The 2020 MXGP of Pietramurata in Italy proved to be a day of champions as Team HRC’s Tim Gajser and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle claimed the MXGP and MX2 World titles, both in the opening races of the GP and with a round to spare.
Tim Gajser 2020 MXGP Champion
For Gajser, the 2020 season came with ups and downs. The Slovenian looked strong in the first two rounds in Matterley Basin and Valkenswaard, where he finished second both times. But then we saw him struggle in Latvia, as the season resumed, before he turned things around for the MXGP of Lombardia where he finally got his hands on the red plate. He then got his first overall victory two rounds later during the MXGP of Europe in Mantova, before following that up with a string of podiums and race wins.
The Slovenian turned the red plate gold, as he claimed his fourth world title with a fourth overall Grand Prix victory of the season, along with a 14th heat win in race two. The stats for Gajser are pretty impressive in 2020, he has 13 podiums to his name, has led a total of 205 laps along with eight pole positions this season, more than any other rider in the category.
Trentino is a circuit that Gajser knows how to win at, as he secured his first ever Grand Prix victory in Pietramurata back in 2015, the same year he asserted his first world title in MX2 and then followed it up with an MXGP world title in Charlotte, USA, during his rookie season in the 450cc class. Title number three came last season in Imola, as he wrapped things up three rounds early and now his fourth at the MXGP of Pietramurata during the penultimate round of the year.
Tim Gajser – 2020 MXGP Champion
“It feels unbelievable to be world champion for a fourth time. Winning one time is amazing, but four times, I’m just speechless. It was a weird season with the COVID-19 and then the break between the rounds two and three, but in the end, everything came together and we won another title! Racing today was very nice, in the first race, I didn’t have the best start but I was still able to come through the field and finish second and that meant that if I could win race two, I would take the overall. In the second moto I grabbed the holeshot and then had a really good battle with Romain all the way to the chequered flag. We were pushing the whole time so I’m super happy to win this title and the overall on the same day. A big thanks to the whole of Team HRC, there are a lot of people who are involved who couldn’t be here today so a big thank you to all of them and to everyone who has supported me all year long. It is a privilege to ride for this team and I appreciate every single person who has helped me. Thank you!”
MX2 crowns Tom Vialle Champion a round early
Meanwhile in MX2, Vialle had a close battle with Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts all season long. Geerts was the early championship leader, though by the second round Vialle was able to take over the spot and retain that position, as he swapped the red plate for a gold one. He confirmed his first world title with a confident race win, which saw him take the Fox Holeshot from the outside. This was his 13th heat win of the season and while the Frenchman missed out on a spot on the podium, the only thing that mattered was the championship.
Last year, Vialle joined the Red Bull KTM Factory squad and was already a key player in the championship. His first podium in MX2 came in Uddevalla during the MXGP of Sweden, last season and he ended the season fourth, just 5 points down on Geerts. This season, the Frenchman entered as the leading factory KTM rider and he took on the role with confidence as he racked up a total of seven GP wins, his first at the MXGP of the Netherlands, 13 podiums and led a total of 309 laps. He is also this year’s winner of the Fox Holeshot Awards with a total of 20 points, with one round remaining.
Tom Vialle – 2020 MX2 Champion
“I’m so happy but there have been a lot of emotions today. I was a bit angry with the verdict this morning but to make the holeshot and lead the first moto was fantastic. I was almost crying on the last lap. There was so much emotion. It was really special. Crazy. In the second moto I was around sixth position and someone hit me and bent the gear shifter under the bike. I was stuck in second gear. I tried hard to get the bike into third but it was not possible, so I had to come into the pits. I still finished the moto. It was a bit of a shame because I was feeling so good today. Sometimes bad luck happens though. The important thing is that we achieved our goal. I want to say a big thanks to the whole team and everybody who worked together to make this happen. It was tiring to have a lot of races so close together and also keep the concentration through the training. I think we did it pretty good.”
Jed Beaton claimed third overall in MX2, with a second-place finish in race one followed up with a solid fourth in moto two, earning the Australian a well-deserved place on the final step of the podium, just one-point away from the eventual GP winner Jago Geerts who cemented his MX2 championship runner up position, and tied on points with Ben Watson. Beaton currently sits 13-points off Maxime Renaux in the standings, a gap he’ll need to close in the final round this weekend to end the season on the overall podium in third.
“I gave everything I had in that second moto. I knew the overall was there and I just rode as hard as I could, but it wasn’t to be. It’s disappointing that I couldn’t get it done but at the same time I’m happy to be back on the podium. It’s great for the team too. They’ve been working really hard and it’s nice to pay them back with a solid result. One more round to go so I’m looking to end the season with another podium.”
