Photo by: Ray Archer

The 2017 MXGP Motocross World Championship landed at the Agueda circuit in Portugal for round number 12, and the MXGP of Portugal. In the MXGP class, Red Bull / KTM riders Antonio Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings split moto wins with Cairoli getting the overall nod with the moto two win.

In the MX2 class, Suzuki World / MX2 rider Jeremy Seewer took his second overall win in a row after splitting the moto wins with the red plate holder, Red Bull / KTM’s Pauls Jonass.

After the racing was in the books, we gathered quotes from some of the top riders in the Agueda pits.

Cairoli celebrates his second overall win in a row.

Antonio Cairoli: (1st in MXGP) “This is my first win here in Portugal with KTM so it is already important. It was a very difficult track and very bumpy and hot weather again. First moto I had a good start but Jeffrey was riding better in some parts of the track; I was struggling a bit and couldn’t follow him immediately but eventually found a better rhythm. I made a good gap in the second moto and could stay at the front to win the GP. I’ll keep training but also rest a bit now because we have passed the middle of the season. I will try and do my best in Loket but we are starting to control the championship and have a good lead so we have to ride smart.”


Jeremy Seewer: (1st in MX2) “It was an amazing weekend. I won two GPs in a row and this was definitely one of the best GP wins so far. It certainly wasn’t easy and took a lot of hard work, especially when I was battling with Jonass, my title rival. I’m just really happy with how my second moto went; I had a better start and I could follow the two in front and I could find some good lines and make the difference that I was looking for yesterday. The start in the first moto wasn’t that great, not quite enough for me to be able to follow the top two as a gap started to appear. Luckily, I could make the pass on Thomas Covington on the last lap, which gave me the second place that allowed me to win the overall. I’m really happy with how the RM-Z250 performed today. We had to make some changes from yesterday because the track is quite special here and we had to adjust the bike to the track. Now I get to look forward to the next GPs; I like Loket, I like Lommel as it’s where I mostly live now and of course it’s going to be awesome for the third GP when we head to my home country of Switzerland. I’m really excited to keep this momentum going as I fight for the MX2 championship.”


Jeffrey Herlings: (2nd in MXGP) “It is a bit frustrating being second again and we were closer than we were last weekend but it is something to build and work on. We did some good things for the championship because only a few rounds ago I was almost 50 points back and now it is 5-or-something to second place: that’s quite impressive. So I’m happy for that and I didn’t lose points to Cairoli today. [Getting to] second in the championship will not be so bad and everyone has worked so hard in the team. To go 1-2 would be amazing for KTM. My starts were good again today by the way and we are getting better and better.”

MX2 podium from MXGP of Portugal

Arminas Jasikonis: (3rd in MXGP) “The second moto was really tough. I was again around fifth at the beginning after making a little mistake on an uphill. I ran most of the moto in fifth place, with Tim Gajser and Nagl in front of me and I knew that if Nagl stayed there I wouldn’t get the podium so I really put a big effort into this race. I had to finish in front of him and gave everything I had to make that happen. I made a really nice pass on Gajser and then a couple of laps later I got the pass on Nagl as well, doing what I needed to do for my first ever podium performance. I’d like to give a big thanks to the team, they have done such a great job to help me get here. Thanks to Paul my mechanic, thanks to Stefan and Harry Everts and everyone in the team who works so hard. I just hope this podium pays them back for all their effort. And thanks to my family and my girlfriend who always support me and believe in me, and all the fans who cheer me on. It means so much to get that support and I hope now that this is the start of even better things to come for me in the Suzuki World MXGP team. It’s been a tough weekend, but to get a podium really makes it all worthwhile. In the first moto I started around fifth but I quickly moved forward, even passing Jeffrey Herlings as I moved into second. I was following Antonio Cairoli but in the middle of the race I knew that once he started to pull away, I had to let him go and concentrate on my efforts. Herlings passed me back at that stage and Max Nagl was staying a consistent gap behind me in fourth so I managed to finish in third place. It certainly wasn’t easy in the middle of the race but I made sure I could push at the end so as not to give any chances for Nagl to pass me, so I ended up third.”


