The first round of the FIM Motocross World Championship went in a flash and witnessed an incredible fight for the podium in both MXGP and MX2 categories. In the end it was Team HRC’s Ruben Fernandez and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing MX2 Team’s Jago Geerts who clinched the win in the MXGP of Patagonia – Argentina to start their season in the best possible way.
The 7th edition of the Argentinian GP in Villa La Angostura held all its promises as it offered a thrilling show during the whole weekend, on a demanding track and in front of ecstatic fans coming in large numbers to cheer the best riders in the world.
Following this successful day, Sunday began with a press conference that officially opened the racing day and was attended by several official representatives to welcome the public and the MXGP to Villa La Angostura such as the Governor of Neuquen Omar Gutierrez, ViceGovernor with leave of absence Marcos Koopman, Sandro Baidilla the Minister of Tourism, Alejandra Piedecasas, Minister of Sports, Fabio Stefani, Mayor of Villa La Angostura and David Eli, CEO of +Eventos. Present at the opening press conference were also Infront Moto Racing CEO, David Luongo and FIM/CMS Director Antonio Alia Portela.
In MXGP, the Latin and Spanish world were gifted with some exciting racing with Ruben Fernandez and RedBull GasGas Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado who together led every lap of the two races and only saw the consistency of returning RedBull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings to interfere in the overall podium. The final podium was completed by Jeffrey Herlings in second and Jorge Prado third who is the first red plate holder of the 2023 season.
Meanwhile, in MX2 Geerts dominated with topping not only race 1 and 2 but also the RAM Qualifying Races to add a complete hat-trick to his season’s opening. Geerts was joined by RedBull KTM Factory Racing’s Andrea Adamo and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing MX2 Team’s Thibault Benistant, second and third respectively.
In the opening MXGP race of the MXGP of Patagonia-Argentina, it was Jorge Prado who grabbed the Fox Holeshot starting the season as he finished the last but it was Ruben Fernandez who rapidly took the lead and kept it over 5 laps until Prado managed to make a move to take back the lead.
Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre made a good start to find himself fourth and quickly overtook Standing Construct Honda MXGP’s Pauls Jonass who saw his fourth position being threatened by Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing MXGP Team’s Maxime Renaux on lap 5. Renaux would see his hard work and the third place going wasted when he lost the control of his back and went down to only get back racing on 7th position. He would get on a heroic charge to come back to third on lap 16 overtaking along the way his teammate Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing MXGP Team’s Glenn Coldenhoff, Jonass as well as Fernandez and Herlings. The Frenchman would keep his third place until the end.
Febvre would go on to make it second on the lap 13 due to Fernandez falling down and kept his ground until the end. Fernandez would settle for fifth after a scare on lap 14.
Herlings rode a consistent race and grew in confidence to safely get to fourth having started at the seventh place.
Talking about consistency, JM Honda Racing’s Brent Van Doninck started eight and kept his position all way through and not being overtaken by SM Action Racing Team Yuasa Battery’s Alberto Forato who had a similar race behind him in ninth.
Race two saw Coldenhoff take the FOX Holeshot although the Dutchman quickly moved down to seventh. Them followed the start of a dominant display from Fernandez who took the lead in the first lap to never give it up. While it was his first race win of his career on top of being checked out by Herlings in second position for the large majority of the race, the young Spaniard never lost his cool, and had a comfortable 8 seconds lead for the second part of the race.
The comeback of Herlings was one that everyone was waiting for, and “the bullet” did not disappointed. We saw Herlings growing in confidence throughout the weekend and particularly in this Race 2 where he came off the gate drop on very fast to find himself third on the first lap and quickly made the move on Jonass, who displayed a strong weekend too, to get to second. He never put Fernandez in too much pressure but Herlings was exactly where he wanted to be as he showed a calm, experienced and fast racing.
Finishing in third, Seewer made one of the most heroic races after an average start for his standards leaving him tenth after the first lap. But the Swiss was quick to show his qualities as he made an assault on Standing Construct Honda MXGP’s Brian Bogers and his teammate Coldenhoff on lap 5 on a big jump to move to seventh. Seewer was then on a mission as he clocked the best lap and overtook Guadagnini, Prado and Jonass in the space of 3 laps. He would keep this advantage until then end.
Displaying a strong performance during this weekend, Jonass regularly in the top ten, ended race 2 in a promising fourth place.
