Ottobiano in Italy played host to the 11th round of the 2017 MXGP World Championships, a round which we finally got to see a one-on-one duel between the old master Antonio Cairoli, and the young challenger Jeffrey Herlings. In two epic motos, the pair sped away from the rest of the field, battling hard for the majority of both the races, before eventually Cairoli was able to make the final push and leave his young KTM teammate. In the second moto Herlings even passed his rival, and looked like he was pulling away, only for Cairoli to reel him and blitz past him in the space of a couple of laps, much to the delight of the partisan Italian crowd. For Herlings, the effort was all too much, as he collapsed soon after the finish line, missing the podium and media duties as he was treated by medical personnel. The other rider on the podium was Husqvarna rider Max Anstie who scored his first top three finish with 5-3 moto scores. In scorching conditions, it was a really impressive display from the Englishman who seems to be getting better and better in his rookie MXGP season.

In the MX2 class, Jeremy Seewer took the overall with 1-2 finishes, closing the gap at the top of the championship to 38 points, as rival Pauls Jonass went 6-1 for second. Both riders were able to win their respective races with ease, but it was Jonass who struggled to come through the pack after an uncharacteristic bad start in the first race. American Thomas Covington joined the pair on the podium after two impressive motos on a sand track that is usually not American riders’ strong point. His 4-3 scores, combined with his intense battle for second place with Seewer in the second moto, were testament to how much work he has improved after basing himself near Lommel in Belgium.

The riders don’t have too much time to recover now, as the championship continues next weekend in Portugal, at the Agueda track which has apparently been changed up since we last visited there.

Romain Febvre at 2017 MXGP Italy Round 11
We finally seem to seeing the best of Romain Febvre now, and if he can get better starts, he might be able to improve upon this weekend's 4th overall.Photo by David Bulmer
Thomas Covington at 2017 MXGP Italy Round 11
Third step of the podium went to Thomas Covington, who rode extremely well on the sandy Ottobiano track to get 4-3 moto scores.Photo by David Bulmer
Pauls Jonass at 2017 MXGP Italy Round 11
After an uncharacteristic bad start in moto 1, Pauls Jonass found himself having to work his way through the pack to get a 6th place. A holeshot and checkout in race 2 meant he still leads the championship by 38 points.Photo by David Bulmer
Arminas Jasikonis at 2017 MXGP Italy Round 11
Crashes and heat meant Arminas Jasikonis DNF'd race one, but a great jump out the gate meant the Suzuki rider led the first couple of laps of race 2, before dropping down to finish 5th.Photo by David Bulmer
Benoit Paturel at 2017 MXGP Italy Round 11
In such tough conditions, Benoit Paturel made things even harder for himself, having to overcome bad early laps to come through the field and get 4th overall.Photo by David Bulmer
Anthony Rodriquez at 2017 MXGP Italy Round 11
After a late call-up, it was always going to be tough for HRC fill-in rider Anthony Rodriguez, but he acquitted himself well and went 16-16 for 15th overall.Photo by David Bulmer
Jeremy Seewer at 2017 MXGP Italy Round 11
Jeremy Seewer took his third overall of the season, going 1-2 and closing the lead at the top of the MX2 championship by 7 points.Photo by David Bulmer
Jeffery Herlings at 2017 MXGP Italy Round 11
Jeffrey Herlings gave it everything he had to beat his KTM teammate, but he just came up short in what were extremely testing conditions at the Ottobiano track in Italy.Photo by David Bulmer
Max Anstie at 2017 MXGP Italy Round 11
Max Anstie got his first ever podium overall, going 5-3 and continuing his impressive recent form.Photo by David Bulmer
Antonio Cairoli at 2017 MXGP Italy Round 11
In one of the most impressive displays of his career, Antonio Cairoli went head to head with Jeffrey Herlings and came out on top in both motos, going 1-1 and extending his lead in the championship to 77 points.Photo by David Bulmer
Gautier Paulin at 2017 MXGP Italy Round 11
While he would have liked to have scored more points, Gautier Paulin moved into second place in the MXGP championship, just ahead of Clement Desalle.Photo by David Bulmer
Cairoli Herlings at 2017 MXGP Italy Round 11
Hopefully this will be the first of many battles between Cairoli and Herlings.Photo by David Bulmer

MXGP Overall:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 50 points
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 44 p.
3. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 36 p.
4. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 33 p.
5. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 32 p.
6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 31 p.
7. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 27 p.
8. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, YAM), 25 p.
9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 23 p.
10. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 21 p.

MXGP Points Standings:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 431 points
2. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 364 p.
3. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 361 p.
4. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 335 p.
5. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 282 p.

MX2 Overall:
1. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 47 points
2. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 40 p.
3. Thomas Covington (USA, HUS), 38 p.
4. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 36 p.
5. Bas Vaessen (NED, SUZ), 32 p.
6. Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), 31 p.
7. Alvin Östlund (SWE, YAM), 29 p.
8. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), 28 p.
9. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 26 p.
10. Brent Van doninck (BEL, YAM), 21 p.

MX2 Points Standings:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 454 points
2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 416 p.
3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 343 p.
4. Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), 339 p.
5. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 330 p.