Photo: KTM Images  – Words by: Geoff Meyer

Red Bull KTM factory riders Tony Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings both picked up wins in the MX1 and MX2 GPs of France at Saint Jean d’Angely on Sunday to extend their leads in their respective championships.The two victories put the team back on top in results and spirits after failing to make any podiums in the muddy race in Brazil in the difficult last round.
Antonio Cairoli:

“I’m very happy about my weekend. Yesterday I was not so fast and struggled a bit but today everything went well. The bike was perfect and its cool to win here in the home of my main contenders. Now we go to Portugal and Agueda is a sandy track and I have won a lot of GPs there so its one of my favorites and I am looking forward to it.”

Jeffrey Herlings:

“My first race was quite easy after I took the holeshot but I had a bad start in the second moto and was back at 10th and had to work my way back to second. Regarding a touch he had with Arnaud Tonus of Switzerland he commented that he saw it as just a race accident that came about when both riders were fighting hard for the best race line.

David Philippaerts:

“I’m half-happy. I didn’t start well in the first moto and I didn’t like the track today: no lines or bumps and all the riders going the same speed. It was not possible to pass and to make any difference. I started in 22nd and got up to 10th so I did as well as I could. In the second moto I was away better – in 3rd – but in the last part of the race I lost some feeling with the rear tyre. I’m sixth today, which is not great but I did what I could. We will see what we find in Portugal now.”

Steven Frossard:

“It was cool to make two good starts and for sure the second was the best. I just focussed on my riding and the positions were not so important for me today. I was just behind Cairoli in the second moto and even led the race when he made a small mistake. It was great for me to be there but after about twenty-five minutes I was getting a bit tired and felt some pain in my knee. I preferred to finish the race and not crash so did enough to come home safe. I will see the doctor tomorrow morning now to check my knee and see what he says and then make my decision for the next race.”

Shaun Simpson:

“I was a bit off the pace a bit all weekend. I was reasonably happy with the first race. Fourteenth was not a great result but I got stuck-in until the end and I wasn’t far from the guys in front of me. Starts were everything and I feel that if I had got away well then I could have snuck into a top ten position. My speed wasn’t good enough in the second race and I can’t put my finger on why. We changed tyres and I’m not sure if that was a good or bad thing. I couldn’t get comfortable enough to push harder and didn’t have the grip or the confidence. This is one to throw in the bin and look towards next week.”

Arnaud Tonus:

“Overall I’m happy because only one week ago I still couldn’t really ride like I wanted. I was still sore and I made my decision to be here on Wednesday because I couldn’t wait any longer to race. My fitness is alright, maybe not 100%, but it felt better every session I was on the track. The second moto was great and I had a pretty good rhythm. I was struggling a bit the whole weekend with arm-pump and for that I missed a couple of positions in the first moto. The second race was going better until Jeffrey did that stupid thing and I crashed and lost everything. It took me almost one lap to get started again. I fell on my shoulder again so I don’t know how that will feel tomorrow. Hopefully everything will be OK.”

Christophe Charlier:

“I think it was Tixier who went through the rut wall and hit the side part so it crumbled into the line. When I hit the mound with my front wheel it caused me to lose control and crash. I felt a bang to my shoulder but when I came down the big jump it popped out. We will have to see what the scans reveal but I don’t have any pain and I was told if I had sensation and good feeling in my hand then this normally means there is not much ligament damage. I hope this is true! It has been a disappointing day and an injury is the last thing that I wanted but fingers crossed we can get back from this fast.”

Michael Leib:

“I need to have a few more tests because something is not right. I felt utterly exhausted on Saturday and without any energy. It is frustrating because I have the speed to get the results and I have already shown that. I hope to have some more answers in the next couple of days and we’ll find a way back to normal from here.”

Mel Pocock:

“This has to be almost a career highlight so far. I’m so pumped I don’t know what to say. I was the fastest all weekend even though the other boys did give me a run for my money in the races. It was awesome to be out front and leading a race. It was a different feeling. The bike Steve has built me is amazing. It is the quickest I’ve ever ridden so a big thanks to the team and everyone who has helped me. A ten point lead in the championship after the first round…well happy!”

