The long road back to racing for the 2021 FIM Motocross World Championship contingent has left this weekend’s opening round in Russia as a bit of an unknown for where everyone will stack up. When the gates finally drop this Sunday, it will be 217 days between the final round last year in Italy to this first round of the 2021 season. A lot has changed throughout the MXGP and MX2 classes since that race last November, so we wanted to give one final refresher of where everyone is heading into the 2021 season.
#243 – Tim Gajser | 2020: World Champion
Tim Gajser claimed back-to-back MXGP World Titles for the first time in his career in 2020 and did so in rather convincing fashion down the back half of the shortened season. Gajser has had a clean off-season coming into 2021 as he continues to develop the new 2022 Honda CRF450RW and has dabbled into a few races in his native Slovenia to help him prepare for Russia this weekend. We caught up with Gajser back in April to see how things were going.
#43 – Mitch Evans | 2020: 14th
The Australian is still nursing his wrist injury and has elected to sit out the opening round in Russia. There is no current timetable on when Evans will be back at the races, but his third in the opening moto last year was certainly a glimmer of the pace that Evans will expect to be competitive with when he returns.
RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING
#84 – Jeffrey Herlings | 2020: 12th
This will be the first MXGP race for Herlings following his frightening crash in Faenza last September. Herlings spent much of the winter recovering and only returned to racing recently in MXGB action from Lyng and at a French Championship round at Ernee last weekend. He won both rounds but only won two of the four motos as he continues to come back to grips. No doubt he’ll be a contender this weekend and all year long though.
#222 – Antonio Cairoli | 2020: 3rd
Yes, we know the team Herlings rides for is different than the one Cairoli and Jorge Prado ride for, but they are all under the same Factory KTM badge, so we will include them together. Cairoli is now 35 years old and his days are dwindling, but he is still constantly a threat to contend for this title. He comes into the opening round healthy after one of the longest breaks in his career as he eyes a 10th World Title or perhaps a 100th Grand Prix win this season as well.
#61 – Jorge Prado | 2020: 6th
Prado was getting the ball rolling late in 2020 with a handful on GP wins before an injury snagged him out of the last four rounds. Despite that, there’s still a lot of positives from his rookie MXGP season and he enters 2021 as a serious title threat as well.
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA FACTORY MXGP
#91 – Jeremy Seewer | 2020: 2nd
Seewer has been one of the most consistent riders in the GPs for the last five years but hasn’t really had his “breakthrough” yet. Last year was the fourth time in the last five years he finished second in the world championship as he finished second in MX2 in 2016 and 2017, and now finished second in MXGP in 2019 and 2020. He did win a moto last weekend at Ernee in the French Championship, beating Herlings, so he could challenge right from the first gate drop this year.
#259 – Glenn Coldenhoff | 2020: 8th
Coldenhoff’s jump to Yamaha was a bit of a shock to some but had been reverberating through the paddock for months before it happened. This will be the first time since 2015 when he rode for Factory Suzuki that Coldenhoff won’t be on Austrian motorcycles, however (2016-2019 with KTM, 2020 with GasGas). The adjustment might mean a slow start for The Hoff, but the long off-season certainly gave him ample opportunity for testing.
#919 – Ben Watson | 2020: Did not race MXGP, 5th in MX2
The younger Watson brother’s MXGP debut has been building up some traction after he split moto wins with Jeffrey Herlings at Lyng in Great Britain two weeks ago. He struggled at Ernee last weekend but still appears to be gelling with the 450 coming into his first go against the MXGP class this weekend.
MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI RACING TEAM
#3 – Romain Febvre | 2020: 4th
The 2015 MXGP World Champion has been busy this off-season racing a lot of national championships throughout Europe. He picked up the MX1 Italian Championship and also picked up 3-2 scores at the Ernee last week. He and his wife also welcomed their first child in January. So, Febvre looks fit, focused, and ready to fight for his second world title.
#128 – Ivo Monticelli | 2020: 15th
Like his teammate Febvre, Monticelli has been jumping around racing this off-season as well. He had some strong rides in the Italian and French Championship and looks to be right on his usual form after switching from GasGas to Kawasaki at the end of 2020.
ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING
#7 – Arminas Jasikonis | 2020: 13th
Jasikonis’ crash in Mantova last year was one of the scariest moments of the season and it left him in a medically induced coma for three days. His road back to racing was long and he took it slow before getting back behind the gate last weekend at Ernee to finish 13th overall. Jasikonis will not race in Russia and instead prepare for round two in Great Britain which will be at the end of June.
#19 – Thomas Kjer Olsen | 2020: Did not race MXGP, 6th in MX2
Like Ben Watson, Thomas Kjer Olsen’s jump to MXGP comes with a lot of buildup as many believe he will fare better on a 450. He also joined the long list of riders in Ernee last week to bring home a 10th overall but look for him to continue building in his rookie 450 season.
STANDING CONSTRUCT GASGAS FACTORY RACING
#41 – Pauls Jonass | 2020: 31st
Jonass is flying under the radar coming into this year, but he is fully healthy and ready to go. Joining up with the Standing Construct GasGas program has completed the Austrian trifecta for the Latvian as he has now raced for all three KTM owned brands after winning his MX2 World Title on a KTM, racing for Factory Husqvarna the last two years, and now ready to make his GasGas debut this weekend.
#189 – Brian Bogers | 2020: 10th
Bogers had a quietly impressive year in 2020 and it earned him a spot on the Factory GasGas team for 2021. Unfortunately, he had surgery just nine days ago to take care of some inflammation in his right arm and will be on the sidelines for the season opener this weekend.
HITACHI KTM FUELLED BY MILWAUKEE
#811 – Adam Sterry | 2020: 27th
SDM CORSE BETA
#89 – Jeremy Van Horebeek | 2020: 9th
The veteran Belgian racer has an entirely different role on his hands for 2021 than he’s ever had before. Beta entering the MXGP class with a factory effort is looking to build out their motocross program and a lot of development will fall on Van Horebeek’s shoulders. The bike has already proven strong with Van Horebeek piloting it to some very strong results in the Italian Championship, but this weekend will be its first test on the MXGP gate.
#520 – Jimmy Clochet | 2020: Did not race MXGP
French racer Jimmy Clochet was expected to be alongside Van Horebeek in Russia this weekend, but a shoulder injury will leave him sidelined for an indefinite amount of time.
HONDA SR MOTOBLOUZ
#16 – Benoit Paturel | 2020: 28th
Paturel has had a string of injuries the last few years that have kept him from reaching his potential. The former FIM Motocross of Nations champion with France comes into his second year with Honda SR Motoblouz, and will look to make big strides in 2021.
#991 – Nathan Watson | 2020: 40th
Nathan Watson is not new to MXGP at all, but his signing on with Honda SR Motoblouz after many years racing enduro with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing did come as a bit of a shock. Watson now returns to the GP scene full time for 2021 and will match up against his younger brother Ben for the first time in quite a while as well.
HOSTETTLER YAMAHA RACING
#4 – Arnaud Tonus | 2020: 17th
Tonus was left without a chair to sit on when the music stopped at Monster Energy Yamaha. With Gautier Paulin retiring and Ben Watson moving up, one seat remained there, and it eventually went to Ben Watson. But Tonus does remain with Yamaha jumping over to Hostettler Racing and was 12th overall at Ernee last weekend.
#92 – Valentin Guillod | 2020: 24th
Valentin Guillod will not be in Russia, but not because he’s injured. On the contrary actually, as Guillod will instead contest the opening round of the Swiss Championship this weekend instead which is part of his deal with this Hostettler Racing team in 2021. Look for him to dip in and out of MXGP until the Swiss series is finished.
TEAM GEBBEN VAN VENROOY YAMAHA RACING
#10 – Calvin Vlaanderen | 2020: 16th
Vlaanderen returns for his second year with Gebben and looks to build on a solid rookie MXGP year. He finished 16th overall at Ernee last weekend.
#22 – Kevin Strijbos | 2020: Did not race MXGP
Strijbos has been in and out of retirement for the last couple of seasons, but it looks like he’s back to give it a full go with Gebben this year at age 35.