Thomas Covington: (3rd in MX2) “It’s been another positive GP and I’m pleased with my results in Portugal. Once again I showed the speed is there to battle for victory and that’s really important for the rest of the championship. To be honest I felt quite comfortable in this track. I started off the weekend with a win in the qualifying moto and that was a good psychological booster for the final motos. Despite the heat I had two good motos. In moto one I got the lead early and managed to stay up front for a few laps before settling for third. Then in moto two I got the holeshot and was able to lead for the first part of the race. Being in the lead felt quite good to be honest. By the end of the second moto I felt a bit tired. I guess all the travelling and the heat in Portugal took a toll on me so I had to settle for third again. I’m looking forward to coming back even stronger in Loket.”


Pauls Jonass: (2nd in MX2) “We didn’t gain anything and we didn’t lose anything. I was happy with the first moto and my riding this weekend. I got a pretty good start and had a nice battle with Thomas and was satisfied with the win. I started well again in the second race and was leading for a long time but Jeremy came past and I was a bit disappointed about that, anyway, the points gap is still the same in the championship. We have a three-week break now and I’m looking forward to that. We have a lot of progress to make. We’ll get some hard work done with the team.”

Arminas Jasikonis broke through for the first MXGP podium of his career.

Romain Febvre: (4th in MXGP) “The racing was good, but in both moto’s I didn’t have a good start. In the first race, my start was not so bad but I got arm pump in my right arm, so I had to slow down a little bit and catch my breath in order to relax the arm. It was okay, but I didn’t ride like I know I can. In the second race, I missed my start completely, I was outside of the top fifteen. I rode good, but I used all of my energy to get back to fourth, so overall, I just need a better start.”


Tim Gajser: (6th in MXGP) “I am quite satisfied with today, every race is getting better, step by step. In the first moto, I didn’t have a good start and I was struggling a little bit with my stomach which wasn’t very nice to ride like that but I got on with it. The second moto was a lot better, it didn’t feel so bad all round even though the track was rough. Now that we have some time off I am going to focus on getting back in shape and to come back stronger for the Czech Republic.”


Evgeny Bobryshev: (10th in MXGP) “Today was a little bit better than yesterday as I was feeling more confident on the bike and with the feeling in my shoulder. I am still finding after 20mins that the pain is coming back so I end up losing power and speed as I find it harder to hold onto the bike. The track was SO bumpy in the second race which made it more difficult. I slowed down in both moto’s to avoid crashing and then some riders passed me at the end. I still have a lot of work to do to come back properly from my injury. I need to move forward and I am happy that I have such good support from the team and my family. It is a tough situation to be in as before my injury everything was going really well. I am in-between feeling happy and frustrated at how today has gone and this two weeks off is going to be really important in helping my recovery and comeback for Loket.”


Jeremy Van Horebeek: (18th in MXGP) “It was a difficult weekend, but I was prepared for that coming in, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. After racing yesterday, I woke up with a lot more pain today, and the track was more difficult too. The first 10 minutes in both races I felt pretty good, but I took a big rock to the face in the first moto and it popped open my lens and cut my eye, and then I got a stone on my finger too. It’s not the way you want to start a race, but now we have three weeks before Loket, so I should have enough time to be strong for that race.”


Arnaud Tonus: (7th in MXGP) “It wasn’t easy with my gate pick. I didn’t get great starts in both races. It took me a while to come through the pack in the first race, but at the end I felt pretty good. In the second moto, I was really good in the first laps and found myself inside the top ten really quick. While that was really good, I put myself in a bad position because I couldn’t maintain that intensity and I dropped back a bit because I was tired. Overall it was quite positive, I just realize I have some work to do to be able to keep that intensity for the whole race. Like I said, it’s still been a positive weekend.”

