The FIM Motocross World Championship continues its run in Latvia, as the second event, the MXGP of Riga will take place at the Kegums track this coming Tuesday and Wednesday.
Last weekend, the MXGP made its come-back with the first international gate-drop in 5-month time! There was plenty to get excited about, as we saw the best riders back to battle for GP wins and more importantly the world title.
Before the racing kicks-off on Tuesday, the riders of the MXGP, MX2, EMX250 and EMX Open classes were invited to take the official European and World Championship riders photo, which saw riders that are participating at the three Latvian riders pictured together in one big ‘year book’ style photo, at a safe distance together with Infront Moto Racing CEO David Luongo, FIM/CMS Director Antonio Alia Portela and FIM Europe Motocross Commission Chairman Eddie Herd.
Though with the photo opportunity done and dusted now it’s time to focus on the action coming up in the next two days, starting with the European Championship on Tuesday.
In the EMX250 Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing’s Thibault Benistant will be looking to add yet another victory to the one he picked up on Saturday for round two of the series. Meanwhile, Husqvarna Junior Racing Maddii rider Mattia Guadagnini will without a doubt be hoping to carry on his form into the second Latvian event, and even push for the overall. Additionally, Isak Gifting had a good run in Kegums on Saturday, taking well to the track and not letting the heat affect him too much. He finished the second race in P2, clearly showing that he has the potential to even go for the win, which we could see this time around.
In the EMX Open class local hero Toms Macuks will once again line-up at Kegums with a much better idea of where he stands. Coming into the first Latvian race he was unsure of where his speed matched up, but with two race wins, it’s clear that we will more than likely see him battling at the front once again. While Karel Kutsar and Andero Lusbo will be looking to land on the podium once again and try to take the win from Macuks.
In MXGP, the overall winner of the MXGP of Latvia, Glenn Coldenhoff of Standing Construct GasGas Factory will no doubt be coming into the MXGP of Riga with a great confidence boost, as he made history together with his team becoming the first GasGas rider to win a race, as well as a GP.
Having led both of the races on Sunday, and successfully fended off Team HRC’s Tim Gajser, as well as Jeremy Seewer from Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing, Coldenhoff could do it again this time around on Wednesday.
Though Jeremy Seewer will not make it easy. In both races he was looking strong, especially in race two as he pushed Coldenhoff during the end of the races. The GasGas and Yamaha riders were locked in a end-of-race showdown as Seewer gave one last push to try pass Coldenhoff for the win, but came up short and was forced to settle for second. With a 5-2 result, he missed out on a podium by a mere 2 points, so expecting the Swiss rider on the podium this Wednesday would not be a bad shout.
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser had a solid weekend and despite the mistakes he made in the second MXGP race, for example when he went down pushing to catch Coldenhoff, he still made it on the podium with a second overall. In both races Gajser had good starts and was looking strong, but perhaps pushed too hard in the end. Though he did prove that he is seriously strong in the sand, which puts him among the top podium contenders.
Then there’s the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing’s Romain Febvre who made a fantastic 2020 season debut on the factory Kawasaki team. Due to injury the Frenchman was forced to miss the first two MXGP rounds in Great Britain and the Netherlands, but the last 5 months clearly gave him enough time to recover and get prepared for a fantastic comeback, which is exactly what this was.
A consistent 3-3 put him on his 38th career podium here in Latvia, and if he can carry this consistency into the next two races for the MXGP of Riga, he could make it two, or even three weekends on the bounce in Kegums!
His team-mate Clement Desalle also had some good battles within the top 10, though the tough conditions made it harder for the Kawasaki rider to break into the top 5. He finished the races 12-10 for 10th overall.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Jeffrey Herlings didn’t have the weekend he had hoped for, with a big crash in the time practice then followed by more bad luck and mistakes in the races, one thing that was clear is that he was pushing extremely hard. Though he missed out on the opportunity to challenge for the win, two consistent rides in 4th meant that he still got to hold on to the championship leaders’ plate. Now with two days to re-group, it will be interesting to see if we will see the ‘Bullet’ back to his usual ways for the MXGP of Riga.
Arminas Jasikonis of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing also made the most of the home support by the Lithuanian fans who made the trip across the border to cheer on the #27. Despite not the best jump out of the gate in the opening race and his eager move in the second race that saw him hit the gate, he was still able to somehow pull off two pretty decent starts that put him well inside the top 10.
