There are just three Grands Prix left on the 2021 FIM Motocross World Championship calendar and the title fight in MXGP could not be any more intense. Just three points separate the top three contenders, as Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings leads Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre by just a single point, with Team HRC’s Tim Gajser a further two points behind.
This weekend’s races will be crucial as tension begins to build. With the championship so tight, there is absolutely no room for error, so it will be interesting to see who can stay strong and who will crack under pressure.
Alongside the MXGP and MX2 action, we will also witness round eight of the EMX125 Presented by FMF Racing and EMX250 championships. MRT Racing Team KTM’s Valerio Lata will no doubt be looking to add another victory in the 125cc category, while in EMX250 Fantic Factory Racing Maddii rider Nicholas Lapucci will look to bounce back with two solid results after a difficult first outing here in Pietramurata.
The MXGP title chase is heating up and the races on Sunday will be more important than ever as we edge closer to crowning this year’s champion. Herlings suffered a huge blow yesterday after a DNF in race one. This cost him the 24-point advantage that he previously held over Febvre and briefly handed the Frenchman the championship lead after he took victory in the opening race.
For Febvre, his biggest downfall is not putting together two solid races, which was the case yesterday. While he looked strong in race one as he managed to get by Gajser for the win in the closing stages of the race, his second race was much different. He had to work hard to come through the field after another poor start and then was stuck behind Herlings, unable to get around the Bullet who was keen on keeping his closest rival behind him.
Herlings will need to bounce back at the MXGP of Garda if he wants to maintain the control of the championship lead, while Febvre and Gajser will need to deliver top results to have their chance at stealing the red plate.
There’ll be a lot of pressure on the top three in the final stages of this series and the one who manages to keep clam will be the one to take crown.
One rider who has no pressure on him is Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli who made his return to the podium in the most epic fashion. The Italian had struggled in the last few races since his crash in Riola Sardo, but yesterday’s performance just went to show that Cairoli is not finished yet. He grabbed a huge Fox Holeshot in heat two and lead every lap from then on to win the race and claim his 94th career Grand Prix victory in front of his home fans. Now the focus of Cairoli is to finish on the podium at the next three GPs as he nears the end of his professional racing career in MXGP.
While a veteran like Cairoli had a great race yesterday, the MXGP rookies Thomas Kjer Olsen of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Watson had a solid day as the pair finished 6th and 7th overall. Both have finished on the podium during their MX2 days at the track in Pietramurata and it looks like this confidence has carried through into MXGP. Let’s see if they can improve upon their results for the final race here in Trentino.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Seewer once again came close to a podium finish, as he ended his day fourth overall yesterday, just one point behind Febvre. Seewer had two solid races to finish fourth and second, but it was not enough to get him on the box this time around. The Swiss has only been on the podium once this season, but let’s see if he can make it twce this weekend.
MXGP of Pietramurata – MXGP Top 3:
1. Antonio Cairoli
2. Tim Gajser
3. Romain Febvre
Main Photo: MXGP Start
Bottom Photos: 1. Antonio Cairoli 2. Romain Febvre
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.;
In MX2, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Rene Hofer made history to become the first Austrian to win a Grand Prix since 1987 when the former World Champion Heinz Kinigadner was victorious, not including the round victory of Matthias Walkner in MX3 back in 2013.
It was a big day for Hofer, KTM and Austrian fans, as he was in the perfect spot to take over the lead in race two and go on to win his first race in MX2, which was topped off by a trip to the top step of the podium. No doubt the Austrian will look to repeat his success and end the weekend with another podium.
While Hofer celebrated a strong day, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Maxime Renaux had another tough day. The championship leader ran into several issues which included a poor start, contact with another rider and being taken out by another pilot. But in true champion spirit, the Frenchman fought back in both races to finish 5th overall and maintain a 87 point lead over his teammate Jago Geerts.
Geerts had two different races yesterday. While he once again challenged Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle for the win in the opening race, race two was a different affair. A bad start made this hard as he had to fight back from the back to sixth place which was enough to get him on the podium for the second time in a row. Now with two visits on the box, there’s no doubt that the Belgian will be pushing to finish the trip here in Pietramurata with an overall victory.
Third on the podium was Honda 114 Motorsports’ Ruben Fernandez who once again learned that consistency can really pay off. The Spaniard had some nice battles in both races as he finished third and fifth to end his day third on the box. And just like Geerts, will no doubt aim to be on the podium once again this weekend.
One podium regular that was missing from the podium yesterday, was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle who started his day with a victory in race one and ended with the Frenchman limping back to the paddock in race two. Vialle battled with Renaux in the opening stages of the second heat but then ended up crashing and looked in discomfort as he made his way back to the paddock. The DNF would’ve been costly for him as he was looking to remain close to the silver medal. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see if he can come back this weekend and take back some points.
Home hero Mattia Guadagnini of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing had a mixture of a day yesterday which ended with a very positive result of second in race two and a close call from the podium. In the first GP in Pietramurata, the Italian struggled but hopefully the second place yesterday will be the boost he needs to fight for top positions with the support of his home fans.
Diga Procross GasGas Factory Racing’s Simon Längenfelder and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jed Beaton were front and centre to some nice battles during the last GP’s. Yesterday the pair finished 6th and 7th and it will be interesting what they can deliver this weekend and maybe make a visit to the podium.
MXGP of Pietramurata – MX2 Top 3:
1. Rene Hofer
2. Jago Geerts
3. Ruben Fernandez
Main Photo: MX2 Start
Bottom Photos: 1. Rene Hofer 2. Jago Geerts
MX2 – World Championship Top 10 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 Laengenfelder (GER, GAS), 271 p.;
SATURDAY: 08:15 EMX125 Group 1 Free Practice, 08:40 EMX125 Group 2 Free Practice, 09:05 EMX250 Group 1 Free Practice, 09:30 EMX250 Group 2 Free Practice, 10:00 EMX125 Group 1 Qualifying Practice, 10:35 EMX125 Group 2 Qualifying Practice, 11:10 EMX250 Group 1 Qualifying Practice, 11:45 EMX250 Group 2 Qualifying Practice, 13:10 EMX125 Race 1, 14:00 EMX250 Race 1, 15:10 EMX125 Race 2, 16:05 EMX250 Race 2.
SUNDAY: 08:15 MX2 Free/Time Practice, 09:15 MXGP Free/Time Practice, 11:15 MX2 Race 1, 12:15 MXGP Race 1, 14:10 MX2 Race 2, 15:10 MXGP Race 2.