More close racing in the Monster Energy FIM MXGP World Championship. While the overall winners looked familiar, it took quite a bit of passing and action to get to that conclusion. Here's the post-race report from MXGP and we'll have a full breakdown from our Adam Wheeler later today.
intu-Xanadù - Arroyomolinos, Spain – Championship leaders Jeffrey Herlings of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Maxime Renaux of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing topped the podium in what was an action-packed Spanish Grand Prix, adding valuable championship points to their MXGP and MX2 title chase.
The Spanish Grand Prix produced one of the most incredible races of the season, thanks to the enormous crowd of fans that filled the grand-stands around the intu-Xanadù Arroyomolinos circuit, showing support for home hero, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado that created a fantastic atmosphere right from the get-go.
In MXGP race one, it was Prado who grabbed the Fox Holeshot from Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff and Team HRC’s Tim Gajser. Herlings struggled in the start and was down in 11th position.
Having a brilliant start though was Honda SR Motoblouz rider Benoit Paturel who was fifth ahead of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Seewer and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli. The 9-time World Champion was keen on getting around Seewer and the two even banged bars, but the Swiss was able to stay ahead.
Gajser then managed to pass Coldenhoff, as Herlings got himself into ninth just behind Standing Construct GasGas Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass.
Febvre charged his way onto the rear wheel of Prado as Gajser was keen on staying close and we saw something that has probably never happened before… Both Febvre and Gajser set the exact same lap time; a 1:51.692. The Frenchman then had Prado just 0.794 seconds ahead of him and the fight only intensified as the laps went on. Eventually by lap nine there was a change for the lead as the Kawasaki rider got into the driving seat.
Herlings looked stuck for a couple of laps as he couldn’t find a way past Jonass, but once he managed to do so, he quickly got by Cairoli too, but Paturel put of much more of a fight as he looked to defend his sixth place.
Meanwhile Seewer was edging closer to his teammate Coldenhoff as he searched for an opportunity to take fourth. He eventually got it done but by that point Herlings was past Paturel and catching the pair fast.
At the top end of the field though Febvre had just got the lead as Gajser caught onto the rear wheel of Prado too. The Slovenian needed to find a way around the Spaniard fast as Herlings was making good progress.
After passing Coldenhoff, Herlings then got by Seewer on lap 13 and then it was game on to get to the top three. This was when Gajser started to get frustrated behind Prado and started to make mistakes as the pair battled closely. The Honda rider went down but managed to pick himself up in third just a few seconds ahead of Herlings.
It didn’t take long for Herlings to fly past Gajser and third was the best he could do as Febvre went on to win his fourth race win of the season, with Prado finishing second, putting the struggles of the French Grand Prix well and truly behind him.
In race two, Prado got the start once again as he led Gajser, Jonass, Herlings and Cairoli. But there was issues for the winner of the opening heat, as Febvre was way down the order.
Jonass, Herlings and Cairoli almost collided as they battled for third, but it was Herlings who won that fight. Jonass made a mistake and went off track which cost him two spots as Cairoli and his teammate Brian Bogers from Standing Construct GasGas Factory Racing went through.
Herlings was also quick to get by Gajser as he set his sights on Prado who was 3.219 seconds ahead. But Gajser was looking to fight back as he kept it close to the Bullet.
Febvre was also making good progress as he managed to get himself into 13th position.
Herlings then set the fastest lap of the race as he got a little closer to Prado. Gajser was there too but was starting to come under attack from Bogers who was having a great ride.
The battle between Prado and Herlings sent the Spanish crowd wild, as the Dutchman was applying immense pressure onto the young Spaniard. The fight went on for a few laps but eventually by lap 10, Herlings was able to make a nice clean pass on Prado to take over first place.
Jonass then got by Bogers for fifth, as Gajser chased Prado. While his focus was on the KTM rider in front of him, Cairoli managed to sneak up on the Slovenian and join the battle for third.
By lap 13, Gajser finally managed to get around Prado for second place and Cairoli was keen on doing the same. Of course we were treated to another battle of the teammates as the two came close on several occasions, but Prado was able to keep Cairoli behind him to secure third in the race.
Herlings went on to win, crossing the line 4.281 seconds in front of Gajser who improved upon his result in race two.
Herlings secured his sixth GP win of the 2021 season as he took to the top step of the podium, while Prado celebrated second at his home round, with Gajser finishing third overall for the second weekend in a row.
Heading into the triple-header in Pietramurata, Herlings leads the championship by 12 points over Febvre as Gajser gets within three points of second position.
Jeffrey Herlings: “We started well in time practice, but I don’t know what happened after the gate dropped. I had a bad turn, was around seventh or eighth and then we came back to 13th, then to 10th. It took me some time to get going. The first 15 minutes were awful then the next 15 were great, especially the last seven or eight laps. I couldn’t get the win, but I came from so far back. The second race was good, I was fourth after the start and then Tim made a mistake which allowed me to pass. Then there was Jorge who was having a great race and riding the best lines, so it was hard to pass him. Anyways, it was a great day after all and I am looking forward to Trentino where I will hopefully have a better start”.
Jorge Prado: “I love it. I love the fans. I think it’s the first time that I have so many fans because we couldn’t have a crowd in my previous home GP. They were amazing today and brought so much positive energy. I have never lived something like this my whole life. It makes me a very happy person to have all these guys supporting me. It was incredible, especially after this past week. It was difficult to get back in shape after the surgery. Thankfully I was able to recover quite quickly. I gave my all coming into this weekend like I usually do for every race. I think it was obvious that I was betting on having two good starts to win this GP. The starts went well, and I think it was difficult to pass me, and I will make sure it will be even more difficult in the next races, so I am really looking forward to that one”.