He had some good battles with Seewer, Herlings, Jorge Prado of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Clement Desalle from Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team in the races. He consistently finished in P6 in race one and two which is also where he ended up overall. And with the first MXGP gate-drop out of the way for the Lithuanian, it is possible that we will see him progress to higher positions during the next two events.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Jorge Prado also had a strong ride at the MXGP of Latvia. It is important to remember that this is Prado’s MXGP rookie season, which started off with two pretty serious injuries. Now with a less than two months of riding in his back pocket, an 8th and a 7th in the hard sand of Kegums is quite impressive.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory rider Gautier Paulin didn’t have the best race weekend in Kegums for the first event. Two tough races with a 9-11 put him 8th overall, certainly not where the Frenchman was probably aiming to finish. Though with 5 months off, getting back that race intensity could take time for all of the riders, so it will be interesting to see what he can do this time around.
Lastly, JM Honda Racing’s Benoit Paturel had a good return to racing with a top 10 overall, having finished race one in 14th and race two in 8th. This was a good improvement for the Frenchman who previously finished 16th overall in both Matterley Basin and Valkenswaard.
2020 MXGP of Latvia Top 3:
MXGP – World Championship Classification: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 130 points; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 126 p.; 3. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, GAS), 103 p.; 4. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 86 p.; 5. Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, HUS), 83 p.; 6. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 80 p.; 7. Gautier Paulin (FRA, YAM), 80 p.; 8. Clement Desalle (BEL, KAW), 80 p.; 9. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 74 p.; 10. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, HON), 50 p.
In MX2 the racing was just as exciting as in MXGP, with some intense battles within the top 10. Now with the first race out of the way, it will be interesting to see which riders will stay consistent or even surprise us on Wednesday.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle had a near perfect day with a 1-2 results finishing on the top step of the podium, while also getting to keep the red plate. He was pushing hard in both of the races and admitted that the conditions were tough, but with a few days rest in between the GP’s here in Latvia, seeing him again on the podium is likely.
While one KTM rider had a near perfect weekend, the same couldn’t be said for Hofer who had a good result in the first race with a P5 and then suffered a DNF in the second race with a broken wheel which meant he couldn’t carry on the race. With this behind him, he will without a doubt be looking to do better this week and if he can stay out of trouble, it is likely that we will see him battling well within the top 5 as he has done before.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jago Geerts is another rider who had a really tough weekend. It was clear that Geerts had the speed, though he may have been pushing a tad too hard which is why he found himself in trouble on numerous occasions in race one. Having crashed out a few times, the best he could manage was P16, though he turned things around for race two which he won, he is definitely one of the guys to beat for sure.
Geerts finished 6th overall at the first Latvian event, with his team-mate Ben Watson having a bit more of a consistent weekend with a 6th and 5th which put him P5 overall. In both races Watson battled in the top 5, though at times silly mistakes cost him valuable time. Despite that, he is still a strong contender this season to challenge for top positions.
Though having an absolutely fantastic weekend was the F&H Kawasaki Racing squad who ended the day off with a double podium. Roan Van de Moosdijk and Mathys Boisrame had two strong rides to occupy the second and third steps of the podium. At the beginning of the season the whole squad, including Mikkel Haarup, have been a real threat, so they will no doubt be up there again for the MXGP of Riga.
Then there is Ruben Fernandez of SDM Corse Race Team who impressed many with his performance. He pushed in both races, finishing 3rd in the opening race and 7th in the second, despite a huge crash as he fended off Boisrame. For Fernandez the speed was clearly there and it was obvious that he took to the Kegums circuit well so it could be a matter of time until we see him on the podium, as this time around he was 4 points off on Sunday.
Maxime Renaux of S.M Action – M.C Migliori – J1 Racing finished 7th overall at the MXGP of Latvia, while the two Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory riders Jed Beaton and Thomas Kjer Olsen had a tough weekend finishing 8th and 9th overall, probably not where they had hoped.
Beaton was looking good in Timed Practice as he clocked the 3rd fastest lap time, though that didn’t transcribe into the races as he finished 15th and 6th. Now with time to recharge his batteries and put the bad luck of the first event behind him, it will be good to see if he can come into Wednesday’s races with positive results.
2020 MXGP of Latvia Top 3:
2.Roan Van de Moosdijk
MX2 – World Championship Classification: 1. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 134 points; 2. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 112 p.; 3. Jed Beaton (AUS, HUS), 95 p.; 4. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 86 p.; 5. Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 79 p.; 6. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 73 p.; 7. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, KAW), 71 p.; 8. Mathys Boisrame (FRA, KAW), 70 p.; 9. Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), 69 p.; 10. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, KAW), 64