The first Grand Prix, of three on schedule here in Italy, presented us with plenty of surprises as we saw a brand-new race winner of 2020 in MXGP.
It was a day to remember, at the MXGP of Trentino, the 16th round of the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship season, as Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli claimed his 92nd GP victory on home soil. While his championship rival, Team HRC’s Tim Gajser, was forced to settle for second, after taking a comfortable race win in the first heat but it was the struggle to get a good start in the second race which made things tough for the factory Honda rider, who eventually had to settle for fourth. But it was Clement Desalle of Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team who was the man of the day, as he made his first podium appearance since the MXGP of the Netherlands in 2019. The Belgian took an incredible race win in the second race, to confirm his spot on the third step of the box.
In MX2, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts made his return to the top step of the podium, following some tough races during his home rounds in Lommel. Geerts took a fourth in race one, and a race win in the second heat which gave him the advantage for the overall. Joining the factory Yamaha rider on the podium was Thomas Kjer Olsen of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing who proved that he has the speed to win races here in Pietramurata, as he claimed the victory in the opening heat and then a fourth in race two, for second overall on the day. Finally, the last rider to take to the podium was the championship leader, Tom Vialle of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing who finished the races second and third, after a couple of small mistakes, including the crash in the second heat, which cost him the race win.
In the opening MXGP race it was Gajser who claimed the first Fox Holeshot of the day, as he led Cairoli, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Arnaud Tonus and Jeremy Seewer, and Alessandro Lupino of Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha Racing.
Meanwhile, Brian Bogers of Marchetti Racing KTM, Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre and Evgeny Bobryshev of PAR Homes RFX Husqvarna, were among the riders who went down in the first turn.
As Gajser and Cairoli checked out of the race, Seewer was working away at his teammate, Tonus for third. It took six laps to get around him, by which point the top two were too far ahead for him to have a chance to go for higher positions, which meant Seewer had to settle for third.
Febvre was making good progress as he got himself back into points after the first corner crash, though he went down once again which meant he had to re-group again. Eventually he finished the race in 14th.
Gajser though edged out lap after lap, to eventually win the race by 7.891 seconds over Cairoli, with Seewer crossing the line in third, a further 22.214 seconds down.
Things got interesting towards the end of the race, as Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Gautier Paulin put on a late charge to pass Lupino for 5th on lap 14 and then he also got Tonus for 4th with two laps to go.
In the second heat, it was Cairoli who claimed his first Fox Holeshot of the season, though the Italian lost a bit of ground in the second corner, which allowed Seewer to sneak through into the lead.
Seewer didn’t lead for long, as he crashed out, which allowed Desalle to take first place. The Swiss was able to quickly pick himself up to re-join the race in 5th.
Gajser had a tough start to the race and was down in 7th on the opening laps, though made a couple of good passes on Lupino and JM Honda Racing’s Dylan Walsh, to get onto the rear wheel of Seewer and Paulin.
Paulin, Seewer and Gajser then had a nice three-way fight for 3rd and after 9 laps of trying, the Slovenian was eventually able to pass Seewer to move into 4th, though he couldn’t quite get Paulin, who managed to hold on to a solid 3rd place.
But all eyes were on the two leaders, Desalle and Cairoli. The pair held a nice tight gap throughout the race, with the close battle giving us all flashback moments to the days when the Belgian and the Italian fought one another for world titles. Though Desalle was able to ride a calm and controlled race to take his first race win since MXGP of Russia in 2018.
With two GP’s remaining, Gajser continues to lead the MXGP Championship by 73 points, over Cairoli and Seewer, who is a further 18 points down in third.
Antonio Cairoli: “It’s nice to race in Italy, of course it’s not the same without fans because of the atmosphere. It’s nice to have an overall win in Italy. The second race was nice with Clement [Desalle]. It was more than ten years ago when we were fighting for the championship and riding fast and today was nice to have him at his best and I want to congratulate him on his career. Overall I am very happy, we will try to do our best but of course with the championship it is hard, we try to enjoy the next races and see how it goes and then we start preparing for the next one”.
