This season of the FIM Motocross World Championship continues to throw surprises as Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli and Rene Hofer celebrated overall wins at the MXGP of Pietramurata.
Once again, the outcome of the MXGP and MX2 races were near enough impossible to predict as the second Grand Prix of the three in Pietramurata delivered more shockers which have made the title chase even more interesting heading into the final three races of the 2021 season.
In MXGP race one, it was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado who grabbed the Fox Holeshot from Team HRC’s Tim Gajser. Gajser was quick to get into the lead as Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre put on a charge to get around the Spaniard too.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings was unlucky out of the gate as he went down in the first turn. As the Bullet picked himself up to get going, he soon realised that there was a problem with his KTM machine, which meant he could not carry on with the race. This was a huge moment for the championship.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Seewer had a good start too as he was sitting in fourth behind Febvre but had Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli breathing down his neck.
Gajser continued to lead as Febvre brought the gap down to 1.876 seconds after setting the best lap of the race. The Frenchman closed right in on the Slovenian as Gajser’s lead was brought down to less than a second, but Gajser was able to respond, going green in sector one and purple in sectors three and four, which then gave him the fastest lap of the race.
Honda SR Motoblouz rider Benoit Paturel started the race well inside the top 10 but was forced to DNF after what looked like a bike problem.
Meanwhile, Cairoli was able to get close enough to Seewer to get around the Swiss and move into fourth, with his focus then shifting onto his younger teammate Prado. It took a few laps for Cairoli to line-up the perfect pass on the Spaniard but eventually on lap eight he was able to take third.
Back with the leaders though, it looked like Gajser had picked up the pace after being spooked by Febvre, but this quickly changed as Febvre responded with another fast lap. The Kawasaki rider got onto the rear wheel the Slovenian once again but made a mistake and lost a load of time as a result. But the time Gajser crossed the line he was 5.929 seconds ahead.
Seewer then managed to close the gap to Prado as the pair began their combat for fourth. This battle went on for the majority of the race, with Seewer launching several failed attempts on the Spaniard. But with three laps from the end, the Swiss was finally able to get the job done and move into fourth place.
While Seewer had a good race in fourth, his teammates Ben Watson and Glenn Coldenhoff were also riding well in sixth and seventh. That’s where the pair eventually finished the heat.
In the last final few laps of the race, we saw an intense fight between Gajser and Febvre, with the Frenchman taking a load of time out of the Slovenian as he once again caught onto his rear wheel. The pair had a couple of close moments, as Febvre moved briefly into the lead and was passed back by Gajser.
But with just a couple of laps to go, the Frenchman was able to make a pass stick as he got by Gajser and secured the race win. Cairoli was third ahead of Seewer and Prado.
In race two, it was Cairoli with a huge Fox Holeshot as he led Seewer, Prado, Paturel and Coldenhoff. Meanwhile Herlings, Gajser and Febvre were buried in the mid-pack. Herlings and Gajser were quick to move up the order though, as they managed to get by Paturel.
Cairoli continued to control the race with Seewer and Coldenhoff behind him. Prado then came under pressure from Herlings who was keen on getting by the Spaniard, but Prado was not backing down without a fight. Eventually the Bullet was able to make a pass stick as Gajser looked to do the same.
By lap three Gajser was ahead of Prado and started to close back in on Herlings, as Febvre got by Paturel for seventh place.
Seewer then set the fastest lap of the race as he maintained a manageable 1.680 second gap to Cairoli. But further behind them saw Herlings made a mistake and crash, which allowed Gajser to go through. Febvre was able to make the most of this too, as he caught onto the rear wheel of Herlings.
The battle between Herlings and Febvre went on for 15 laps, with some close moments but Herlings was not backing down and Febvre could not find an opportunity as they finished the race fourth and fifth which still gave Herlings the advantage for the championship.
Back in the lead though, Cairoli was impressive. Lap after lap, the 9-time world champion bettered his time and set several fastest laps of the race as he pulled away from Seewer and Coldenhoff.
In the final few laps, Coldenhoff came under pressure from Gajser who was eager to get around the Dutchman for vital championship points. After a few tries he was able to get it done. But Herlings and Febvre followed in his footsteps, as Coldenhoff dropped down to sixth.
Gajser then had a chance to go after Seewer but ran out of time as Cairoli won the race and the Swiss held onto second.
Cairoli’s 3-1 result gave him the overall, with Gajser second on the box with Febvre third. While Herlings failed to make it inside the top three, he does carry the red plate into the next round this Sunday as just one point separates him and Febvre, while Gajser is just another two points behind the Frenchman.
