Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tony Cairoli delivered a renaissance ride in the second moto of the MXGP of Belgium on Sunday on the deeply rutted and difficult sand circuit of Lommel to finish a strong overall third. The GP victory went to veteran Belgian rider Kevin Strijbos and Max Nagl of Germany finished second.

Tony Cairoli wrapped up his weekend with a 6-3 result for his podium third after suffering some arm pump in the first moto. He went out fast in the second moto and looked comfortable and confident as he powered his KTM 350 SX-F over the heavily rutted and deep sand of the Belgian circuit. The popular Italian multi-world champion has struggled with injury problems this season but on Sunday he looked in charge and confident, especially in the second moto. With five rounds to go Cairoli remains in second place in the points table behind leader Tim Gajser.

It was also a positive day for KTM-supported rider Shaun Simpson who was second in the opening moto. His 2-12 result put him in overall sixth. The Scottish rider has also been recovering from a recent injury. Cairoli’s factory teammate Glenn Coldenhoff, another competent sand rider picked up an 8-5 score for overall seventh on his KTM 450 SX-F, a season’s best result, while Tanel Leok of Estonia rode his KTM to tenth place.

Cairoli: “My first moto was not one of my best. It should have been a bit better for the podium but this is my first race in the sand for quite a while and you need to get used to it. I struggled all week a bit with the setup then finally we had a good one for the second moto and I managed to finish second. If I would have won I could have won the GP, but Tim (Gajser) was hanging on pretty good and so I held on for second place. The podium is okay but we are not happy. I should be a bit better on this kind of track. Now we work hard for the next GP.”

Sadly the much-anticipated Lommel weekend was one to forget for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MX2 riders. Championship leader Jeffrey Herlings remains at the top of the leader board with a 87-point advantage but he is still healing a broken collarbone and was unable to ride this weekend. Likewise, his teammate Pauls Jonass was also out for this weekend because he is still recovering from the effects of a very hard crash on the Czech circuit at Loket last weekend.

This left the responsibility of the team in the hands of its two young riders Davy Pootjes andJorge Prado. Prado, who was to make his MX2 debut this weekend was unable to compete after getting a knock on the shoulder in training Friday. Doctor’s confirmed there was no damage but because of the pain, the team decided to rest him this weekend. Meanwhile Pootjes put in a valiant ride in the opening moto to finish sixth at the flag on the KTM 250 SX-F. He was also making inroads into the field in the second moto but pulled into the pits in the second half of the race because of the pain in his injured wrist.

Pootjes: “I know I could do way better if I was fit but it was a tough weekend with a lot of pain. I had to start from gate pick 38 in the first moto because I couldn’t finish on Saturday. I took a bad start but came back from 25th to sixth. Then in the second moto I had no feeling at all in my hand and I had an even worse start. At one point I was ninth but I couldn’t feel my wrist and I had to pull off.” Pootjes is due to have corrective surgery this week and he confirmed he would then concentrate on getting ready for next season.

The hard fought MX2 GP went to Max Anstie, with Jeremy Seewer and Petar Petrov taking the minor podium places. Best finish by a KTM rider was Brian Bogers who was overall fourth with a 5-4 result, while fellow Dutch rider Calvin Vlaanderen finished overall sixth with 7-5.

Although injured, Herlings was in Lommel to greet the fans and admitted it had been difficult to watch because it was one of his favorite tracks. “But that’s Motocross and this can happen and hopefully I’ll be back to racing soon. We’re looking very good, I’m very busy with training and normally we should be back on the bike very soon. I’m still in very good shape and I hope to keep that up until the end of the season.”

The title in the EMX250 was settled this weekend after Danish rider Thomas Kjer Olsen wrapped it up one week before the final round. With Prado moving up to MX2 for the rest of the season, this leaves Josiah Natzke as the remaining KTM Factory Junior in the class.

Natzke had a 6-10 result for overall eighth, his best for the season but admitted he is currently lacking a bit of core body strength to ride hard on a track like Lommel. “I was second at the start of the first moto and I got the holeshot in the second. But in the first moto I got some arm pump half way through and dropped my lap times. I picked it up again at the end of the moto. I was really pumped to get the holeshot in the second moto but I just got really tired. I know this is something I have to work on. Overall I’m happy that I’m moving forward and I want to do even better next weekend in Switzerland.” 

In Lommel to support the Red Bull KTM factory riders this weekend was their teammate and 2016 Dakar winner Toby Price: “I rode Lommel last weekend and I knew how difficult it was, but to come here and see how much worse the track got, and the speed these guys carry, its unbelievable. It’s pretty mind-blowing to see what they do on the bike and a massive credit to them.” When asked to compare Motocross to Rally, Price added: “It’s a completely different riding style. It’s high intensity and hard word the whole time. For us its more the endurance and staying consistent – these guys are machines and they’ve trained hard and put in the work, just as we do.”

Next Race: August 7, 2016 – Frauenfeld-Gachnang (SUI)

Results MXGP Lommel 2016
1. Kevin Strijbos (BEL), Suzuki (3-3)
2. Max Nagl (GER), Husqvarna (1-7)
3. Tony Cairoli (ITA), KTM (6-2)
4. Jeremy van Horebeek (BEL), Yamaha (7-4)
5. Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda (15-1)
Other KTM
6. Shaun Simpson (GBR), KTM (2-12)
7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED), KTM (8-5)
10. Tanel Leok (EST), KTM (9-11)

Standings MXGP 2016 after 13 of 18 rounds
1. Gajser, 607 points
2. Cairoli, 504
3. Nagl, 490
4. Romain Febvre (FRA), Yamaha, 464
5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS), Honda, 445
Other KTM
8. Coldenhoff, 277

Results MX2 Lommel 2016
1. Max Anstie (GBR), Husqvarna (1-1)
2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI), Suzuki (4-2)
3. Petar Petrov (BUL), Kawasaki (2-6)
4. Brian Bogers (NED), KTM (5-4)
5. Benoit Paturel (FRA), Yamaha (3-7)
Other KTM
6. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED), KTM (7-5)
15. Davy Pootjes (NED), KTM (6-DNF)
DNS Jeffrey Herlings (NED), KTM
DNS Pauls Jonass (LAT), KTM

Standings MX2 2016 after 13 of 18 rounds
1. Herlings, 597 points
2. Seewer, 510
3. Jonass, 403
4. Paturel, 393
5. Ferrandis, 378
Other KTM
10. Bogers, 280
21. Pootjes, 94

Results EMX250 Lommel 2016
1. Bas Vaessen (NED), Suzuki (1-1)
2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN), Husqvarna (2-2)
3. Miro Sihvonen (FIN), KTM (4-3)
4. Darian Sanayei (USA), Kawasaki (3-4)
5. Kevin Wouts (BEL), KTM (5-5)
Other KTM
8. Josiah Natzke (NZL), KTM (6-10)
9. Erki Kahro (EST), KTM (10-9)
DNS Jorge Prado (ESP), KTM

Standings EMX250 2016 
after 9 of 10 rounds
1. Kjer Olsen, 404 points (Champion)
2. Sanayei, 323
3. Vaessen, 286
4. Anton Gole (SWE), Husqvarna, 236
5. Wouts, 217
Other KTM

6. Prado, 210
7. Sihvonen, 201
8. Nicolas Dercourt (FRA), KTM, 197
18. Natzke, 64