The FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship made its much-anticipated return in Mantova for round three of the championship.
The last time we saw the WMX action was back in March in Valkenswaard and now after five months the ladies made their comeback and they did so with a bang, as Larissa Papenmeier of Yamaha Racing 423 took her second overall victory of the season and also clinched the red plate as she became the new championship leader.
The day began with the timed practice session which was topped by Nancy Van De Ven of Ghidinelli Racing s.s.d.s.r.l, with Courtney Duncan of DRT Kawasaki second and Larissa Papenmeier third.
As the gate dropped for the first WMX race, it was Sara Andersen, Duncan and Kiara Fontanesi who were the three riders out in front. Meanwhile the top qualifier, Van De Ven was all the way at the back of the field alongside Lynn Valk of JK Racing Yamaha in 21st and 22nd.
Back at the front and Duncan wasted no time to move into the lead, as Anderson came under fire from Fontanesi. The two then battled for a couple of laps, before Fontanesi quickly moved past her before washing the front which also caught Andersen out. This allowed Britt Jans-Beken from Lakerveld Racing to move into second and Line Dam to inherit third.
Meanwhile Duncan was pulling away as she already had a nice 16.838 second gap over Jans-Beken, while Papenmeier was able to pass Dam for third. The German then moved quickly and was already up into second on lap three.
Andersen and Fontanesi were making a good comeback after their crashes and were up in 5th and 6th, all while Valk passed Shana Van Der Vlist and Jamie Astudillo for 10th.
Though once again we saw Andersen and Fontanesi go at it with just 5 minutes plus 2 laps to go, with the Italian eventually finding a way past the Dane. Keen to put on a good performance at her home round, Fontanesi then went after Jans-Beken.
Duncan then continued to lead the way with a comfortable 24.667 second lead over Papenmeier. With 4 laps to go, Fontanesi put on a charge as she went purple in sector one as she cut down the 3 second gap between herself and Dam. It didn’t take long for her to catch on to the back of the Yamaha rider as she got the drive on the Monster Energy table-top and clinched 3rd.
In the end it was Duncan who took an impressive win, followed by Papenmeier and Fontanesi.
In the second race, Van De Ven was keen for redemption and managed to do just that as she took the holeshot and was the early race leader, followed by Andersen and Duncan. Meanwhile Fontanesi didn’t get the best start after a mistake in the first corner.
Duncan though was not one to waste time once again, as she slipped past Andersen for 2nd as she put on the charge for Van De Ven. And Fontanesi was wasting no time either as she was already up in the top 10 within a couple of laps.
All eyes drew to the front as Duncan had a huge crash on one of the tabletops with her bike taking most of the impact. With snapped handlebars, the defending world champion was unable to fight back and was forced out of the race, which ultimately cost her the championship lead too.
As the race progressed Van De Ven continued to lead Andersen and Papenmeier, as Papenmeier put on the charge for the Dane, as she knew a 2nd place would be enough for the overall. Eventually she was able to do just that on lap 5 of the race.
Fontanesi was then locked in a battle with Van Der Vlist and Dam for 5th as the three of them were on the rear wheel of each other, though Fontanesi was the one to come out on top as she was both of the riders to move up 2 positions.
3 laps to go and Van De Ven was still the rider to beat as she maintained a nice 13.962 second margin to Papenmeier who was still 2nd and Andersend 3rd. And by the time the chequered flag dropped there was no change in the leaders as Van De Ven took the race win here in Mantova.
In terms of the overall, it was Larissa Papenmeier who took the overall victory, with Nancy Van De Ven 2nd and Kiara Fontanesi finishing 3rd on the podium. As it stands, Papenmeier now leads the championship by 10 points, with Van De Ven 2nd and Fontanesi 3rd. Meanwhile following an unlucky crash in race 2, Duncan drops to 4th in the standings just a point behind Fontanesi.
Larissa Papenmeier: “For sure it’s a nice feeling. When I’m riding, I’m not really thinking about the championship and what could happen. I knew that second place was enough to win but I actually didn’t think about the red plate, so I tried to keep it smooth, tried to make no mistakes and it was really good. I had a good feeling and I liked the track, it’s a bit bumpy so I’m looking forward to Tuesday”.
Nancy Van De Ven: “I couldn’t really find my own rhythm in the first race because I crashed and I had to come back from last and it’s pretty hard to come through the pack because everybody is fighting for their place as well so you have to pass everybody but fifth was not too bad. I knew I needed to take a better start in the second race and I took the holeshot, I could make my own race and I didn’t have to watch behind, I could do what I could and I took the race win”
Kiara Fontanesi: “I’m happy to be on the podium for sure but at the same time I’m disappointed because I feel really well on the bike and I have a really strong physical condition, I proved it myself today where I had to push really hard coming from the back in both races with such a short break in between the races and I felt really great, the only problem is what happened in the races. The first race it was my mistake and I crashed and had to come back. In the second race I tried too hard in the first corner not to touch the rider next to me and the bike stopped, it didn’t start immediately so, I was basically last and I was pushing really hard. I know that I was three seconds faster than all the girls on the track so that’s good to know and good to me but it’s not enough for what we’re looking for”.
WMX – Race 1 – Classification: 1. Courtney Duncan (NZL, Kawasaki), 25:35.691; 2. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:15.958; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), +0:23.592; 4. Line Dam (DEN, Yamaha), +0:37.053; 5. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), +0:43.306; 6. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:48.586; 7. Lynn Valk (NED, Yamaha), +1:02.542; 8. Malou Jakobsen (DEN, KTM), +1:12.401; 9. Jamie Astudillo (USA, KTM), +1:20.477; 10. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +1:22.457.
WMX – Race 2 – Classification: 1. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, Yamaha), 26:01.397; 2. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, Yamaha), +0:07.758; 3. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), +0:12.095; 4. Lynn Valk (NED, Yamaha), +0:15.000; 5. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), +0:15.764; 6. Line Dam (DEN, Yamaha), +0:32.515; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), +0:33.558; 8. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, KTM), +1:21.203; 9. Anne Borchers (GER, Suzuki), +1:44.215; 10. Sandra Keller (SUI, KTM), +2:00.745.
WMX – Overall Classification: 1. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 44 points; 2. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 41 p.; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), 36 p.; 4. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 35 p.; 5. Line Dam (DEN, YAM), 33 p.; 6. Lynn Valk (NED, YAM), 32 p.; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 25 p.; 8. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 25 p.; 9. Anne Borchers (GER, SUZ), 21 p.; 10. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, KTM), 18 p.
WMX – Championship Classification: 1. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 129 points; 2. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 119 p.; 3. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, KTM), 116 p.; 4. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 115 p.; 5. Lynn Valk (NED, YAM), 98 p.; 6. Line Dam (DEN, YAM), 87 p.; 7. Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 75 p.; 8. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 60 p.; 9. Anne Borchers (GER, SUZ), 60 p.; 10. Tahlia Jade O’Hare (AUS, KTM), 54 p.
WMX – Manufacturers Classification: 1. Yamaha, 136 points; 2. KTM, 120 p.; 3. Kawasaki, 115 p.; 4. Suzuki, 65 p.; 5. Husqvarna, 15 p.; 6. Honda, 6 p.
Main Photo: Larissa Papenmeier
Bottom Photos: 1. Nancy Van De Ven; 2. Kiara Fontanesi