MXGP will finally return to Afyonkarahisar after missing out on a Grand Prix in Turkey last season due to COVID-19 related difficulties and in 2021 will make an epic comeback with not one, but two GPs – the Bitci MXGP of Turkey and Bitci MXGP of Afyon.
Afyon is still new to the World Championship calendar after making its debut in 2018 with Thomas Covington and Jeffrey Herlings the first winners at the hard pack circuit in MX2 and MXGP.
The following year Herlings was able to repeat his success to win the Turkish Grand Prix once again, while in MX2 it was Jorge Prado who was the winner.
Racing alongside the MXGP and MX2 categories will be the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship riders for the third round of five in their series.
After some very interesting couple of races, Dutch rider Shana Van Der Vlist leads the WMX Championship standings ahead of New Zealand’s Courtney Duncan, who is just two points adrift.
Otago’s Duncan is the defending world champion – and she was champion also in 2019 – so she is clearly aiming to make it a three-peat of world titles this year.
After a strong performance in Lommel, Lynn Valk has moved to third in the championship also. For Kiara Fontanesi this will be the first opportunity to race in Afyon as she missed out on the Turkish round in 2019.
The Italian will no doubt be keen to fight for vital championship points as she looks to stay within contention of the title.
The races in Turkey will be the perfect opportunity for Duncan to get back in the driving seat as she chases her third consecutive world title.
The circuit in Afyon holds special memories for the Kiwi who went 1-1 last time around in 2019 to secure her first WMX World Championship, so no doubt Duncan will enter these next two rounds with a nice confidence boost from the fond memories.
Meanwhile, the EMX Open category will also be present for the final two rounds of the series as Davide De Bortoli will aim to seal the deal and claim his first EMX title, while Nicolas Dercourt and Micha-Boy De Waal will be looking to close the gap and fight for the championship.
There is no doubt that the paddock has used the summer break to re-charge their batteries, in some cases re-group or continue with the momentum that they have been carrying during the previous few races as we enter the second half of the 2021 season.
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser will return to the action fresh and ready to continue his title defence as he continues the lead the MXGP championship just 13-points ahead of Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre.
Febvre has had some impressive moments this season, but mistakes and crashes have been very costly for the Frenchman who will need to be more consistent if he wants to remain in the title chase as Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado is breathing down his neck just a further two points behind.
For Prado, the second half of this season will be vital as he will want to remain in this title fight until the last round, something he was deprived of last season.
For Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Jeffrey Herlings, the summer break came at the perfect time as he was nursing a nasty shoulder injury.
His shock return in Lommel was somewhat spectacular, followed by a couple of strong races in Latvia, despite the last lap crash. Now Herlings will chase a third victory in Afyon, after his previous wins in 2018 and 2019 as he will continue to fight for vital championship points and not let this title challenge slip away again.
Fellow Dutchman Glenn Coldenhoff, of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing, was another podium finisher in Turkey last time around in 2019, as he went 3-2 for second overall and will aim for another podium finish this time, no doubt.
Coldenhoff has just one podium finish to his name this season but has led 24 laps, though is yet to claim a race win. Codenhoff struggled in Lommel and Latvia, tracks that he is usually strong at, though hopefully with his illness and bad luck behind him, we will see the Yamaha rider bounce back for some top results.
Looking to bounce back in the second half of the championship will also be his team-mate Jeremy Seewer who is currently sixth in the standings.
Seewer finished second last season but has struggled in the begin of the year. He did however get back on the podium in Czech Republic where he was third overall, so has been moving in a positive direction.
Pauls Jonass of Standing Construct GasGas Factory Racing is somebody to look out for this coming weekend as the Latvian has shown some good speed and even secured a podium during the MXGP of Flanders-Belgium.
While his home Grand Prix did not go to plan, the Turkish Grand Prix is a race we could see him on the podium as he previously got on the box in 2019.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Arminas Jasikonis and Thomas Kjer Olsen will line-up in Turkey keen to put together a solid weekend after some struggles in Latvia.
Jasikonis did not take part in the races due to a qualifying practice crash, while Olsen had a DNF in race one, though the second race he was able to finish in eighth position. Now with a couple of weeks off, the pair will be refreshed and ready to chase more positive results.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Maxime Renaux will enter the Turkish double-header as the MX2 Championship leader.
In Latvia, the Frenchman secured the perfect score, going 1-1 for the first time in MX2 to win the Latvian Grand Prix and extend his series lead to 34 points over Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Mattia Guadagnini who remains second after a couple of tough races.
Though Guadagnini cannot afford to relax as he has Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts just two points behind him, as the Belgian will push to get back into title contention in the second half of this 2021 season.
MXGP – World Championship Top 10 Classification:
- Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 270 points; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 257 p.; 3. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 255 p.; 4. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 252 p.; 5. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 227 p.; 6. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 206 p.; 7. Pauls Jonass (LAT, GAS), 180 p.; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, YAM), 174 p.; 9. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, KTM), 134 p.; 10. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 130 p.
MX2 – World Championship Top 10 Classification:
- Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 271 points; 2. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), 237 p.; 3. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 235 p.; 4. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, HON), 214 p.; 5. Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 204 p.; 6. Jed Beaton (AUS, HUS), 197 p.; 7. Mathys Boisrame (FRA, KAW), 192 p.; 8. Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 184 p.; 9. Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), 184 p.; 10. Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GAS), 137 p.
WMX – Championship Top 10 Classification:
- Shana van der Vlist (NED, KTM), 87 points; 2. Courtney Duncan (NZL, KAW), 85 p.; 3. Lynn Valk (NED, HUS), 72 p.; 4. Nancy Van De Ven (NED, YAM), 72 p.; 5. Kiara Fontanesi (ITA, GAS), 70 p.; 6. Larissa Papenmeier (GER, YAM), 61 p.; 7. Amandine Verstappen (BEL, KAW), 58 p.; 8. Daniela Guillen (ESP, KTM), 50 p.; 9. Britt Jans-Beken (NED, KTM), 47 p.; 10. Sara Andersen (DEN, KTM), 44 p.
2021 Women’s Motocross World Championship calendar:
Round 1: Saturday, July 24 GP of Czech Republic, Loket
Round 2: Saturday, July 31 GP of Flanders-Belgium, Lommel
Round 3: Saturday, September 4 GP of Turkey, Afyonkarahisar
Round 4: Saturday, October 16 GP of Spain, intu Xanadu-Arroyomolinos
Round 5: Saturday, October 30 – GP of Trentino, Pietramurata
© Photo by Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ
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