San Bernardino, CA – Red Bull/KTM factory rider, Tony Cairoli of Italy and his American counterpart Jagermeister/KTM factory rider, Mike Alessi, both put together phenomenal rides this weekend in the MX1class on the Glen Helen circuit to crack 1-2 on the podium and introduce the new KTM 350 SX-F to the American fans in a style that underlined KTM’s “Ready to Race” philosophy.
Cairoli the championship leader and reigning MX1 World Champion scored a 1-3 result to top the podium with Alessi beside him in 2nd place. Red Bull/KTM Factory Racing’s Max Nagl was 3rd in the first moto but went off the track while battling for 3rd in moto two and became entangled in the trackside banner. The banner became so intertwined in his wheel that he had to DNF the race.
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 fantastic display of KTM power and riding skills as Cairoli and Alessi battled it out on the soft, loamy track and hot summer temperatures. Teammate Nagl on the KTM 450 SX-F was close behind in 3rd. 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-time World Champion Stefan Everts.
Cairoli’s 3rd place finish in moto two gave him a comfortable victory and piled on the championship points. He now leads the standings by 41 points ahead of his teammate Nagl. “It was nice to win here because it’s been a long time since there was a USGP,” stated Cairoli. “I like to battle with Mike Alessi, one of the best riders over here in the USA. Together we help push each other and the bike. Everything was perfect today including both of our starts and my holeshot in moto one on the 350 SX-F.”
Alessi shared Cairoli’s sentiments saying: “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. 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. “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 4th. 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 then 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 had mixed fortunes in Saturday’s qualifying and admitted to not feeling confident on the new track where he said “you need to have good lines”. “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)