Round 7 of the 2021 FIM Motocross World Championship took place in Kegums, Latvia over the weekend, with Tim Gajser winning the MXGP class with a consistent performance that saw his 2-2 results rewarded with victory, while in MX2 Maxime Renaux won both races, extending his standings lead.
With three consecutive top-five overall results in the MX2 class, Australian Jed Beaton arrived in Latvia aiming to maintain his excellent form. Qualifying fastest in Time Practice, the 23-year-old lined up for moto one on the very inside gate and enjoyed a great start, slotting into second position as the field emerged from the first turn. From there, the FC 250 racer remained up front for the whole moto, going on to end his race less than one second behind Jago Geerts and in a solid fourth place.
Race two, saw Jed confident of another strong result as well as a potential spot on the GP podium. Frustratingly, he clipped a stricken bike on the opening lap, which sent him to the ground. Following another crash later in the race Beaton eventually worked his way up to 13th by the end of the moto. Despite his misfortune, Jed placed eighth overall.
“I was certainly hoping for more today, especially after race one. In the second one someone had crashed in front of me and I had nowhere to go so I hit their bike and went down. I was coming through pretty good and then I crashed again. It’s frustrating as I’ve been building momentum during the last few weeks so it’s a little disappointing. I’m looking forward to Turkey and two rounds there on the hardpack, so that should be a good trip.”
Fellow Australian Wilson Todd finished 19-12 to claim 11-points and 15th overall.
MXGP Race 1
In the first MXGP race it was Jeffrey Herlings of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing who grabbed the Fox Holeshot ahead of fellow factory KTM rider Jorge Prado and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff who was being pushed by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli.
Home hero and Standing Construct GasGas Factory Racing rider Pauls Jonass got off to a strong start in the race as he was sitting in sixth place ahead of Romain Febvre of Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team and MRT Racing Team KTM’s Alessandro Lupino. All while Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Seewer and Ben Watson were buried in the mid-field.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen went out of the first race, while his teammate Arminas Jasikonis did not line-up for the races at all, due to a crash in timed practice this morning.
Herlings continued to lead Gajser who was looking to close the gap down, with Prado, Coldenhoff and Cairoli just behind, while Febvre was trying to push #222 for fifth.
Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha Racing’s Calvin Vlaanderen got off to a fantastic start in the race as he briefly ran in the top five, though did not finish the race as he rode back to the paddock.
Just as it looked like Prado, Coldenhoff, Cairoli and Febvre were starting to settle behind Herlings and Gajser, Cairoli sensed his opportunity to get around the #259 of Coldenhoff to get himself into fourth place.
Cairoli then went after Prado to steal third, while the Spaniard was coming under more pressure from Coldenhoff and Febvre, as well as Jonass who was starting to close in on the group.
Febvre then passed Coldenhoff and set his sights on Prado, with Jonass also making a move on Coldenhoff which the Latvian fans loved.
In the end Gajser could do nothing to close the gap to Herlings who was the race winner, with the Slovenian finishing second and Cairoli placing third.
MXGP Race 2
In race two, it was Febvre who led the rest of the field into the first corner to secure his fifth Fox Holeshot of the season. The Frenchman then led Prado, Herlings, Cairoli and Vlaanderen.
Cairoli then crashed out of fourth and re-joined the race inside the top 10, all while things were looking good for Febvre but just two laps later the Kawasaki rider made a mistake and crashed out of the lead with Prado inheriting P1.
Jonass had a tough start to the second heat after crashing in the first corner. He then chased Watson for 15th, after doing so he caught onto JM Honda Racing’s Henry Jacobi who rode into the side of the Latvian and thus both riders went down. Jonass managed to get back up to 15th by the end of the race with Jacobi ahead in 14th.
Prado continued to lead Herlings, as Gajser was looking to close in on the pair.
Herlings then stepped things up in the closing stages of the second race as he took the gap down from 2.6 seconds to 0.789 – and it was clear that the race win was his focus.
It then looked like Febvre was chasing down Gajser for third with a smoking bike, putting his race in doubt.
The gap between Prado and Herlings remained under a second for the remainder of the race and on the final lap it looked like he was going to make a pass but was dealt another blow this season as he went down. The Bullet managed to pick himself up in fourth, only with Gajser and Febvre going through.
In the end Prado was the race winner, with Gajser second and Febvre third.
With two very solid 2-2 results, Tim Gajser was the overall Grand Prix winner, while Jorge Prado and Jeffrey Herlings were tied on 43 points for second and third.
Today’s overall victory was the perfect comeback for Gajser who struggled in Loket and Lommel as he continues to lead the MXGP World Championship on 270 points, 13 ahead of Romain Febvre who has Jorge Prado breathing down his neck a further two points behind.
