Red Bull KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings returned to the MXGP winners circle, bagging the qualifying race win in America ahead of team-mate Tony Cairoli in Jacksonville while none of the hometown heroes it into the top ten.
It was bad news for Britain’s Max Anstie, however, who picked up an injury during the race when a rock smashed his hand and he is in doubt for today’s two motos.
Monster Yamaha’s Romain Febvre bagged the holeshot but carried slightly to much speed through the sweeping rollers however and faded out to the edge of the track allowing Cairoli and Herlings past.
The world champion elect faced an early challenge from the #84 but a mistake from Herlings allowed him to pull a gap. Behind the front three was Autotrader/JGR/Suzuki Team’s Justin Barcia and Monster Yamaha’s Jeremy Van Horebeek.
Barcia led the Yamaha rider for the first four laps but was eventually passed and shortly after came together with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin as both where trying to slow down for a down lapped rider. Paulin remounted to finish 8th but Barcia would pull off and take 34th.
Meanwhile Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Eli Tomac was battling his way back from a poor start. While the #3 had a good jump off the grid, into the first corner he got caught up in a bottle neck. Coming across the finish line for the first time Tomac was 14th. The Kawasaki rider tried to push forward but to little avail finishing in 12th.
One rider who was able to move forward after the start was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl. Nagl started the race in 8th but had a strong lap 5 where he passed four riders to move into 4th position which he held to the finish.
Back at the front Herlings closed back in Cairoli and the battle between the two title contender was on!Eventually on lap five Jeffrey Herlings and Cairoli were split by a lapped rider but when they had both made it by him Herlings was the new leader out braking Cairoli into a corner.
Herlings not only held the lead but grew it to over 19 and a half seconds at the finish. “We had a good Qualifying Race obviously, the start was really good actually I was second or third and I managed to pass both Febvre and Cairoli on the first lap, but I made a little mistake and Tony jumped back by. I was very excited about today, we were fastest in both practices and then I won the qualifying race, I feel physically strong, mentally strong, and I can’t wait for the gate to drop tomorrow,” said the Dutchman.