Photo: KTM Images  – Words by: Geoff Meyer

In front of a large crowd Red Bull KTM Factory riders Antonio Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings have put KTM back in the winners circle with victory in the Grand Prix of France. Cairoli went 1-1 for the MX1 overall and Herlings scored 1-2 results for his MX2 win. It was an exciting days racing under beautiful conditions around a really nicely prepared circuit.

The opening moto of the day was the MX2 and it didn’t take long for Jeffrey Herlings to stamp his authority on the race as he led into the opening corner. Right behind the Dutchman came Jeremy Van Horebeek, Jordi Tixier, Jose Butron and Valentin Teillet. Way back in 18 place was Tommy Searle.
While Herlings shot away from the pack Searle was working his way through the pack, climbing up to 12th place after one lap, and then moving into 10th place on lap four.
Arnaud Tonus just back from his injury held third place early, but did drop back, no doubt his condition not that of the others. He would find himself in sixth place mid-race.
Max Anstie was another suffering from a bad start as he rounded the opening lap in 19th place, climbing into 12th place after seven laps, but then didn’t improve on that position.
For Herlings it all went to plan, winning from Van Horebeek, Searle who had ridden the race of the day, Roelants, Teillet, Tixier, Tonus, Charlier, Butron and Nicholls in 10th place.
Jeffrey Herlings went 1-2 for the overall GP win - Photo: KTM Images
The opening MX1 race was also entertaining, although for the French public the little Italian Antonio Cairoli made for a disappointing celebration. Cairoli bolted out of the start and was never headed, he did have some occasions when first Christophe Pourcel pushed him, and Gautier Paulin made a half challenge as the race entered the later stages, but nobody was going to beat the five-times World Motocross Champion on this day, he really showed once again why he is King of today’s MX1 class.
Ken De Dycker put in a great rider, starting outside the top 20 on the 2013 KTM 450, but he rode a sensational race, moving into seventh place with a couple of laps remaining and even putting pressure on 5th placed riders Clement Desalle and Evgeny Bobryshev.
Up front though it was all Cairoli with a bunch of Frenchman in his wake, first Paulin in second place, Pourcel in third place and finally Boog in fourth place.
The second MX2 moto was interesting as Tonus led early, holding off Searle for a little while before the British rider moved into the lead. Herlings was back in sixth place with his two KTM team-mates Van Horebeek and Tixier were also in the mix, as was Roelants.
The race got even more interesting when Herlings moved into second place after making contact with Tonus, the Swizz rider crashed and dropped back in the pack. Van Horebeek was also pushing Herlings, although as good team-mates do he kept his distance until the end of the race.
Searle controlled the race up front and while his moto victory wasn’t enough to win him the Grand Prix he did show that his speed is more than good enough.
Herlings did get pushed a little at the end of the race from Van Horebeek and Roelants, but not enough to worry the red plate owner.
The final moto of the day and Cairoli leads from Frossard, Philippaerts, Desalle, Pourcel, Paulin, Goncalves, Pourcel and Boog. Way back again was De Dycker, as was Bobryshev. Pourcel lost his position to Paulin as the former World MX2 Champion stalled his bike in a corner and gave his countryman position number four.
Frossard passed Cairoli for the lead after a handful of laps, sending the huge French crowd into a frenzy. This race really came alive as Frossard, Cairoli, Philippaerts, Paulin, Desalle and Pourcel all battled for the lead.
Cairoli took the lead from Frossard and around the same time Paulin made an amazing charge past both Frossard and Philippaerts and set out after the leader. Desalle and Pourcel were also in a fierce battle behind the top four riders.
Cairoli seemed to edge a little away from Paulin who had himself made a gap from third placed Philippaerts. Paulin was not about to give up and with the French spectators giving him support he moved a little closer to the leader.
Cairoli went 1-1 for the overall GP win and extended his points lead in the MX1 Motocross World Championship - Photo: KTM Images
Paulin then crashed and dropped back a few places as Philippaerts, Pourcel and Desalle went past. Frossard obviously lacking condition with his knee injury also started to drop back. From here it looks like Cairoli would be GP winner and again extend his series points lead over his rivals.
Pourcel passed Philippaerts for second place and set out after Cairoli, while Paulin also did his best to find the top two riders. Pourcel and Paulin started making ground on the leader and all of a sudden we had the same atmosphere of the 2011 MXoN when the two Frenchmen battled for positions in that fateful final moto.
Cairoli crossed the finish line ahead of Pourcel, Paulin, Desalle Philippaerts, S. Pourcel, Boog and Frossard.
Grand Prix of France – Results
MX2 moto one: 1. Herlings, 2. Van Horebeek, 3. Searle, 4. Roelants, 5. Teillet, 6. Tixier, 7. Tonus, 8. Charlier, 9. Butron, 10. Nicholls, 11. Febvre, 12. Anstie, 13. Petrov, 14. Lieber, 15. Kullas
MX2 moto two: 1. Searle, 2, Herlings, 3. Van Horebeek, 4. Roelants, 5. Tixier, 6. Lupino, 7. Anstie, 8. Nicholls, 9. Teillet, 10, Petrov, 11. Larsen, 12. Lieber, 13. Febvre, 14. Larrieu, 15. Coldenhoff
MX2 O/A: 1. Herlings 47pts, 2. Searle 45pts, 3. Van Horebeek 42pts, 4. Roelants 36pts, 5. Tixier 31pts, 6. Teillet 28pts, 7. Nicholls 24pts, 8. Anstie 23pts, 9. Petrov 19pts, 10. Febvre 18pts
MX2 Championship points: 1. Herlings 270pts, 2. Searle 248pts, 3. Van Horebeek 231pts, 4. Roelants 188pts, 5. Anstie 160pts, 6. Tixier 159pts, 7. Nicholls 144pts, 8. Lupino 118pts, 9. Butron 110pts, 10. Ferrandis 107pts
MX1 moto one: 1. Cairoli, 2. Paulin, 3. Pourcel, 4. Boog, 5. Desalle, 6. Bobryshev, 7. De Dycker, 8. Frossard, 9. Goncalves, 10. Philippaerts, 11. Pourcel, 12. Leok, 13. Karro, 14. Simpson, 15. Strijbos
MX1 moto two: 1. Cairoli, 2. Pourcel, 3. Paulin, 4. Desalle, 5. Philippaerts, 6. S. Pourcel, 7. Boog, 8. Frossard, 9. Goncalves, 10. De Dycker, 11. Boissiere, 12. Strijbos, 13. Guarneri, 14. Karro, 15. Barragan
MX1 O/A: 1. Cairoli 50pts, 2. Pourcel 42pts, 3. Paulin 42pts, 4. Desalle 34pts, 5. Boog 32pts, 6. Philippaerts 27pts, 7. Frossard 26pts, 8. Pourcel 25pts, 9. De Dycker 25pts, 10. Goncalves 24pts
MX1 Championship points: 1. Cairoli 253pts, 2. Pourcel 214pts, 3. Desalle 213pts, 4. Paulin 212pts, 5. De Dycker 179pts, 6. Philippaerts 169pts, 7. Boog 161pts, 8. Strijbos 154pts, 9. Goncalves 134pts, 10. Leok 121pts

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