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Herlings and Jonass draw first blood at 2018 MXGP season opener

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Herlings and Jonass draw first blood at 2018 MXGP season opener
The MXGP racing in was sensational with a close and tense duel between Jeffery Herlings and Tony Cairoli keeping spectators at home and across the globe riveted. Photo: Youthstream
The 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship season got up running in dramatic fashion at Neuquen in Patagonia, Argentina, setting the stage for yet another year of epic racing.

The MXGP of Patagonia Argentina served as host for the first round of the new season and provided racing right off of the MXGP fan wish list. With the surroundings nothing short of serene and peaceful, the roar of MXGP and MX2 bikes brought the Neuquen region to life.

Both of the 2017 Champions returned to action amongst a field of competitors both new and old all looking to make a statement and build confidence for the remaining 18 races. Seeing the first success of 2018 was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing‰Ûªs Jeffrey Herlings and Pauls Jonass.



The MXGP field is a stacked one without doubt but one thing on everyone‰Ûªs mind coming into this season was how the speed of a healthy Red Bull KTM Factory Racing‰Ûªs Jeffrey Herlings would compare to that of the reigning MXGP champion Antonio Cairoli.

When the gate finally dropped after months of training and preparation, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing‰Ûªs Antonio Cairoli took the FOX Holeshot and led the way for every lap of the 19 recorded.

Behind Cairoli was at first the newest recruit to the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team, Julien Lieber, but he was eventually shuffled back to 8th in what would be his first MXGP Championship race. First to pass Lieber was Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP‰Ûªs Romain Febvre who appears to have a successful bike setting at the start of the new year.
Herlings and Jonass draw first blood at 2018 MXGP season opener
The 2018 MXGP season got underway at Neuquen in Patagonia, Argentina as the MXGP class blast out of the gate. Photo Ray Archer.
After the first laps of race one Herlings moved his way up from 4th to second passing both Lieber and Febvre. Herlings continued in pursuit of his teammate Cairoli who was out front. Herlings was able to catch up to Cairoli but unable to make an attempt at a pass as he crossed the finish line just barely over a second later than the #222.

Coming from 6th and putting in a strong race to move his way up to 3rd was Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team‰Ûªs Clement Desalle.

Race two started identical for Cairoli again taking the FOX Holeshot with a Monster Energy Kawasaki on his heels but it was the #25 of Clement Desalle the second time around as Lieber fell in the first turn along with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna‰Ûªs Max Anstie and Bike IT DRT Kawasaki‰Ûªs Tommy Searle.

Herlings came across the first complete lap in 5th place and seemed to struggle to find his rhythm early. Meanwhile Cairoli pulled away from Desalle up front as the two Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP bikes of Jeremy Van Horebeek and Romain Febvre battled in 3rd and 4th. Herlings split the Yamaha‰Ûªs for 6 laps before finally finding his way past Van Horebeek and a lap later Desalle.
Herlings and Jonass draw first blood at 2018 MXGP season opener
Although he finished on equal points with team-mate Tony Cairoli, Jeffery Herlings walked away with the MXGP class win on account of his win in the season moto. Credit: Ray Archer
With 9 minutes remaining in race 2 Herlings was near 9 seconds of the lead of Cairoli. Herlings is known not to give up easy and as he found his groove he began chipping away at the lead. In the remaining laps the #84 inched his way forward and each second he gained his confidence doubled. In an amazing effort Herlings caught Cairoli with only one lap remaining and as the approached the first corner Herlings charged to the inside of the #222 much to the Sicilian‰Ûªs surprise.

Though Herlings over shot the racing line allowing Cairoli to hold the position a slight bobble from the 9-time champ helped Herlings make a move stick only a few turns later. While Cairoli led every other lap of the weekend none proved more important than the very last which Herlings snatched.

"It was a good day. I made a charge in the first moto but couldn't make the pass; Tony was riding really well and deserved to win," Herlings explained. "In the second race I got pushed wide at the start again and had some battles going on for fifth, fourth and third. I knew there was only ten minutes left in the moto but I worked on the gap and was really glad to make it happen.

"I‰Ûªm blessed to have won the first GP of the year and the hard work of the winter is showing. This is only the first race of nineteen and there will be a lot of good competition ahead. I feel good on the bike, even better than the end of last year. I want to thank the team because they are always supporting me through thick-and-thin," Herlings concluded.
Herlings and Jonass draw first blood at 2018 MXGP season opener
It is great for KTM to be 1-2 in both motos and I‰Ûªm looking forward to continuing this championship. It will be an interesting season. - Tony Cairoli. Photo: Youthstream.
Despite just missing the win Cairoli was still happy to start the season off at the front end of the the pack and with the same points as the winner Herlings.

‰ÛÏWe almost made it with the perfect weekend," Cairoli said. "In the second moto ‰ÛÒ I had a good start and made a good lead ‰ÛÒ but ran into some lappers and changed some lines. I made some mistakes and almost went out of the berm in some corners. I hit some kickers and had to slow down a little bit but if you do that then the seconds quickly go away. Jeffrey came closer and was stronger in the end. I was making mistakes and was tired and he took his chance to go around me: it was a good move. It is great for KTM to be 1-2 in both motos and I‰Ûªm looking forward to continuing this championship. It will be an interesting season."

While the top two spots were swapped between Cairoli and Herlings the final podium spot was secured by the consecutive 3-3 finishes of Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team‰Ûªs Clement Desalle.

