The FIM Motocross World Championship continues to throw surprises after an exciting penultimate round of the series that saw Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts on the top step of the podium, as the pair clawed back some vital championship points on their rivals. In MXGP, it’s looking like the final round of the series will be a two-man race as Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre and Herlings are separated by just three points, while a penalty in race one has left Team HRC’s Tim Gajser third in standings, 12 points behind Herlings.
In MXGP race one, it was Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Seewer who grabbed the Fox Holeshot. Febvre got off to a good start too as he was ahead of Herlings, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff. Meanwhile Gajser got pushed wide and off the track. Febvre wasted no time as he took the lead from Seewer, with Herlings looking to make a pass on the Swiss too. Herlings was briefly into second before making a mistake and crashing, which also took down Seewer with him. With the two bikes tangled, Herlings took some time before he got going again.
Honda 114 Motorsports’ Ruben Fernandez was having a great start to his MXGP wildcard race, as he was running nicely in fourth. Febvre then set the fastest lap of the race as he led Cairoli by 3.764 seconds, as Gajser got himself into third, while Herlings was all over Standing Construct GasGas Factory Racing’s Brian Bogers for ninth. Herlings was on another level for the next few laps as he picked off riders before catching up to his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Jorge Prado. Prado didn’t make things easy for Herlings, as the young Spaniard shut down every attempt the Bullet was making.
Eventually Herlings was able to get past Prado and Coldenhoff soon after, as Gajser also got around Cairoli for second position. Herlings was still down in sixth though, but Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Mathys Boisrame was the next rider to get passed by the Dutchman. He then went after Fernandez, who was not baking down. The battle between Fernandez and Herlings was intense, as it took Herlings four laps to pass the Spanish rider.
With six minutes on the clock, Gajser started to have Febvre in his sights as Herlings set the fastest lap of the race while looking to get around Cairoli. Cairoli was not backing down to the title hopeful, who had to spend a few laps behind the Italian, but with two laps to go, Herlings was able to get by Cairoli and later Gajser.
Febvre went on to win the race with Herlings second and Gajser third. But Gajser received a 5-place penalty which dropped him down to eighth, so Cairoli moved up to third. Fernandez finished the race in fourth place. In race two, we saw Prado take the Fox Holeshot from Febvre, Herlings and MRT Racing Team KTM’s Alessandro Lupino. Gajser was around 10th, as Herlings wasted no time to get past Febvre and Prado for the lead.
Cairoli started the race in fifth just behind Lupino, with Gajser down in seventh. Febvre then started to apply the pressure onto Prado for second, but it would take him a couple of laps to get around the Spaniard, as Gajser caught onto Cairoli and Lupino. After getting good drive and passing Prado, Febvre was within 3.390 seconds of Herlings with plenty of time left on the clock. And while he kept things close for the first half of the race, as the heat went on, it seemed like Febvre was happy to settle for second and take those championship points without any risk.
Seewer then passed Bogers and Lupino for sixth, while Cairoli caught onto the rear wheel of Prado, as he set his sights on going after third position in the race. As the battle between Cairoli and Prado got tense, Gajser was able to make the most of this and close in on the KTM duo. Prado was not making it easy for Cairoli who launched several attacks on the Spaniard. Eventually Cairoli made mistake which allowed Gajser through. But he was not backing down for the Slovenian.
Gajser had to work hard to get by Prado, but two laps later, the Honda rider found himself up in third. At that point Herlings was 6.728 seconds ahead of Febvre. And as Cairoli searched for a way past Prado, Seewer joined the pair, as the battle for fourth raged on. Finally on lap 14, Cairoli was able to get by Prado and move up a spot. Seewer did the same four laps from the end as Prado dropped to sixth.
Herlings went on to win the race ahead of Febvre and Gajser. And with a 2-1 result, Herlings secured his eighth GP victory of the 2021 season, with Febvre finishing on the second step ahead of Cairoli who was third on the podium. Gajser was fourth overall. With one round to go, Febvre leads the MXGP Championship standings by three points over Herlings, while Gajser is now 12 points behind.
Jeffrey Herlings: “What happened in the first race was so dumb. I put myself in a good position right from the start. I was behind Romain. I did exactly the same crash in the warmup. I just hit my left foot into the side and just got kicked off. I knew I had to work hard. I was almost dead last and worked my way to second. Second race, I had a decent start. I was straight into third and managed to pass Jorge and Romain. Then I was able to make a little gap. Then I was checking where Tony could be. I was actually not trying to run away too far. Then I saw that there was too big of a gap between Romain and Tony. Then I pulled away for the second half of the race. Every point counts right now, so it’s -3. It’s going to be an all-out war on Wednesday. There’s a lot on the line. Different riders, different countries and different manufacturers all going towards the same goal which is the world title. It doesn’t matter who wins it. I think we both deserve it anyway. Even Tim. So, it will be a good one on Wednesday”.
Romain Febvre: “The second race, I started second then Jeffrey passed me and Prado. I maybe didn’t take many risks to pass Prado to avoid falling. So, I lost some time to catch Jeffrey and it was too late at that point. I had some fast laps to close the gap a little bit, but he still had about 3-4 seconds. At one point I just settled for second and thought “I won’t risk everything”. I’m in a good position right now and there’s still one more round to go. Wednesday will be interesting”.
Antonio Cairoli: “For sure I am really happy about the result. I am really enjoying the track and it’s always nice to do it in front of this crowd. First race, I had a good start, then I was a little bit stiff on the first lap and I lost some positions. Then I was riding really fast in the second half of the race. I was really enjoying the track at that point. I finished the race third, ahead of Tim’s penalty. It was a good result for the overall. Second race, the start was not so good. Finally, I had a good rhythm and was able to push a little bit. Then I arrived behind Jorge for 6-7 laps and the guys in front were able to build a gap. Tim also passed me as I was struggling to find some lines to try to pass Jorge. Then I lost the rhythm a little bit. In the end I had some room in front of me which allowed me to have some good laps. I came closer to Tim, but it was too late. Overall, I am happy because of the podium of course, but I will try to do better on Wednesday and be on the podium again. It would be amazing for me and all the fans”.