 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship this weekend with the Grands Prix of Latvia, Riga and Kegums in the space of seven days. Rounds three, four and five will take place at the established Kegums circuit. Jeffrey Herlings and Tom Vialle go into the triple header holding the red plates as leaders of the MXGP and MX2 classes respectively.
MXGP last saw action at the Grand Prix of the Netherlands on March 8th and will resume in Latvia on Sunday, 154 days after the gate dropped at the Valkenswaard circuit. After Latvia, according to the current schedule, the series will visit five more countries for another 11 races until the beginning of November.
The five Red Bull KTM riders have been patiently following their own training and preparation programs in the forced hiatus. Several have also been negotiating domestic races in territories such as the Czech Republic and Holland to try and keep in competitive trim.
After Grand Prix victories in the UK and his home country with his works KTM 450 SX-F, Jeffrey Herlings leads the MXGP standings by nine points over Tim Gajser and with teammate Tony Cairoli in 3rd position just 26 points adrift. Cairoli was able to profit from the break in world championship duty to rehab small problems with both his knee and shoulder and is now in hoping for better race conditioning compared to the start of the campaign in February. A broken collarbone after a training mishap for reigning MX2 title winner Jorge Prado means the young Spaniard has been playing catch-up for fitness and speed but has had a number of weeks to accumulate practice laps with the #61 KTM 450 SX-F.
In the MX2 category Tom Vialle triumphed at Valkenswaard to claim the distinction of championship leader for the first time in his career, and in the formative phases of only his second season at Grand Prix level. Both the Frenchman, and rookie teammate Rene Hofer, have clocked race mileage in recent weeks. Latvia will also stage three rounds of the EMX250 European Championship where Liam Everts will be vying for maximum points on his KTM 250 SX-F.
Herlings, Cairoli and Prado all have Grand Prix winning experience at Kegums while Hofer has claimed a moto checkered flag and stood on the podium in the EMX125 European Championship. Herlings has won five from the last six MXGP motos at the track and celebrated his maiden MXGP success there in 2017. The soft terrain (with a firm base that often churns into a slew of deceptive and technical bumps) has hosted MXGP every year since 2009 with the exception of 2014 when the venue entertained the Motocross of Nations.
Jeffrey Herlings: “Kegums has always been very good to me. In 2010 I won my second MX2 GP there and took several wins afterwards. 2017 was also special. 2019 was also my first moto win of what turned out to be a pretty bad season. So, some good memories. Like everyone else I’m excited to be racing again. My KTM works well at Kegums and I believe we are very ready. We might be missing some racing rhythm, but I think that is the same for the others too. We’ll do our best for these three races and see where it takes us. It won’t be a long season but it’s important to be at each round, take some good starts and work from there.”
Tom Vialle: “It’s pretty good to restart the season after such a long time. We’ve had some smaller races, but the feeling of the GPs is really nice, even if everything is now new and pretty different for all of us with three races in one week and the one-day schedule. We all have to face that situation. I’m feeling good at the moment both with the bike and my training. Yeah, I’m leading the championship but there will be a lot of motos ahead and it will be important to make a consistent start in these three GPs ahead, that will pass very quickly! I want to fight for the win but not do any crazy things. We will see. I think it will be a great week and so nice to be racing again.”
Robert Jonas, Vice President KTM Motorsports Offroad: “It has been a challenging season so far in many ways and for many reasons but as a company and a team we’re really looking forward to racing again. Completing the 2020 championship is one target and we have to keep optimistic. Re-focusing our goals for the MXGP and MX2 classes is the other objective and, as always, we’ll do all we can to support our guys to go for the best possible results. Full credit to everyone involved for making MXGP happen again in the circumstances. We’ve kept busy and now we are ready to race.”