The Italian circuit of Imola has hosted another historic weekend of racing with the final round of the 2018 MXGP FIM Motocross World Championship. The weekend was a finale to 20 rounds of racing around the world over 8 months and today the 2018 Champions from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Jeffrey Herlings and Jorge Prado, capped off the year with another pair of dominant wins.
Imola's Autodromo Enzo & Dino Ferrari track was the venue of choice with over 25,000 cubic meters of dirt added to the natural elevation of the circuit for the weekend. The historic venue was the first in Italy to host Motocross International racing in 1948 and now on the 70th anniversary has seen the conclusion of one of the most competitive World Championship seasons ever. Taking the 3 spots in the final MXGP championship standings were the only three riders to win a GP in 2018, Jeffrey Herlings, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Antonio Cairoli, and Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team's Clement Desalle. Meanwhile in the MX2 standings Jorge Prado, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Pauls Jonass, and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Thomas Kjer Olsen finalized the top three spots.
MX2 REPORT & RESULTS
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Jorge Prado came into this weekend already knowing he was going to be crowned 2018 MX2 FIM Motocross World Champion but it didn't stop the 17-year old from taking his 26th Fox Holeshot of the year.
Kemea Yamaha Official MX2 Team's Ben Watson was a top qualifier yesterday but jumped the gate to early today and was back outside the top 15 on the start. Prado lost his lead to Yamaha SM Action MC Migliori's Simone Furlotti in the first corners and went back to 6th.
Honda 114 Motorsports Hunter Lawrence was third behind Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Thomas Covington but pushed the American off the track to take second.
Covington rejoined the track in 4th behind Prado while Lawrence went on to take the lead from Furlotti who then dropped another spot to Prado. The following lap Covington was up to third but lost the spot 2 laps later to his teammate Thomas Kjer Olsen.
STC Racing Husqvarna's Henry Jacobi was impressive along with Yamaha SM Action MC Migliori's Michele Cervellin. Jacobi came from 9th on the first lap all the way up to 3rd after a bike issue ended the race for the leader Lawrence.
Prado took over first after the misfortune of Lawrence and held the lead to the finish where he was met by the Red Bull KTM crew and media to celebrate his 2018 MX2 World title. Olsen took 2nd and Jacobi 3rd while Cervellin made it up to 4th ahead of F&H Racing Team's Marshal Weltin.
Race 2 started with a 5th Fox Holeshot of the year for Thomas Covington ahead of ASTES4-TESAR Yamaha's Samuele Bernardini and JD Gunnex KTM Racing's Richard Sikyna from Slovakia.
Prado was up into 2nd quickly while Kemea Yamaha Official MX2 Team's Anthony Rodriguez held 4th ahead of Olsen but the #19 fell and handed 5th to BUD Racing Monster Energy's Brian Moreau in his first MX2 appearance.
Prado then went for the lead and took the spot from Covington as his teammate Olsen took 5th back from Moreau. Olsen was pushed back out of the top 5 on the next lap by Lawrence.
The Aussie was on a roll and took positions away from Rodriguez, Bernardini, and Covington in the following laps. Lawrence gained multiple seconds on Prado in each of the final laps but it was a little too late as the Spaniard took the race victory and his 12 overall win of the season. Lawrence finished second with Covington third and Olsen 4th but in the overall it was Prado, Olsen, and Covington taking the podium.
Jorge Prado's season has been nothing short of impressive, the 17-year old becomes the first Spanish MX2 World Champion via 10 pole positions, 331 laps in the lead, 17 individual race wins, 12 overall victories and 17 podiums. Prado scored 873 points in 20 rounds of racing averaging 43.6 points per race of the maximum 50. Prado becomes one of only 3 riders to win the title at such a young age joining Ken Roczen and Jeffrey Herlings and is also now tied for 3 most career MX2 Overall wins with Tyla Rattray behind Herlings and Antonio Cairoli.”
Jorge Prado: “I knew I was World Champion already on Thursday so it was a great moment that I didn’t expect. It was a great weekend and I am really happy to finish off the season with a win.”
Thomas Kjer Olsen: “I am really happy to finish third of course, I would like to be closer to Prado and Jonass but I did everything that I could this season. There was a lot of positives this season and there are a lot of things I have learned. I am super happy with my 10 podiums and I don’t think I can be anything other than happy.”
MXGP REPORT & RESULTS
The new MXGP World Champion, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Jeffrey Herlings, had nothing to prove this weekend but still came out and dominated with double race wins to take the final MXGP overall of the year.
The first MXGP race was started with a season first Fox Holeshot from Gebben Van Venrooy Kawasaki's Alessandro Lupino in front of his home crowd as Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Antonio Cairoli opted out of racing to recover for next week's Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations.
Behind Lupino was Team HRC's Tim Gajser, Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP Team's Jeremy Seewer, and then Herlings. Seewer and Herlings banged bars in the 4th corner was put the Dutchman up to third. Gajser took the lead from Lupino before the end of the first lap along with Herlings.
Lupino was then third but a collision with Seewer dropped the #77 out of the top 20 and the Swiss rider to 10th. Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team's Clement Desalle took over third with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Gautier Paulin 4th and Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP's Shaun Simpson 5th.
On the third official lap Herlings took the lead from Gajser and a lap later Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team's Julien Lieber went to 5th past Simpson. In the remaining 16 laps the top 5 held their positions. Herlings had the race win ahead of Gajser, Desalle, Paulin, and Lieber while Seewer made a last lap pass to get by teammate Simpson for 6th.
Race 2's Fox Holeshot belonged to Herlings who had Gajser and Desalle just behind him. Simpson had another good start in 4th with Lieber again behind him. Paulin was in 6th and had to deal with pressure from Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP's Jeremy Van Horebeek.
After 4 laps of heat from the Belgian Paulin lost 6th and Van Horebeek then went after Lieber. With 5 laps to go Lieber moved past Simpson for 4th and Van Horebeek put the Wilvo rider another spot back to 6th.
Herlings took the race win with Gajser again 2nd then Desalle, Lieber, and Van Horebeek. Paulin took 6th after passing Simpson with 2 laps to go. In the overall Herlings was the clear winner for the 84 time in his career as Gajser took 2nd and Desalle took third.
Jeffrey Herlings, “It is a great way to finish of the year, to finish with a win. I am very happy and thankful, it has been a great journey, a great experience, a great year, and I have met a lot of great people. I really want to thank especially my team as without them I wouldn’t to be able to do what I did… it is something that will be hard to ever accomplish again. The most beautiful way to finish off the year is to go 1-1 at the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations and if I can accomplish that it will be the cherry on top!”
Antonio Cairoli: “I am really happy to be here, it is such a great place for racing and I think this is a great way to step up our sport. I am looking at the bigger picture of the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations next week, it is very important for me and the country of Italy. Like I have said congratulations to Jeffrey and thanks to Youthstream for another good and very intense championship. They have stepped it up with a more professional staff so I am really happy to have another 2 seasons and follow my dream to fight for another world title.”
Clement Desalle: "Finishing third in the championship is really great, also it is a great feeling to be on the box at the end of the championship. My whole team works to be the best possible and to beat those guys and have the best result in the GPs. It is not easy but we are very motivated… it was a very good season overall.”