Tim Gajser: “I’m quite happy. First race was almost perfect, you know with the holeshot and then making a little gap. Tony was pushing from the beginning, but I managed to increase the gap every lap and could win the race. The second race I didn’t get the start, I messed up on the jump out of the gate. Then I had a couple of sketchy moments in the first lap with the other guys but then I took it easy from the beginning, it wasn’t easy to pass, I was trying all outside lines but then in the end I managed to fourth for second overall”.
Clement Desalle: “It’s a really nice moment. After the first race I was running 6th, I said to the team I felt good for fourth of fifth and then mathematically I still believed that the podium was possible, and it was still on my mind. I had a good start and was third and could pass Tony [Cairoli]. Then Jeremy Seewer made a mistake and then I was leading, and it was a feeling I haven’t had in a long time and it was so nice, I really appreciated it. I took it lap by lap. In the beginning I was making a mistake in one of the sectors as I didn’t have such a good line and then I could try another line and it was working, so then I was really happy about my riding, I was focused and I thought maybe I can do it and finally I did it so I’m supper happy, really nice and I enjoyed it, it’s such a nice feeling”.
MXGP – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), 35:06.977; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:07.891; 3. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:30.105; 4. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Yamaha), +0:34.388; 5. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +0:40.260; 6. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), +0:44.522; 7. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Yamaha), +0:48.919; 8. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:53.606; 9. Ivo Monticelli (ITA, GASGAS), +1:13.961; 10. Valentin Guillod (SUI, Honda), +1:23.450.
MXGP – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Clement Desalle (BEL, Kawasaki), 35:15.111; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:02.221; 3. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Yamaha), +0:09.072; 4. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:12.282; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:19.978; 6. Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:44.120; 7. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Yamaha), +0:45.684; 8. Ivo Monticelli (ITA, GASGAS), +0:57.306; 9. Brian Bogers (NED, KTM), +0:58.992; 10. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +1:00.107.
MXGP – GP Top 10 Classification: 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 44 points; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 43 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 40 p.; 4. Gautier Paulin (FRA, YAM), 38 p.; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 36 p.; 6. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, YAM), 28 p.; 7. Ivo Monticelli (ITA, GAS), 25 p.; 8. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, YAM), 24 p.; 9. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 22 p.; 10. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 22 p.
MXGP – World Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 626 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 553 p.; 3. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 535 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 487 p.; 5. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 476 p.; 6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, YAM), 441 p.; 7. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 402 p.; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, GAS), 375 p.; 9. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, HON), 307 p.; 10. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 263 p.
MXGP – Manufacturers Classification: 1. KTM, 702 points; 2. Honda, 663 p.; 3. Yamaha, 605 p.; 4. Kawasaki, 574 p.; 5. GASGAS, 453 p.; 6. Husqvarna, 351 p.
Main Photo: Antonio Cairoli
Bottom Photos: 1. Tim Gajser; 2. Clement Desalle
The gate dropped for the first MX2 race of the day, and it was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle who claimed his 18thFox Holeshot of the season, as he led Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts and Ben Watson.
Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing’s Thibault Benistant had a tough start to the race, as he crashed on the opening lap and had to work his way from last back up to 15th.
At the top end of the field though, Geerts was pushing Vialle for the win early in the race, as the factory Yamaha rider went through the opening lap. While Watson lost a bit of ground, which allowed Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen and Michael Sandner of DIGA Procross GASGAS Factory Juniors through. The Brit then was hit another blow as he crashed together with Sandner and eventually finished the race in 10th.
Vialle then caught onto the back of Geerts, before the Yamaha rider stalled the bike, which allowed the Frenchman back into the lead. Geerts meanwhile lost 3 positions to Vialle, Olsen and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jed Beaton.
For the next 9 laps Olsen worked away at the gap between him and Vialle and by lap 12 the Dane was in attack mode as he pushed onto the rear wheel of the KTM rider and a couple of laps later was finally able to find a way around him for the lead.
Vialle then needed to be careful as Beaton and Geerts were right there too, but he was able to defend his second-place spot, as Olsen took the race win and Beaton finished third.
The second race saw Vialle take yet another Fox Holeshot. Benistant and Sandner got a flyer in the second heat, while being followed by Olsen and Geerts.
Watson though didn’t get the best of starts as he was down in 15th on the opening laps, though the Brit was able to make a strong recovery to get up into 6th by the end of the race.
