2021 MXGP of Citta di Mantova-Italy | Race Report & Highlights
PHOTOS | KTM & YAMAHA
TEXT & VIDEO | MXGP
The final round of the 2021 FIM Motocross World Championship delivered on its promise to be the most intense and nail-biting Grand Prix of the season that saw Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings clinch the MXGP World Title, to become a five-time Motocross World Champion.
It has been a season of highs and lows for all of the title contenders as they have struggled with injuries and bad luck but have managed to power through and provide us with some incredible racing.
In the second half of the season, the title chase between Herlings, Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre and Team HRC’s Tim Gajser could not have been any closer, as the race for the championship went down to the final chequered flag of the 2021 season, but it was Herlings who came out on top as Febvre was forced to settle for second, just five points adrift, while Gajser finished his year with a silver medal.
MX2 RACE REPORT & RESULTS
While the title may have already been decided a couple Grand Prix’s ago, with Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Maxime Renaux clinching the MX2 World Title at the MXGP of Garda, the fight for who would claim the silver medal was far from over and became the focus of the races today as just seven points separated Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts.
In the opening heat we saw Vialle claim his 22nd Fox Holeshot of the season as he led Geerts, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Rene Hofer, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Kay de Wolf and F&H Kawasaki Racing’s Mikkel Haarup. While Renaux started in ninth.
Geerts was then all over Vialle and not long after was able to get it done and take over the lead from the Frenchman. Soon after, Hofer started to close in on Vialle for second, while Geerts was able to build some breathing room.
Haarup lost a couple of positions in the opening laps as he slipped down to eighth and had Hitachi KTM Fuelled by Milwaukee’s Conrad Mewse applying the pressure.
de Wolf then came under fire from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Mattia Guadagnini who was gaining ground on the young Dutchman lap by lap, but he would not be able to do anything about it as Hofer ahead of them crashed, with de Wolf able to avoid him while Guadagnini was taken down.
There was another shake-up at the top end of the field as Vialle rode back to pitlane after landing hard on one of the jumps which caused more pain to his already injured foot. This meant that he would not score any points and was out of the fight for the silver medal.
Geerts continued to lead as de Wolf, Renaux, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jed Beaton and Haarup all move up two positions.
Following the crash, Guadagnini got going again in seventh, while Hofer was further down in 15th. Guadagnini managed to get back to fifth by the end of the race as Hofer finished the race in 13th position.
In the closing stages of the race, we saw a battle for second as Renaux was applying immense pressure onto de Wolf. The Husqvarna rider was not backing down and despite Renaux’s best efforts, the Dutchman held on to his spot to cross the line in second. Haarup finished fourth and Guadagnini fifth.
In race two, it was Guadagnini with the Fox Holeshot as Hofer followed, with Geerts, Renaux and Mewse just behind. Geerts quickly managed to find a way past Hofer and so did Renaux. Vialle did not line-up for the race due to his foot injury.
The Belgian then focused his sights on Guadagnini and was trying his best to get past the Italian but could not get it done. Eventually a mistake cost him second, as Renaux was able to slip by. The Frenchman then took the lead on lap three as Geerts got by Guadagnini.
Further down the field, de Wolf was fighting his way up the order as he got by Wilson Todd of Bike it MTX Kawasaki and Bastian Boegh-Damm from WZ Racing Team for seventh.
With 11 minutes plus two laps to go, Renaux’s lead started to come down as Geerts was within 1.364 seconds of his teammate.
We then saw a strong battle between Haarup and de Wolf for sixth, with de Wolf using every edge of the track to try and find a way past the Dane. This fight went on for the most part of the race, with Beaton joining them for the final few laps. Eventually de Wolf was able to get past Haarup, which also put him on the podium, while Beaton crashed but still finished the race eighth, so he did not lose any positions.
Renaux focused on the front as Geerts was trying to edge closer to his teammate and then on the final lap crashed, which took away his last chance to go for the race win. Renaux was the race winner, with Geerts second and Guadagnini third. Hofer was fourth and Mewse fifth.
A 1-2 result gave Geerts the overall, while Renaux was second on the box with de Wolf claiming his fourth podium finish of 2021 with third overall.
Renaux ends his championship winning season on 734 points with his teammate Geerts in second with 610, while Vialle was 30 points further adrift and ended his year with a bronze medal. As champion this year, Renaux’s stats include 14 podiums, 10 race wins and five Grand Prix victories.
