Red Bull KTM riders were active with pre-season international motocross appearances today as Jeffrey Herlings and Tom Vialle endured wet and torrid conditions in England to win the MX1 and MX2 classes of the Hawkstone International (with Rene Hofer making the MX2 podium in third place).
A stormy climate battered the historic Hawkstone Park circuit in central England and caused the second moto to be shortened to 20 minutes and the third ‘Superfinal’ to be cancelled. In the swampy sand Jeffrey Herlings took his works KTM 450 SX-F to a 3-1 scorecard.
The Dutchman crashed at the start of the opening race – won by SS24 KTM MXGP’s Shaun Simpson – but recovered all the way through the field to claim third spot. He holeshotted and won the shorter second sprint to walk the top step of the podium in his first outing of 2020.
Jeffrey Herlings: “I felt good today. It was a shame to have that start crash in the first moto but I still came back from last to third and almost got Glenn [Coldenhoff]. Then I holeshot and led the whole way in the second. It was about survival and there was only really one line to use, so passing the lappers was tricky. Anyway, we got it done.
“It was useful practice because Matterley could be the same!”
In the MX2 class Tom Vialle registered results of 4-1 to celebrate as the overall winner on his KTM 250 SX-F. The Frenchman stood beside team-mate Rene Hofer who rode to positions of 2-6 to earn the third step of the box. Liam Everts was victorious in the EMX contest.
Tom Vialle: “It was a really hard day with the weather and the rain did the track no favours.
“The first race was difficult because I was fourth and had a lot of water in my goggles. I had to stop and change and restarted 10th but came back to sixth: I was really happy with the bike and I was feeling good so the result was okay.
“I had the holeshot in the second race, which was only 20 minutes, but could make a lead. I’m really happy. We’ve done two sand races, and now we go to hard-pack with LaCapelle next weekend. It will be a good race to do before Matterley and to get some familiar sensations on the bike.”
Rene Hofer: “Quite good today. I’m quite happy with my mud riding. I almost had the holeshot in the first race but still managed to take the lead in the second corner which was important to save my goggles. I led all the way with two laps to go and felt happy with second in those conditions.
“I didn’t start so well in the second moto – top six I think – and had a small crash so just rode as well as I could to the finish. Race by race I am getting more comfortable and confident.”
What’s next for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing?
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing now turn their attention and focus firmly towards the British Grand Prix and the first round of 20 in the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship at Matterley Basin in the UK on March 1. Tom Vialle and Rene Hofer will be present at the LaCapelle Marival International in France next weekend.