Seewer has won two overalls in a row but, with Jonass’ consistency, he has only made up 3 points on Jonass with those wins.

Thomas Kjer-Olsen: (4th in MX2) “The speed was there this weekend but a few mistakes didn’t allow me to fight for the top three. Overall, I’m satisfied with how things went in Portugal. I had a good qualifying race for fourth. Then I got a good start in the first moto and was able to claim fourth. My start in moto two was not that good. As I was trying to make my way through the pack I got together with another rider and that made me lose a bunch of time. Luckily I still had time to push so I gradually made my way back to fifth. It’s good that we salvaged some good points for the championship. The series is still long and anything can happen. We’re still third in the championship and I will keep working hard to finish the season on a high.”


Clément Desalle: (8th in MXGP) “I already had some troubles during the qualifying race on Saturday; at the start of the race I was coming pretty carefully into the first corner, but a few metres after the corner my rear wheel slid out and I crashed. It seems strange as I wasn’t pushing so hard, maybe someone hit my rear wheel, I don’t know but it meant that I qualified only fourteenth. In the first race I managed to get a decent start from this gate to hold fifth place initially and finally I finished sixth; the last part of the race was tough as it was again very hot this weekend, but between the races I recovered pretty well. But at the second start another rider crashed directly in front of me and took me down; I recovered to tenth after starting last. For sure I’m not happy with the overall result as on a track like this one I could have score many more points. To be positive I can say that with the team we know what we will work on during the summer break to continue to improve our set-up; I also know what to do during the next three weeks but at first I need a few days to recover from this weekend as I hurt a finger and some ribs in the crash on Saturday.”


Michele Cervellin: (11th in MX2) “Today was ok for me. I started good in the first moto and then I had contact with another rider and crashed. This is motocross and this sometimes happens. I ended up finishing 15th which is not the best but it is ok. The second moto start was not as good as my first race but I finished ninth overall. It means I improved a little bit over the day which is good. I look forward to a break now where I can train and get ready to focus on Loket.”


Anthony Rodriguez: (8th in MX2) “Agueda has been quite a lot better than Ottobiano for me, for sure! Securing eighth position yesterday in qualifying helped so much with gate position. Being able to have a decent start has made such a difference and proved I have what it takes to run up there with the front runners. I knew I could hang with these guys but I knew I couldn’t hang with them the whole race. As some people may or may not know I have had very little preparation for these races. After the Supercross I didn’t have a bike to ride in the US at all until this ride. Because of this, my fitness is not all the way there and I wish I had the proper time to do the training I really need to do for these races. I did the best I could with the cards that I had dealt and I did my best, I rode my heart out there.”


Conrad Mewse: (19th in MX2) “My starts were on point throughout the weekend and that was really positive. I struggled to maintain my position in both motos but just couldn’t hold on. Without making any big mistake the pace was not good enough to remain in the battle for the top 10. I guess it was just an off weekend. There are no excuses and the plan is to continue working hard hoping for some improved results. I want to take advantage of this short break in the series to continue my training and preparation for the second half of the season.”

Herlings won moto 1, but could not back it up in moto 2.

Max Nagl: (7th in MXGP) “Overall, it’s been a very positive weekend and I’m happy about that. Getting good starts in qualifying and both final motos I could get a good race pace and do my own races. Earning second in qualifying got me a good gate pick for Sunday’s final motos. My riding was very good in race one. I started off well and managed to stay close to the leading group for fourth at the line. I got another good start in moto two and pushed hard for the overall podium. I really wanted to get on the podium this weekend but with 10 minutes to go in moto two I felt physically tired. It’s disappointing I couldn’t get on the podium but I’m happy the speed was there. We now have three weeks off and I want to take advantage of that to focus on getting even stronger physically for the second half of the season.”


