Jorge Prado And Kay De Wolf Take Hard Fought Victories in Patagonia Argentina

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After the teasing tasters of Saturday’s RAM Qualifying Races, the YPF INFINIA MXGP of Patagonia-Argentina served up the main course of the Grand Prix races to really get the 2024 MXGP World Championship underway in style. The beautiful but brutal Villa La Angostura circuit has a unique surface that requires maximum concentration, and its unpredictable nature helped to make the opening round of the season a particularly dramatic one.

Ultimately, it saw victory in MXGP for Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing talisman and reigning MXGP World Champion Jorge Prado, who will re-attach the red plates that were put briefly into the container after finishing 4th in Saturday’s RAM Qualifying Race.

The MX2 class provided some brilliant racing throughout the weekend, with all three races seeing changes in the top three right up to the very last few corners!  With sheer determination to never stop charging, the overall win went to Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Kay de Wolfwho also takes the red plate from his teammate Lucas Coenen, who had a rollercoaster of a day after going in as Championship leader.

Jorge Prado And Kay De Wolf Take Hard Fought Victories In Patagonia Argentina


Whilst running a white background on his number plate for the first time since the very beginning of last year, Jorge Prado put his number 1 machine into the lead immediately with a trademark FOX Holeshot in race one, and even though the Monster Energy Yamaha of Maxime Renaux sneaked past into turn two, with Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre following him through, the Champion was having none of it and by the end of the first section of big jumps he was back in control!

Even with all the pre-race talk of the six World Champions in the field, it was still amazing to see them all fill the top six at the start of the opening event! RAM Qualifying Race winner Tim Gajser had an eventful first few laps for Team HRC, and battled with the Standing Construct Honda of Pauls Jonass, who was right on the pace all weekend.  After passing the Latvian, Tim suddenly slid sideways in a corner and lost the position, before tipping over in the very next corner and dropping from 5th to 13th!

The sole representative for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in MXGP, Jeffrey Herlings, didn’t enjoy the boost in position for long as he fell at the exact same spot as Gajser a few laps later! He would recover to finish 8th at the flag.  Nearly halfway through, Febvre made a move to demote his countryman Renaux from 2nd, but couldn’t make any dent into Prado’s lead. Gajser battled back to 5th, nearly catching Renaux on the last lap, with Jonass 3rd behind Febvre and the winner Prado.

Race two saw Maxime Renaux claim the FOX Holeshot award but he would never lead again after running wide, allowing Gajser to move to the front, and as with the RAM Qualifying Race the Slovenian was able to establish an early gap that he would never relinquish.  All the action happened behind him as Jonass started in 2nd, but that uphill right-hand hairpin caused more trouble as Prado railed around the Latvian into 2nd on lap one, just as Renaux tried to move inside them and fell doing so!  The Frenchman had to fight back, eventually to 6th.

Febvre moved past Jonass on the second lap, putting himself into the top three for good and not just in the race, but in the overall reckoning as well.  At half-distance, there was an all-Dutch freight train as a slow-starting Herlings caught Fantic Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff and Monster Energy Yamaha MXGP new boy Calvin Vlaanderen. The Bullet managed to shoot them both but had to give way to Renaux’s late charge and finish in 7th.

Kawasaki Racing Team’s own debutant, Jeremy Seewer,  took a solid 5th to go with his race one 7th, and the all-World Champion top four of Gajser, Prado, Febvre, and Jonass stayed in that order to the flag, although the Spaniard tangled with a lapped rider to raise his heart rate somewhat in the closing laps!

This left Jorge Prado to claim his 39th overall Grand Prix victory, equalling the great Eric Geboers  for 7th in the all-time GP winner’s list and returning him to the top of the MXGP standings.  Febvre’s 2nd overall ahead of Gajser left him level with the Slovenian in the championship, both just three points behind the leader as they head to his home territory in Spain!

