The Turkish MXGP double header saw Jeffrey Herlings and Tom Vialle put in a repeat performance from Sunday to claim the wins at the MXGP of Afyon for Round 9 of the championship, with Herlings remaining the only MXGP rider to ever win here.
Round four of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship took part alongside the MXGP with Kiara Fontanesi taking an emotional and hard-fought overall victory to claim her first 1-1 result since 2018, with both races witnessing a hard fought battle between Fontanesi and Bike IT MTX Kawasaki’s Courtney Duncan. Duncan retains the WMX lead by nine-points.
For the Aussies, following his impressive third-overall result just three days ago, Jed Beaton brought his podium speed to round nine of the MX2 World Championship. Enjoying a great start in race one, the Australian quickly joined a four-rider battle for the lead with the quartet breaking away from the rest of the field. Frustratingly, two crashes halfway through the moto demoted the FC 250 racer down the running order, with Jed ultimately crossing the line in 12th place.
Regrouping for moto two, Beaton again started up front and initially battled with teammate Kay de Wolf during the early stages of the race for fifth position. After making a pass stick on lap nine, the 23-year-old began charging forwards, moving into third position with five laps remaining. With the leaders just out of reach, Jed secured an excellent third in the moto for fifth overall.
Jed Beaton – P5
“It was good to end the trip to Turkey with a solid result but crashing twice in the first moto was really frustrating. The first one wasn’t my fault but the second one was, I just tucked the front in a turn. After that I wanted to get out the gate and battle up front in race two, which I did, and I ended up third in the moto. That gave me fifth-overall and some decent points. My starts have been really good recently and my bike’s working really well, so now I can just focus on the races and doing my best in each moto.”
Bike It MTX Kawasaki’s Wilson Todd meanwhile raced to a fifth-placed moto-finish and seventh overall.
The benefit of racing two GPs in four days at the same venue was immediately evident for the Australian who is generally faced with learning a new track at each round in what is effectively his debut season. He claimed sixth in Qualification, on the same second as pole, and used his more favourable gate-pick to emerge seventh from turn one in the opening moto.
After soaking up the pressure from behind in his first experience of racing the leaderboard from the word go he found a solid rhythm from halfway to close down the riders ahead, narrowly failing to catch the rider in fourth and crossing the finish line just four second shy of a moto podium. A tenth-placed start in race two made life more difficult and he had to settle for ninth in the race for seventh overall on the day. The Australian has moved up a place to twelfth in the points standings at the midway stage of the season.
Wilson Todd – P7
“Qualification wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t too bad with sixth; I was on the same second as pole and could still have cleaned up a few things up in my riding. It makes all the difference to be more inside at the gate; I’m going to most of the tracks for the first time so I usually have to spend practice learning the track. But after being here already on Sunday I was more prepared for today. I made some good passes on the first lap of race one and I’ll take fifth. The second race I was a bit further out the back at the start; there was a bit of chaos going on and I was a bit slower to get around slower guys on the first lap. After that it was hard to make a pass in the heat.“
The Grand Prix of Sardinia on September 19th will take MXGP to the sandy Riola Sardo circuit for the first of seven consecutive race weekends that also involves the Motocross of Nations at Mantova, Italy.
MXGP Race 1
The MXGP class delivered some of the most intense racing that we have seen this season so far. The top protagonists of the championship were all within a couple of seconds of one another in both races, with a winner hard to predict.
After making some changes to the bike, Herlings topped the charts in Time Practice to take pole position which set him up nicely for the races. Though as the gate dropped for race one, it was his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Jorge Prado who clinched the Fox Holeshot ahead of Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre, Herlings and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Seewer.
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser started the race in eighth, though made some quick passes as he got up to fourth within a couple of laps.
There was no change in the top four for quite a few laps as Cairoli worked his way through the field. He had Seewer ahead in fifth who eventually crashed out and dropped to 15th.
Prado then crashed big out of the lead and took a while to get going again, re-joining the race quite far behind the rest of the field, which made it tough for the Spaniard to score any points as he finished the race in 21st.
Febvre was then the new race leader, and it was game one for the top three. Herlings and Gajser had a couple of moments as the Slovenian pushed to get around the Dutchman.
SM Action Racing Team’s Alberto Forato was having a great opening race after a strong time practice. The Italian in sixth place, where he eventually finished. It did look like he was going to challenge Standing Construct GasGas Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass at one point though, which made for some nice racing.