Tim Gajser: “The speed was good today, and I was feeling great on the track, since the morning. I pushed a little bit too much in the first race and went off track and crashed. Then Jeffrey passed me. But for the second one, I managed to get a good start. Riding was good. I made a mistake and Jeffrey passed me. Then I tried to keep up and passed Jorge at the end. I tried to get closer to Jeffrey and we were kind of riding at the same pace, but I finished second. It’s good to finish on the podium and I am also very happy with my improvement at the start, which is what we were struggling with during the past couple of weeks. I am really looking forward to the next race. It’s nice to finally have the fans back. We can see over here for Jorge’s home GP that we had so many fans getting together for him and hopefully it will be the same for the last five rounds in Italy”.
The first MX2 race of the day saw Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle secure another Fox Holeshot as he led the way ahead of his teammate Mattia Guadagnini, Renaux and Isak Gifting of DIGA PROCROSS GasGas Factory Racing.
Renaux was quick to get into second, as his teammate Jago Geerts of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing started applying the pressure onto Guadagnini for third but came short.
Home rider Ruben Fernandez of Honda 114 Motorsports started well inside the top 10 and was going after Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jed Beaton and later Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Rene Hofer. Beaton continued to move up the order as the race went on, getting by Gifting for fifth, who had dropped a few positions by that point.
Renaux then caught onto the rear wheel of Vialle, who was able to respond quickly and take the gap back up to 2.275 seconds, as Geerts dropped back to 13th. A couple of laps later, Renaux was back onto Vialle for the win as just 0.882 separated the pair, but again Vialle was able to respond and preserve that lead.
Fernandez was keen on putting on a good performance for the fans as he chased Simon Längenfelder of DIGA PROCROSS GasGas Factory Racing, eventually making the pass for eighth position. He was able to pass one more rider before the chequered flag fell to finish the race seventh.
Meanwhile Geerts found himself in trouble again, as he crashed out of 11th position, eventually finishing the race 13th which was costly for the championship.
At the top end of the field Renaux was keeping close to Vialle, but then lost a load of time on the KTM rider as the gap increased to 9.591 seconds. And while Vialle led Renaux, Guadagnini was having a pretty lonely race in third, as Beaton kept it steady in fourth ahead of Hofer.
His teammate, Kay De Wolf of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing had a nice battle with Gifting for a few laps, before making a pass stick and finishing the race in sixth.
In the end, Vialle secured the race victory 6.972 seconds in front of Renaux, with Guadagnini third.
In race two, Vialle continued to assert his dominance in the starts as he got another Fox Holeshot with Geerts and Guadagnini just behind. Renaux was there too as he got around Guadagnini for third, while Geerts took the lead from Vialle.
Guadagnini came under more pressure as both Beaton and de Wolf got by the Italian pushing him down to sixth, but the KTM rider was able to retaliate and take back a spot from de Wolf not long after. The Dutchman then crashed and dropped out of sixth.
Renaux set the fastest lap of the race as he caught onto Vialle for second, while Guadagnini went down trying to get around Beaton.
Fernandez had another top 10 start in the second heat and was making good progress up the field. He eventually fought his way back up to fifth and that’s where he would also finish the race.
On lap nine, Renaux took second from Vialle and then it was a Yamaha 1-2 as Geerts led Renaux by 2.495 as the Frenchman worked away at the gap to the Belgian. By lap 13 we saw a change for the lead as Renaux jumped into first position.
But the race was far from over, as Vialle had both Renaux and Geerts in his sights with four minutes plus two laps on the clock. The top three were then just within 2.401 seconds of each other. Vialle might have pushed too hard as he went down but was lucky to not lose any positions.
In the end, Renaux secured his 7th race win of the season, with Geerts crossing the line in second and Vialle finishing third. With a 2-1 result, Renaux took to the top step of the podium, as Vialle was forced to settle for second ahead of Beaton who had another solid day, going 4-4 for third on the podium.
Renaux continues to lead the MX2 standings with a healthy 108-point advantage over Geerts, while Guadagnini is just one point behind in third.
Maxime Renaux: “it feels really good, and I am really happy with the day. The first race was good. I took a good start and tried to stick with Tom, but he wasn’t making any mistakes. He was riding really good. So, I couldn’t find any gaps and was able to satisfy myself with my position. Second race was really good. Had a good start again. I was third behind Jago and Tom then I could find the spot to make a pass happen and I went for it. As you said, it was a confidence boost. Really happy to be back at the top of the podium. So, everything is going really well, good advantage on the championship as well, getting good points. I just need to stay focused till the end and it will be good”.
Tom Vialle: “It was a special day. The first race was pretty good, I had a great feeling on the bike and everything was fine. Another great start in the second race, but I just did not feel so good. Jago passed me in the first lap, I tried to follow him, then Maxime also passed me in the same place I believe. I felt better at the end and tried to pass Jago, then I crashed, so It was not a good race for me but I am pretty happy with how it finished. It’s not easy to win every race every weekend, you also need to accept coming second but I will try to be back at the top in the next race. I have closed the gap in the championship because Jago and Mattia didn’t have a great race today. So, the goal is to finish second if I can and always do my best.
Jed Beaton: “It was a pretty solid day. Quite happy I did not end up 4th. I have been finishing fourth a lot lately. But that’s on me. I need to be up there right from the start with these guys, because when I miss the start, I don’t put myself in a position to fight with them. They’re already 10 seconds ahead, which makes it impossible. Again, that’s on me and I need to work on that. The start is one of the most important things in Trentino and it won’t be easy to pass. But I will get going and hopefully put myself in a great position with a good start”.