The Grand Prix of Turkey and the eighth round of the 2021 FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship at the weekend reactivated the series after a three-week break and marked the virtual halfway stage in the series.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing were able to seize victory in both MXGP and MX2 for the first of two back-to-back races at Afyonkarahisar, with Dutchman Jeffery Herlings winning the MXGP class and French rider Tom Vialle winning the MX2 category.
After missing the Grand Prix calendar in 2020, Afyonkarahisar was back on the MXGP calendar and with two consecutive events.
The first, round eight was on Sunday and round nine follows quickly afterwards, set for Wednesday, September 8.
Jorge Prado was four-tenths of a second quicker than the next nearest rider to confirm his second pole position of the season after MXGP timed practice at the weekend. The Spaniard used the power of his KTM to claim two holeshots and extend his total for the year to seven.
It was Herlings, though, who seized overall honours in Turkey. He worked his way through to 1st place in the opening moto and then pushed up to 2nd spot in the next race.
The Dutchman gathered five more points than his team-mate Prado, who went 2-3. Prado fronted most of the first moto and half of the second: His battle with Italian Tony Cairoli for 2nd later in the day was exciting and only ended when Cairoli could not avoid a hay bale that had fallen onto the racing line.
Herlings, who had been lingering in 4th, attacked Prado on the last lap to ensure his 1-2. Cairoli was fifth overall after taking a top five classification in the first moto.
The MXGP championship standings are incredibly close with all three Red Bull KTM Factory Racing athletes in play for the title. Prado is 2nd and just 13 points from the red plate-holder, HRC Honda’s Tim Gajser, from Slovenia.
Defending champion Gajser finished 6-1 for his weekend’s work.
Frenchman Romain Febvre (Kawasaki) is now third overall after eight rounds and Cairoli is fourth, while Herlings holds fifth spot overall.
“Today was a good day. I picked up the pieces and got the second place in the second moto for the overall,” said Herlings afterwards.
“Our starts need to be better, so we know where we need to improve when we go again here. I had to pass a lot of guys and really work for this win. It was a bit sketchy watching Tony and Jorge racing!
“The competition is super-strong. I’m doing all I can and the championship is so tight. I’m already looking forward to Wednesday.”
For only the second time in 2021, defending world champion Vialle took to the start gate fully fit after a delay recovering from a fractured right hand.
The Frenchman signalled his intent from the morning with his first Grand Prix pole position. He proceeded to win the first moto by a comfortable distance from team-mate Mattia Guadagnini. Rene Hofer had led the opening three laps and only a bout of arm-pump caused him to fade back to 5th.
Vialle charged after Maxime Renaux for the second moto win.
He made a mistake with two laps to go that allowed his countryman to break free. Vialle didn’t give up though and the gap was only 1.6 seconds at the line.
With his 1-2 the KTM man was able to scale the top step of the podium once again in 2021.
Guadagnini also made a slip while in his pursuit of Australian Jed Beaton for 3rd position and his 2-4 for the day dropped the Italian away from the rostrum (he tied on points with Beaton but the second moto ranking was the decisive factor).
Hofer was 5th once more for the same position overall, and the best set of results for the MX2 riders in 2021 so far.
“Back on top! I felt really good on the bike,” said Vialle.
“I made a small mistake trying to push and catch Maxime in the second moto but I’m really happy to win again and after all the time we had to wait for the injury on my hand to get better. I think I’m back to a good speed like I was before. I want to thank the team and all the people around me.”
MXGP remains in Afyon for round nine and the Grand Prix of Afyonkarahisar later this week.
Photo courtesy KTM Europe
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Results MXGP Turkey 2021
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED), KTM (1-2)
- Jorge Prado (ESP), KTM (2-3)
- Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda (6-1)
- Romain Febvre (FRA), Kawasaki (4-4)
- Tony Cairoli (ITA), KTM (5-5)
Standings MXGP 2021 after 8 of 17 rounds
- Tim Gajser 310 points
- Jorge Prado 297
- Romain Febvre 293
- Tony Cairoli 284
- Jeffrey Herlings 274
Results MX2 Turkey 2021
- Tom Vialle (FRA), KTM (1-2)
- Maxime Renaux (FRA), Yamaha (4-1)
- Jed Beaton (AUS), Husqvarna (3-3)
- Mattia Guadagnini (ITA), KTM (2-4)
- Rene Hofer (AUT), KTM (5-5)
Standings MX2 2021 after 8 of 17 rounds
- Maxime Renaux 314 points
- Mattia Guadagnini 277
- Jago Geerts 262
- Ruben Fernandez 239
- Jed Beaton 237