Jorge Prado Yeah, it was. It was a very good weekend, very good races today. First one I started 2nd and I passed Maxime (Renaux) very quickly. Yesterday I lost so much time behind him so I knew I had to make the pass straight away. And that’s what I did. And then, you know, Seewer was just behind me all the time. And we were putting a very good pace till the end. It was a good race win. Second race I had a better start to be honest, but I lost it in the corner. I was too cautious and then Tim (Gajser) got me from the inside. He was there at the front and we rode the same pace the whole time. We were riding a good pace. I was riding very smooth all day. I didn’t make any mistakes so I’m very happy. Couldn’t ask  for a better start to the year.  it’s super cool to go back to Spain and be home for the first round. 

Romain Febvre: I’m happy to start the season like this for sure. You know, I didn’t expect anything coming here, but we I have been working on few things the last few weeks. Speed was really good all weekend. Which I was missing before, so it’s great to get started like this. I didn’t win a race, but to finish second overall on my favourite track, that makes me happy. It’s important to be consistent and I didn’t make any mistake, except in the second race when I was behind Jorge and tried to close the gap with 5 laps to go, I actually had a massive scare and went almost over the bar. So then I said oh! You know, let the experience talk and make sure to not make any more mistakes and finished well.

Tim Gajser: It actually was a good day, you know. First race, I didn’t have the best start and then I tried maybe too much, too early. You know, the races are long. We have 35 minutes. So I was doing a little mistakes and then one was costly. Quite costly as I crashed and then went back slowly to build the momentum and I start to make nice passes and was only good enough to come home with the 5th place. Second one, I got a much better start. I was leading from beginning Jorge and Romain. They were pushing behind me. We had a really good pace. But yeah, I’m happy that I managed to win the second one and to start the season with the podium.  I think starts are really important this year because everybody is super fast. It’s not easy to pass. I’ve been working a lot on the starts and hopefully we can get some more starts like that in the next rounds and it’s going to help.”
 

MXGP –  Race 1 – Top 10 Classification : 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), 34:28.502; 2. Jorge Prado (ESP, GASGAS), +0:10.489; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:20.185; 4. Pauls Jonass (LAT, Honda), +0:23.521; 5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Kawasaki), +0:26.891; 6. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:46.962; 7. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:49.416; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Fantic), +0:56.995; 9. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Yamaha), +0:59.796; 10. Kevin Horgmo (NOR, Honda), +1:03.635

MXGP – Race 2 – Top 10 Classification : 1. Jorge Prado (ESP, GASGAS), 34:15.890; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:09.547; 3. Pauls Jonass (LAT, Honda), +0:15.247; 4. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:21.332; 5. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:21.707; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Fantic), +0:28.697; 7. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Kawasaki), +0:30.189; 8. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:45.718; 9. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Yamaha), +0:48.468; 10. Ben Watson (GBR, Beta), +0:53.000

MXGP Overall – Top 10 Classification 1. Jorge Prado (ESP, GAS), 54 points; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 51 p.; 3. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 51 p.; 4. Pauls Jonass (LAT, HON), 46 p.; 5. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 39 p.; 6. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, KAW), 34 p.; 7. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 32 p.; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, FAN), 28 p.; 9. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, YAM), 26 p.; 10. Valentin Guillod (SUI, HON), 21 p

MXGP World Championship – Top 10 Classification 1. Jorge Prado (ESP, GAS), 54 points; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 51 p.; 3. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 51 p.; 4. Pauls Jonass (LAT, HON), 46 p.; 5. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 39 p.; 6. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, KAW), 34 p.; 7. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 32 p.; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, FAN), 28 p.; 9. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, YAM), 26 p.; 10. Valentin Guillod (SUI, HON), 21 p

MXGP Manufacturers – Top 10 Classification 1. Honda, 55 points; 2. GASGAS, 54 p.; 3. Kawasaki, 51 p.; 4. Yamaha, 39 p.; 5. KTM, 32 p.; 6. Fantic, 28 p.; 7. Beta, 23 p.; 8. Husqvarna, 7 p.Jorge Prado And Kay De Wolf Take Hard Fought Victories In Patagonia Argentina