Bailey Malkiewicz had a consistent weekend with two 12th place results, to claim 11th overall for the round. He now sits 16th in the MX2 standings.
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser sealed his fourth world title in style, with a 2-1 result that saw him take to the top step of the box. Following a tough start to the first race, Gajser was able to make a good recovery, passing Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha Racing’s Alessandro Lupino and Brent Van Doninck. The Slovenian caught up to the race leader, Jeremy Seewer of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing, who he pushed until the end, though could not manage to get around the Swiss. But a second-place finish was enough for him to secure the gold plate.
In race two (the re-run), Gajser was able to get a good jump out of the gate and grab the Fox Holeshot to then lead every lap of the race, despite immense pressure from Romain Febvre of Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team, to claim his 14th race win of 2020.
There was a re-start of the second MXGP race, due to a red flag which was caused by an incident involving Gajser and Honda SR Motoblouz rider Jeremy Van Horebeek, who was taken off track, but luckily walked back to the camper in decent conditions.
Seewer finished second overall, the Swiss was looking strong all day, as he took his first pole position in time practice, then managed to grab the Fox Holeshot in race one and lead the race from gate drop to chequered flag. This was his 3rd heat win of the year. Then in the second race, the factory Yamaha rider was able to grab another good start, though was quickly passed by Febvre for P2 and eventually finished the race in 3rd, which gave him a solid overall result, to keep third position in the championship standings, just 4 points behind Cairoli.
Febvre was the last rider to claim a podium spot, as he worked hard in race one to get up to 5th and then in race two had a much better start, inside the top 5 and made some quick passes on the opening lap to get behind Gajser, where he kept him tight all race long. The Frenchman really applied the pressure onto the 4-time world champion, though in the end was forced to settle for 2nd, which put him third overall.
With Gajser crowned champion, the door is now wide open for the vice-champion position. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli had not such a bad day, though may not have been what he had expected, following an overall victory last time around. The Italian finished the first race 6th after a crash while pushing Seewer for the lead, though he did try to re-group and had some nice battles with Lupino and Febvre. While in the second race we saw the 9-time world champion battle with Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing’s Clement Desalle though he could not get around the Belgian and had to settle for 5th. This has allowed Seewer to close in, in terms of championship points, as there’s only 4 points in it, heading into the final round.
It was a good day for Alessandro Lupino who took a season best result in race one as he crossed the line in 3rd. Race two was a bit tougher for the local rider, who finished 11th which gave him 6th overall.
Tim Gajser – 2020 MXGP Champion
“It feels just unbelievable. Like I said many times, winning one is incredible but now four is just…speechless. I’m really happy. It was a weird season, but anyway in the end everything came together, and we won another title. In the first race, I was already struggling with the clutch and was riding without the clutch the whole race, finishing second. Then in the second race, I had a nice battle with Romain [Febvre] who was really pushing and I’m super happy to win the title and the overall on the same day.”
Jeremy Seewer – P2
“First pole position and then got a great start…I’ve been second many times in qualifying this year so it didn’t really matter for the start, it is just a good feeling to be on pole and then after an amazing first race, Tim [Gajser] had some technical problems, so hats off to him for riding that fast without a clutch and also congratulations on the world championship, he’s done great this year. Anyway, I’m really happy, solid results, second overall and good points for the championship, especially on this kind of track, where I kind of struggled the last few years and not got a podium here, not even in my MX2 days, so it felt great. I know it’s going to go between me and Tony [Cairoli] for the vice world championship, but honestly I hope for some more races like today. I mean my goal was to be up front and win, to be on the podium and I will hope to do the same on Sunday.”
Romain Febvre – P3
“Last Sunday, I had a really bad first race, crashed at the start so I was last and then crashed two more times after that. Anyway, today in the first race, I didn’t really get the start and came back to 5th, so I was really happy about my riding, but I knew they key was the start. We focused for the second start and I had a really good start, maybe third or something, and moved to second quick and battled with Tim [Gajser] for the whole race, congrats to him on the championship of course and today’s win, he was the best this year.”
Gajsers injured teammate, Australian Mitch Evans congratulated him on a great season.
“It has been a great season for Tim, and he thoroughly deserves to win this title. He works extremely hard and I couldn’t be happier for him and the whole team. It is a great group of people here and having now experienced the atmosphere this year, I am really happy to be here again next year. The injury is progressing really well and I’m aiming to come into 2021 just how I started this year, knowing that I’ll be riding a championship-winning bike.”