#32 – Brent Van Doninck | 2020: 21st
When Van Doninck returned from injury for the last six GPs in 2020, he compiled several solid results with a season best sixth in the final moto of 2020. He’ll look to build on that again in 2021.
MRT RACING TEAM
#77 – Alessandro Lupino | 2020: 18th
Lupino turned some heads when he qualified fifth fastest at the Fox Raceway 1 National two weeks ago and certainly seems like he’s still in top form as he celebrated his 30th birthday at the start of the year. We caught up with him at Fox Raceway to see how he’s feeling.
JT911 KTM RACING TEAM
#911 – Jordi Tixier | 2020: 11th
The 2014 MX2 World Champion has been steadily improving in the last couple of years and might be inching back to the form he had when he rode for factory Kawasaki in MXGP. He finished up seventh overall in Ernee last week.
JK RACING YAMAHA
#161 – Alvin Ostlund | 2020: Did not race MXGP, 11th in MX2
Ostlund jumps up to MXGP for his official debut season after aging out of MX2 last year.
SS24 KTM MXGP
#24 – Shaun Simpson | 2020: 30th
The veteran Briton is now 33 years old and still kicking it with the best. He missed some of last year with injury and then remained in Great Britain when GPs resumed, but a fourth in the second moto at Valkenswaard showed he still has it on his days.
JD GUNNEX KTM RACING TEAM
#183 – Lorenzo Locurcio | 2020: Did not race MXGP, 7th in EMX250
#18 – Vsevolod Brylyakov | 2020: Did not race MXGP
#147 – Miro Sihvonen | 2020: Did not race MXGP
SM ACTION RACING TEAM
#303 – Alberto Forato | 2020: Did not race MXGP, 16thin MX2
RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING
#28 – Tom Vialle | 2020: 1st
Now with a World Championship in his back pocket, Vialle is continuing to grow and will need to be ready to potentially jump up to MXGP if he repeats as champion again this year. He cruised to a 1-1 sweep in the MX2 class at Enree last week and is the clear favorite in MX2 again.
#711 – Rene Hofer | 2020: 26th
Hofer was bit by the injury bug through much of 2020 but his massively impressive second-place finish in his second ever MX2 moto last year still rings through the minds of the paddock. Now with a cleaner bill of health and another year to develop with the team, Hofer looks ready to pick right back up with that kind of success.
#101 – Mattia Guadagnini | 2020: Did not race MX2, 2nd in EMX250
There will be a lot of eyes on the young Italian this weekend as he was arguably the fastest rider in EMX250 last year but struggled to keep it off the ground. Red Bull KTM has committed to him, and if their track record is any indication, he could be an instant success with this formula.
MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA FACTORY MX2 TEAM
#93 – Jago Geerts | 2020: 2nd
Geerts was entering 2021 as the clear second best in the class behind Vialle, whom he battled for the title in 2020, but a knee injury in the second moto at Ernee last week has casted some doubt on his ability for the opening round of the championship. He is still planning to give it a go in Russia this weekend but will definitely not be 100 percent. We caught up with him earlier today to see how things are going.
#959 – Maxime Renaux | 2020: 3rd
Renaux was maybe the surprise of 2020 as he made a large jump on performance and has landed himself on the factory Yamaha team because of it. If he can take yet another step in 2021, look out.
#198 – Thibault Benistant | 2020: Did not race MX2, 1st in EMX250
Benistant was fantastic last year to claim the EMX250 title and will be right up there with Guadagnini for most watched rider this weekend. He just finished second overall last weekend behind countryman Vialle at Ernee and could shock the world this weekend in the hard packed hills of Russia.
ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA RACING MX2
#14 – Jed Beaton | 2020: 4th
Jed Beaton had some very strong rides in 2020, claiming his first ever moto win at Mantova and landing on the box several times. He, like Renaux, seems to have made a big jump in performance as the Australian has adapted to MX2 and could be a big player in 2021.
#74 – Kay De Wolf | 2020: Did not race MX2, 4th in EMX250
Kay De Wolf is still very young and will do a lot of learning this year in his first full MX2 season. But look out for him on sand tracks. Being Dutch, he’s of course going to be great in the sand, but he’s also trained in almost exclusively sandy conditions for the last few years.
