The steep hills and hardpack of the historic Maggiora Park circuit was able to welcome FIM World Championship racing for the first time since the 2016 Motocross of Nations and for the first Grand Prix event since 2015.
Warm and showery conditions created a slick, rutty and finally muddy affair around the narrow and tricky Italian layout.
Dutchman Herlings (KTM) ruled timed practice for his first pole position of the season by almost four-tenths of a second over Slovenian Honda star and defending world champion Tim Gajser.
Jorge Prado (KTM) was 3rd fastest. Winner of the last round in the UK, Italy’s Tony Cairoli (KTM), was in 7th.
It was Prado who made the better start in the first race and circulated behind leader and winner Romain Febvre (Kawasaki), of France, in what was a static affair. Cairoli was 3rd and Herlings had to fight back to 6th after he initially lost time removing a stone wedged into his rear brake system.
A brief thunderstorm just before the second moto dumped a lot of rain on Maggiora and ensured the final race of the day would be a ‘mudder’.
Herlings made the best start and followed Dutch rider Glenn Coldenhoff (Yamaha) for 11 of the 17 laps. He passed his countryman and won by almost seven seconds.
The 6-1 scorecard meant he tied on points but the second moto win defined the Grand Prix ranking. Also equal on 40 points was Cairoli who had to deal with broken goggles before finally ditching the eyewear. Despite the disadvantage, Cairoli was able to ride to 3rd and his 3-3 gave him a second consecutive podium appearance. Prado was also running with the leaders but lost two places inside the final two laps and his 2-7 cast him to 4th spot overall.
“The first moto felt like a disaster,” said Herlings afterwards.
“I didn’t know what was stopping the rear brake so I had to sort it out and lost places and around twenty seconds. I then had to make a late moto charge. I was bummed about that and really wanted to go for the win in the second race but the rain fell so hard just before the start.
“It was a bit unexpected, and we had to make a last minute decision about tyres and goggles. My starts were off a bit today but the second moto was OK and I got into 3rd, where I saved my goggles for a while.
“I had a little gap to Glenn (Coldenhoff) and I knew coming to the lapped riders would be a moment where you can lose but also gain a lot of time: you have to be a bit lucky.
“So I attacked at that moment and it led to the ‘overall’. We closed a lot of points in the championship so the day started and finished in an unlucky and lucky way. It’s good to head into Oss with a confidence boost. I want to give-it-up to the Red Bull KTM team and the job they did, the bike was excellent.”
Multi-time world champion Cairoli was also happy with his weekend.
“I’m happy with the podium, but not so much with the second moto, because I had the speed to ride at the front,” said Cairoli.
“My goggles’ roll-off broke due to a stone and I had to take off the goggles. The guys pulled away and I could not pass. Eventually they were gone. I’ve been training quite a lot in the mud recently, so my feeling was good here. I’m really looking forward to the sand races now. It’s my favourite ground. Hopefully we can use these two weeks to build up some more conditioning and be at the front again.”
One week after his maiden podium result in his rookie MX2 season, Guadagnini was not over-awed by the prospect of his home Grand Prix and rode to a strong and steady 2nd position behind French Yamaha rider Thibault Benistant in the first moto.
The rookie was faultless in the second race to lead from the first lap to the last and reached a new career highlight. As well as his superiority on the day the Italian was also able to seize the red plate as the new world championship leader.
“This is crazy. I don’t know what to say,” said Guadagnini
“It feels really good. I made two good starts and I didn’t want to take too many risks in the first moto. Staying calm and taking 2nd place was enough, although I did wait to see if I could pass Thibault in the last part of the race but he was too fast.
“I pushed hard to take the lead on the first lap of the second moto and then just rode my race and had fun. I made a gap and enjoyed the last few laps.
“It’s amazing to win here in Italy and it was also a surprise to take the red plate. Oss is next and I’m pretty good in the sand, we’ll train and be ready to go again.”
The Oss Motocross Circuit will welcome MXGP for the very first time as the venue prepares for the Grand Prix of the Netherlands on July 18.
Round four will be the first of four meetings on consecutive weekends with trips to the Czech Republic, Latvia and Belgium following the Dutch stop.
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Results MXGP Italy 2021
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (6-1)
- Glenn Coldenhoff (NED), Yamaha (4-2)
- Tony Cairoli (ITA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (3-3)
- Jorge Prado (ESP), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (2-7)
- Romain Febvre (FRA), Kawasaki (1-12)
Standings MXGP 2021 after 03 of 18 rounds
- Tim Gajser 124 points
- Jeffrey Herlings 118
- Romain Febvre 107
- Tony Cairoli 105
- Jorge Prado 97
Results MX2 Italy 2021
- Mattia Guadagnini (ITA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (2-1)
- Maxime Renaux (FRA), Yamaha (6-2)
- Jago Geerts (BEL), Yamaha (4-5)
- Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED), Husqvarna (9-3)
- Thibault Benistant (FRA) Yamaha (1-14)
Standings MX2 2021 after 03 of 18 rounds
- Mattia Guadagnini 113 points
- Maxime Renaux 111
- Ruben Fernandez 108
- Mathys Boisrame 105
- Roan Van De Moosdijk 99