Finishing fifth was Febvre who was able to maintain his racing level after the first race and showing some classy move such as the overtake on Prado on lap 17. While Prado was maybe not as incisive as he was in race 1, he settled for the sixth place and this gave him a place on the overall podium.
In the end, with his win on race 2 Fernandez won the MXGP of Patagonia-Argentina and his first GP of his career in front of Jeffrey Herlings and Jorge Prado. The next round in Sardinia will see however Prado with the red plate as he won 10 points in the RAM Qualifying Race ending at the end of this weekend with 50 points. Fernandez fresh GP winner is second in the Championship with 48 points and Romain Febvre third with 44 points.
Ruben Fernandez: “You know first I was a bit nervous in the first race but it got better throughout the race 2. I’m happy with my ride on this track. I can’t believe that I got the overall GP especially after the mistake in the first race but it would not have happened without all the people around me, the Team, my family and everyone supporting me! “
Jeffrey Herlings: “My goal was to be around the fifth position, so to get second here was great and it is a step in the right direction. I felt much more comfortable in the second race and it was a good weekend. It feels really good after my first race”
Jorge Prado: “It was a good weekend; I didn’t feel at my best in the second race although I had a decent start. But the positive is that it is my first red plate in MXGP and I am super happy about it and hopefully I can continue like this for the rest of the season”
MXGP – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Jorge Prado (ESP, GASGAS), 34:24.711; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:04.320; 3. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:06.803; 4. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:08.753; 5. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, Honda), +0:10.511; 6. Pauls Jonass (LAT, Honda), +0:15.396; 7. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Yamaha), +0:17.925; 8. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Honda), +0:32.878; 9. Alberto Forato (ITA, KTM), +0:34.810; 10. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, GASGAS), +0:37.044
MXGP – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, Honda), 34:43.013; 2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:07.320; 3. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:09.699; 4. Pauls Jonass (LAT, Honda), +0:22.775; 5. Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:28.978; 6. Jorge Prado (ESP, GASGAS), +0:30.167; 7. Brian Bogers (NED, Honda), +0:31.994; 8. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, GASGAS), +0:33.420; 9. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:43.957; 10. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Yamaha), +0:45.954
MXGP – GP Top 10 Classification: 1. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, HON), 41 points; 2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 40 p.; 3. Jorge Prado (ESP, GAS), 40 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 38 p.; 5. Pauls Jonass (LAT, HON), 33 p.; 6. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 32 p.; 7. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 24 p.; 8. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, GAS), 24 p.; 9. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, YAM), 21 p.; 10. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, YAM), 21 p.
MXGP – World Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Jorge Prado (ESP, GAS), 50 points; 2. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, HON), 48 p.; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 44 p.; 4. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 41 p.; 5. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 40 p.; 6. Pauls Jonass (LAT, HON), 36 p.; 7. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, GAS), 33 p.; 8. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, YAM), 26 p.; 9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, YAM), 25 p.; 10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 24 p.
MXGP – Manufacturers Classification: 1. GASGAS, 50 points; 2. Honda, 48 p.; 3. Yamaha, 48 p.; 4. Kawasaki, 44 p.; 5. KTM, 41 p.; 6. Beta, 15 p.
Main Photo: Ruben Fernandez
Bottom Photos: 1. Jeffrey Herlings, 2. Jorge Prado
In MX2 Race One, the Fox Holeshot went to Nestaan Husqvarna’s Lucas Coenen before he crashed and had to stop racing. Jago Geerts had an ideal start as he quickly moved into the lead in front of his teammate Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing MX2 team’s Thibault Benistant. The two riders would go on to fight for the top spot throughout the whole race with the Frenchman eventually getting his way passed Geerts on lap 3. Eventually Benistant would go down with De Wolf not able to avoid him and going down too, which gave Geerts the lead that would not give up until the finish jump.
Nestaan Husqvarna’s Kay de Wolf was also in the mix behind the two and put pressure on Benistant, then Geerts. It all went to halt for the Dutchman when he caught his front wheel in the ground on as turn on lap 9 and went down to find himself in sixth position.
Andrea Adamo displayed some strong racing during race one, going from fifth to fourth during an intense give and take with De Wolf between lap 9 and 11. The Italian rider kept on attacking and made a move on De Wolf’s Teammate, Nestaan Husqvarna’s Roan Van De Moosdijk for the third spot.
Van de Moosdijk never went out of the top four during race and oscillated between third and fourth to settle in the end in fourth. RedBull KTM Factory Racing’s Liam Everts showed great promise as he never got overtaken during the whole race. His confident racing showed as he climbed up the table passing Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing MX2 Team’s Rick Elzinga and De Wolf.
