It was an exciting start to the 2021 season of the FIM Motocross World Championship, as defending MXGP and MX2 World Champion’s Tim Gajser of Team HRC and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle picked up right where they left off, going 1-1 to take victories in their respective classes, ahead of a field stacked full of fast riders.
In MXGP, Team HRC’s Gajser went on to prove that he is a two-time MXGP World Champion for a reason, as he took control of the opening race, leading the way from start to finish and eventually winning with a by 16.794 seconds over Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre and Antonio Cairoli of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing who placed third.
Though it was Jorge Prado of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing who grabbed the first Fox Holeshot of the season, before Gajser was able to slip into the lead, with Prado being pushed to second ahead of Cairoli.
Just a couple of laps later the Spaniard made a mistake and went down, to re-join down the field in 22nd leaving him with a lot of work in order to get back up with the leaders.
Gajser then led Cairoli, Febvre and Alessandro Lupino of MRT Racing Team, with the Italian getting off to a great start in the race. He later came under immense pressure from Jeffrey Herlings of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and was able to keep him behind for the majority of the race (14 laps) before the Dutchman was able to fight his way through into 4th, where he eventually finished the race.
Following his crash on lap two, Prado was eventually to get back up to 9th, with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen having a good ride on his first MXGP outing to finish the race in 10th.
Swiss Jeremy Seewer of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing had a good ride to finish the race in 6th after spending much of the racing keeping up with Herlings and Lupino.
In race two it was Herlings who took the Fox Holeshot that time around and led Cairoli, Pauls Jonass of Standing Construct GasGas Factory Racing and Febvre, while Gajser and Prado got caught in some start drama which saw both riders pushed wide in the first corner. This left Gajser down outside the top 20, which meant he had to work hard to get back up to the front.
Herlings’ lead didn’t last for long, as he had a small crash letting Cairoli, Jonass and Febvre through, re-joining the race ahead of Seewer who was in 5th place. Further down the order, Gajser wasted no time at all as by lap 5 he was already up into P3, making passes on Olsen, Seewer, Lupino and more. A lap later he also made a move on Herlings, taking an inside line for P2.
There was a bit of drama for Febvre, with the Frenchman hitting the back of Jonass as he pushed to pass him, which left him on the side of the track. This mistake was costly, though by the end of the race the Frenchman was able to make some good passes to get back up into 6th from 15th.
At the top of the field Cairoli still led the way keeping a good pace that saw him set a few fastest laps of the race. Gajser was catching quick and by lap 12 was the new race leader. Cairoli was keen to challenge Gajser but had an unfortunate crash which left his bike too bent up to finish, despite the 9-time world champions best effort.
In the end it was Gajser, Herlings, Jonass, Lupino and Seewer the top 5 of the second MXGP race!
Picking up right where he left off from the 2019 MXGP of Russia, Gajser stood on the top step of the podium in Orlyonok once again to take the overall victory and the red plate, with Herlings second and Febvre finishing third overall.
Tim Gajser: “I’m really happy to be back racing, it’s been a long period without races. In the first race I took a good start and my riding was good. In the second one, again my jump out of the gate was good and then someone from the inside pushed us completely off the track, I even jumped off the bike. I then searched for some lines for the first couple of laps and tried to make as many passes as possible and managed to get to Tony [Cairoli], then took a couple of laps to see what he was doing and then I made a pass for the win, so I’m happy”.
“Defending the title is always the same pressure but I try to put that to the side. It’s a new season, everybody is starting from zero and I just need to stay consistent, be smart as it’s a long season. I’m looking forward to Matterley Basin, it’s one of the best tracks and I’m really looking forward to racing there in two weeks’ time”.
Jeffrey Herlings: “I started the day with P1 in time practice. In the first race I had a bad start, I was fourth or something and was struggling with the guys in front, managed to finish fourth which was decent, not good but decent and then in the second race I had a really good start and was leading. Then I made a small mistake, crashed and lost a few places, then worked my way to third then Tim passed me and I was back in fourth. I then passed Pauls [Jonass] for third. I felt a little off the pace, obviously I had a bit of luck with Tony [ Cairoli] going down which I feel sorry for him but managed to finish second and second overall, so it was a decent day, I mean I haven’t race GP’s for 9 months, my fitness is not there yet but I just need to get back in the groove”.
“It’s a big improvement, obviously it’s [the foot] not like new, but I don’t have any pain”.
Romain Febvre: “I had a good start in both races but the second could have been better, but I managed to get into third really soon, I saw that I was faster than the other riders but I kind of took my time to look for some lines and Pauls Jonass was in front, he was riding securing the inside line everywhere and at one point I was really close to him, at the last moment he cut his line and went for the inside line and I was there so he took my front wheel and I ended up in the fence. Managed to get the bike and when I stood up I crashed again, so I lost about 20 seconds. I managed to come back to sixth so it’s pretty good, I didn’t think I was on the podium on the last lap, it’s on your bad days that you can fight for the championship, so I’m really happy to finish sixth in the second race and third overall”.