Clement Desalle:

“It was difficult, mentally, to come here because we lost my grandfather who I was very close to so suddenly. It was very sad because he was in good health. When I was busy on the bike then I didn’t have time to think about it. My riding in general was OK and I’m not disappointed about that. The top five were really fast at this track and I will try to do better in the future.”

Tanel Leok:

“I don’t know what happened today. I had bad starts but in the middle of the race I wasn’t overtaking well and just lost too much ground. I improved my speed but I couldn’t catch the other guys by that stage. I was stuck behind people for too long basically. If I can take any positives, then my pace at the end of the second moto was encouraging. Still, the overall result is not good today.”

Rui Gonçalves:

“It was a tough GP to be honest. I didn’t get such good starts, but I managed to make things happen in the first few laps, which was a good improvement. In the first moto I was riding in third place for a while, but when I got to the 15-minute mark I got really bad arm-pump and was struggling to hold on. Maybe it’s because I haven’t ridden so much hardpack in the winter due to the shoulder injury I had, but it was kind of strange. Everyone seems to have such good rhythm, but I had to focus so much on my landings, and I couldn’t make the progress I wanted to. I was happy I could ride hard in the beginning, but I just didn’t have a good feeling with the type of ground. In the second moto I didn’t get a good start, but I made progress in the first few laps and again I got arm-pump, so I just couldn’t hold on. I hope things will turn around, as I feel two times in the top ten isn’t what we work so hard as a team for, but we are making progress and I think it’s just a matter of time before we reach the results we aim for. Now I’m heading home to Portugal where I’ll get to spend some time with my family and riding locally in preparation for my home Grand Prix in Portugal.”

Evgeny Bobryshev:

“Today started off well and I was really looking forward to good results. In the first race I got a good jump off the start, but I made some mistakes on the first lap, so I gave myself some work to do. I came through to sixth, and I had good speed, but it’s really difficult to pass here. Physically I felt good too, which was also really positive for me and to be battling with Desalle was great as we were close, although I couldn’t make the pass in the end. The roost here is really bad so I wanted to improve the start for the second race, but I was happy overall with the speed on the hardpack ground. I had a good start in the second race but I was a bit unlucky, as there was a rut in some dust on one of the jump landings that I didn’t see halfway around the first lap, and I went sideways over it then crashed. I was coming through from the back, although passing was hard and I had problems with the throttle after damaging it, but then towards the end I had a contact with Guarneri, which broke my water pump, so that meant we didn’t finish the race. Now I’ve just got to put the weekend behind me and move forwards; I’m feeling so much better now, and we just need a bit of luck on our side now to get to where we should be.”

Dean Ferris:

“I was really looking forward to this race,” admitted Ferris. “I watched here as a spectator two years ago and now I was finally able to mix it up with the guys. We were lucky to get the shoulder back into place quite quickly with the great assistance of the doctors and medics. I will have another check up back in Belgium this week with my specialists and then we can make a decision on when I can get back on the bike. It’s really frustrating because my speed has been improving with every race and I have been battling with guys that have won GP’s. Hopefully this is only a minor setback and I can be back behind the gate in no time!”

Kevin Strijbos:

“It was a bad weekend for me. I don’t like the track in Saint Jean d’Angely and things did not go well. First race I got a really good start but in the first lap they came through on my left and right and I did not have the answer to it. I was then down in 14th, so it was not good. The second race was basically the same. I could ride a little bit better, my speed was also faster, but not the way I want. With such results you can’t be happy because I’m eighth in the Championship. I’m positive about next weekend because everything should go better.”

Petar Petrov:

“The weekend didn’t get off to the best start because my speed wasn’t that good on Saturday. I wasn’t feeling the track. Today was much better and although this is not my favourite place I still managed 13th and 10th which means a decent meeting for me. Now I have to keep building from here and hope for more of the same and even better in Portugal next week.”

Harri Kullas:

“I struggled a lot at the start. My speed was OK when I had some space in the first moto but I lost too much time behind slower riders so I wasn’t able to do much better than 15th. In the second race, the first few laps were OK but one rider cut to the middle of the track coming past the pit-lane and I caught him with my front wheel and crashed. I hit my head pretty hard and had a lot of pain. I’m sure I have a concussion and my neck feels stretched. I hope I can recover enough in the next few days to be OK for Portugal.”


Dan Lamb is a 12+ year journalist and the owner of MotoXAddicts.