The 2021 FIM Motocross World Championship kicked off with familiar faces topping the Russian opening round in Orlyonok, with defending champions Tim Gajser and Tom Vialle claiming the round overalls respectively, both walking away with a perfect 50-points.
MX2 also saw Australian Jed Beaton race 7-11 to claim seventh overall, while Wilson Todd finished 16-14, for 15th overall, despite a crash in race two.
MXGP Race 1
Tim Gajser proved why he is a two-time MXGP World Champion, as he took control of the opening race, leading the way from start to finish and eventually winning by 16.794 seconds from Romain Febvre, with Antonio Cairoli third.
Jorge Prado 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 to get back up to the leaders.
Gajser led Cairoli, Febvre and Alessandro Lupino, with the Italian getting off to a great start in the race. He later came under immense pressure from Jeffrey Herlings but was able to keep him at bay for the majority of the race (14 laps) before the Dutchman was able to fight his way through into fourth, where he eventually finished the race.
Jeremy Seewer had a strong ride to finish the race sixth after spending much of the racing keeping up with Herlings and Lupino.
Following his crash on lap two, Prado was eventually able to fight his way back up to ninth, with Thomas Kjer Olsen having a good ride on his first MXGP outing to finish the race in 10th.
MXGP Race 2
In race two it was Herlings who took the Fox Holeshot, leading Cairoli, Pauls Jonass and Febvre, while Gajser and Prado got caught in some start dramas 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, but re-joining the race ahead of Seewer who was fifth.
Further down the order, Gajser wasted no time, as by lap five he was already up into P3, making passes on Olsen, Seewer, and Lupino. 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 sixth after falling to 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 quickly however 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 to finish, despite the nine-time world champion’s best effort.
In the end it was Gajser, Herlings and Jonass making up the podium while, Lupino and Seewer completed the top five 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 for the round.
Tim Gajser – P1
“First of all, I’m really happy that we are back racing. It has been a really long period without races and it is great to see so many fans here in Russia. In the first race my start was good, and my riding was smooth and consistent. I was able to get into the lead quickly and control the moto. Then in the second race my jump out of the gate was good but someone on the inside, crashed and pushed me off the track and I even jumped off the bike so when I remounted I was way back in the pack. I searched for some lines in the first few laps, trying to pass as many people as possible. I got into second and looked where best to make the move and once I got into first, I made a gap and took the win. I’m very happy with how it all went this weekend.”
Jeffrey Herlings – P2
“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 – P3
“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.”
Jeremy Seewer – P5
“Considering how both motos went for me today, the result is not too bad. I managed some good points, which could have been a bad weekend. The track was sketchy; the speed is high. I am happy this one is done. I am in one piece. It felt like ice out there. Top five was the goal here and I think I achieved that. It’s a good place to start and good to have some points in the pocket. I am still not 100%, I am recovering from a problem I had before the season, but I feel good with the team and the bike. My time will come soon.”
Thomas Kjer Olsen – P6
“I’m super-happy with today. Coming into this race it was all a little bit of an unknown because I’ve not raced in this class before and there are so many good riders. My goal was to be in the top 10, so to finish sixth overall is really amazing. It took a little while to find my flow in race one but for race two I felt great on the bike, and I just felt physically strong all day. I made a couple of mistakes in race two but still came back to finish seventh. This result is a nice confidence boost early in the season and we’ll go back to work next week, keep doing what we’re doing and I’m really looking forward to round two.”
Jorge Prado – P7
“A very tough day, one of the toughest race-days from the last few seasons. Just bad luck because I had good speed in an easy way. I could have done very well today. I was a bit nervous because it has been so long since we’ve raced. I made a mistake on the third corner of the first moto. On the second lap I completely lost the back wheel coming down the hill and many guys passed me. I came back to 9th from outside the top twenty and that was very good on a track that is difficult for passing. I was a bit disappointed. In the second moto a few guys just didn’t brake, and ran me off the track in the first corner. I got up to 6th but I had to hit the brakes to avoid some of the marshals at a place that was just too slippery and sketchy. My bars were bent and I couldn’t do much. P8 in the end. Somehow I took top ten finishes today which is not what I want…but the best I could do.”
Tony Cairoli – P10
“I’m quite disappointed with my mistake, especially with three laps to go and in a place where many people crash. It shouldn’t have happened and I should have thought a bit more. I was a bit distracted and crashed hard. Luckily, I didn’t hurt myself and wanted to restart as I had some time over the guys behind but the clutch was broken and bar was bent. It’s disappointing because I was feeling very good on this track after struggling in previous years. Let’s regroup and see what we can do in England.”
In MX2, 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 in Orlyonok.