“I struggled with my injury that happened in 2019 but now it’s all good, I feel really good at the moment, my physical condition is pretty good, I’m really calm and I feel I can go fast, so I just need a couple of more races to get into the race condition”.
In MX2, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle made it clear that the pressure of being a defending world champion did not disturb him in the slightest as he cruised around in both races to go 1-1 and secure the red plate at the opening round here in Orlyonok.
Vialle got off to a great start in race one, followed by Honda 114 Motorsport’s Ruben Fernandez and F&H Kawasaki Racing’s Mathys Boisrame and Roan Van De Moosdijk. Last year’s Vice World Champion, Jago Geerts of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing and his teammate Maxime Renaux didn’t get off to the best starts as they were down in 16th and 9th.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Rene Hofer then got himself into 4th, with Renaux catching up on to the back of Jed Beaton of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing and Jan Pancar of KTM Racestore MX2.
Boisrame then got himself back into 4th with a block pass on Hofer on lap 8 to sit behind his teammate van de Moosdijk who was ahead in P3. Van de Moosdijk was on a charge as he clocked some fast laps looking to get close to Fernandez for P2, though ultimately settled for third.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s newest addition Mattia Guadagnini had a strong first race finishing 9th. On lap 13 the Italian was even faster than his teammate and race leader Vialle, which only gave an indication of what he is capable of and what can be expected for the upcoming GP’s.
Vialle though was the race winner, with Fernandez securing his best MX2 result to finish second and Moosdijk crossing the line in third.
The second race saw a different KTM rider taking the Fox Holeshot, as Rene Hofer beat the rest of the field to the first turn. Though it only took a few moments before Vialle was up front with Fernandez on his tail. The pair had a close battle with Fernandez having a brief moment in the lead, though it was Vialle who led the way from then on.
Stephen Rubini of Team Honda Racing Assomotor got off to a good start in 4th position in the second race, though unfortunately did not finish the heat. Renaux also didn’t get the best start and was left having to fight back from 26th.
Boisrame and van de Moosdijk once again got a good jump out of the gate with both riders inside the top 5, with Boisrame pushing to pass Rubini. After Rubini came Fernandez, with Fernandez focused on his own battle with Hofer. By lap 15 Boisrame was able to get around both to secure 2nd place behind Vialle who already held too much of a gap for the Kawasaki rider to challenge him for the win.
Fernandez was keen not to let his earlier mistakes in the race cost him a podium and we were treated to a close battle between him and Hofer, with the pair making contact as Fernandez moved into P3, while Hofer was left to pick up his bike. The Austrian finished the race in 4th.
In the end it was Vialle who was the race winner with Boisrame finishing just 2.569 seconds behind him and Fernandez in 3rd position. In terms of the podium, Vialle started his season in the best way possible with a GP win and the red plate, taking the championship lead to Matterley Basin, while Fernandez took his first MX2 podium, occupying the second place step, while Boisrame finished third.
Tom Vialle: “I had a really good day and I’m really happy with both races. This morning I couldn’t do any better than 9th position in time practice but in the races I had two good starts, leading both races, it was a good weekend and I’m really happy because I’ve been working really hard in the winter. We have been working on the bike also with KTM, so everything was good and I’m really looking forward to going to England and ride again there”.
“My goal is to win at the end of the championship, so the goal was to be consistent like I was last year and it was working pretty good today”.
Ruben Fernandez: “I’m really happy, it’s my first ever podium. I had two good races, I had good starts. In the first one I tried to battle with Tom Vialle from the first laps but I started to make a few mistakes and had to take my own pace. I tried to make no more mistakes. The second race, I managed to get into first and had a good battle with Tom, later I made two mistakes in the same corner, then I struggled with my rhythm, got passed and then on the last lap I had to go for the pass on Rene for the second place on the podium, so I took my last chance. I’m really happy about the race”.
“I can say I’m really happy. We [the team] have been putting in some work, overall the team is good, I’m really happy with the new bike”.
Mathys Boisrame: “I’m really happy for sure to be on the podium. In the first race I made a mistake, but my riding was good. In the second race my start was not so good, the first few laps I was maybe 7th. I managed to come back, my rhythm was good and I finished second, it was a good race and a good weekend for me to start like that”
“Matterley is a good track, a lot of ruts and also a lot of bumps, I like a track like that, but we need to work a lot and keep going, but we see, there is a new race and a new day so we will work a lot and we will see. I’d like to thank my team and everyone who supports me”.