By Adam Simpson
ROUND 13 of the 2017 MXGP took place at the circuit of Loket in the Czech Republic at the weekend and saw KTM team riders Tony Cairoli and Pauls Jonas extend their point leads with only a handful of races left to go.
A huge downpour of rain ahead of Sunday's first race made the conditions unpredictable and challenging throughout the weekend, but also made for some seriously exciting racing.
Belgium rider Clement Desalle won the Fox Holeshot on the first race in the MXGP class, but was quickly overtaken by HRC's Tim Gajser, who was looking on great form after fully recovering from injuries sustained earlier in the season. Current championship leader, Red Bull KTM's Tony Cairoli, was sitting in fourth place after the first lap, but managed to get past Gautier Paulin for third. Cairoli later caught up with Desalle in second but was unable to make a pass. Gajser held on to his lead throughout the race and took home a convincing win.
In the second race it was Tim Gajser who won the Fox Holeshot, but the mighty Tony Cairoli wasn't far behind the Slovenian. On lap five Cairoli made an aggressive pass to take the lead, while KTM's Jeffrey Herlings managed to catch up to and make a text-book inside pass on Tim Gajser for third. Former MXGP Champion Romain Febvre was knocking at the door of Gautier Pualin who was in fifth place, but in the end would have to settle for sixth behind the Yamaha. Cairoli held on to his lead to take the win in race two and his 83rd MXGP overall victory.
Last year Red Bull KTM's Pauls Jonas suffered a season-ending crash in a huge off at the Loket MXGP, so the 2017 race was definitely one of redemption for the Latvian, who came out with all guns blazing. The first MX2 race took place on a heavily watered track following the early morning downpour and was led by Red Bull KTM's Jorge Prado. By the second lap, Husqvarna's Thomas Covington had made his way around Prado to take the lead. Prado was then overtaken by his KTM team-mate Pauls Jonas who eventually finished in second behind Covington.
The second Fox Holeshot of the day went again to a Husqvarna, this time with Conrad Mewse keeping it pinned into the first corner. Mewse was quickly passed however by Jorge Prado, who in turn was then passed by his team-mate Pauls Jonas.
As Benoit Paturel started to approach and put pressure on Jeremy Seewer, who was trying desperately to get around Prado for second, the Yamaha rider ended up clipping the back of Prado and hitting the dirt. Paturel got caught up in the crash, as did HSF riders Calvin Vlaanderen and Brian Rodgers, making for a nasty pile-up of riders and bikes. Meanwhile, a smooth and fast looking Pauls Jonas managed to confidently take home the race win along with the overall victory.
The next race is at the notorious sand track of Lommel in Belgium on August 6.
MXGP Loket 2017 overall results
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 45 points
2. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 44 p.
3. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 43 p.
4. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 36 p.
5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 34 p.
6. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 29 p.
7. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 27 p.
8. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, YAM), 26 p.
9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 20 p.
10. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 19 p.
MX2 Loket 2017 overall results
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 47 points;
2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 38 p.
3. Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 36 p.
4. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 35 p.
5. Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), 35 p.
6. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 32 p.
7. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, SUZ), 26 p.
8. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 26 p.
9. Marshal Weltin (USA, KAW), 20 p.
10. Conrad Mewse (GBR, HUS), 20 p.