Vialle got off to a great start in race one, followed by Ruben Fernandez, Mathys Boisrame and Roan Van De Moosdijk. Last year’s Vice World Champion, Jago Geerts and his teammate Maxime Renaux didn’t get off to the best starts down in 16th and 9th respectively.
Rene Hofer moved into fourth, with Renaux catching up on to the back of Jed Beaton (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing) and Jan Pancar.
Boisrame then moved back into fourth with a block pass on Hofer on lap 8 to sit behind his teammate van de Moosdijk who was P3. Van de Moosdijk was on a charge as he clocked some fast laps looking to get close to Fernandez for second, though ultimately he had to settle for third.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s newest addition Mattia Guadagnini had a strong first race finishing ninth. On lap 13 the Italian was even faster than his teammate and race leader Vialle, giving 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.
Australian Jed Beaton finished seventh, while fellow Aussie Wilson Todd was 16th.
MX2 Race 2
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, but it was Vialle who led the way from there.
Stephen Rubini got off to a good start in fourth position in the second race, but 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 five, with Boisrame pushing to pass Rubini. After Rubini came Fernandez, who focused on his own battle with Hofer.
By lap 15 Boisrame was able to get around both to secure second 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 fourth.
In the end it was Vialle who was the race winner with Boisrame finishing just 2.569 seconds behind him and Fernandez third. Caught in a crash, Beaton fought his way back to 11th, while Wilson Todd improved to 14th.
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 – P1
“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 – P2
“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 – P3
“It was a good day with the fastest lap time this morning and then two decent starts. I made a few small mistakes but my speed was good both motos. The track was not easy so I’m happy to be on the first podium of the season; sometimes I’m a little bit too aggressive; I am working on that with Marc (de Reuver) and the team and today everyone was happy with the result. The team is like a second home for me; we have such a good connection and work in very good conditions to prepare a good season. Now we have two weeks to work again on our starts before the next GP at Matterley.”
Roan van de Moosdijk – P4
“Mathys and myself are used to being 1-2 in timed practice and that gave us the choice of the inside gates. It worked really well in race one as I could take the inside line in turn one to come out fourth and I was quickly third. The track wasn’t easy to make the difference; I tried to go for second but it’s a long season and in the end it was more sensible to settle for third. My second start was not quite so good but I made some good early passes; towards the end of the race I started to make some small mistakes and Mathys and Fernandez were pushing really hard so I decided it was wiser to settle for 4th. Now I look forward to Matterley; I’ve raced there since the 85s and always did well there so I look forward to continuing the good results.”
Rene Hofer – P5
“Definitely a good start to the season. I wasn’t that far forward in the first moto but moved up from 11th to 6th on the first lap. I rode quite good in the first half of the race but then ran into some arm-pump and was holding on as much as I could for that 5th place. My riding wasn’t great but top five was OK. A holeshot in the second moto! But a little mistake meant I went back to third. I could keep up with Fernandez quite well until he crashed. I was making time on Tom, so the middle of the race was really good. Some small errors meant Boisrame could get me, and then I went down on the last lap with Fernandez. A shame but I’m still happy to finish top five in the first GP. A lot of chances still remain to get on that podium.”
Maxime Renaux – P6
“Not the best day for me. Two bad starts. I had to fight to come back in both. I crashed in the first race and came back sixth, but that was quite difficult because I had quite a lot of pain on my belly. In the second race I had quite a big crash and I had to fight all the way back to ninth from last position. My pace is not so bad, but bad starts and these crashes mean it could have been better for me today.”
Jed Beaton – P7
“The day started really good with third in qualifying. From there it wasn’t my greatest day, at least it wasn’t where I wanted to be anyway. It’s the first of 19 rounds so there’s still a long way to go and many races so it’s not over by any means. The class is so stacked that it was hard to make passes today but we’ll move forward from here. I’ll be working on my starts during the next couple of weeks and I’ll be back for more at Matterley Basin in two weeks’ time.”
Mattia Gaudagnini – P8
“Not the best but also not too bad for the first GP of the year. My starts were not great, so we need to work on those: I made my life difficult! I’m pretty satisfied with my riding and the lap-times were pretty good. We can only get better from here. I was 4th in Timed Practice, so that was also a positive.”
Wilson Todd (Bike It MTX Kawasaki) was disputing fifteenth with the 2020 world number two during the early laps of race one until they collided and the Australian faced a long hard charge from nineteenth to regain sixteenth by the finish.
He raced quickly from fifteenth to twelfth in race two before sacrificing two places in traffic during the closing stages. He heads to his “home GP”– as team manager Steve Dixon is the promoter of the British GP – fourteenth in the points standings.
MXGP travels back to central Europe and for a swift sequence of six consecutive rounds in six weeks. Round two takes place at the popular Matterley Basin circuit for the British Grand Prix on June 27th.
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