Febvre then looked to stretch out his lead as he set the fastest lap of the race with nine minutes plus two laps to go. And as the race progressed things got more interesting as Febvre, Herlings and Gajser were just within 1.559 seconds of one another.
Cairoli was closing in on the top three at that point too as he was faster than the top three ahead of him. Herlings then put the hammer down on Febvre.
With one lap to go, Herlings was pushing to pass Febvre and was being pushed by Gajser who had Cairoli applying the pressure. Febvre did a good job to defend his position until he made a small mistake and crashed with less than half a lap to go.
Then it was Herlings in the driving seat as Gajser looked to keep close and make a move for the win though got caught out by a hard charging Cairoli who stole second from the Slovenian. Herlings was the race winner.
MXGP Race 2
In race two, it was Prado again with the Fox Holeshot as Herlings followed closely behind in second ahead of Gajser and Jonass, as Cairoli had to fight his way through the pack once again.
Herlings was looking to strike early as Cairoli got around Febvre for fifth and looked to put an attack on Jonass immediately after.
As the race went on, the top three remained close, just as they did in race one, with just 0.959 seconds in between them. Gajser was looking to make a pass on Herlings and make a charge for the win, though made a mistake which allowed Cairoli to close in and join the fight just like before.
At one stage Prado extended the gap to 1.840 seconds but it didn’t take long for Herlings to find his way onto the back of the Spaniard.
While the top four battled for the win, there was also nice action further down the field as Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff got around JM Honda Racing’s Henry Jacobi for 10th. The German responded soon after, parking the Yamaha rider. Coldenhoff then made a small error and crashed.
Back with the leaders though, Gajser was searching for every opportunity to get past Herlings and on lap six was finally able to do it. Then it was game on for the win. Three laps later, Gajser was the new race leader as the top three were bunched up and within less than a second of each other, which meant that the race was far from over.
Herlings followed in Gajser’s steps to get around Prado but could not keep with the Slovenian.
In the end, the birthday boy, Gajser won the second heat with a 5.947 seconds advantage to Herlings, with Cairoli taking third from his teammate as we were treated to another Cairoli vs Prado battle.
In terms of the podium, it was Herlings with the overall victory ahead of Gajser and Cairoli. Tim Gajser continues to lead the championship with a 28-point advantage over Romain Febvre and Antonio Cairoli. Meanwhile Jeffrey Herlings moves up to fourth in the standings, just 34 points off the series leader.
Jeffrey Herlings – P1
“I started the day strong with pole position and it was important to be on the inside in the start. First race was really good, I was actually equal with Jorge, but halfway down the straight he got me. Then I was chasing Romain and Jorge and then at one point Jorge had a big crash, I got up to second and I was actually second all race, I couldn’t really attack because I had Tim on my back, so I had to defend my line but at the same time I wanted to attack Romain because I had more speed than him. I was just following long and managed to be second until the last lap and obviously Romain made a mistake, and I got the win handed to me. It was a bit of a gift. Second race, I was a bit late on the gate but again I had Jorge next to me so he kept the other boys a little bit away. I had Tim on the back of me again and he was pushing hard, so again I had to defend and attack at the same time. Then Tim basically got us both within two laps. I made a pass on Jorge pretty quick, but Tim had a three second gap and he was fast, I can’t deny it. I did not want to take a risk, so I took the second place and knew I was going to take the GP win. It’s been a great day and great two races, looking forward to Sardinia. I think the track will suit me a bit better. I want to thank Red Bull KTM for the great bike they gave me. I can’t make any big mistake anymore. I would like to be 34 points in front instead of 34 points behind but Tim is in the hot seat, but I went from fifth to fourth in the championship and I am just a few points behind Tony and Romain so that’s good. But Second place doesn’t count, there’s only one place and that’s first. We had 9 races so 9 to go. I missed three races but it’s like this right now and I have to make the best out of the situation.”
Tim Gajser – P2
“I really enjoyed myself in that second moto, I felt so comfortable on the bike and I found the flow of the track without pushing over the limit. Of course, I am a little disappointed in the first moto, to have lost a position so close to the end of the race and in the end, this cost me the overall but it was nice to be able to show my speed and make some nice passes in that second moto and win with a solid gap. Now I will prepare for Riola Sardo which will be a completely different challenge as it is deep sand, but I have ridden there a lot these last few years so I am looking forward to it. A big thank you to the team for working so hard in this break and thank you to everyone who has wished me a ‘happy birthday’, it was a great day!”