Sandner then came under fire from Olsen and Geerts, with the Austrian dropping down to 5th by the first few opening laps. Though Olsen had some drama of his own, as he tipped over while in 3rd, which saw him drop to 5th, though he was able to get around Yamaha SM Action MC Migliori J1 Racing’s Maxime Renaux pretty quickly to secure 4th, where he would also finish the race.
F&H Kawasaki Racing’s Roan Van de Moosdijk started the second race well and was running in 4th at one point, behind Geerts, but then crashed out which saw him drop a position or two and then later in the race he lost another two spots to Watson and Isak Gifting of DIGA Procross GASGAS Factory Juniors, to eventually finish the race in 8th.
Benistant though rode a strong race, keeping well in second for much of the race with Vialle ahead, though by the second half of the race, Geerts was able to close in and charge for the Frenchman. On lap 12 Geerts was able to find his way past, and moments later Vialle crashed out of the lead, which allowed Geerts to get in front. As a result, Vialle dropped to 3rd.
In the end it was Geerts who took the race win, with Benistant having an awesome ride to finish second and Vialle having to settle for third.
With two GP’s to go, Vialle continues to lead the way with a 73-point advantage to Geerts, while Renaux is third, 115 points down.
Jago Geerts: “I’m really happy with how the day went. In the first heat I made a small mistake, but I still finished fourth and then in the second race I was feeling really good on the track. I think the championship is far away, but I don’t think about it, I just want to finish the season strong and we will see and focus on next year”.
Thomas Kjer Olsen: “I had the speed all day. That second race the track got quite tough and slippery underneath, so I just had a small slip-up but as you said, in time practice I was feeling good straight away and that’s my first pole in a long time so I’m happy about that. The past two years I haven’t felt so great here so it’s good when we have two races here that I can start well on the first round so we can work on it. I think not to get ahead of myself, but I know my speed is good, so the game plan is always the same. We need good starts here to battle with the guys at the front and that’s what I’m going to work on”.
Tom Vialle: “It was actually a pretty good day for the championship. I was really annoyed at myself for the crash in the second race, as I was feeling really good, much better than in the first one. I crashed just after pitlane. Anyway, I only lost one point for the championship so it was a good day and we still have two more to go so I want to go a bit more for the next GP’s. I was not really feeling the pressure today, but it’s true last week I was thinking a little bit about it [the championship], but when I ride I don’t really think of it, I just focus and that’s really important but Wednesday is going to be a good day I think”.
MX2 – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), 33:39.847; 2. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), +0:02.030; 3. Jed Beaton (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:03.309; 4. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:04.458; 5. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, Yamaha), +0:19.387; 6. Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), +0:25.807; 7. Isak Gifting (SWE, GASGAS), +0:34.751; 8. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:40.672; 9. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, Kawasaki), +0:41.501; 10. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:42.148.
MX2 – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), 33:54.442; 2. Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:02.098; 3. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), +0:07.817; 4. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:12.890; 5. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:23.178; 6. Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:24.818; 7. Isak Gifting (SWE, GASGAS), +0:41.620; 8. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, Kawasaki), +0:43.197; 9. Jed Beaton (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:44.327; 10. Kevin Horgmo (NOR, KTM), +0:52.799.
MX2 – GP Top 10 Classification: 1. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 43 points; 2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 43 p.; 3. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 42 p.; 4. Jed Beaton (AUS, HUS), 32 p.; 5. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 29 p.; 6. Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 28 p.; 7. Isak Gifting (SWE, GAS), 28 p.; 8. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 26 p.; 9. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, KAW), 25 p.; 10. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, YAM), 25 p.
MX2 – World Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 693 points; 2. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 620 p.; 3. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 505 p.; 4. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 489 p.; 5. Jed Beaton (AUS, HUS), 488 p.; 6. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 466 p.; 7. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, KAW), 442 p.; 8. Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), 327 p.; 9. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, YAM), 304 p.; 10. Stephen Rubini (FRA, HON), 235 p.
MX2 – Manufacturers Classification: 1. Yamaha, 718 points; 2. KTM, 709 p.; 3. Husqvarna, 579 p.; 4. Kawasaki, 524 p.; 5. Honda, 357 p.; 6. GASGAS, 294 p.
Main photo: Jago Geerts
Botton Photos: 1. Thomas Kjer Olsen; 2. Tom Vialle