The sandy track of Kegums is where the 9th round of the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship season is taking place, as the MXGP of Latvia kicked off today with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings and Jorge Prado both taking the victory in the Saturday qualification races. For Herlings it was his first MXGP qualifying race win in nearly nine months after missing the first seven rounds of the MXGP championship with a foot injury. For Prado it was a different story than the one of Herlings. The Spanish rider has been just about unbeatable this year as he goes for his second consecutive MX2 championship and he continued to show the competition that he isn’t going to slow down any time soon.
The Latvian round also included racing from European Championship classes of EMX250 and EMX2T presented by FMF Racing. Saturday saw the first of the two races in each category and while Sunday will host the overall results and championship standings, Saturday’s action was intense.
The EMX2T presented by FMF Racing provided great action and an unexpected first time victory of Swedish rider Ken Bengtson who controlled the front pace after catching and passing Team Ecomaxx Fuels’ Mike Kras & Verde Substance KTM’s Brad Anderson and despite Kras did his best the Swedish rider won from Kras and Todd Kellett.
While the opening EMX250 race saw F&H Kawasaki rider Roan Van De Moosdijk leading the whole race from Jeremy Sydow. Series leader Honda Redmoto Assomotor’s Stephen Rubini was down in 13th place early and was able to catch up until the 5th place. Eventually Van De Moosdijk won from Sydow and Maddii Racing’s Alberto Forato.
When the MXGP gate dropped in Latvia it was Red Bull KTM Factory racing’s Jeffrey Herlings who took the early lead in the MXGP qualifying race, home hero Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass got the crowd screaming as he moved into the lead on lap one while Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha Official team’s Arnaud Tonus held third place.
Well back was Red Bull KTM Factory racing’s Antonio Cairoli, who was struggling due to a back problem. TeamHRC’s Tim Gajser was also working hard, moving from sixth place to fifth, but then back to sixth when Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory racing’s Arminas Jasikonis started making good progress.
After five laps Herlings started closing up the lead of Jonass, and Cairoli continued to lose places, going from 11th to 12th. Series leader Gajser went down hard and fell back to 20th place.
Herlings moved back into the lead on lap seven, and Tonus followed him past Jonass. Jasikonis was moving fast as he passed Tonus for second meanwhile Jonass and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory’s Jeremy Seewer battled for the top five, with Seewer getting the upper hand and fifth place.
The final laps were interesting as Herlings led and Jasikonis chased the defending World MXGP champion. Herlings would win it from Jasikonis and Tonus.
Jeffrey Herlings: “I am not 100%. Not even close, but it is getting better and better. The foot is still sore, but also getting better and better. The doctor told me it would be minimum six months before I start riding and it is now only four and a half months in and I win a qualification race in MXGP. It is pretty crazy with just four weeks on the bike. I didn’t expect this result but I feel very happy about this result today. This track suits me and I think the track was really good. Definitely it’ll be a dream comes true to stand on the Podium tomorrow”
Pauls Jonass: “This is my first home GP in MXGP, when I was a kid and I used to watch the riders I was surprised about the speed they had and now I’m here battling in MXGP. It’s very exciting. Today I had a good start which I hardly had lately and I managed to pass Jeffrey as he made a small mistake, I started to be a bit nervous, it was the first time I was leading the MXGP class, I wanted to stay calm but at some point I started to struggle on the waves and I lost some positions. Anyway It’s super nice to start the weekend with a good note”
Tanel Leok: “It’s almost my home GP here and I could not expect to ride so many Gran Prix in my life. My team is growing and I’m very happy about that, I just feel good when I ride out there. Today I had a great start indeed and I’d like to be around the Top 15 tomorrow”
MXGP – Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 24:36.646; 2. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Husqvarna), +0:04.138; 3. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +0:12.069; 4. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Honda), +0:16.422; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:19.591; 6. Pauls Jonass (LAT, Husqvarna), +0:22.128; 7. Ivo Monticelli (ITA, KTM), +0:24.301; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:25.651; 9. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:30.560; 10. Julien Lieber (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:35.372.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado did what he does every week, with a strong showing to win the MX2 qualifying race from start to finish. The Spanish rider will now go into tomorrow’s two races with the same confidence he has shown on so many occasions this year. He had a kind of perfect day topping both the free and time practice and grabbing his 5th MX2 Qualifying win of 2019.
The MX2 qualification race started with Prado into the lead on the first corner and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Olsen coming through to second place after batting with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle.
Vialle was under attack first from Olsen and then from Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha Official’s Ben Watson who made easy pass. In the meantime the pair of F&H racing Riders Henry Jacobi & Adam Sterry battled for 6th until Jacobi moved briefly on 5th place and managed to finish in 4th.
Honda 114 Motorsports’ Mitchell Evans hadn’t even started the race due to a shoulder injury but expected to be racing tomorrow, Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha Official MX2’s Jago Geerts and Hitachi KTM fuelled by Milwaukee’s Bas Vaessen, BIKE IT DRT Kawasaki’s Darian Sanayei were at the back of the pack after a crash in the early going, as was Team DIGA-Procross Husqvarna’s Davy Pootjes.
As Prado clocked off the quickest lap times of the race, Watson moved up from seventh place and into third. Vialle had dropped outside the top ten as he fell down and Geerts moved into the top 15 with a strong comeback after a bad crash at the start of the race. Prado ended up winning the race by more than 10 seconds over Olsen and Watson back in third place.
Jorge Prado :“It was a good race. The track was tough, bumpy, but I enjoyed riding. After a good start it was easier, and I found a good flow in the track. I hope to do well tomorrow. Two years ago, I missed the podium, I had the same points as the third placed guy and last year I won the Saturday qualification race, but Sunday I missed the podium again. Hopefully we can get two races wins tomorrow and get on the podium tomorrow.”
MX2 – Qualifying Race Top Ten: 1. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 24:53.213; 2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:06.686; 3. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:13.975; 4. Henry Jacobi (GER, Kawasaki), +0:32.553; 5. Mathys Boisrame (FRA, Honda), +0:33.470; 6. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:36.268; 7. Michele Cervellin (ITA, Yamaha), +0:42.911; 8. Adam Sterry (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:43.900; 9. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Honda), +0:45.697; 10. Alvin Östlund (SWE, Husqvarna), +0:46.180.