Antonio Cairoli – P3
“Today I felt a bit better from the Timed Practice, which has been hard for me lately and also makes the starts more difficult. I was a bit too wide in the first turn for both motos and had to use a lot of energy to come back. I’m happy overall: the speed is there, the fitness is there and I just need to figure out the starts better and try to stay nearer the front. I found a good flow, especially in the second moto and just a small mistake meant the guys in front got away. It’s good to finish on the podium but I want more. I really like the track in Sardinia. With a one day race it won’t get too rough but it will be hot, which is good for me. I hope we can have some public because motorsport is pretty big there.”
Romain Febvre – P4
“I’m so disappointed as I spoilt my day with this crash in race one. After the crash of Prado I was leading all the race but then I crashed myself on the last lap. I missed a good opportunity to win a moto and gain points over my rivals but finally I crossed the finish line in fourth. Second moto my start was average. I had a good feeling at the beginning but then I started to feel tired; as you know I was sick on Sunday and I simply didn’t have time to recover between the two GPs. I just missed the podium with a fourth position but I scored good points again and we stay close in the points. Now I go back home and my first goal will be to recover and prepare for the next rounds of the series.”
Pauls Jonass – P5
“Not my best day, but not the worst! I’m a little sore from my crash on Wednesday but when I’m on the bike it’s all good. The track was a little sketchy and I wasn’t too confident pushing too hard, so I focused on consistent riding and I would say it paid off with a fifth and a sixth in the races. Having said that, in the second moto I picked up on some good lines towards the end but by then it was too late. It’s cool though, back to the sand in Riola Sardo next week so that should be a good one.”
Thomas Kjer Olsen – P9
“It was a good day for me with a top-10 overall result. I’m getting back to where I should be and I felt good today. My starts were good and when you’re up front, you can ride your own lines and that makes the races so much easier as you’re not trying to make passes while riding defensively. It’s nice to be heading back to base following a good result here in Turkey and I’m looking forward to the next one, to keep this momentum going.”
Jorge Prado – P10
“I’m happy I could walk away from that crash. It was a big one. I got kicked by one bump and then went into some others. I took too long to get up and luckily the bike was OK, I tried to come back and take some points but the other guys were too far. In the second moto I knew I needed a great start. Everything was hurting! I was feeling OK on the track and had a couple of nice battles. Tony and myself got into a good rhythm and I did my best laps at the end. I had a small dip around minute 20-25 which was difficult because the guys passed me. 4th was the best I could do. We got some points after losing some earlier on. I was very lucky today.”
In MX2, all eyes were on the battle between Vialle and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Maxime Renaux as the pair went at it in both races.
In the opening heat, it was Vialle with the Fox Holeshot ahead of F&H Kawasaki Racing’s Mathys Boisrame, Renaux, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Mattia Guadagnini and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jed Beaton.
Renaux was not wasting time as he was already up in second and looking to keep Vialle close. Meanwhile Boisrame was coming under pressure from Beaton who was keen to get around the Frenchman.
Vialle and Renaux kept things close for a few laps as Renaux started to push, setting fastest laps of the race. And there was nothing Vialle could do as by the end of lap three, Renaux was the new race leader.
The big question was whether Renaux would escape Vialle or whether it would be a race to the flag. We soon got the answer as Renaux continued to set fast laps one after another, escaping the grip that Vialle had on him.
Guadagnini then joined the fight between Boisrame and Beaton for third. Beaton went down a couple of laps later and re-joined in seventh position but then continued to drop down the order as he struggled with arm pump.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Kay De Wolf was one of the riders to get around Beaton as he looked to keep Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Thibault Benistant at bay.
Guadagnini then go himself into third as he finally got past Boisrame, who then went backwards. Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts and Bike it MTX Kawasaki’s Wilson Todd were just two riders who went through on the F&H rider, who eventually finished the race in 13th.
Renaux then pretty much dominated the race, going almost two seconds a lap faster than Vialle on one occasion. By the end he won the race 17.288 seconds ahead of Vialle and Guadagnini who was third.
MX2 Race 2
In race two, it was Vialle once again with the Fox Holeshot as Renaux followed closely behind. Benistant got a good jump out of the gate too and so did De Wolf and Guadagnini.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Rene Hofer was also there in the mix as he worked to get around Benistant for third place. Though he had De Wolf, Guadagnini and Beaton breathing down his neck as well which made things difficult.
