MXGP

Jeffrey Herlings And Sacha Coenen Rule MXGP of Latvia

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Photo of motocross rider  Jeffrey Herlings at the 2024 MXGP of Lativa.
It was MXGP win #1 of the season and career victory #104 for Jeffrey Herlings who owned the Grand Prix of Latvia for the second year in a row. Photo: Ray Archer

The battle turned brutal near the Baltic this weekend for the MXGP of Latvia, held once again at the Zelta Zirgs Motocenter near Kegums, and the sandy circuit served up a tough challenge which resulted in some nail-biting racing!

An important and emotional moment was held with a one-minute silence observed before MXGP Race 1, in memory of Former FIM-Europe President and FIM Motocross Commission President Dr Wolfgang SRB, who sadly passed away in the week leading up to the race.

The day started dry, but once more the rain came for the Championships as a deluge hit the area at the end of MX2 race one, making the circuit very wet for the start of MXGP race one! However, due to some amazing work from the track crews, the venue was in near-perfect condition for the second races of both classes.

In MXGP, it was at last the moment for five-time World Champion Jeffrey Herlings to break the twelve-month-and-five-day drought since his last Grand Prix victory for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, which was at this very same circuit last year. A stirring win in race one’s soggy conditions and a charging third in race two gave “The Bullet” his 104th Grand Prix win, extending his record total and collecting his 197th individual race win in the process.

For the fifth straight Grand Prix, the red plate in MXGP changes hands after the results from Latvia, as Jorge Prado’s second race win couldn’t prevent Tim Gajser from moving four points ahead after solid second places in both of the very different MXGP races.

Just before his senior teammate added to his record tally, the one rider on the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team that had yet to even reach a podium, 17-year-old Belgian Sacha Coenen, broke his series by not only taking his first top three finish in race one, but also his first race win and the overall Grand Prix honours in a brilliant display of controlled riding. With his twin brother Lucas Coenen taking second overall, it was the first time in 27 years that a pair of brothers had finished 1st and 2nd in a Motocross Grand Prix, dating back to Darryl and Shayne King at the French 500cc Grand Prix in 1997!

MXGP

Qualifying Race winner Tim Gajser took to the starting line first as the rain poured down, and all of the leading contenders knew the start would be more vital than ever with the amount of water on the circuit, and just one point separating the Championship leaders!

The Fox Holeshot Award was fiercely contested, just taken by Prado for the tenth time this season, but Herlings had started with him and was on the case immediately! Making an aggressive pass around the corner after the finish line, he wrestled the early lead from the defending Champion! Gajser had been beaten into third by Glenn Coldenhoff, but the Slovenian didn’t wait around, and knowing that Prado has only had issues this year in wet weather, he fired back into third and instantly attacked the Spaniard to take second place!

Brian Bogers also moved up past his teammate Coldenhoff into third by the end of the first full lap, and started to pressure Prado. It paid off, as on lap three he again had problems in the rain and slid to the floor on the face of a jump! He dropped to eighth position behind Calvin Vlaanderen.

Coldenhoff got back past Bogers for good on lap five for third spot, and the two Fantic men stayed there until the chequered flag. Despite a few mistakes by Herlings, Gajser couldn’t get near The Bullet, who took his third race win of the season and hacked a few points off his deficit to the leaders.

With a lap 11 fall for Cornelius Toendel, Prado managed to get into seventh ahead of the Norwegian, nearly gaining a further position when Vlaanderen fell with two laps to go! However, as Kevin Horgmo held on to a season-best fifth, the Champ had to console himself with 14 points, meaning that Gajser led the Championship again heading into race two!

Photo of motocross rider Tim Gasjer at the 2024 MXGP of Lativa
Tim Gajser went 2-2 at the Kegums circuit in Latvia, to take the second step on the podium, and reclaim the championship-leaders red-plate once again. Photo: Bavo

The holeshot once more went the way of the #1 plate holder, but again Herlings was right with him until Gajser dived up the inside of the Dutchman into the second corner! Desperate to prevent Prado from escaping at the front, the Slovenian gave chase and Herlings was unable to match the pace of the leading two in the first ten minutes.

