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Jeffrey Herlings and Tom Vialle repeat their success to win the Bitci MXGP of Afyon

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Jorge Prado (61) has had his starts wired lately and in Turkey was once again the first out of the gate.

Jeffrey Herlings and Tom Vialle have repeated their success of last Sunday to take overall victories in MXGP and MX2 for the Bitci MXGP of Afyon.

Herlings remains undefeated, taking a fourth consecutive Grand Prix win in Afyon, and remains the only MXGP rider to ever win at the Turkish track. In addition, the bullet also matched Antonio Cairoli’s GP win record, as he secured his 93rd triumph.

The overall victory didn’t come easy for either, as both Herlings and Vialle were challenged by a group of riders who were all hungry for the win, making for some epic races.

The MXGP class delivered some of the most intense racing that we have seen this season so far. The top protagonists of the championship were all within a couple of seconds of one another in both races, with a winner hard to predict.

After making some changes to the bike, Herlings topped the charts in Time Practice to take pole position which set him up nicely for the races. Though as the gate dropped for race one, it was Jorge Prado who clinched the Fox Holeshot ahead of Romain Febvre, Herlings and Jeremy Seewer.

Team HRC’s Tim Gajser started the race in eighth, though made some quick passes as he got up to fourth within a couple of laps.

There was no change in the top four for quite a few laps as Cairoli worked his way through the field. He had Seewer ahead in fifth who eventually crashed out and dropped to 15th.

Prado then crashed big out of the lead and took a while to get going again, re-joining the race quite far behind the rest of the field, which made it tough for the Spaniard to score any points as he finished the race in 21st.

Febvre was then the new race leader, and it was game one for the top three. Herlings and Gajser had a couple of moments as the Slovenian pushed to get around the Dutchman.

Jeffrey Herlings went 1-2 for his second GP win in four days, the third of 2021, and the 93rd of his career. Photo: Ray Archer

Alberto Forato was having a great opening race after a strong time practice. The Italian in sixth place, where he eventually finished. It did look like he was going to challenge Pauls Jonass at one point though, which made for some entertaining racing.

Febvre then looked to stretch out his lead as he set the fastest lap of the race with nine minutes plus two laps to go. And as the race progressed things got more interesting as Febvre, Herlings and Gajser were just within 1.559 seconds of one another.

Cairoli was closing in on the top three at that point too as he was faster than the top three ahead of him. Herlings then put the hammer down on Febvre.

With one lap to go, Herlings was pushing to pass Febvre and was being pushed by Gajser who had Cairoli applying the pressure. Febvre did a good job to defend his position until he made a small mistake and crashed with less than half a lap to go.

On his 25th birthday, Team HRC’s Tim Gajser ‘lit the candles’ above the Afyonkarahisar finish line to take the second moto victory, securing second overall.

Then it was Herlings in the driving seat as Gajser looked to keep close and make a move for the win though got caught out by a hard-charging Cairoli who stole second from the Slovenian. Herlings was the race winner.

In race two, it was Prado again with the Fox Holeshot as Herlings followed closely behind in second ahead of Gajser and Jonass, as Cairoli had to fight his way through the pack once again.

Herlings was looking to strike early as Cairoli got around Febvre for fifth and looked to put an attack on Jonass immediately after.

As the race went on, the top three remained close, just as they did in race one, with just 0.959 seconds in between them. Gajser was looking to make a pass on Herlings and make a charge for the win, though made a mistake that allowed Cairoli to close in and join the fight just like before.

At one stage Prado extended the gap to 1.840 seconds but it didn’t take long for Herlings to find his way onto the back of the Spaniard.

While the top four battled for the win, there was also nice action further down the field as Glenn Coldenhoff got around JM Honda Racing’s Henry Jacobi for 10th. The German responded soon after, parking the Yamaha rider. Coldenhoff then made a small error and crashed.

Tony Cairoli earned his fifth podium finish of the season with 3rd place and 177 in total since 2004. Photo: Ray Archer

Back with the leaders though, Gajser was searching for every opportunity to get past Herlings and on lap six was finally able to do it. Then it was game on for the win. Three laps later, Gajser was the new race leader as the top three were bunched up and within less than a second of each other, which meant that the race was far from over.