Lucas Coenen had said after Saturday’s RAM Qualifying Race win that he didn’t want to think about his first red plate too much, and as he moved past Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing rookie Marc-Antoine Rossi and his Fox Holeshot winning brother Sacha Coenen, it didn’t look like the #96 was riding tight.  However, just after fending off a retaliation from Rossi, he tucked the front wheel and fell awkwardly in a right-hand sweeper.  Nursing a thumb injury, he rode slowly into the pits and retired from the first race altogether.

This left Rossi in the lead and loving the fact that although it looks like a sandy surface, away from the berms it is very much like a hard-pack circuit to race on. De Wolf still looked at home and despite running off-track briefly, he picked up a position as Sacha Coenen fell in turn one after four laps.

Sacha’s Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate, Andrea Adamo, had started badly and could only work his way up to 8th at the end, behind his rookie compatriot Ferruccio Zanchi of Team HRC. Sacha Coenen recovered well to finish 6th.

Mikkel Haarup had put his crash-infested RAM Qualifying Race behind him to claim 5th for Monster Energy Triumph Racing in their first full-length GP race!  In the last third of the race, Rossi fell on the final corner of the 11th lap to lose the lead to Monster Energy Yamaha MX2 team leader Thibault Benistant! Rossi’s teammate at Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing, Simon Laengenfelder also nipped past, then carved inside the Frenchman to win the first race for the sixth straight GP in MX2! Rossi tried to pass Benistant on the final lap, but fell as he span sideways and clipped the chasing De Wolf!  Amazingly, the Dutchman dived up the inside of Benistant to claim 2nd on the very last corner of the race!

In race two, Mikkel Haarup stuck a major feather in the cap of his new bike as he gunned the Triumph into the lead to take the Fox Holeshot Award! He kept the lead for four laps as Laengenfelder caught up to him and nearly wiped out his back wheel!

The German’s mistake allowed Lucas Coenen, fighting through the pain barrier, into 2nd place, and then the Belgian launched his Husqvarna past Haarup’s Triumph to take the lead!

Lucas’ all-action style cost him dearly though as he run off the track and lost those two places again, just after Laengenfelder had finally got around Haarup. Amazingly, the Belgian was back into the lead on lap eleven with a brilliant outside-to-inside move around the long and choppy second corner!  The German faded, and for the fifth straight GP could not convert his first race win into an overall GP victory, finishing 4th in the race for 2nd overall.

Adamo would this time get up to 5th, to take that position in the overall Grand Prix, ahead of Zanchi, Rossi, Sacha Coenen, and Haarup’s teammate Camden McLellan. Rick Elzinga rounded out the top ten overall for Monster Energy Yamaha MX2.

De Wolf was once more on the charge, pulling a stunning move on Haarup who did not give up easily!  This made it a Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing 1-2, but Lucas Coenen dropped the bike in the same corner that he lost the lead on earlier in the race, and again dropped to 3rd just two corners from the chequered flag! This gave Kay De Wolf the race win, his second career GP win, and the Championship lead to take back to Europe!

Kay de Wolf “It was a good weekend. I felt really good actually and I’m really happy with the bike with the bike. So I really enjoyed it. And yeah, it’s a good weekend for me as I build it up the whole weekend, so it paid off in the end.  It’s cool to have the red plate, but it doesn’t really mean anything at the moment. We still have 19 GP’s to go, so a long time before then, so I’m just going to have fun and keep enjoying every single weekend.  The Husqvarna Factory Team did a great job this winter on the bike and I feel really at one with it. So I’m going to enjoy every single race from now on.”