Again the Factory Fantics packed out the top five, especially as Vlaanderen dropped the bike in a tight left-hand corner and eventually came home in seventh. He will have to console himself with climbing to fifth in the Championship ahead of Jeremy Seewer and the unfortunately absent Pauls Jonass. Seewer was to take sixth in race two after a crash-affected fourteenth in race one. Coldenhoff held on to fourth, and Bogers fifth, which was also their final positions for the overall GP.

The gaps between the leading three riders got tantalisingly close on occasions, but Herlings got the closest to making a move as he caught Gajser with four laps to go, but again the Slovenian turned the screw. Ultimately, Prado held on to win by 1.6 seconds from Gajser, with Herlings just another 1.7 seconds further back.

Photo of motocross rider Jorge Prado at the 2024 MXGP of Lativa.
Jorge Prado charged back from an early crash to score 8-1 in Latvia and secure P3 overall. Photo: Juan Pablo Acevedo

It was enough for Herlings to register Grand Prix win number 104, and move to within 68 points of the series leader, which is now Gajser by just four points from Prado! They head to Maggiora, where Prado will have sweet memories of becoming Champion last year, and his competition will most likely be praying for rain again!

“I’m definitely super happy,” Herlings said. “Yesterday I drove to my hotel and I thought.. what am I doing, I need to do more! But today I came back to show that I can still do it you know. So, already a podium was good but to get the win is really really amazing! I did two good starts too, with the first race where I was the fastest, second race I couldn’t get the pace to overtake them (Prado and Gajser) but I kept them within my sight and in the end close them down but couldn’t pass as they were very fast too. I’m very happy with the win and looking forward to the next one”

Tim Gajser was happy to be in the championship lead, saying, “I’m very happy and it’s nice to have the red plate back! Also with both races, the speed was there but maybe my starts were not the best. I would definitely wish to start like yesterday in Quali race with a FOX Holeshot because it wasn’t easy after that. Second race I was a bit in between, pushing for Jorge and got some pressure from Jeffrey. I was searching for the lines but couldn’t open the door for Jeffrey so it was a good race in the end and very happy. Huge thank you to all the team because they work very hard and everybody around me. I’m already looking forward to the next one!”

Third-placed Jorge Prado was happy with his riding but a little disappointed with the round result. “It was a pity because today I was feeling super good on the bike but just couldn’t make the pass on Tim (Gajser) in Ram Quali Race. Today in the first race, I actually got a good start and I was feeling very good behind Tim and then I got in the face of the jump and went off the line and yeah..crashed so not the best to finish 7th. In the second race, in dryer conditions, I took the FOX Holeshot and led until the end. I’m happy with riding, and hopefully, we can get that red plate back as soon as possible! ”

Photo of motocross rider Sacha Coenen at the 2024 MXGP of Lativa
Sacha Coenen puts starts, speed and fortune together to go 3-1 for his first Grand Prix win, first moto victory and maiden podium finish in his second MX2 season. Photo: Ray Archer

MX2

The MX2 class continues to deliver incredible racing that is far more unpredictable than the points table would have you believe. Although it seemed inevitable that the winner’s trophy would leave Latvia in the Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing transporter, as series leader Kay de Wolf and second-placed Lucas Coenen looked to be the fastest two throughout Saturday, it was Sacha Coenen who again rocketed into the lead of race one!

Nothing new about that, we all thought, and as De Wolf burst into second on the opening lap, and Lucas Coenen got past Simon Laengenfelder for third, it looked likely to be a Husky 1-2 very soon. However, it took six laps of De Wolf trying to break Sacha Coenen’s advantage before something gave way, and that something was De Wolf’s patience as he lunged for a line that Sacha was already heading towards, sending the Dutchman briefly off the circuit in a wild ride that he somehow survived to bring back on track!