Antonio Cairoli: “It was a struggle since the crash in Sardegna. I was very scared when it happened and for sure it got the best of me during the next GPs. Also, my ribs were really causing me pain until Spain. In Spain I was already feeling better. Of course, coming here I was really looking to bounce back after that bad stretch. Then I really got sick on Saturday night. Nevertheless, I tried to have a good start on Sunday, but I was in the middle pack and I got taken out on the first lap. Damage was done. Then in the second race, I tried to avoid Van Horebeek by changing lines, but somebody took my front off. I had some problems again with my clutch lever. It looked like something was pulling me to the ground that day and I was not happy about it of course. Today I felt a little bit better since this morning. However, I have had really good races on that track in the past and I really wanted to be on the podium. I did everything I could, especially in the first race. I had a good start. I was third. Then I made a mistake and dropped to sixth, then back to third. I was very happy with my riding. In the second race, I got the holeshot then I mostly controlled the race. I was getting a little tired, but with my experience I could save some energy at some parts of the track, and I could manage to keep Jeremy at the back. So, I was very happy about that. I hope from now on I could feel better and be on the podium every weekend because that’s what I try to do every time I ride. Let’s hope for the same results”.
Tim Gajser: “It was a good and consistent day. I had a good start in the first race. I was leading the race quite comfortably then I got a little arm pump. Romain passed me in the last lap, and I finished second. I was a little disappointed about that. I didn’t have the best start in the second race. Jeffrey made a mistake then I was also able to pass Glenn. I finished third. Consistent points. It’s getting really tight in the championship, but we still have three GPs, so I will give my best and try to not to put too much pressure on myself and just try to enjoy as much as possible”.
Romain Febvre: “It’s just as if the championship started again. The top three are three points apart, so it’s pretty cool. I will try my best to be first at the end. I was feeling really good today, better than last Sunday. I made some mistakes in the middle of the first race, but then I caught up with Tim. We had a nice battle during the last five laps. It was very challenging, so it was cool to win it. Second race, I didn’t have a good start which is really crucial to have over here. I made my way through the pack and came back behind Jeffrey. I passed him once then he passed me again. At the end, I could not do much more than that given the circumstances. I am a little bit disappointed because it’s been a while since I have had two really solid race. I will try to do so on Sunday.
Jeffrey Herlings: “It’s pretty devastating. The front wheel washed out and I wanted to pick up my bike right away. Actually, I didn’t even notice that someone rode over my bike. A lot of things broke like my handlebar and so forth. It was a done deal. It hurts, especially when you worked so hard to get those points and be where you are. Then in a blink of an eye it’s done. Then you just watch from the sidelines. That being said, in that second race, I just couldn’t get in my rhythm. I mean it’s been a bad day, what else to say. We went from +24 to +1. But yeah, it’s going to be an interesting next three races, so we will see how things turn out”.
Main Photo: Antonio Cairoli
Bottom Photos: 1. Tim Gajser 2. Romain Febvre
MXGP – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), 34:48.910; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:01.008; 3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:25.488; 4. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:34.807; 5. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:44.780; 6. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:45.729; 7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Yamaha), +0:54.647; 8. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:56.661; 9. Henry Jacobi (GER, Honda), +0:59.380; 10. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Beta), +1:00.160;
MXGP – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 35:08.916; 2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:02.601; 3. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:04.915; 4. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:07.054; 5. Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:10.463; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Yamaha), +0:15.671; 7. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:46.087; 8. Brian Bogers (NED, GASGAS), +0:51.388; 9. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:52.602; 10. Pauls Jonass (LAT, GASGAS), +1:04.312;
MXGP – GP Top 10 Classification: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 45 points; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 42 p.; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 41 p.; 4. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 40 p.; 5. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, YAM), 29 p.; 6. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 27 p.; 7. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 27 p.; 8. Brian Bogers (NED, GAS), 23 p.; 9. Henry Jacobi (GER, HON), 22 p.; 10. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, BET), 20 p.;
MXGP – World Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 573 points; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 572 p.; 3. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 570 p.; 4. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 473 p.; 5. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 464 p.; 6. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 451 p.; 7. Pauls Jonass (LAT, GAS), 391 p.; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, YAM), 369 p.; 9. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, KTM), 266 p.; 10. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 266 p.;
MXGP – Manufacturers Classification: 1. KTM, 707 points; 2. Honda, 579 p.; 3. Kawasaki, 577 p.; 4. Yamaha, 501 p.; 5. GASGAS, 437 p.; 6. Husqvarna, 293 p.; 7. Beta, 185 p.;
In MX2, race one saw Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle grab the first Fox Holeshot ahead of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts, Diga Procross GasGas Factory Racing’s Simon Längenfelder and Ruben Fernandez of Honda 114 Motorsports.