Max Anstie: (9th in MXGP) “Getting a taste of the podium last weekend in Italy I was hoping for some similar results in Portugal. Knowing the track from the past I was able to prepare myself mentally for the weekend. But he track had changed a lot. It was bumpy, quite slippery and had lots of stones. Not getting a good result in qualifying didn’t help my starts but I did the best I could to gain some places in both motos. Getting 10th in moto one and then eighth in moto two is not bad at all considering the level of competition in the class. I know I’m strong and I also know what I’m capable of so the plan is to keep working as hard as we do and hope for some better results. During the next three weeks I will work hard trying one more step with my riding and preparation.”


Gautier Paulin: (12th in MXGP) “I was a tough GP for everybody. With the track not offering many lines it was important to get a good result in the qualifying race but I could not make that happen. The opening moto was a fast paced one. Not being able to get a good start I had to settle for 12th at the finish line. Then in moto two my start was a lot better and I found myself battling for the top five. As I was going through a tight corner I made a mistake and stalled the engine and that cost me lot of time. It’s good that we have a small break now in the championship. It’ll be a perfect chance to regroup with the goal to come back even stronger in Loket.”


Glenn Coldenhoff: (11th in MXGP) “I think I felt the effects of last week today. It is strange because I was fine yesterday and I was riding well and the bike was perfect. I had a little bit of bad luck in the qualification heat because someone crashed in front of me and had to use energy to come back from dead-last. The last four laps were really tough and I used too much yesterday. The first moto was still OK and I found my rhythm but I was ‘done’ after that moto and had to throw-up. I gave everything I had and I knew the second would be tough and I tried to eat and drink but I wasn’t 100%. At one point I thought I might be able to run upfront for a while but then the ‘man with the hammer’ came up to me and I really had to slow down. Again, some positives but also some things to work on. We’ll take a week off now to recover from these two heavy races. We work to be on the box and we’ll keep trying for that.”


Jorge Prado: (26th in MX2) “After last weekend I took a full week off to recover and my feeling yesterday was not too bad but today I felt tired from the beginning. I had a good start but then just felt empty and couldn’t give my best. I really enjoyed the track and the crowd that were supporting me a lot but physically I was not ready.”

Jonass leads the MX2 World Championship standings

Bas Vaessen: (17th in MX2) “I had a lot of bad luck today. In the first moto I didn’t get a great start and was around 25th on the first lap. I got back to around 15th or so but made a small crash trying to pass another rider. Fell back after that but still then got back up to 16th so my riding was ok. In the second moto I had a pretty good start but in the first I ran into Stephen Rubini and my foot got stuck in his rear wheel and it took quite a long time to get it out. Once it was out I was way behind and spent the entire moto in no man’s land, so not really too much I can say about that race. I didn’t really have a great feeling with this track so I can’t wait until the round in the Czech Republic which should hopefully go a lot better.”


David Herbreteau: (9th in MX2) “It was a good GP for me, the best ever in my career with a top ten finish. I had a good feeling with this track already on Saturday, posting some good results in the practice sessions and a good qualification. This morning I had again a good feeling and I had a good jump of the gate in the first moto but lost too many positions during the first few laps; that’s something I must work on. I made my best lap time at the end of the race, and in the second race I had a better start and never give up even if mentally it was not easy mentally as I always had another rider just behind me to put under pressure.”


Stephen Rubini: (22nd in MX2) “It was another tough weekend for me, even if I was in the top thirteen of both practice sessions. I had a good start in the qualifying session, but on the first lap the engine stopped as a stone damaged an electrical connection. It’s never easy to get a good start from the outside gate here; in the first GP moto I was in the top fifteen but crashed later in the race and could only score an eighteenth position. The second start was similar, but on the first lap another rider hit me and we lost more than one minute as I was under the bike. We have now three weeks to prepare for Loket; I hope that I will not be so unlucky there.”


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