KTM’s dynamic duo Jeffrey Herlings and Tony Cairoli dominated qualifying at the European GP at Lierop this afternoon with two stunning rides, but whilst Cairoli’s win was impressive it was the sensational last-to-first ride by Herlings that stole the show.
Unsurprisingly fastest all through practice, Herlings grabbed the holeshot in the quali race, but he overjumped the first tabletop and went down after landing some ganrly braking bumps, taking down team-mate Jeremy Van Horebeek in the process, his bike on the bottom of the pile.
Remounting his factory KTM stone last and nearly 30-seconds off the back of the pack, Herlings out on a jaw dropping ride through the field to take the win and leave no-one in any doubt that he truly is the best sand rider in the MX2 class by a country mile.
Scything his way through the field on an already brutally rough Lierop track that baked under strong sunshine, Herlings made the ride from the back look easy and once inside the top five by just after the halfway mark there was little doubt that he would get the win. He sealed the deal one lap from home when he passed fellow countryman Glen Coldehoff – riding his best race of the season by a million miles – much to the delight of the partisan home Dutch crowd.
Worryingly for everyone, Herlings didn’t seem to be riding that hard either!
Coldenhoff rode an amazing race for a clear second, almost 15-seconds clear of third, which was taken in impressive fashion by the soon to be departed Zach Osborne who looked very strong in the sand, passing team-mate Arnaud Tonus for the podium position at mid-race.
Jake Nicholls was strong in fifth and top Brit, holding off Van Horebeek at the flag after fighting hard with impressive French teen Dylan Ferrandis for most the race. Ferrandis would finish seventh.
Herlings’ big title rival and Britain’s GP hero Tommy Searle didn’t have a great heat and could manage only eighth, some 34-seconds down on Herlings, one place ahead of MXoN team-mate Max Anstie, whilst Elliott Banks-Browne finished two laps down in 32nd after running inside the top-ten early on.
Cairoli in MX1 was as brilliant as ever. The ultra stylish Italian skipped and hopped his way across the punishing sand whoops to a untroubled 13-second winning margin over team-mate Max Nagl after passing the German for the lead two laps into the moto. KTM’s third man in MX1 Ken De Dycker made it an orange 1-2-3 after charging from the mid-pack in his usual bullish fashion.
Gautier Paulin used his long legs to good effect on his way to a strong fourth at the flag, but he was made to work for it at the death by a determined Shaun Simpson, who looked as good as he has all season on his way to fifth. Not happy at being passed over for an MXoN spot, the factory Yamaha man has looked fiercely determined all weekend and rode a great race.
It was a tough afternoon for the rest of the British contingent however as Lierop took its toll. STR KTM fill-in Bry Mackenzie was thrown in at the deep end after his late drafting in to replace injured Nez Parker, but he looked good all day and a safe 22nd suggests points may come his way tomorrow. There was no luck for Graeme Irwin or Jaime Law however. Law went out on the very first lap whilst Irwin’s Yamaha blew out its silencer mid-way through the moto, leaving them stone last and facing tough day from outside gates tomorrow.
Mel Pocock took another step closer to winning the EMX250 European championship this evening with a dominant winning performance in the class’ first moto of the weekend.
The Monster Bike-It Yamaha rider shadowed main title rival Stefan Olsen for the opening few laps of final race of day one at Lierop before making his move in the big berm turn by the mechanics area and dropping the hammer, pulling out a massive 14-second winning margin at the flag and setting the fastest laps of the race as he went.
Helping Pocock’s cause was the fact that Olsen hit the wall late in the moto and dropped to third, allowing Mel to add five more points to his championship lead over the Danish ace, whilst the other serious title hopeful Maxime Desprey slumped to 19th, one lap down on the Brit.
With the second moto for the class kicking off racing tomorrow morning in Lierop, Mel can hopefully extend his lead even further to get one hand firmly on the Euro crown.
Words by Ben Johnson
Images by Ray Chuss
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|3||9||de Dycker, Ken||BEL||FMB||KTM||24:40.119||11||0:27.226||0:13.593||1:58.570||4||53.133|
|6||89||van Horebeek, Jeremy||BEL||FMB||KTM||25:03.928||11||0:28.462||0:01.112||2:02.112||6||51.592|
|3||136||Olsen, Stefan Kjer||DEN||DMU||Yamaha||30:45.672||13||0:14.343||0:00.805||2:08.816||1||48.907|
|4||172||Van Doninck, Brent||BEL||FMB||KTM||31:14.000||13||0:42.671||0:28.328||2:09.158||2||48.777|
|5||107||Van Berkel, Lars||NED||KNMV||Honda||31:49.422||13||1:18.093||0:35.422||2:11.234||1||48.006|
|9||61||Olsen, Thomas Kjer||DEN||DMU||Yamaha||32:18.077||13||1:46.748||0:05.001||2:14.478||5||46.848|