Photo of motocross rider Sacha Coenen at the 2024 MXGP of Lativa. Start
With Twins Lucas Coenen (96) and Sacha Coenen (19) taking first and second overall, it was the first time in 27 years that a pair of brothers had finished 1-2 in a Motocross Grand Prix, dating back to Darryl and Shayne King at the French 500cc Grand Prix in 1997! Photo: Fullspectrum Media

Temporarily back to third, De Wolf took just a lap to recover enough to pass Lucas for second, then within two more corners, he was alongside Sacha and into the lead! Lucas followed through almost instantly, and that was finally the order we expected. De Wolf simply had too much pace for the Belgian, and took the race win, his first on a Sunday since back in round four, by 2.8 seconds at the flag. Sacha kept his solid third position, his best to date in MX2, 15 seconds clear of Laengenfelder in fourth, with Sacha’s teammate Liam Everts in fifth and rising star Oriol Oliver with his career best in sixth!

Race two started in the same vein, with De Wolf tucking up the inside to claim his second Holeshot Award of the year, with Sacha Coenen right behind him, followed by Lucas. Just coming to the end of the first full lap, De Wolf lost control and hit the ground, gifting the lead to Sacha, and then dropped it again after only a few more corners! Halfway around the second lap, it was Lucas’ turn to hit the deck! Suddenly, Quentin Prugnieres was second, with Laengenfelder third and Everts in fourth. However, it was soon Everts who also hit the ground, after which he would recover to finish in fourth to claim fifth overall. Liam’s teammate Andrea Adamo suffered a desperate 13-8 scoreline, and can only look forward to his home GP next week to start the recovery of his title defence.

Photo of motocross rider Lucas Coenen at the 2024 MXGP of Lativa.
Sacha Coenen finished second overall in MX2. Photo: Fullspectrum media

Lucas recovered to get back to third on lap five, then Prugnieres crashed out of fourth on lap eight, ultimately finishing in twelfth. Rick Elzinga finished a solid fifth from a start outside of the top ten! De Wolf, meanwhile, suffered a further crash and could only claim ninth at the flag, while Mikkel Haarup finished sixth ahead of Oliver.

Lucas Coenen also crashed again but kept hold of third behind Laengenfelder, the German’s best result since before his Portuguese injury. All eyes were on Sacha Coenen, however, who finally held it all together to bring home a dream first Grand Prix victory, despite a real moment over the final jump before the finish line, on the final lap! He revved his KTM in exultation and was swiftly joined by his brother as they made it a historic 1-2 overall, with Laengenfelder in third overall. It was a stunning weekend from Sacha, and well deserved after the heartbreaking races he has suffered this year! It brings him up to eighth in the Championship standings as well.

De Wolf’s Championship lead shrunk a little to 55 points over his teammate, with Laengenfelder holding fast in third just another seven further back. He will welcome the return to hard pack at Maggiora next weekend, and MXGP fans will hold their breath at the prospect of more amazing action to come around the mythical slopes of magical Maggiora! The fight is still on!

Photo of motocross rider Simon Laengenfelder at the 2024 MXGP of Lativa
Simon Längenfelder finished 4-2 in both hard-fought motos to take his second successive MX2 podium of the season. Photo: Juan Pablo Acevedo

“I was feeling good out there and after the first race I wasn’t the happiest but I had good speed and felt good on the track,” Sacha Coenen explained. “I knew I could do it. In the second race Kay (de Wolf) crashed and I took the lead and managed to bring it home. I was so happy at the finish line to get this first win. It’s such a nice feeling!”

Despite not winning Lucas Coenen was happy to see his brother snare his first win, saying: “I’m super pumped for my brother! All of this hard moment and now he finally gets the win which is super cool for him. Regarding myself, we need to work more and on everything, as I struggled a bit all weekend and then we will see how it is going in the next GP”

“I wasn’t happy with my riding in the first race but we made some changes and I felt much better in the second one,” third-placed Laengenfelder said. “So I take some notes and go for the next one! Also, the mistake I made at the end of the second race was because I tried to give it all but congrats to Sacha (Coenen) for his GP win!”

