A hot and challenging day in the sand dunes of Riola Sardo concluded the eighth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship and the second edition of the MXGP of Sardegna.
For Calvin Vlaanderen, it was an unforgettable weekend as he topped the charts in every session over the weekend, and won the qualifying race and both heats to secure his first-ever overall victory in the MXGP category. Meanwhile, Tom Vialle also celebrated big as he secured his first GP victory since Trentino and his second in Riola Sardo.
In the first MXGP race of the day, it was World championship leader Tim Gajser who claimed his second Holeshot of the season and led the way ahead of Jorge Prado and Pauls Jonass.
Brent Van doninck started well in fourth ahead of Henry Jacobi, Jeremy Seewer and Calvin Vlaanderen.
Maxime Renaux tipped over in the start which also caught out Brian Bogers, Ruben Fernandez, and Glenn Coldenhoff.
As the race got going, Alberto Forato and Fernandez went down together, as Renaux also crashed once more.
Seewer then passed Van doninck for fourth on the second lap as Vlaanderen followed too. The South African born Dutchman then, set his sights on the Swiss as he set the fastest lap of the race. Though it took Vlaanderen a total of five laps to actually get by the Factory Yamaha rider.
Vlaanderen’s pass on Seewer came shortly after the pair got around Jonass and by the 10th lap Vlaanderen was third. Gajser continued to lead the way with Prado in second.
Mitch Evans was also looking good as he got by Van doninck for sixth and then got around Jonass too. Things were looking good for the Australian until lap 15 when he fell back to 12th and eventually ended up 22nd.
MXGP class debutant Mattia Guadagnini was having a good ride in around 10th and just slipped back to 11th towards the end of the race.
On lap 14, Vlaanderen eased past Prado for second and then set his sights on the win. The Yamaha rider had some very fast laps and with two laps from the end got by Gajser to win his first ever MXGP race. Gajser crossed the line in second ahead of Prado, Seewer, and Bogers.
In race two, the Holeshot went to Prado, who led Jonass, Fernandez, Vlaanderen, Coldenhoff and Gajser. Kawasaki Racing Team MXGP’s Ben Watson and Evans were unlucky in the first corner as they went down.
After a better start in the second race, Vlaanderen looked determined to make quick moves to the top but Jonass made him work for it, as it took the Dutchman four laps to find his way into second.
Gajser was having a much tougher second race as struggled in sixth. The Slovenian was briefly passed by Renaux though got him back shortly after. Though crashed and then faded down to 12th, as it was revealed that he had struggled with sickness during the weekend.
On lap six, Coldenhoff got Jonass for third, and Renaux and Seewer were next to go by the Latvian as the two teammates battled on. Seewer briefly passed his teammate and then shortly after got Fernandez too but made a small mistake and crashed.
The Swiss was not finished as he passed Guadagnini and Jonass within the same moment as he got going again.
Meanwhile on lap eighth Vlaanderen eased past Prado for the lead. He looked in control for the rest of the race as the heat and tough track conditions did not look like they were affecting him. A couple of laps later Coldenhoff also got by Prado too.
In the end, Vlaanderen won the race ahead of Coldenhoff, Prado, Renaux, and Bogers.
A perfect 1-1 scorecard gave Vlaanderen his first overall victory in the MXGP category, with Prado making his return from injury onto the second step of the podium, while Coldenhoff celebrated his first trip to the box in third!
Despite not making it onto the podium, Gajser still leads the championship with a 79-point advantage over Renaux and Seewer, as Prado remains fourth in the standings.
“I’m speechless. Just honestly, it was a perfect weekend,” Vlaanderen said. “I was first in every single session that mattered. First in time practice, first in the qualifying race and then both races. It’s just… I don’t know what to say, just years and years of hard work, this is what I dreamed of coming into MXGP. You know, winning and to be here right now. It’s like a dream. I just wish my family was here and everyone from back home”.
“I think it all started with the week leading up to this, like mentally it’s such a big thing in the sport, especially at this level to believe you can win. And coming to this weekend, I honestly believed for the first time in my career, I can win it. And it’s such a nice feeling, just confidence and it showed today that I could do it”.
As the gate dropped for MX2 race one, it was Thibault Benistant who took the Holeshot and led his teammate Jago Geerts, Kevin Horgmo and Conrad Mewse.
Tom Vialle was down in around sixth as Liam Everts and Joel Rizzi went down in the first corner.
Vialle had a very good opening lap as he got around Simon Längenfelder, Mewse and Horgmo, to get himself into third. The Frenchman then began to chase down his fellow countryman, Benistant, and why the second lap was already in second place.
A strong ride in the opening laps put Vialle right on the rear wheel of Geerts and then we witnessed the two go head-to-head for the rest of the race.
Meanwhile, behind them, Mewse and Andrea Adamo battled for sixth, as Längenfelder passed Horgmo for fourth place. Horgmo then dropped down the order to eighth, as Adamo, Mewse and Mikkel Haarup went by.
Mewse then had an issue and pulled into the pitlane. He did not finish the race.
At the midway stage of the race, Horgmo began to fight back as he joined the battle between Adamo and Haarup. On lap 12 Horgmo passed Haarup and then a lap later got around Adamo, before being passed back by Haarup and finishing fifth.
In the final few laps, it looked like Vialle was going to challenge Geerts for the win, but ended up tucking the front and going down. He got going quickly and did not lose any positions. Meanwhile, Benistant continued his solid race in third.
Geerts went on to win the race, with Vialle second and Benistant third, ahead of Haarup and Horgmo who rounded out the top five.
