Red Bull KTM’s Tony Cairoli kept his lead at the top of the MXGP championship with another overall victory at the Loket round.
Cairoli rode to a fifth pole of the season on Saturday with his KTM 450 SX-F by catching and passing world champion Tim Gajser. It allowed the Sicilian first choice in the gate for two motos on Sunday with a sunny climate replaced by clouds, the occasional shower and changeable weather.
The first thirty minute and two lap dash saw Gajser take the holeshot and Cairoli slot into fourth place, Jeffrey Herlings occupied an outside gate but could rise no further than ninth while Glenn Coldenhoff stalled the bike away from the line and spent the sprint clambering back as high as possible.
The running order largely remained the same for the duration of the race with lap-times marginally different. Cairoli managed to demote Gautier Paulin in the last five minutes and then pressurised the rear wheel of Clement Desalle in the final laps but was unable to gain second spot. Herlings ran to fifth and Coldenhoff was just outside the top ten in eleventh after a decent comeback.
The second moto was key to the Grand Prix classification and by exiting the first corner in second behind Gajser again Cairoli put himself in an ideal situation. The eight times world champion studied his rival’s lines for five laps and confidently moved to the front, from which point he rode alone to an eighth moto victory from twenty-five. A 3-1 meant a ninth winners trophy for 2017 (the 83rd of his career) and a margin of 92 points over Desalle in the standings.
“I’m really happy to ‘skip’ this GP with a victory. My goal was make the podium because I’ve never had much of a good feeling with this track and I struggled a lot in the past. This year was better because we have been working well lately with the bike and I feel it’s working almost perfectly for me: I enjoy riding,” said Cairoli.
“It was also the first time I rode here with the 450 and that was easier than the 350 because I had to be more aggressive and missed the extra torque of the 450 in some parts of the track. I made too many mistakes in the first moto and had some arm-pump and by the time I found a good rhythm then it was a bit too late. Third was OK because the points are important for the championship and that’s what we are looking at now. I’d like to dedicate this victory to Igor Cuharciuc. It was a difficult night for everybody and riding the bike on the spot of the accident was not easy. I want to say we are thinking of the family.”