Herlings followed in Gajser’s steps to get around Prado but could not keep with the Slovenian.

In the end, the birthday boy, Gajser won the second heat with a 5.947 seconds advantage to Herlings, with Cairoli taking third from his teammate as we were treated to another Cairoli vs Prado battle.

In terms of the podium, it was Herlings with the overall victory ahead of Gajser and Cairoli. Tim Gajser continues to lead the championship with a 28-point advantage over Romain Febvre and Antonio Cairoli. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Herlings moves up to fourth in the standings, just 34 points off the series leader.

“I started the day strong with Pole Position and it was important to be on the inside of the gate here, especially against Jorge!” Herlings said.

“The first race was good and busy! I could not really attack because I had Tim [Gajser] behind me and I had to defend my line but at the same time I had a bit more speed on Romain [Febvre]. It was so hard to pass on this track. I managed to hold second until the last lap but then Romain made a mistake and I had the win handed to me, so it was a bit of a gift. In the second moto I was looking for lines but again I had to defend and attack at the same time with Jorge and Tim. Tim was faster the second moto. I was struggling a bit with grip. The track got hard and slick and I had a few sketchy moments so at one point I decided to settle for second and minimize the risk. I knew I had the GP win, my 93rd. It’s been a good day and two good races here in Turkey. I want to thank Red Bull KTM for the great bike they gave me.”

MX2

Tom Vialle took his third MX2 win of the year his second in Turkey. Photo: Ray Archer.

In MX2, all eyes were on the battle between Tom Vialle and Maxime Renaux as the pair went at it in both races.

In the opening heat, it was Vialle with the Fox Holeshot ahead of Mathys Boisrame, Renaux, Mattia Guadagnini and Australian Jed Beaton.

Renaux was not wasting time as he was already up in second and looking to keep Vialle close. Meanwhile, Boisrame was coming under pressure from Beaton who was keen to get around the Frenchman.

Vialle and Renaux kept things close for a few laps as Renaux started to push, setting the fastest laps of the race. And there was nothing Vialle could do as, by the end of lap three, Renaux was the new race leader.

The big question was whether Renaux would escape Vialle or whether it would be a race to the flag. We soon got the answer as Renaux continued to set fast laps one after another, escaping the grip that Vialle had on him.

Guadagnini then joined the fight between Boisrame and Beaton for third. Beaton went down a couple of laps later and re-joined in seventh position but then continued to drop down the order as he struggled with arm pump.

Kay De Wolf was one of the riders to get around Beaton as he looked to keep Thibault Benistant at bay.

Guadagnini then go himself into third as he finally got past Boisrame, who then went backwards. Jago Geerts and Australian Wilson Todd were just two riders who went through on the F&H rider, who eventually finished the race in 13th.

Maxime Renaux made his seventh podium appearance at the ninth round of the MX2 FIM Motocross World Championship and extended his championship lead.

Renaux then pretty much dominated the race, going almost two seconds a lap faster than Vialle on one occasion. By the end he won the race 17.288 seconds ahead of Vialle and Guadagnini who was third.

In race two, it was Vialle once again with the Fox Holeshot as Renaux followed closely behind. Benistant got a good jump out of the gate too and so did De Wolf and Guadagnini.

Rene Hofer was also there in the mix as he worked to get around Benistant for third place. Though he had De Wolf, Guadagnini and Beaton breathing down his neck as well which made things difficult.

Meanwhile the two leaders, Vialle and Renaux traded fast laps as the gap stayed under two seconds.

We were treated to a battle of the teammates between De Wolf and Beaton, as Beaton struggled to get around his younger colleague. By lap nine he was finally able to get the job done. Hofer and Beaton then started to close in on Benistant, with Beaton stealing Hofer’s spot in the meanwhile.

The lead then began to slip away from Renaux as Vialle edged out by 5.036 seconds, as Beaton got around Benistant for third, making up for a tough first race.

In the end, it was Vialle who was victorious with Renaux forced to settle for second and Beaton securing a top three finish. With Vialle going 2-1 in the races, this handed him the advantage for the overall win, with Renaux second overall and Guadagnini managing a top three finish.

Maxime Renaux extends his series lead to 361 points, with Mattia Guadagnini still in second a further 49 points behind and Jago Geerts third.