While Vialle missed out on a podium finish, the Frenchman still claimed his maiden world title in incredible fashion, as he took race 1 Fox Holeshot from the outside gate, and then led every lap of the opening race, to cross the line with his 13th race win but this time officially as world champion.
The second race was the complete opposite for the factory KTM rider, who struggled out of the start and then was hit by another rider which damaged his gear lever. Vialle was forced into the pits for repairs, though did re-join the race to finish in 23rd.
In terms of the podium though, it was Jago Geerts who made it two on the bounce with a 5-1 results, which saw him very narrowly take the overall win over his teammate, Ben Watson and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jed Beaton.
Geerts crashed out in the opening race, which meant he had to work hard, to get around the likes of Ruben Fernandez of SDM Corse Yamaha and Morgan Lesiardo of Honda 114 Motorsports, to come back to 5th, though he had a nice battle with Renaux and Watson for a spot in the top 3. The second race was much better for the Belgian, who grabbed the Fox Holeshot and controlled the race from then on, despite the pressure from Watson throughout the entire heat.
Watson joined his Monster Energy Yamaha Factory teammate, to secure his fifth podium of 2020, with a fourth and a second in the races. Watson pushed Geerts right until the end, as the pair finished the second race, separated by just 1.938 seconds.
Despite missing out on the top step of the box by just a single point, Beaton was third as he claimed his third podium of the season. Beaton had a much more consistent day, compared to the previous GP, as he finished the opening race in second, while in race two, he was fourth, after trying to push Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing’s Thibault Benistant for P3. The day’s solid results have also helped the Australian to get himself back into fourth in the MX2 Championship standings.
With Vialle crowned champion, this leaves Geerts as the vice world champion, as Yamaha SM Action MC Migliori J1 Racing’s Maxime Renaux is 120 points down on the leader, in third. But it’s the battle for the bronze medal which will be the focus at the next GP, as Beaton is just 13 points shy of the third spot. Renaux had some solid races, finishing third in race one, after a few laps behind Bailey Malkiewicz of Honda 114 Motorsports, who he eventually passed for the spot and fifth in race two, which gave him fourth overall, four points off a podium spot.
Jago Geerts – P1
“In the first race, I had to come from outside the top ten, as I made a small mistake on the second lap, but my riding felt good and it was really difficult to pass, so could only finish fifth. In the second heat, I took the holeshot so I was really happy with that and then Ben [Watson] was chasing me the whole race, in the end, I could win, so I’m really happy with the day and the 6th overall win of the season.”
Ben Watson – P2
“First of all, I want to congratulate the whole team. Everyone works so hard and its really nice for me and Jago [Geerts] to give the guys a one-two on the podium. Everyone’s working really hard to be on the box again… Last Sunday was difficult, but I felt really good in my riding, I just had a few issues with one crash in the first race and then struggled in the start of the second one. It’s a little bit difficult to pass, but I’ve been feeling really good with the bike. Today I had a mediocre start in the first race but I could come through. Then in the second one I took a good start and it was a really nice race, battling with your teammate the whole time. I finished second and second overall and I’m really happy with it.”
Jed Beaton – P3
“It’s really hard to pass out there. In the first race I was up there pretty good and got caught out a little bit in the second race, got to fourth and pretty much stayed there the whole race. But all in all, I’m pretty happy with my riding. For sure it’s still possible [to go for third in the championship], racing is racing, so I’ve just got to focus on myself and try to get some good starts on Sunday and get the best results I can.”
Tom Vialle – 2020 MX2 Champion
“It was really difficult this morning when I got the penalty, but I got the FOX Holeshot in the first race and it was fantastic. On the last lap of the first race, I was almost crying and feeling so strange but then to win the title is just fantastic. I didn’t get a great start in the second race and then somebody hit me from behind and I was stuck, so I had to go back to pitlane to fix it but I still finished. Thank you to All who supported me to win the MX2 title!”
Dirk Gruebel – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager
“Tom showed his potential in his first year with us in 2019. There was real progression but then over the winter he made another big step to be a title contender and world champion. He didn’t look back. He doesn’t get nervous. He had real competition, but Tom finished every race in a good spot, mainly in the top five, mostly in the top three. That’s the key to being world champion and now we are here celebrating. Hats-off to him and the family, unbelievable. We are known for having a fast 250 – also a 450! – but I still think we have the benchmark in MX2 for everybody and Tom is another rider who knows how to make starts with it. It’s a really good motorcycle and we’ve been winning since 2004 with that concept. Tom being the ninth world champion shows its quality.”
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