Next weekend, June 16th, sees the MXGP of Italy at the fan-favourite Maggiora, concluding a run of three events in as many weekends

Photo of motocross rider Kay de Wolf at the 2024 MXGP of Lativa.
Kay de Wolf finished fourth in MX2 to easily maintain his championship lead. Photo: Fullspectrum media

Qualifying Race Report And Video

MXGP – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 36:13.461
2 Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:14.806
3 Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Fantic), +0:23.809
4 Brian Bogers (NED, Fantic), +0:28.396
5 Kevin Horgmo (NOR, Honda), +0:33.427
6 Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Yamaha), +0:50.478
7 Jorge Prado (ESP, GASGAS), +0:56.234
8 Cornelius Toendel (NOR, KTM), +1:01.587
9 Andrea Bonacorsi (ITA, Yamaha), +1:15.559
10 Valentin Guillod (SUI, Honda), +1:30.619

MXGP – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification :
1 Jorge Prado (ESP, GASGAS), 35:31.669
2 Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:01.665
3 Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:03.403
4 Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Fantic), +0:51.510
5 Brian Bogers (NED, Fantic), +0:53.356
6 Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Kawasaki), +0:55.082
7 Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Yamaha), +0:57.615
8 Valentin Guillod (SUI, Honda), +1:28.335
9 Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, Husqvarna), +1:28.814
10 Kevin Horgmo (NOR, Honda), +1:29.866

MXGP Overall – Top 10 Classification:
1 Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 45 points
2 Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 44 points
3 Jorge Prado (ESP, GAS), 39 points
4 Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, FAN), 38 points
5 Brian Bogers (NED, FAN), 34 points
6 Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, YAM), 29 points
7 Kevin Horgmo (NOR, HON), 27 points
8 Valentin Guillod (SUI, HON), 24 points
9 Cornelius Toendel (NOR, KTM), 23 points
10 Jeremy Seewer (SUI, KAW), 22 points

MXGP – World Championship – Top 10 Classification:
1 Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 454 points
2 Jorge Prado (ESP, GAS), 450 points
3 Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 386 points
4 Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 327 points
5 Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, YAM), 299 points
6 Jeremy Seewer (SUI, KAW), 289 points
7 Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, FAN), 277 points
8 Pauls Jonass (LAT, HON), 274 points
9 Kevin Horgmo (NOR, HON), 188 points
10 Valentin Guillod (SUI, HON), 175 points

MX2 – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Kay de Wolf (NED, Husqvarna), 35:07.196
2 Lucas Coenen (BEL, Husqvarna), +0:02.853
3 Sacha Coenen (BEL, KTM), +0:20.027
4 Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GASGAS), +0:35.495
5 Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), +0:47.451
6 Oriol Oliver (ESP, KTM), +1:04.675
7 Mikkel Haarup (DEN, Triumph), +1:11.179
8 Rick Elzinga (NED, Yamaha), +1:21.322
9 Quentin Marc Prugnieres (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:22.884
10 Julius Mikula (CZE, KTM), +1:30.275

MX2 – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Sacha Coenen (BEL, KTM), 34:26.176
2 Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GASGAS), +0:15.755
3 Lucas Coenen (BEL, Husqvarna), +0:25.504
4 Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), +0:26.304
5 Rick Elzinga (NED, Yamaha), +0:27.044
6 Mikkel Haarup (DEN, Triumph), +0:35.945
7 Oriol Oliver (ESP, KTM), +0:37.074
8 Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), +0:50.356
9 Kay de Wolf (NED, Husqvarna), +1:09.782
10 Jens Walvoort (NED, KTM), +1:11.423

MX2 Overall – Top 10 Classification:
1 Sacha Coenen (BEL, KTM), 45 points
2 Lucas Coenen (BEL, HUS), 42 points
3 Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GAS), 40 points
4 Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 37 points
5 Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), 34 points
6 Rick Elzinga (NED, YAM), 29 points
7 Mikkel Haarup (DEN, TRI), 29 points
8 Oriol Oliver (ESP, KTM), 29 points
9 Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), 21 points
10 Jens Walvoort (NED, KTM), 21 points

MX2 – World Championship Classification:
1 Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 443 points
2 Lucas Coenen (BEL, HUS), 388 points
3 Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GAS), 381 points
4 Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), 341 points
5 Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), 327 points
6 Mikkel Haarup (DEN, TRI), 287 points
7 Rick Elzinga (NED, YAM), 278 points
8 Sacha Coenen (BEL, KTM), 228 points
9 Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 226 points
10 Quentin Marc Prugnieres (FRA, KAW), 174 points

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