“I didn’t have a good flow in the first race,” Vialle reflected. “I had a pretty good start, and the first two laps were okay. In sector four I had some bad lines there and that’s where Maxime passed me. After fifteen minutes I felt really tired. I don’t know what happened, but I had no energy, and I had a good gap to the guy in third so I just finished the race how I could and saved some energy. In race two, I gave everything I could to try to win and it was good. In terms of the title, Maxime is far in front, and it is pretty much done let’s say but I still want to come back, so this is my goal. I will try to win as much as I can. It was difficult but I am happy to win both GPs here in Turkey and I feel really good so let’s move forward to the next races”.

The Grand Prix of Sardinia on September 19th will take MXGP to the sandy Riola Sardo circuit for the first of seven consecutive race weekends that also involves the Motocross of Nations at Mantova, Italy.

Mattia Guadagnini continued his stellar form with another podium and sits second in the 2021 championship. Photo: Ray Archer.

2021 Bitci MXGP of Afyon Results

MXGP – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:31.387
2 Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:00.494
3 Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:02.969
4 Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:10.585
5 Pauls Jonass (LAT, GASGAS), +0:35.881
6 Alberto Forato (ITA, GASGAS), +0:40.918
7 Henry Jacobi (GER, Honda), +0:49.141
8 Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Yamaha), +0:51.337
9 Alessandro Lupino (ITA, KTM), +0:53.507
10 Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +0:54.619

MXGP – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), 34:44.781
2 Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:05.947
3 Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:08.978
4 Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), +0:14.097
5 Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:31.196
6 Pauls Jonass (LAT, GASGAS), +0:32.209
7 Alberto Forato (ITA, GASGAS), +0:41.561
8 Alessandro Lupino (ITA, KTM), +0:57.060
9 Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +1:00.476
10 Brian Bogers (NED, GASGAS), +1:06.485

MXGP – GP Top 10 Classification:
1 Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 47 Points
2 Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 45 Points
3 Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 42 Points
4 Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 34 Points
5 Pauls Jonass (LAT, GAS), 31 Points
6 Alberto Forato (ITA, GAS), 29 Points
7 Alessandro Lupino (ITA, KTM), 25 Points
8 Henry Jacobi (GER, HON), 24 Points
9 Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 21 Points
10 Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 18 Points

MXGP – World Championship Top 10 Classification:
1 Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 355 Points
2 Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 327 Points
3 Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 326 Points
4 Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 321 Points
5 Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 315 Points
6 Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 249 Points
7 Pauls Jonass (LAT, GAS), 231 Points
8 Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, YAM), 212 Points
9 Alessandro Lupino (ITA, KTM), 182 Points
10 Ben Watson (GBR, YAM), 143 Points

MX2 – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), 34:59.757
2 Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), +0:17.288
3 Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), +0:26.148
4 Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:29.053
5 Wilson Todd (AUS, Kawasaki), +0:30.215
6 Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:32.424
7 Kay de Wolf (NED, Husqvarna), +0:36.135
8 Ruben Fernandez (ESP, Honda), +0:37.165
9 Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), +0:45.611
10 Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GASGAS), +0:47.253

MX2 – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 35:15.694
2 Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:05.534
3 Jed Beaton (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:26.982
4 Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:30.264
5 Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), +0:32.021
6 Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), +0:35.350
7 Isak Gifting (SWE, GASGAS), +0:43.977
8 Kay de Wolf (NED, Husqvarna), +0:46.001
9 Wilson Todd (AUS, Kawasaki), +0:47.172
10 Andrea Adamo (ITA, GASGAS), +0:51.262

MX2 – GP Top 10 Classification:
1 Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 47 Points
2 Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 47 Points
3 Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), 35 Points
4 Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 33 Points
5 Jed Beaton (AUS, HUS), 29 Points
6 Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), 28 Points
7 Wilson Todd (AUS, KAW), 28 Points
8 Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 28 Points
9 Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 27 Points
10 Ruben Fernandez (ESP, HON), 22 Points

MX2 – World Championship Top 10 Classification:
1 Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 361 Points
2 Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), 312 Points
3 Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 290 Points
4 Jed Beaton (AUS, HUS), 266 Points
5 Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 261 Points
6 Ruben Fernandez (ESP, HON), 251 Points
7 Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), 244 Points
8 Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 237 Points
9 Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 227 Points
10 Mathys Boisrame (FRA, KAW), 216 Points

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