“That was the goal for today, just to have two solid starts. I was riding well, didn’t make any mistakes, I was consistent and we managed. Of course, we had a little bit of luck with Jeffrey going down on the last lap but super happy about the day. It’s good to go into the summer break with the overall and work hard to improve some things to make sure I am strong in the next GP’s, so I’m really looking forward to coming back to Turkey as I really like the track. In the last couple of weeks, I was just adding too much pressure onto myself, so today I just said to myself, just enjoy it and have fun. I really don’t want to look at the championship as it’s still early in the season, but I just want to focus on each GP. Of course, I will take a rest day and then will train hard to be strong for the second half of the season.”
Jorge Prado – P2
“Today was a great day especially that last race win of the day, it’s a good feeling. I’m definitely feeling stronger and stronger which is very positive. Since Loket I have been improving a lot and now I have some weeks to get even better physically which has been my weakest point so far this season. In the first race, I struggled a lot with the rhythm, these guys were pushing really hard and I just couldn’t find the good lines and made it hard for myself. In the second race, I knew start would be important with the weather. I got behind Romain and tried to attack but I made a small mistake, then a couple of laps later on, he crashed. I knew Jeffrey was behind me and I knew he would push in the last laps, I was waiting for him on my back wheel and those laps were so long in the end but I got the race win and I am happy. It’s good. I’ve never been so close to the championship. Still a long championship and things are getting better and better, and we’ve got tracks coming up in the rest of the season that I really like so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Jeffrey Herlings – P3
“The start of my weekend was perfect. In the first race I really controlled in and took the win, but the second race I started third behind Jorge who had a good pace. Then Romain crashed so it was me and Jorge and it was raining, I didn’t want to get roosted, so I gave Jorge like a three or four second gap. He was riding perfectly; he was riding defence lines which were good, and he didn’t make any mistakes. I was looking to make a pass but with two laps to go I was just thinking to take home the overall and I didn’t want to take any risk. I was really happy but then I jumped into the turn, and I tipped over, got up to go, my bike wouldn’t start which is normal when the bikes get hot and that was the overall gone. 1-4 for third overall and on the other side I should be happy to even race here but now I will re-group, get healthy, train hard and be ready for the second half. We have four weeks now. Time to re-group and get healthy and I know exactly what I need to do as these guys are fast. There’s 43 points in it now but there’s still 11 rounds to go.”
Romain Febvre – P4
“I would say it was a decent GP! The first race was not easy; my start was not very good and I could come back to fifth, close to the other riders in front of me, but I wasn’t able to attack them. The second moto start was perfect with another holeshot, I had a good feeling but once more I slid out in a corner and crashed! I came back to fourth in the race and couldn’t do more. The track was really strange this year and with the rain it was even more complicated; I was lucky that Jeffrey crashed on the last lap and handed me the third position. Now we have a break; we are in a good position in the points and we will work on the details that we need to win this championship!“
Tony Cairoli – P5
“The day began well with a good lap in Timed Practice but my start was not good in the first moto. I was inside in the first corner and made it to the first five-six. I was riding OK and later in the race tried to attack and make my way to 3rd. I was OK with that but it took quite a bit of energy to pass those guys and I felt it for the second moto. I got up to 4th on the second lap but then unfortunately crashed and lost seven or eight positions. It was difficult in the rain and to pass others again. To recover to 6th was not too bad but also not my goal for the weekend. We’ll score this GP a ‘6.5 of out ten’ and move onto Turkey.”
As the gate dropped for the opening MX2 race of the day, it was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Mattia Guadagnini who secured the Fox Holeshot ahead of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jed Beaton and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Rene Hofer got a good start in fourth ahead of Renaux.
Diga Procross GasGas Factory Racing’s Isak Gifting and Simon Längenfelder both had an unlucky start to the race, with the pair both hitting the start gate. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider Kay De Wolf and Honda 114 Motorsports’ Ruben Fernandez also struggled with the start as the pair were down at the bottom end of the top 20.
Guadagnini led Beaton, Geerts and Renaux but Renaux was keen on wasting no time, as he quickly got around Geerts for third, before catching onto the back wheel of Beaton to steal his position as well.
Renaux then set the fastest lap of the race as he got within 3.088 seconds of Guadagnini with more than 20 minutes on the clock. From then on it was a charge for the lead by the Yamaha rider who was taking time out of the leader lap by lap.
The battle between the pair was intense, but by lap five we saw a change for the lead as Renaux managed to find a way through. He quickly stretched the gap to just over 3 seconds as Guadagnini was looking to keep close.
Renaux led Guadagnini, Geerts, Beaton and F&H Kawasaki Racing’s Mikkel Haarup who was having a very strong race, fighting at the sharp end of the field in fourth.
De Wolf was making a good recovery as he chased Hofer for eighth place, all while Haarup was starting to come under pressure from Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Thibault Benistant and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle. Both riders managed to get around the Dane over the next few laps.
With two laps to go, Renaux continued his lead with Guadagnini second, while Geerts was coming under pressure from Beaton for third.