"It was a strong weekend. We worked a lot on the bike in the winter and this weekend we saw confirmation that we did our job well," Desalle said. "We have seen this weekend that there are still a couple of things we need to look at, but there were only two guys in front of us and they were both already very fast. We have a good base to work from."
Herlings and Jonass draw first blood at 2018 MXGP season opener
Clement Desalle put the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team on the podium with two strong rides in the opening round.
The Yamaha duo of Jeremy Van Horebeek and Romain Febvre finished 4th and 5th respectivly and with both with 34 points.

Gautier Paulin kicked off the 2018 season with a strong sixth overall showing consistency in both motos.

‰ÛÏLast week I was sick so I guess my body has not fully recovered yet," Paulin said. "There are no excuses and I am already looking forward to the next GP. My bike is awesome and the team do their best for us. We got some good points here in Argentina so now it‰Ûªs over to the next one in Europe.‰Û
Herlings and Jonass draw first blood at 2018 MXGP season opener
MX2 winner Jonas Paulss was brilliant in Argentina, taking the fastest times in all practice sessions, Pole Position and both moto. Photo: Youthstream.
‰ÛÏWe did the pre-season races and I knew I had the speed and the fitness because I had worked hard in the winter time," the Latvian said. "I came into this race confident‰Û_but I did not expect to win every single session when we went on the track. It is a boost for us but we won‰Ûªt let it get to our heads too much because there is still a long way to go. The new bike worked so well and we can see all that testing and work in the off-season paid off. I didn't get any holeshots today so we still have something we can improve on!‰Û
Herlings and Jonass draw first blood at 2018 MXGP season opener
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing‰Ûªs Thomas Kjer-Olsen has started the 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship with a solid runner-up overall result in the highly-competitive MX2 class. Photo: Youthstream
Thomas Kjer Olsen put another stellar ride together in race two to finish second place in both the race and the overall.

Sanayei came back to racing with a point to prove after his race one DNF. Starting in 4th Sanayei made his way to third by the end of the race followed by Ben Watson who took his second 4th of the day.

"It's always great to start a new season with a podium result," Kjer Olsen said. "I've done a good job with the team and myself this winter so I am feeling good at the moment. Things worked out quite well here in Argentina and I‰Ûªm happy with my speed. My goal was to remain consistent throughout the day and I‰Ûªm happy I made it happen. My starts were also good and this shows we‰Ûªre in a good spot for the rest of the championship. I am really looking forward to the next GP in The Netherlands."
Herlings and Jonass draw first blood at 2018 MXGP season opener
Hunter Lawrence was on the pace in his MXGP MX2 class debut with Team Honda 114 Motorsports with a holeshot in the opening moto an a solid third place overall. Photo: Youthstream
Calvin Vlaanderen also bounced back from his race 1 mishap charging forward from a 10th place start to take 5th ahead of Hunter Lawrence who reached the overall podium in 3rd with 2-6 finishes.

‰ÛÏIt is a lot better start than last year," Lawrence said. "For the team‰Ûªs first race and being on a new bike this year it is cool and I look forward to what the rest of the season holds.‰Û
Herlings and Jonass draw first blood at 2018 MXGP season opener
Australian Jed Beaton secured an impressive fifth place in his first ride for the Kawasaki F&H Racing Team in the opening round of the FIM World MX2 Motocross Championship at Neuqu̩n in Argentina.
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 34:23.907
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:01.075
3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:30.101
4. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:32.081
5. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:34.491
6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:39.338
7. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:44.786
8. Julien Lieber (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:51.977
9. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:55.538
10. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), +0:56.248.

MXGP Race 2 Top Ten:
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:56.319
2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:02.051
3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:23.027
4. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:26.080
5. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:34.539
6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:45.838
7. Shaun Simpson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:58.958
8. Maximilian Nagl (GER, TM), +1:01.409
9. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Suzuki), +1:15.786
10. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), +1:17.858.

MXGP Overall Top Ten:
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 47 points
2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 47 p.
3. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 40 p.
4. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 34 p.
5. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 34 p.
6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 30 p.
7. Shaun Simpson (GBR, YAM), 24 p.
8. Julien Lieber (BEL, KAW), 22 p.
9. Maximilian Nagl (GER, TM), 21 p.
10. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 21 p.

MX2 Race 1 Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 34:44.373
2. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Honda), +0:01.993
3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:12.509
4. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:21.540
5. Henry Jacobi (GER, Husqvarna), +0:39.686
6. Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), +0:40.184
7. Jed Beaton (AUS, Kawasaki), +0:41.891
8. Michele Cervellin (ITA, Honda), +0:43.238
9. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, Yamaha), +0:44.951
10. Thomas Covington (USA, Husqvarna), +0:52.725.

MX2 Race 2 Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 34:00.087
2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:05.260
3. Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +0:10.726
4. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:13.864
5. Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA, Honda), +0:13.993
6. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Honda), +0:14.909
7. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:33.086
8. Jed Beaton (AUS, Kawasaki), +0:34.461
9. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, Yamaha), +0:40.040
10. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:41.654.

MX2 Overall Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 50 points
2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 42 p.
3. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, HON), 37 p.
4. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 36 p.
5. Jed Beaton (AUS, KAW), 27 p.
6. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, YAM), 24 p.
7. Henry Jacobi (GER, HUS), 21 p.
8. Darian Sanayei (USA, KAW), 20 p.
9. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 20 p.
10. Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA, HON), 19 p.

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