In the second race, Benistant took the Holeshot again. Vialle was second ahead of Adamo, Geerts, and Horgmo, Geerts passed Adamo for second as Vialle took over the lead. Benistant dropped back to third.
Adamo then came under fire from Isak Gifting as he got himself into fifth, while Geerts was able to find a few good lines to get close to Vialle.
There was no change inside the top 10 for a while and the focus remained on Vialle and Geerts who were pushing each other throughout the race. Both were making mistakes which was an advantage to the other but ultimately, Vialle was able to keep a cool head under pressure and win the second heat. Geerts was second, ahead of Benistant, Horgmo and Gifting.
Haarup finished sixth in the race but was given a five-place penalty for failing noise control after the race.
A 2-1 scorecard gave Vialle his first overall win since Trentino and his second victory in Riola Sardo, as Geerts was forced to settle for second ahead of his teammate Benistant who made his return to the podium.
In terms of the championship standings, Geerts maintains the red plate with a 6-point advantage over Vialle and Längenfelder who is third.
“I’m really happy to win today. It was a tough track and it was really hot also,” Vialle said. “In the first race I didn’t have a super start let’s say and I was around sixth in the first corner. I passed quickly after two laps, was already behind Jago and just tried to push all the race, but the track is not easy to pass when you ride on the same speed and then I had a small mistake on the last lap. But anyway, I was feeling actually pretty good and in the second race I had a much better start, I took the lead after a few corners until the end. I could control the race and it was really nice to win. The bike was working amazing today, so I am pretty happy”.
The next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship heads to intu Xanadú – Arroyomolinos for the MXGP of Spain in a couple of week time.
MXGP – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Yamaha), 35:24.028
2 Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:06.989
3 Jorge Prado (ESP, GASGAS), +0:11.426
4 Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:16.782
5 Brian Bogers (NED, Husqvarna), +0:23.969
6 Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:28.515
7 Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +0:30.825
8 Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Yamaha), +0:34.304
9 Pauls Jonass (LAT, Husqvarna), +0:40.083
10 Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Beta), +0:42.328
MXGP – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Yamaha), 35:06.004
2 Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Yamaha), +0:16.425
3 Jorge Prado (ESP, GASGAS), +0:23.517
4 Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:25.665
5 Brian Bogers (NED, Husqvarna), +0:26.262
6 Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:29.680
7 Ruben Fernandez (ESP, Honda), +0:46.106
8 Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, GASGAS), +0:50.016
9 Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Beta), +0:55.493
10 Pauls Jonass (LAT, Husqvarna), +0:57.133
MXGP – GP Top 10 Classification:
1 Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, YAM), 50 (Points)
2 Jorge Prado (ESP, GAS), 40 (Points)
3 Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, YAM), 35 (Points)
4 Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 33 (Points)
5 Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 33 (Points)
6 Brian Bogers (NED, HUS), 32 (Points)
7 Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 31 (Points)
8 Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, GAS), 23 (Points)
9 Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, BET), 23 (Points)
10 Pauls Jonass (LAT, HUS), 23 (Points)
MXGP – World Championship Top 10 Classification:
1 Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 367 (Points)
2 Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 288 (Points)
3 Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 264 (Points)
4 Jorge Prado (ESP, GAS), 260 (Points)
5 Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, YAM), 234 (Points)
6 Ruben Fernandez (ESP, HON), 213 (Points)
7 Brian Bogers (NED, HUS), 205 (Points)
8 Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, BET), 189 (Points)
9 Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, YAM), 178 (Points)
10 Pauls Jonass (LAT, HUS), 172 (Points)
MX2 – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), 34:49.103
2 Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), +0:08.862
3 Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:40.731
4 Mikkel Haarup (DEN, Kawasaki), +0:47.756
5 Kevin Horgmo (NOR, Kawasaki), +0:51.807
6 Simon Längenfelder (GER, GASGAS), +0:58.997
7 Andrea Adamo (ITA, GASGAS), +0:59.835
8 Hakon Fredriksen (NOR, Honda), +1:00.899
9 Isak Gifting (SWE, KTM), +1:19.140
10 Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), +1:26.004
MX2 – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 34:48.049
2 Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:00.339
3 Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:39.202
4 Kevin Horgmo (NOR, Kawasaki), +0:40.766
5 Isak Gifting (SWE, KTM), +0:56.241
6 Andrea Adamo (ITA, GASGAS), +1:12.474
7 Simon Längenfelder (GER, GASGAS), +1:13.150
8 Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), +1:44.287
9 Bastian Boegh Damm (DEN, KTM), +1:49.439
10 Kevin Brumann (SUI, Yamaha), +2:19.245
MX2 – Top 10 GP Classification:
1 Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 47 (Points)
2 Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 47 (Points)
3 Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 40 (Points)
4 Kevin Horgmo (NOR, KAW), 34 (Points)
5 Andrea Adamo (ITA, GAS), 29 (Points)
6 Simon Längenfelder (GER, GAS), 29 (Points)
7 Isak Gifting (SWE, KTM), 28 (Points)
8 Mikkel Haarup (DEN, KAW), 28 (Points)
9 Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), 24 (Points)
10 Bastian Boegh Damm (DEN, KTM), 21 (Points)
MX2 – World Championship Top 10 Classification:
1 Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 338 (Points)
2 Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 332 (Points)
3 Simon Längenfelder (GER, GAS), 245 (Points)
4 Mikkel Haarup (DEN, KAW), 239 (Points)
5 Kevin Horgmo (NOR, KAW), 233 (Points)
6 Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 211 (Points)
7 Andrea Adamo (ITA, GAS), 198 (Points)
8 Isak Gifting (SWE, KTM), 193 (Points)
9 Stephen Rubini (FRA, HON), 175 (Points)
10 Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, GAS), 172 (Points)