F&H RACING KAWASAKI
#11 – Mikkel Haarup | 2020: 19th
Haarup started 2020 on the podium in Great Britain and it was all downhill from there. He’s blazing fast but also finds the ground with frequency. If he can keep in on two wheels and build in 2021, he’ll be another face to keep an eye on during his good days.
#39 – Roan Van De Moosdijk | 2020: 7th
Van De Moosdijk had a lot of hype around him last year and somewhat lived up to it with a few podiums and a moto win late in the year at Lommel. Consistency was his weak point in 2020, but as he learns more in now his sophomore year in MX2, he’ll be set to contend at the front regularly.
#172 – Mathys Boisrame | 2020: 13th
Right when Boisrame hit his stride last year, he also hit the ground and missed much of the late season with injury. There were plenty of flashes that showed he could be a real player though and might just find the magic recipe in 2021.
DIGA PROCROSS GASGAS FACTORY RACING
#516 – Simon Laengenfelder | 2020: 30th
The young German showed some promise last year and will return with the Diga Procross team for 2021.
#517 – Isak Gifting | 2020: 12th
GasGas moved Gifting up halfway through EMX250 and it appears it was the right move as he nearly won a moto late in the year in Belgium and was consistently in the top 10. He will be one of the many riders who will contend within the top 10 this year.
HONDA 114 MOTORSPORTS
#70 – Ruben Fernandez | 2020: 9th
Fernandez just clinched his sixth Spanish championship earlier in the year and comes into 2021 fully healthy and ready to battle up front.
#912 – Joel Rizzi | 2020: Did not race MX2, 25th in EMX250
Rizzi has been a young up and coming British talent for a while now but hit some hiccups the last few years with injuries. The Honda 114 Motorsports team believed in what he brings to the table though and will give him his first taste of World Championship motocross in 2021.
HITACHI KTM FUELLED BY MILWAUKEE
#2 – Conrad Mewse | 2020: 8th
Mewse has spent his pre-season racing the MXGB British Championship and currently leads the MX2 championship. He’ll be able to continue racing that championship next weekend but has turned his focus to starting off the MX2 season strong in Russia.
#98 – Bas Vaessen | 2020: 15th
Vaessen will be out indefinitely after he crashed at the first round of the British Championship in early May, resulting in four broken vertebra and loss of feeling in his lower extremities. He has been able to move his feet and hands but the long road remains ahead of him in recovery.
SM ACTION RACING TEAM
#80 – Andrea Adamo | 2020: Did not race MX2, 26th in EMX250
TEAM HONDA RACING ASSOMOTOR
#118 – Stephen Rubini | 2020: 10th
#94 – Gianluca Facchetti | 2020: Did not race MX2, 10th in EMX250
BIKE IT MTX KAWASAKI
#20 – Wilson Todd | 2020: 35th
#575 – Taylor Hammal | 2020: Did not race MX2
HOSTETTLER YAMAHA RACING
#313 – Petr Polak | 2020: 31st
KTM RACESTORE MX2
#253 – Jan Pancar | 2020: 20th
IXS MXGP TEAM
#87 – Kevin Brumann | 2020: Did not race MX2, 13th in EMX125
JK RACING YAMAHA
#45 – Gerard Congost | 2020: Did not race MX2, 17 in EMX125
#239 – Lion Florian | 2020: Did not race MX2, 15th in EMX250
#403 – Bastian Boegh Damm | 2020: Did not race MX2, 9th in EMX250
#88 – Sergi Notario | 2020: Did not race MX2
NR83 KTM RACING TEAM
#83 – Nathan Renkens | 2020: 22nd
F&H RACING SHOP
#46 – Davy Pootjes | 2020: Did not race MX2
#766 – Michael Sandner | 2020: 28th
#440 – Marnique Appelt | 2020: Did not race MX2, 59th in EMX250
E2T RACING TEAM
#783 – Enzo Toriani | 2020: 37th
#181 – Julian Vander Auwera | 2020: Did not race MX2
JD KTM GUNNEX RACING TEAM
#224 – Jakub Teresak | 2020: 41st
Main Image: KTM Images/Juan Pablo Acevedo