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Jeffrey Herlings “We’ll keep fighting”

Jeffrey Herlings “We’ll keep fighting”

MXGP reached the halfway stage of the 2024 campaign with another weather-hit fixture, this time at Maggiora for the Italian Grand Prix. Tackling the soft, slick mud and tricky narrow course north of Milan, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing picked up 1-2 results in MX2 with the KTM 250 SX-F while Jeffrey Herlings’ speed and skill on the KTM 450 SX-F ensured another moto ‘P1’ and runner-up status in MXGP.

Once again MXGP suffered from intense summer storms. The hilly Maggiora Park facility – the traditional home of the Italian Grand Prix for almost ten years and since the tight layout was renovated and brought back to FIM World Championship spec – was flooded on Friday night and through parts of Saturday for a restrictive practice and qualification schedule for the MXGP and MX2 classes.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing arrived to face the adverse conditions having celebrated double victory in Latvia the previous weekend. In contrast to the mainly flat and sandyish terrain of Kegums, the mud and steep climbs of Maggiora was a very different test and was complicated further by the torrential rain.

In one of the few dry phases of Saturday, Jeffrey Herlings was able to take 2nd place in the RAM Qualification Race after a bright start and then a formulaic 20 minute and 2 lap outing.

Sunday was thankfully rain-free but the deluge on Saturday evening caused the terrain to soften and created more bumps and deeper ruts. Starts were vital. Herlings was top four at the beginning of the first MXGP moto, moved quickly to 3rd and then gave chase to Tim Gajser and Jorge Prado. The gap expanded and contracted and he scored P3 at the flag: only 2.3 seconds split the trio. In the second race Prado went down in the second corner leaving Gajser to set the pace ahead of Jeffrey and on a drying course that blended bumpy sections with flatter hard-pack. Again, the duo flew in formation and the #84 KTM came close to the lead. The pressure worked as a mistake from Gajser gave Jeffrey a clearer track and breathing room for his fourth moto win of the year. 3rd and 1st were rewarded with 2nd overall and his sixth trophy of the calendar.

Herlings is 3rd in the MXGP championship and needs 37 points to gain further promotion.

Grands Prix of West Nusa Tenggara and Lombok constitute the two Indonesian meetings in succession. The paddock travels east in one week for round 11 of the 2024 contest.

Jeffrey Herlings, 3rd and 1st for 2nd overall in MXGP: “I feel I am getting better and better each weekend and, here, even my starts were OK! Being on the inside kept me safe and at the front. Hard to overtake in the first moto. With all the rain we had and because it was a tight track it was just so hard to pass when the speed was very close. I tried all I could but not making that move unfortunately cost me the ‘Overall’. I was on Tim’s [Gajser] rear wheel all the time in the second moto but it was like being in a paintball game because I was only eating roost! He was riding perfectly and with good lines and I couldn’t get him until he made a small mistake and that was to my benefit. So, 3-1, but the most important thing is that I am closing to the gap to the others guys. If you see the races at the start of the season [then] they were pulling away from me but now I’m coming closer and closer. We’ll keep fighting from here.”

Results MXGP Italy 2024

1. Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda, 1-2
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 3-1
3. Jeremy Seewer (SUI), Kawasaki, 5-3
11. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA), Husqvarna 14-7

Standings MXGP 2024 after 10 of 20 rounds

1. Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda, 511 points
2. Jorge Prado (ESP), GASGAS, 477
3. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, 440
13. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA), Husqvarna, 121

Words by KTM – Images by Ray Archer