Some 45,000 spectators surrounded the new venue of Semigorje, east of Moscow, to watch Sicilly's Tony Cairoli put in the ride of his life. After a stunning first moto victory and impressive opening laps in the second MX1 moto, the current ranked number one stopped hearts when he crashed and sacrificed six seconds in lap three of the second race.
With the overall win now up for grabs, the Italian focused all his efforts on hunting down Christophe Pourcel and Clement Desalle, his two biggest rivals for the title. Cairoli got his KTM 350 SX-F in position to slip by Pourcel leaving only Desalle who had gained several seconds advantage. With just two minutes and two laps to go, the Italian went for the gap and took the lead. Cairoli then quickly extended his lead to take the second race by eight seconds to secure his 49th career GP victory.
“I like the track when it’s rough like it was here, it suits my riding style,” said Cairoli. “Yesterday, it was raining and I thought we would have another wet GP but today was great, the track was dry and there were many lines. I got two good starts in both races and it was fun to be fighting with my teammate [de Dycker] and to be 1-2 in the first race.”
The first Grand Prix in Russia for 10 years saw Suzuki’s Clement Desalle finish second overall for the fourth time this season: "My riding was better compared to yesterday and I had a better feeling on the track,” said Desalle. “I just had one big mistake in that second moto. I was really focussing on strong laps but it was easy to make a mistake."
It was also a good weekend for KTM’s Ken de Dycker who finished second to Cairoli in the opening moto and started well in both races. After finishing 1-2 with Cairoli in the first race, de Dycker slipped past Pourcell into third place and held his position and his 2-3 result for the weekend put him on the podium in third.
“It looks like things are getting better for me each week and I am even getting good starts now and that makes it easier,” said de Dycker. “But I was sick during the week and today I felt a bit weak so I will try to work on my fitness next week and be better prepared for the next races.”
MX2: Double Dutch from Herlings
In MX 2, it was a red-letter day for Jeffrey Herlings who got the jump in both motos on his KTM 250 SX-F and completely ran away with both races. It was the Dutch teenager’s fourth double moto victory this season and as his teammate Jeremy van Horebeek remarked in the finish area, “Jeffrey was on another planet today”.
“I’m very happy, my riding was good and I took two holeshots,” said Herlings. “That’s what I wanted to do. I managed both times so that made it easier for me. I made eight more valuable points and I now have a 50 points lead over Tommy [Searle]. I know anything can still happen but, with five GPs to go, things are looking good.”
Team Floride Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit rider Tommy Searle suffered some bad luck as another rider crashed in his path and he was forced to retire with a damaged radiator during qualifying. Despite having to start from outside the top 20, however, Searle fought his way to a second-place finish.
"My chances of winning the GP disappeared yesterday when another rider crashed right in front of me during the qualifying race,” said Searle. “I used a lot of energy to come through to third in the first moto and the first two were too far ahead to catch, but as usual I was even stronger in the second race. It's hard to accept the bad luck I have had this year, but I will keep fighting for the title even though it will now be difficult."
Jeremy Van Horebeek also had another great result finishing on the podium in third from his 2-3 result: “Yesterday I had a big crash in the rain but I got back to thirteenth, which was an okay position for today’s start,” said van Horebeek. “I had two good starts and was in the top three in both motos. The first moto I was second the whole race and in the second moto I was pushing with Jeffrey but I felt a bit sick last night and by the end of the race I was a bit weak and had to slow down in the last couple of laps.”
This was the first time the MXGP circus had visited Russia since 2002 and organizers gave official attendance figures at 47,000.
GP of Russia at Semigorje - Round 11 of the World Championship
1, Tony Cairoli, Italy, KTM
2, Clement Desalle, Belgium, Suzuki
3, Ken de Dycker, Belgium, KTM
4, Christophe Pourcel, France, Kawasaki
5, Evgeny Bobryshev, Russia, Honda
MX1 Championship Standings
1, Cairoli, 442
2, Desalle, 422
3, C. Pourcel, 393
4, Paulin, 376
5, de Dycker, 341
1, Jeffrey Herlings, Netherlands, KTM
2, Tommy Searle, GBR, Kawasaki
3, Jeremy van Horebeek, Belgium, KTM
4, Joel Roelants, Belgium, Kawasaki
5, Jake Nicholls, GBR, KTM
MX2 Championship Standings
1, Herlings, 478
2, Searle, 429
3, van Horebeek, 417
4, Roelants, 344
5, Tixier, 309