Team Honda Racing Assomotor’s Stephen Rubini came together with Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Thibault Benistant in the first corner, with the Frenchman being stretcher off the track. He did not line-up for race two.
Championship leader Maxime Renaux of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing and local hero Mattia Guadagnini from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing didn’t get off to the best start, as the pair crossed the line in 18th and 19th.
Fernandez was quick to get by Längenfelder for third, while Renaux made some very good passes in the opening lap to get himself into 12th.
There was a moment for Guadagnini who went down together with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jed Beaton, with a couple of more riders also getting caught up in the chaos, including SM Action Racing Team YUSA Battery’s Andrea Adamo who up until then was having a solid ride.
But it was Vialle who led Geerts by 1.653 seconds, as Geerts was looking to whittle down that lead and go for the win. The Belgian went on to set the fastest lap of the race which allowed him to cut the gap down ever so slightly, but Vialle was able to keep it clam in first place.
Further down the field, Renaux was fighting back as he got by Längenfelder for ninth and focused his attention onto Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Kay de Wolf, who was just ahead. The two made contact as Renaux searched for a way through, which resulted in Renaux going down.
Hitachi KTM Fuelled by Milwaukee rider Conrad Mewse was having a great opening race as he was closing in on Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Rene Hofer for fourth. Unfortunately, his race was cut short after a bike issue forced him out of the heat.
De Wolf then crashed and once he got going had Renaux, Gianluca Facchetti and Längenfelder forming a train behind him. Renaux was able to get by to claim eighth place as Facchetti dropped a couple of spots to 13th and was coming under fire from Guadagnini.
Meanwhile Geerts kept things close to Vialle throughout the opening heat, maintaining a steady gap under two second. On the last lap just 1.341 seconds separated the pair and unfortunately, Geerts was unable to find a way through as Vialle went on to win the race. Fernandez finished third ahead of Diga Procross GasGas Factory Racing’s Isak Gifting.
In race two, the Fox Holeshot went to Vialle as Renaux was just behind him. Hofer and Guadagnini followed the pair. Looking to waste no time, Renaux quickly made a pass on his fellow countryman to take over the lead on the opening lap. Not long after though the pair had a moment which saw Vialle down and Renaux off the track and tangled up in a fence.
Hofer inherited the lead with Guadagnini second and Längenfelder third. Vialle able to get going in fourth while Renaux was down in 10th.
Having a tough start to the race was Geerts who was in around 17th place in the first few laps, as well as Mewse who had been doing and making his way up from last.
Vialle was then looking to fight back but made a mistake and went down hard and that was the end of his race as he limped back to pitlane.
Hofer led Guadagnini with a 3.211 second advantage as he set the fastest lap of the race. Beaton then went to better that, while riding around in fourth ahead of Adamo who was riding solid in fifth. The Italian then came under fire from both Renaux and Fernandez as he dropped a few spots.
After passing Adamo, Renaux then caught onto Beaton and Längenfelder, who were fighting for third. Renaux had the perfect opportunity to get by both, but could not find the perfect moment as Beaton was able to make a pass to take the spot.
Meanwhile at the top end of the field, Hofer was riding a steady race as he was 7.649 seconds ahead of Guadagnini with 15 minutes plus 2 laps on the clock.
Renaux then struggled to get by Längenfelder, as Fernandez joined the party, putting a charge on the Yamaha rider. The pair were then side-by-side as the Frenchman was able to keep the Spaniard behind him and focus his attention onto Längenfelder ahead. Eventually he was able to get around the German for fourth. Geerts was also making passes as he got by Adamo for seventh.
In the end, Hofer went on to win the race ahead of Guadagnini and Beaton. The win in race tow put Hofer on the top step of the podium as he became the first Austrian Grand Prix winner since 1987 (or 2013 in MX3). Second overall was Geerts while Fernandez made it two podiums on the bounce with third overall.
Despite failing to make it on the box, Renaux continues to lead the MX2 World Championship standings by 87 points with three Grand Prix’s remaining. His closest rival is Geerts with Vialle still third, despite a DNF in race two.
Rene Hofer: “For sure it’s a day I will never forget. It was just so nice. When I crossed the finish line, I was celebrating with Mattia. It was a really nice feeling, especially in front of the fans. I really hope the Austrian fans at home enjoyed it. As you said, it’s been a while since an Austrian has won a Grand Prix. I am really speechless right now. Actually, I didn’t have the best flow in the first race, but the second one was much better. Obviously, I was a bit lucky that I wasn’t involved in the crash with Maxime and Tom, but anyway, I felt great out there. I was a bit nervous with 10 minutes to go. I made a lot of mistakes but was still able to bring it home somehow. It’s a really good feeling for sure.”