In the end it was Renaux who won the race, with Guadagnini finishing 5.989 seconds behind, with Geerts holding on to third.
Jed Beaton missed the podium by under a second, with fellow Australian Wilson Todd finishing 19th.
MX2 Race 2
The second race saw Guadagnini time the start perfectly once again as he led the race early in the heat. Haarup started the race in second just ahead of Renaux who made a quick move on the Dane to get himself in the perfect position behind Guadagnini.
Fernandez got a much better start in the second race as he was running fifth behind Geerts who was quick to get around Haarup for third in the opening lap.
Beaton had a tough start to the heat as he went down on opening lap and was down in 18th place. Things did not get much easier for the Aussie, as he fought his way back to 12th and crashed once again to eventually finish the race in P13.
Much like in the first race, Renaux was not looking to waste any time as he chased down Guadagnini and just like in race one, the Frenchman passed the Italian on lap five!
There was a nice three-way battle between Haarup, Hofer and Vialle for fifth, with Vialle managing to get both riders ahead. Haarup then dropped two positions as Hofer and his F&H Kawasaki Racing teammate Mathys Boisrame both got around him. He eventually finished the race in ninth while Boisrame made a mistake and dropped to 15th.
While Renaux continued to lead, Vialle was looking fast as he caught and passed Fernandez to move into fourth.
In the closing stages of the race, it looked like Guadagnini was going to try to get back up to Renaux but unknowingly came under fire from a hard-charging Geerts who stepped it up a gear in the final laps.
Geerts then set his fastest lap of the race as he closed in on Guadagnini and with just a handful of laps to go, the Belgian made a tough move on the Italian to steal second place.
In the end it was Renaux who won the race and celebrated his first 1-1 result, with Geerts second and Guadagnini third.
With two race wins, Maxime Renaux won the MXGP of Latvia, while Jago Geerts stood on the second spot of the podium and Mattia Guadagnini making a comeback to the podium in third, after a tough GP in Lommel.
A crash stricken race saw Jed Beaton finish 13th, while Wilson Todd improved to 12th.
Renaux now stretches out his championship lead to 34 points over Guadagnini as Geerts sits third just a further two points behind.
Jed Beaton sits sixth in the standings, with Wilson Todd 14th.
Maxime Renaux – P1
“Yeah, actually I got some special motivation for this race. I really wanted to get some good points in championship before the break. Didn’t have the best start in both races but then I could turn really good, try to make my passes as quick as possible and come back. Mattia made two really good starts. I just found my pace and found some spaces to pass him in both races and make a really good gap to be not under pressure, then just cruise to the finish line. So that was really a perfect day. First time for me to have both race wins. I am really happy about it and so happy with how the day turned out. The plan now is for sure to take some rest. Even though it’s not really going to be off for me. Then back to work and try to continue to build for the second half of the season. I really want to make it step by step. I think I am in a good place and don’t want to let anything come in the way. So yeah, keep the focus and keep on going.”
Jago Geerts – P2
“The first race was okay. It could be better. A good start actually. I was third a for a couple of laps. But yeah, I did not have the best pace and I couldn’t catch up Mattia. In the second race, I felt much better and at the end I tried to go for the lead but Maxime was also riding really good. So, I finished second and I am happy with that, second overall as well is good. I’m not thinking of the championship, but I am happy with that and I will just keep building during the break and be ready for the rest of the season.”
Mattia Guadagnini – P3
“I am pretty happy with today. It could be a little bit better, but it is still better than last week. A strong two races with two holeshots, then the two races were pretty similar, Maxime passed me. First race, I led a little bit more, then I was trying to close the gap in the last two laps. But he was also doing good, so I took the second place. Second race, pretty much the same. I took the holeshot then 10 minutes in, he passed me. I tried to stay close to maybe try to pass him but then Jago also came from the back, and he was a bit stronger. So, he passed me, then I just settled for third place. I am pretty happy with the day. Now we will try to push back and be ready for the next race. I was not expecting these results on my first year but I am doing pretty good. So, I am happy with the start of this season. I had some bad races, like in Lommel and lost a lot of points for the championship but it is just the beginning. The championship is still long, so I will try to do my best then we will see.”
Tom Vialle – P4
“The weekend was not too bad overall and I had some really good speed. I’m happy with that but I need to work on Timed Practice because 14th was too far out on the gate and I was around the top ten for the starts. I fought to come back to 6th and 4th so my pace was good. We now have a few weeks off and I need to train hard. My form is coming back and this break will be good for me. I like the track in Turkey and we still have a lot of races and hard-pack tracks to come.”
Thibault Benistant – P5
“The day started really good. I almost got pole position, but I made a small mistake on my fast lap, so even with the mistake, I was still third. I was feeling good and happy with my riding, but I was a little bit unlucky to take a big stone to the collarbone that I broke during the winter. It was quite painful, and in the second moto I struggled with the pain and a bad start.”
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