The MXGP championship arrives in Italy this weekend for the MXGP of Trentino at the beautiful Pietramurata circuit.
The track has been a stop of the MXGP championship the past several years whose hard pack surface set against the Dolomite Mountain range always leads to amazing racing.
Last year was no exception as Italian MXGP superstar Antonio Cairoli came back in dramatic fashion passing the top racers in the world, lap after lap, to steal the overall win from Tim Gajser.
Not only will Cairoli and Gajser again face off again but for both it will be packed with their fans making the trip. The Italian motocross community will without doubt come out to support Cairoli as the newly appointed red plate holder in his home GP but joining in the action is a motivated Jeffrey Herlings, Clement Desalle, Romain Febvre and Gautier Paulin among others.
Plus the stars of MX2 will fight for supremacy including the unbeaten Pauls Jonass, defending GP winner Jorge Prado, Darian Sanayei, Thomas Kjer Olsen, Hunter Lawrence and more in what is a huge pool of young talent.
This weekend’s racing will also include the first races of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship featuring the five-time World Champion from Italy, MXFonta Yamaha’s Kiara Fontanesi, along with other heavy hitters such as Altherm JCR Yamaha’s Courtney Duncan, from New Zealand, NoFear Yamaha’s Nancy Van de Ven, and even some newcomers such as Avrie Berry from the United States.
Alongside the MXGP, MX2, and WMX World Championships will be the second round of EMX125 Presented by FMF Racing boasting an incredible 97 rider entry list, including KTM Junior Racing’s Rene Hofer who took double race victories to start the season at Valkenswaard.
This weekend in the premier MXGP class Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Herlings will be looking to make a statement and top his main rival and team-mate Cairoli at Cairoli’s home GP.
Cairoli had a miraculous comeback here in 2017 but so far in 2018 it has been Herlings who is fighting his way through the pack. In the past five years, Cairoli has won the MXGP in Trentino three times with a second in 2015 after his worst finish of 5th the year prior. Herlings has a similar record in the MX2 class with 3 wins and a second, but last year in his rookie MXGP season he took 8th.
Third in the 2018 MXGP Championship after the first three rounds of the season is Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Desalle, Desalle consistency has paid of so far but only five points separate himself from the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP rider Febvre and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Paulin.
Desalle has finished in the top 5 in 3 of his 4 Trentino appearances including the overall win in 2014, however his worst performance on the circuit came just last year with 6th. Meanwhile Febvre has never won here but came close in 2016 when he finished second overall marking his best result just one year before scoring his worst during the 2017 stop with 13th place. Paulin is another rider who has missed the mark on his 5 previous Pietramurata outings, the Frenchman had his best finish back in 2013 when he took the final spot on the podium.
One rider to keep in mind this weekend is Team HRC’s Gajser. Gajser just narrowly lost out on the win due to the magnificent Cairoli comeback last year after taking third in 2016 and winning the GP in 2015. Not to forget is that this is also the closest to a home GP Gajser has with many Slovenian fans making the short trip to cheer on the MX idol.
Another rider to point out is the newly signed Marchetti Racing KTM rider, Benoit Paturel as we might see him riding here for Marchetti racing in his rookie MXGP season.
Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Julien Lieber could impress again this weekend as he has done already many times this season, especially when you consider that he was on the Trentino MX2 podium only one year ago.
MXGP Championship Top Ten:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 141 points; 2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 141 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 103 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 101 p.; 5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HUS), 98 p.; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 79 p.; 7. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 78 p.; 8. Maximilian Nagl (GER, TM), 60 p.; 9. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 59 p.; 10. Julien Lieber (BEL, KAW), 54 p.
Meanwhile in the MX2 category things are getting more heated between Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s unbeaten Pauls Jonass and Jorge Prado who is shooting for his first win of 2018. The racing has continually been tighter weekend after weekend between the pair and only one year ago Jorge Prado won his very first GP here.
Looking the most likely to throw a wrench KTM MX2’s successful start to 2018 is BIKE IT DRT Kawasaki’s Darian Sanayei and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen.
While Olsen has been consistent and inched his way closer to the lead of Jonass with his trio of podiums, Sanayei has been faster than ever. For Sanayei small hiccups and bike malfunctions have left the American struggling to take the results which he is clearly capable of. For Olsen this GP will bring back fond memories as he placed 4th here last year in what was his rookie MX2 season.
Honda 114 Motorsport’s Hunter Lawrence is also looking for his first victory of 2018 with his new team. Lawrence will not only want to but also need to improve on his 2017 performance at the Trentino GP of 16th overall if he wants to contend for the MX2 title.
Tied for 5th in the MX2 championship standings at 81 points a pair is Hitachi KTM UK’s Conrad Mewse and Kemea Yamaha Yamalube Racing Team MX2’s Ben Watson. Both have been on the gas so far this year but with 17 rounds remaining including this weekend the Brits will have to work to keep the pace of the other front runners.
MX2 Championship Top Ten:
1. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 150 points; 2. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 120 p.; 3. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 105 p.; 4. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, HON), 99 p.; 5. Conrad Mewse (GBR, KTM), 81 p.; 6. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 81 p.; 7. Jed Beaton (AUS, KAW), 72 p.; 8. Darian Sanayei (USA, KAW), 68 p.; 9. Calvin Vlaanderen (RSA, HON), 63 p.; 10. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, YAM), 54 p.
Photo (of Max Anstie, above) by Bavo Swijgers
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