RedBull GasGas Factory Racing’s Simon Laegenfelder was in a ride with ups and downs with being caught in a crash at the start and had to start his assault from the twenty first place on lap one. The German showed that we can count on him to bounce back as he made an impressive come back to eight in the end.
In race two, F&H MX2 Kawasaki Racing Team’s Kevin Horgmo took the Fox Holeshot after an excellent start although it was Geerts who quickly took the lead. Geerts, full of confidence quickly increased the gap to 7 seconds while Horgmo showed his speed by setting the fastest lap. The two riders would keep their advantage over the rest to finish first and second.
Adamo and De Wolf saw their path crossed. The good start from the dutchman in fourth position after two laps ended with a crash that left him hanging in seventeenth place on lap 6 while Adamo, who had a decent start and turning lap 1 in eight would see himself climbing the table with some classy moves such as the one charging on the inside of Laengenfelder on lap 6.
This ended a thrilling three-way battle for the fifth place between Adamo, Haarup and Laengenfelder.
MX2 Rookie Rick Elzinga also showed some great racings that saw him start strongly to keep his place in the top four. A great battle with Adamo saw him lose his advantage finishing fourth.
Haarup on his side made a good showing by climb his way up from the eleventh place to the sixth place.
Adamo eventually would finish Race 2 in third giving a second position on the GP standings. Rounding up the Top 3 is Thibault Benistant who finished race 2 in 8th which would anyway give him 45 points for the third step of the GP podium.
Jago Geert:” Three good starts and three wins this weekend, I couldn’t be happier with this first Grand Prix. I will get some more training in the next two weeks to come back ready in Sardinia”
Andrea Adamo: “I came to do my best without expecting too much, but to finish second in the podium makes me very happy. I am now looking forward to work toward the next Grand Prix and get good results there too”
Thibault Benistant: “I am happy to here and starting the season as I could not do that the last 2 seasons. I am now healthy and ready to go for the season thanks to the work with my team. I feel very good on this new bike too and I am sure we can also keep improving it for the next Grand Prix”
MX2 – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), 34:08.704; 2. Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:14.777; 3. Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), +0:22.703; 4. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, Husqvarna), +0:26.447; 5. Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), +0:31.789; 6. Kay de Wolf (NED, Husqvarna), +0:39.432; 7. Rick Elzinga (NED, Yamaha), +0:42.165; 8. Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GASGAS), +0:45.014; 9. Kevin Horgmo (NOR, Kawasaki), +0:50.463; 10. Jan Pancar (SLO, KTM), +1:16.353
MX2 – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), 34:43.337; 2. Kevin Horgmo (NOR, Kawasaki), +0:08.272; 3. Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), +0:16.008; 4. Rick Elzinga (NED, Yamaha), +0:18.203; 5. Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GASGAS), +0:22.837; 6. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, Kawasaki), +0:25.733; 7. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, Husqvarna), +0:42.854; 8. Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:49.247; 9. Lucas Coenen (BEL, Husqvarna), +0:50.013; 10. Kay de Wolf (NED, Husqvarna), +0:53.526
MX2 – GP Top 10 Classification: 1. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 50 points; 2. Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), 40 p.; 3. Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 35 p.; 4. Kevin Horgmo (NOR, KAW), 34 p.; 5. Rick Elzinga (NED, YAM), 32 p.; 6. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, HUS), 32 p.; 7. Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GAS), 29 p.; 8. Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 26 p.; 9. Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), 24 p.; 10. Jan Pancar (SLO, KTM), 20 p.;
MX2 – World Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 60 points; 2. Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), 49 p.; 3. Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 41 p.; 4. Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GAS), 37 p.; 5. Kevin Horgmo (NOR, KAW), 36 p.; 6. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, HUS), 36 p.; 7. Rick Elzinga (NED, YAM), 33 p.; 8. Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 31 p.; 9. Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), 31 p.; 10. Jan Pancar (SLO, KTM), 20 p.
MX2 – Manufacturers Classification: 1. Yamaha, 60 points; 2. KTM, 49 p.; 3. Husqvarna, 37 p.; 4. GASGAS, 37 p.; 5. Kawasaki, 36 p.; 6. Honda, 17 p.; 7. Fantic, 12 p.
Main photo: Jago Geerts
Bottom Photos: 1. Andrea Adamo, 2. Thibault Benistant