MXGP RACE REPORT & RESULTS
As the gate dropped, it was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado with the Fox Holeshot. The Spaniard led Febvre, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Seewer, Herlings and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli. Gajser started down in seventh behind Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Mathys Boisrame.
Prado held on to the lead for four laps, as Febvre struggled to find a way through which played into the hands of Herlings who was able to close in and pass both riders. The Dutchman then was able to focus on his own race, as Febvre still couldn’t get around Prado.
On lap five, Febvre forced the issue onto Prado to move into second as Gajser was looking to do the same. The Slovenian had Cairoli and Seewer behind him, so could not afford to make a mistake as he pushed for third.
Seewer and Cairoli then made contact, and both crashed, with Cairoli coming into pitlane without a gear lever, hence why he could not carry on with the rest of the heat.
By that point, Herlings was 4.589 seconds ahead of Febvre, but the race was far from over. Gajser clocked his best lap of the race as he started to work away at the gap to Febvre, this in turn urged the Frenchman forward as he cut Herlings’ gap down to 2.694 seconds.
In the final few laps, Gajser had Febvre in his sights and for the next laps, the pair were faster than the race leader Herlings. At that point Herlings was struggling with arm pump and his lead started to fade with Febvre and Gajser catching up to the race leader. Then it was game on as the trio battled it out for the win.
In the end, Herlings was able to hold on to take the win with Febvre crossing the line second with Gajser third. This meant that the title fight would go down to the final race, as Herlings and Febvre finished race one tied on points.
Race two was the all-important one, as by the end we were going to find out who will be crowned as the 2021 MXGP Champion. And as the gate dropped for the second heat, we saw Prado take his 18th Fox Holeshot ahead of Febvre, Herlings and Gajser.
Febvre then slipped into the lead with Prado quickly dropping down to fourth as Herlings and Gajser were able to get by. It seemed like Febvre was in the perfect position at that point, but his time in first position was cut short by a hard charging Herlings who was looking to waste no time.
Febvre needed to respond in order to keep close to Herlings and while trying to do so make a mistake which resulted in a crash. This allowed Gajser into second as Febvre picked himself up in third. By that point Seewer was all over his rear wheel, but he managed to stay ahead of the Swiss.
Next rider to get by Prado was Honda 114 Motorsports’ Ruben Fernandez who got himself into sixth and then was going after Standing Construct GasGas Factory Racing’s Brain Bogers, though Bogers held on to his position until the end.
Gajser then started to close in on Herlings as he was consistently faster than the Dutchman. At one point the lead went down to 1.169 seconds, but Herlings was able to respond and build some breathing room. Though Gajser did not back down, keeping Herlings on his toes until the chequered flag as Herlings celebrated his fifth world title with a race win and an overall Grand Prix victory.
Two race wins gave Herlings his 99th Grand Prix win of his career, while Gajser finished second on the box and Febvre third
After a season long battle, Herlings was crowned the 2021 FIM Motocross World Champion as he finished the season with 708 points, just five ahead of Febvre. Gajser was a further 15 points behind. The Bullet ends the year not only with the crown but also with 14 podiums, 9 GP wins, 15 race victories and 13 pole positions!
Jeffrey Herlings: “I’m super happy but at the same time I feel gutted for the two next to me. I know how it feels, I had it in the past. It feels like the end of the world when you miss out on a few points. I want to thank both of them for a great championship. The thing about our sport is that only one can win. But they have been great, and I respect all of them. Thank you all for the great year. Furthermore, the day was good. Definitely lots of pressure. I haven’t slept for a week, just thinking about scenarios. “If this happened? If that happened? What are we going to do?”. At the end of the day, nothing really happened the way I thought it would. We won the championship. It wasn’t an easy one. I think all three of us kept charging until the last race. Especially me and Romain. The pressure was on and I did not crack under it. I made the championship happen. I’m happy with it. It was the most difficult one ever. I needed nerves of steel the last weeks. We made it happen. I’m looking forward to next year to battle again with the boys”.
Romain Febvre: “It wasn’t enough to get the title. So, I am really disappointed at the moment for sure. The only thing is that I gave my all, so I don’t have regrets for sure. But to finish the season this close is really tough emotionally. I will try again next year and hope for a better result”.
Tim Gajser: “It’s not easy to accept but that’s how it is. That’s sport. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Losing makes you stronger. It’s not the end of the world. Tomorrow is going to be tomorrow, and we’ll have another opportunity next year. Congrats to the guys, to Jeffrey, to Romain, for a good season. We were having some nice battles. Definitely disappointed at the moment, but that’s how it is. We’re going to come back”.