Red Bull KTM factory riders Tony Cairoli and Max Nagl gave KTM two more podiums in the MX1 GP of Portugal on Sunday, gathering enough points to keep the two Orange riders in the top positions in the championship standings.
While Clement Desalle emerged the GP winner, he did it with two second places after Nagl and Cairoli won both motos. The KTM factory team has now won seven of the eight motos in the four rounds held so far, giving the Austrian manufacturer a commanding lead in the manufacturers’ standings at this early stage of the championship.
Plenty of orange action on the track in Portugal
Nagl left the gates in the first moto like greased lighting and looked untouchable throughout the first race as the 1500-meter hard pack track continued to dry out after Saturday’s rain. He eventually crossed the line 18 seconds in front of the rest of the field and clearly enjoyed attacking the deeply rutted Agueda track. He also narrowed the points gap between him and Cairoli to just nine going into the second moto. Cairoli, who did not get away well at the start of the opening moto then made a gladiatorial attack to scramble back from fifteenth to fifth.
Cairoli conquers second moto
Cairoli may have snatched the holeshot and dominated the second race right up to the checkered flag but there was still plenty of gripping action that had the crowd on their toes. Nagl was engaged in some tough competition with the front runners in the closing stages to ultimately finish fifth. Cairoli had to concede ultimate victory in the GP to Desalle who finished three points ahead of the Italian reigning world champion.
Tony Cairoli: “It was a good weekend for me and I like this track. I’ve always been on the podium here since I started to race in the world championships. It was a good result. For sure I wanted to win but it was not possible. I had a bad start in the first race and only finished fifth. But I had a good start in the second and could win one moto. I like this track but today it was difficult with the rain and only one line so it was not as nice as in other years.”
Max Nagl: It’s true that this isn’t my favorite track. Two years ago it was a mess then I was fifth last year and now third, so it’s getting better. I had a good start in the first race and it was really easy for me. I was just cruising and I made the gap bigger every lap. So I expected a lot from the second race but at the start there was a lot more grip and I was sitting too far back. The front wheel lifted and I had to use the clutch twice so I didn’t get the holeshot. I lost a lot of places in the first two laps but then I found my rhythm and I came back from tenth to fifth. That cost me a lot of energy and then I wasn’t able to fight for a better position at the end.“
Cairoli and Nagl lead the championship; solid result from Rui Goncalves
While Cairoli and Nagl are still the two riders vying for the red plate, the third team member, Rui Goncalves riding in front of his home crowd picked up a valuable 18 points in the two motos to finish eleventh on Sunday. Rui rejoined the competition in the last round after an enforced break in racing to recover from shoulder surgery.
Rui Goncalves: It was a positive weekend. Now two weeks have passed since my first GP for this year and everything has improved, my results as well as the goal was different from last year when I was in MX2 and fighting for the championship. Now it’s a new class and a new bike so it will take some time to get where I want to be, I need to be patient, to keep improving my results. I’m feeling better and better on the bike and I am motivated to work.”
Cairoli and Goncalves are competing on the new KTM 350 SX-F while Nagl is riding the KTM 450 SX-F.
Riders remember McFarlaine and Chandler
Action on the track was given a somber and respectful note as the crowd remembered KTM rider Andrew McFarlaine of Australia and American Danny Chandler with a minute’s silence before the first race. The racers both passed away this week.
Photos by Ray Archer
Results MX1 GP Portugal
1. Clement Desalle, Belgium, Suzuki, 22-22—44
2. Tony Cairoli, Italy, KTM, 16-25—41
3. Max Nagl, Germany, KTM, 25-16—41
4. Xavier Boog, France, Kawasaki, 18-18—36
5. David Philippaerts, Italy, Yamaha, 20-13—33
11. Rui Goncalves, Portugal, KTM, 10-8-18
Championship Standings after Round Four
1. Tony Cairoli, Italy, KTM, 179
2. Max Nagl, Germany, KTM, 161
3. David Philippaerts, Italy, Yamaha, 133
4. Steve Ramon, Belgium, Suzuki, 124
5. Clement Desalle, Belgium, Suzuki, 123
20. Rui Goncalves, Portugal, KTM, 24