Meanwhile the two leaders, Vialle and Renaux traded fast laps as the gap stayed under two seconds.
We were treated to a battle of the teammates between De Wolf and Beaton, as Beaton struggled to get around his younger colleague. By lap nine he was finally able to get the job done. Hofer and Beaton then started to close in on Benistant, with Beaton stealing Hofer’s spot in the meanwhile.
The lead then began to slip away from Renaux as Vialle edged out by 5.036 seconds, as Beaton got around Benistant for third, making up for a tough first race.
In the end, it was Vialle who was victorious with Renaux forced to settle for second and Beaton securing a top three finish. With Vialle going 2-1 in the races, this handed him the advantage for the overall win, with Renaux second overall and Guadagnini managing a top three finish.
Maxime Renaux extends his series lead to 361 points, with Mattia Guadagnini still in second a further 49 points behind and Jago Geerts third.
Tom Vialle – P1
“I didn’t have a good flow in the first race. I had a pretty good start, and the first two laps were okay. In sector four I had some bad lines there and that’s where Maxime passed me. After fifteen minutes I felt really tired. I don’t know what happened, but I had no energy, and I had a good gap to the guy in third so I just finished the race how I could and saved some energy. In race two, I gave everything I could to try to win and it was good. In terms of the title, Maxime is far in front, and it is pretty much done let’s say but I still want to come back, so this is my goal. I will try to win as much as I can. It was difficult but I am happy to win both GPs here in Turkey and I feel really good so let’s move forward to the next races.”
Maxime Renaux – P2
“The main goal is to keep extending the lead, and we managed to do that today. I am happy with that, but I also have to say I am a little bit disappointed that I finished second today because I am here to win, and second in the second race meant I was only second today and I wanted to win. I felt I could have won but I had a small problem in the second moto with the lens coming out of the goggles at the bottom because I was hit by a rock off the back wheel of Tom (Vialle). No excuses, though. I am really happy to have a 49-point lead in the championship, so I will keep building from here.”
Mattia Guadagnini – P3
“This morning I felt really good, I was second in time practice, and it was important to take a good start. I had two pretty good starts but just didn’t get the flow and also in the second race I was trying to pass some riders, but I got passed too, so I just couldn’t get the rhythm. The first race was good, but I didn’t have the pace of the two ahead of me, they were really fast. In race two I tried to push until the end, and I could pass some riders. I passed Rene on the final lap, but he got me back and then I crashed. I am happy to be on the podium and it’s good for the championship to battle at the front, I just know I could do better and be back fighting for the win. The championship is still long, and I want to do my best every race. Of course, I’ve lost some points, but we will try to push hard and do well good in Sardinia where we did winter preparation and it’s a track, I like so it will be good.”
Thibault Benistant – P4
“I felt better today than I did in the weekend at the last GP here. I struggled a little bit to get a good lap time this morning, but in the races, I felt really good. The starts were quite difficult because of my time in qualifying. I had to start really far outside. I still managed in the second race to have a good start, but I wasn’t riding like I know I can in the second moto, so I lost one position to Jed (Beaton) and finished fourth. Sometimes we have days like these. Fourth is not so bad.”
Rene Hofer – P6
“It was a little bit up-and-down today. I made a mistake with my fastest Quali lap and that’s why I was only 9th and my last attempt was ruined by another rider. It meant I was quite far outside for the starts and the first one was average. I lost some positions in the second turn and I was battling for 5th and couldn’t quite get past Wilson Todd. I then had some bad arm-pump and lost a few positions. It was a terrible race. In the second moto I found quite a good rhythm. I was close to overtaking [Thibault] Benistant for 3rd a few times and had a nice battle to take 5th again. Three top five results from four so, in general, quite OK but I’m not super-happy. It was another step in the right direction and we are definitely getting closer to the podium places. In the championship we are also not too far from the top five. We’ll keep working to have a good second half of the season.”
Jago Geerts – P8
“The first heat was pretty good. I started ninth and was able to work my way up to fourth in the end and I was really happy with that. In the second race, I was just not riding good. I had a bad start and then a crash and finished 11th, so I am not happy with that. There is not a lot more I can say. I will just work hard to be better at the next GP.”
