Home MXGP hero Jeffrey Herlings did not disappoint his Dutch fans as he took the MXGP Qualifying race win at Assen despite crashing in the early stages.
After a terrific start, the Red Bull KTM rider settling in behind reigning champion and Team HRC Tim Gajser. Running in third, was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Gautier Paulin and as Herlings tried to catch Gajser the #21 stayed within striking distance. On lap two Herlings made a rare mistake in the sand and went down, losing the position to Paulin.
Meanwhile the two Monster Energy Yamahas of Romain Febvre and Jeremy Van Horebeek fought over fourth and fifth. Though Febvre had the advantage the first lap the #89 of Van Horebeek took the spot on lap two.
Back at the front it took two laps of battling for Herlings to make it back past the hard fighting Paulin. After the pass Herlings was over five seconds behind Gajser but to the cheer of his fans he pushed on and by the 10th lap of 13 the #84 was out front.
At the finish line Herlings won and Gajser fell on the last lap but managed to remount in time to hold off Paulin as Van Horebeek took fourth and Team Suzuki World MXGP's Kevin Strijbos took 5th after a pass on Febvre.
“Actually today was really good. It is pretty awesome to race here, it’s a special event, at the road race circuit so it is very interesting and I like it! We will do our best tomorrow and helpfully we will have some good racing, there is a big chance that two champions could be crowned,” said Herlings.
MXGP Championship leader Antonio Cairoli came from outside the top ten to run fourth before a mistake dropped him back to finish 10th. The Italian rider anyway comes into this weekend with the likelihood of becoming the 2017 FIM Motocross World Champion in the first race tomorrow.
Cairoli only needs to score a total of five points, which can be accomplished by placing 16th or higher in a single race, to secure his ninth world championship but Cairoli wants to win:
“I think this will be the easiest race that I have ever had to win a championship, but it is still a race I’m going to race for the win, that’s always my goal so I will go for it tomorrow. I want to be on the podium and I want to go out to win the title in a good way not just scoring points,” he said.