“It was quite a big injury I had last year so the winter was really tough for me. But we really put in the work. It got better after the summer break. We used the summer break to train a lot and put in the work. Since Turkey, I feel more confident after each GP and for sure my confidence will grow with a day like today. I’m just going to try to do my best for the last three GPs. But for sure this season is already nice with my first GP win”.
Jago Geerts: “I am pretty happy with second overall today. First race, I had a good start and was second behind Tom during the whole race. I couldn’t make the pass, but I was feeling good on the track. My riding was good. Second race, I messed up my start. I think I was outside of top 20 after the first lap. But I felt good, the riding was good. I came back to 6th place, and it was enough for second overall. I am pretty happy with that”.
Ruben Fernandez: “It’s been a good day. Started off with pole position in practice. This was my second one this year and ever. First race went well. I had a good start for once and was able to finish in third position. But then in the second one, I struggled at the start again and I think I was 19th once I crossed the finish line in the first lap. I had to work a lot to gain as many points as possible. At the end, I could make the podium happen. It’s a shame because I felt like I could have been fighting for more, but I messed up the second one especially with the start. I am still happy with the overall result. It’s now two podiums in a row. The last one before Trentino was in the second round, so it’s been a long way to get here. It’s nice to be able to keep the ball rolling and hopefully I could fight for more in the next one”.
Maxime Renaux: “Actually the day started like last Sunday. I had a bad start and almost crashed in the first corner. Then I came back pretty good. I think I was around 7th after 10 minutes, so it was a good comeback. I felt like I could come back even more but got took out by another rider. I had a big crash and had to fight again and come back. Eventually I came back to 7th place, I think. Then in the second race, I was able to make it happen at the start, so I was really happy. Second on the start was really good. I could then push on the first lap to get the lead. That was just the ideal race, just like how things were planned. Then an incident happened. I have nothing to say about that. Like I said, it was a racing incident. I went out and into the fence. I tried to take it out as quickly as possible. It was just a mess. Then a cable came into my rear wheel so I was really worried during the whole race because I was so afraid that the cable would go into my wheel. I couldn’t control it, but thankfully I was able to make it until the end of that race. I finished fourth. It was much better. A good result too for the championship standings because my two rivals where behind me. Overall, it was not so bad, but I was a little bit disappointed for not being able to get a race win. But, it is what it is”.
Main Photo: Rene Hofer
Bottom Photos: 1. Jago Geerts 2. Ruben Fernandez
MX2 – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 34:41.767; 2. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:03.130; 3. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, Honda), +0:24.303; 4. Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), +0:34.007; 5. Isak Gifting (SWE, GASGAS), +0:47.625; 6. Wilson Todd (AUS, Kawasaki), +0:52.367; 7. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:56.819; 8. Kay de Wolf (NED, Husqvarna), +1:09.296; 9. Simon Längenfelder (GER, GASGAS), +1:13.583; 10. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, Kawasaki), +1:14.997;
MX2 – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), 34:01.864; 2. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), +0:03.794; 3. Jed Beaton (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:06.959; 4. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:15.281; 5. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, Honda), +0:19.676; 6. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:26.530; 7. Simon Längenfelder (GER, GASGAS), +0:27.819; 8. Andrea Adamo (ITA, GASGAS), +0:37.666; 9. Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:42.146; 10. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, Kawasaki), +0:44.194;
MX2 – GP Top 10 Classification: 1. Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), 43 points; 2. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 37 p.; 3. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, HON), 36 p.; 4. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), 32 p.; 5. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 32 p.; 6. Simon Längenfelder (GER, GAS), 26 p.; 7. Jed Beaton (AUS, HUS), 25 p.; 8. Wilson Todd (AUS, KAW), 25 p.; 9. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 25 p.; 10. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, KAW), 22 p.;
MX2 – World Championship Classification: 1. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 595 points; 2. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 508 p.; 3. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 492 p.; 4. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), 475 p.; 5. Jed Beaton (AUS, HUS), 454 p.; 6. Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), 436 p.; 7. Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 384 p.; 8. Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 384 p.; 9. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, HON), 364 p.; 10. Simon Längenfelder (GER, GAS), 271 p.;
MX2 – Manufacturers Classification: 1. KTM, 676 points; 2. Yamaha, 662 p.; 3. Husqvarna, 510 p.; 4. Kawasaki, 423 p.; 5. Honda, 405 p.; 6. GASGAS, 365 p.; 7. TM, 14 p.;