Red Bull KTM factory rider Tony Cairoli of Italy and his American counterpart Mike Alessi rode like demons this weekend at the MX1 USGP on the Glen Helen circuit to crack 1-2 on the podium and introduce the new KTM 350 SX-F racing machine to American fans in a style that underlined KTM’s "Ready to Race" philosophy.
Cairoli, the championship leader and ruling MX1 world champion scored a 1-3 result to top the podium with Alessi beside him in second place.
Red Bull Factory Racing’s Max Nagl was third in the first moto but came unstuck and entangled in the notorious green netting towards the end of the second moto and DNF-ed, while teammate Rui Goncaves was able to improve his consistency in lap times.
The first moto shaped up to be an amazing battle in the second half of the race that turned out to be a blaze of Orange and a fantastic display of KTM power and riding skills as Tony and Mike battled it out on the soft, loamy track and hot summer temperatures, with teammate Max Nagl on the KTM 450 SX-F close behind.
It was a display of riding and machinery that couldn’t fail to impress and turned out to be a perfect platform to show off just what the innovative new bike is all about.
The KTM 350 SX-F has been developed at the company headquarters in Mattighofen, Austria in close cooperation with the Red Bull KTM Factory racing Team manager and 10-times World Champion Stefan Everts.
Tony’s third place in the second moto gave him a comfortable victory and piled on the championship points. He now leads the standings by 41 points ahead of his teammate Nagl.
Tony Cairoli says: "It was nice to win here because it’s been a long time since there was a USGP," Tony said. "I like to fight with Mike Alessi, one of the best riders over here in the USA. We can improve a lot more, also with the bike, we are working really well and we’re very happy. Today everything went perfect, also in the long straight here at Glen Helen where I got the holeshot in the first moto and was in the top six in the second."
Mike Alessi says: "It was a great weekend. I had a lot of fun racing with Tony Cairoli and the rest of the top GP riders. My KTM was working very well this weekend. It was very good in the corners and on the hills and I got a second place start in the first moto and a third place start in the second. I learned a lot and I had fun."
Despite the incident in the second moto Nagl was also able to take away good memories from Glen Helen as well as more points.
Max Nagl says: "It was actually nice, so much faster than in Europe and big jumps," he said. I was riding well and I was up with the good guys from the USA like Mike (Alessi) and (Ben) Townley. The first heat was okay. I got tired but I finished fourth so that was okay. The second heat I was very tired the first 10 minutes of the race but I started to get better and better."
"I could see the other guys were getting tired and my plan was to pass them with four laps to go. I got past Mike but them I made a mistake and got caught up in the green netting. I lost two minutes and for this I am very disappointed."
The third Red Bull KTM factory rider Rui Goncalves of Portugal also noticed an improvement in his consistency and took away 15 championship points from Glen Helen.
He has mixed fortunes in Saturday’s qualifying and admitted not to feeling confident on the new track where he said "you need to have good lines".
Rui Goncalves says: "I felt better on Sunday even though I still lacked some consistency. One lap I was good then the next not so good," he said. "But the second race was better. I am not yet happy with the results and it’s not where I want to be riding but I had more consistency with the lap times."
Fans and riders alike reveled in the atmosphere of the US circuit and it was obviously a welcome return to the American scene where the last (250 cc) USA Grand Prix was held in Budds Creek 11 years ago. The last time the FIM GP riders rode the Glen Helen circuit in California was back in 1992.
1. Tony Cairoli, Italy, KTM, 25-20-45
2. Mike Alessi, USA, KTM, 22-18-40
3. Clement Desalle, Belgium, Suzuki, 126-22-38
4. Xavier Boog, France, Kawasaki, 15-16-31
5. Steve Ramon, Belgium, Suzuki, 14-15-29
10. Max Nagl, Germany, KTM, 20-0-20
12. Rui Goncalves, Portugal, KTM, 5-10-15
Championship Standings after six of 15 rounds
1. Tony Cairoli, Italy, ITM, 259 points
2. Max Nagl, Germany, KTM 218
3. Clement Desalle, Belgium, Suzuki, 196
4. David Philippaerts, Italy, Yamaha, 184
5. Ken de Dyker, Belgium, 174
18. Rui Goncalves, Portugal 53 (from four of six rounds)