Kay de Wolf – P9
“Another good and consistent day on the hardpack for me. I felt really good on the bike in qualifying and it was the same in the races. I had good starts in both motos although I ran a little wide in the first turn in race one, which cost me some positions. Then in race two it was a shame that I slipped off as I was having a good battle for fifth. It was a little frustrating, but I was able to get back up quick and finish eighth which wasn’t so bad. Two top-10 finishes, just like last weekend, so I’m leaving Turkey happy and looking forward to the sand in Sardinia.”
In race one, it was Larissa Papenmeier of Yamaha Racing 423 who grabbed the holeshot ahead of Duncan, Fontanesi and Ceres 71 Racing’s Nancy Van De Ven. Papenmeier then dropped out of the lead as Fontanesi was quick to make moves on the opening lap as she moved into first place.
Van De Ven then took fourth from Papenmeier, as Duncan set the fastest lap of the race and was looking to close in on Fontanesi. The Kiwi then took the gap down to 0.948 and kept the pressure there until the end of the race.
Amandine Verstappen then got around Shana Van Der Vlist for fifth after several attempts, as the two leaders started to pull away from Van De Ven. Further down the field, Sara Andersen and Daniela Guillen of RFME WMX Team battled for seventh position. Andersen eventually was able to get the job done and she finished the race in the same place.
Duncan then set the fastest lap of the race as she once again brought the gap down to under a second and then it was a drag race to the end.
The final two laps were intense to say the least as Duncan gave it her all as she pushed on the final corner to race Fontanesi to the flag. Though it was Fontanesi who secured the race victory by just 0.050 seconds.
WMX Race 2
In race two, Fontanesi was first out of the gate as Van Der Vlist and Duncan followed behind. Duncan was fast to get around Van Der Vlist and set her sights on the race leader.
While Fontanesi led the way, Papenmeier found herself under pressure from Van De Ven who was keen to get around the German. Van De Ven made several attempts though could not make it happen. Andersen was also right there in sixth position.
Fotnanesi then stretched her lead to 3.256 seconds with Duncan second and Van Der Vlist still third. Though as the race progressed it was clear that Duncan was not going to let the race leader get away as she upped her pace.
Papenmeier then found herself on the back wheel of Van Der Vlist as her and Van De Ven were coming in fast. Both riders set their personal fastest laps of the race as Papenmeier got around Van Der Vlist for third.
Drama struck Duncan who went down as she fought for the win. Though determined to not let the win slip away, the Kiwi gave it her best show as she managed to whittle down the gap from almost 14 seconds to 1.4 seconds within just a couple of laps.
With three laps to go Duncan was all over Fontanesi and we saw a repeat of the first race. Both riders fought hard, as Duncan sprinted for the finish, but it was Fontanesi who held onto the win to go 1-1 and finish her Turkish trip on a high.
Fontanesi stood on the top step of the podium, while Duncan was second and Papenmeier third.
Duncan continues to lead the WMX championship, 11 points ahead of Fontanesi and Van De Ven who moves up in the standings.
Kiara Fontanesi – P1
“I am really happy for many reasons because a victory is always a victory. Coming back from pregnancy a year off, I had to really worked hard to be back to the podium. I knew I was competitive to be fighting for the victory and I’ve seen it already from the first round here, I knew it already from the beginning of the championship. But things were just not going well, I always believed. It is also very special for me because it’s another goal achieved, winning an overall GP as a mom. To see yourself first from the beginning to the end is something very special and I think I will keep this victory inside myself for a very long time! For sure, it’s also good points for the championship. I did not really think about this because it is what makes you do mistakes and I just want to enjoy. If I can enjoy then I can ride good, and if I ride good, then I can win. And if I win, then I can take good points. So, this is the way I think.”
Courtney Duncan – P2
“It’s frustrating. But hats off to Kiara, she was better on the day and she deserves the victory. Silly mistakes, it was not from a lack of trying, I pushed till the finish line but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I still keep the red plate and it is all positive moving forward, so I am looking forward to the next race. Now I will just continue to work. The speed is good, everything is working good… I just need to keep on these ways and keep doing what we are doing.”
Larissa Papenmeier – P3
“My speed for the first two races was not enough. Not on Saturday and not today, but I knew that I had the speed for the top three and to finish on the podium. Saturday was really frustrating, but I had to do better today. First race was not great but I made some changes for the second one to finally be back on the podium. We have kind of a big break now. Also, the track in Spain is new for everybody, so I am really looking forward to it.”
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