Red Bull KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings continued his winning form in America yesterday, taking the overall MXGP win in Jacksonville just a week after bagging victory in the Indiana Ironman event.
Herlings took second and first in the two motos and closes the gap to championship leader Tony Cairoli who had to give best to Monster Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac in the overall, coming third behind the Kawasaki rider.
Race one started with FOX Holeshot from Rockstar Husqvarna’s Max Nagl followed by Tomac. Tomac came into the day with a strong time in the MXGP Warm Up after a disappointing qualifying race on Saturday but managed to lead every lap of race one ahead everyone including the former world champion Team HRC’s Tim Gajser for the first 5 laps.
Behind Gajser originally was Nagl, Team Suzuki World MXGP’s Arminas Jasikonis, Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team's Clement Desalle, and Autotrader/JGR/Suzuki Team’s Justin Barcia. Jasikonis, while running 3rd, went over the bars on a large tabletop which would end his day painfully. Meanwhile Barcia fell out of fifth early in lap two into 10th, which happened to be where Herlings was coming back from a crash at the start.
By the end of lap two Herlings was up to fifth behind Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli. Herlings made it by Cairoli one lap later and moved into third past Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl 2 laps after that. Cairoli followed and the battle was on between the points leader and Max Nagl.
While Cairoli found his way by Nagl, Herlings had passed Gajser and set his sight on the long gone Eli Tomac. Cairoli was keen to pass Gajser as well and did so relatively quickly. With Tomac out front Herlings had to much time to make up and decided to maintain both his gap over Cairoli and his energy. At the checkered flag Tomac won the race by 28 seconds over Herlings, Cairoli, Gajser, and Nagl.
The Race 2 FOX Holeshot went to the #222 of Cairoli ahead of Herlings, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Gautier Paulin, and Tomac. From there it was an all out sprint from the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Duo. It was clear Cairoli wanted to take home the title as he put in the fastest lap of the Race on lap 3 of 16. Herlings nearly matched the pace of Cairoli as he pushed to keep the championship from being decided this weekend.
Tomac meanwhile had found his way past Paulin, who had a miraculous race 1 crash. Paulin wasn’t the only rider who was making a comeback from a disappointing race 1 as Suzuki World MXGP’s Kevin Strijbos tried to rebound from a bike issue. Strijbos indeed did rebound and came out with a season best race finish when of 5th.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre took a nasty spill in race 1 and in turn wisely decided to sit out race two.
On lap eight Cairoli made a mistake in a corner while leading which allowed Herlings to take over the top spot. Herlings never looked back and won the race by 15 seconds over Cairoli to take the overall.
“Today I felt really good, I had a great battle in the first race, obviously me and Tony both had a bad start and Eli was gone. By the time we were second and third he had a big gap. I was second for the first race, which was pretty good, I kept everything open for the overall,” said Herlings.
“Second race I had a good start, followed Tony and just waited for the last couple of laps, I knew it was going to be brutal and both of would be tired in the end. I didn’t want to pass him too quick because I know Tony will fight back and I was actually waiting either for a mistake or to attack him the last 3 or 4 laps. I stayed close to him and he made a small crash and he handed it over to me. So I’m very satisfied with a 2-1 and winning the overall, I had some great battles with my teammate so hopefully many more will come and I’m looking forward to my home GP next weekend.”