Simon Laengenfelder: I was feeling also great on a track like this and a venue like this  it’s very beautiful also with all the nature around here and it’s a great place to come. So I enjoyed a lot riding here. The first race was of course a little bit better than the second, I would say. I took my time and then passed everyone to get to the front and win. The second one I was feeling also great but after the halfway point the track got a little bit tough and I closed the gas a little bit. I would say was it was a great preparation and I enjoyed every minute of it. And for me riding motocross is the best thing there is. So yeah, I’m just enjoying.”

Mikkel Haarup: “I Guess we are a new manufacturer, so to start off with the podium is perfect. I think we couldn’t ask for much more especially with the qualifying race I had yesterday. It made a little bit more difficult today for sure, but we knew we had the speed to be in the top three so. I was happy to be able to show it and also for the team to be able to showcase their bike here in the in the first round. The bike is quite easy for me to set up. I felt comfortable when I tried it the first time and I had an injury last year so I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on the bike in the second-half of the season, but when I stepped on the bike in October, we put in a lot of work, a lot of hours. Because I was definitely off pace. But as the month went by, we started picking up pace and by the preseason races we felt like we could really compete. I’m very pleased and happy with the with the way that it went and the way that I’m feeling on the bike as well. 

MX2 –  Race 1 – Top 10 Classification : 1. Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GASGAS), 34:23.626; 2. Kay de Wolf (NED, Husqvarna), +0:02.085; 3. Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:02.482; 4. Marc-Antoine Rossi (FRA, GASGAS), +0:12.308; 5. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, Triumph), +0:12.777; 6. Sacha Coenen (BEL, KTM), +0:32.737; 7. Ferruccio Zanchi (ITA, Honda), +0:37.722; 8. Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), +0:43.901; 9. Quentin Marc Prugnieres (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:46.230; 10. Rick Elzinga (NED, Yamaha), +0:48.480

MX2 – Race 2 – Top 10 Classification : 1. Kay de Wolf (NED, Husqvarna), 34:55.608; 2. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, Triumph), +0:01.555; 3. Lucas Coenen (BEL, Husqvarna), +0:11.627; 4. Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GASGAS), +0:13.862; 5. Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), +0:40.650; 6. Camden Mc Lellan (RSA, Triumph), +0:41.566; 7. Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:41.975; 8. Ferruccio Zanchi (ITA, Honda), +0:52.327; 9. Rick Elzinga (NED, Yamaha), +0:54.965; 10. Sacha Coenen (BEL, KTM), +0:56.852

MX2 Overall – Top 10 Classification 1. Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 47 points; 2. Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GAS), 43 p.; 3. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, TRI), 38 p.; 4. Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 34 p.; 5. Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), 29 p.; 6. Ferruccio Zanchi (ITA, HON), 27 p.; 7. Marc-Antoine Rossi (FRA, GAS), 27 p.; 8. Sacha Coenen (BEL, KTM), 26 p.; 9. Camden Mc Lellan (RSA, TRI), 25 p.; 10. Rick Elzinga (NED, YAM), 23 p

MX2 World Championship – Top 10 Classification 1. Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 56 points; 2. Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GAS), 50 p.; 3. Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 40 p.; 4. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, TRI), 38 p.; 5. Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), 37 p.; 6. Marc-Antoine Rossi (FRA, GAS), 32 p.; 7. Lucas Coenen (BEL, HUS), 30 p.; 8. Ferruccio Zanchi (ITA, HON), 28 p.; 9. Sacha Coenen (BEL, KTM), 28 p.; 10. Camden Mc Lellan (RSA, TRI), 25 p

MX2 Manufacturers – Top 10 Classification 1. Husqvarna, 57 points; 2. GASGAS, 50 p.; 3. Yamaha, 40 p.; 4. KTM, 39 p.; 5. Triumph, 38 p.; 6. Honda, 31 p.; 7. Kawasaki, 22 p.; 8. Fantic, 8 p

MXGP OF PATAGONIA-ARGENTINA QUICK FACTS:
Circuit length: 1670m
Type of ground: Hard Pack
Temperature: 24°
Weather conditions: Sunny