Motocross

Team France Takes Command After MXoN Qualifying Races, Australia Secures Third Place

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Motocross rider Jorge Prado at the 2023 Motocross of Nations
Jorge Prado gave Spain the win in the MXGP (450) class qualifying race.

The Qualifying Races of the 76th edition of the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations unfolded today, as the 37 nations vying for the Chamberlain Trophy roared into action at the iconic Ernée circuit in France amidst a resounding atmosphere.

Today’s qualifying races determined the 19 teams that will directly advance to tomorrow’s main races, while the rest will engage in fierce competition for the final spot in the B final tomorrow morning. Team Iceland emerged victorious in the C-Final, earning their place in the B-Final. For the teams eyeing a spot on the podium, these qualifying heats held paramount importance in securing the best gate positions for the main event.

Team France emerged as the leading nation in qualifying with three stellar performances. However, the individual Qualifying race victories were claimed by Team Spain’s Jorge Prado (MXGP), Team France’s Tom Vialle (MX2), and Maxime Renaux (Open).

MXGP

In the MXGP Qualifying Race, Team Spain’s Jorge Prado showcased why he is the reigning MXGP World Champion. The Spaniard executed a flawless start and maintained a blistering pace. Leading into the first corner, rider #16 left Team Slovenia’s Tim Gajser, who initially secured second place, with minimal opportunity to catch up. The Slovenian engaged in a fierce battle with Team Switzerland’s Jeremy Seewer, struggled to retain his position and eventually conceded it to the Swiss rider on lap 2. Meanwhile, German rider Ken Roczen capitalised on the opportunity and secured the third position.

Motocross rider Jett Lawrence at the 2023 Motocross of Nations
Jett Lawrence admitted qualifying was a bit of a struggle but feels confident going into tomorrows racing after finishing second in the MXGP Qualifying.

The 2022 MXGP World Champion, Romain Febvre, proved to be a formidable contender on home soil. Halfway through the race, the Frenchman unleashed his full potential and surged ahead of #118 in a corner, leaving “Tiga” at the mercy of Australia’s Jett Lawrence. The Australian meticulously overtook Gajser in two stages, with the Slovenian resisting the initial assault by #7 but succumbing to the second one. Exhibiting wings of determination, Lawrence then pursued Romain Febvre, ultimately overtaking him on the inside of a corner, closely followed by Ken Roczen, who seized the opportunity in a thrilling elbow-to-elbow battle.

Motocross rider Maxime Renaux at the 2023 MotocroMotocross rider Jeremy Seewer at the 2023 Motocross of Nationsss of Nations
Jeremy Seewer finished third in the MXGP Qualifying helping Switzerland to 5th place.

However, it was Jorge Prado who triumphantly crossed the finish line, securing a four-second lead over his nearest competitor, Jett Lawrence, who claimed the second position. Jeremy Seewer clinched the third place, with Ken Roczen in fourth and Romain Febvre securing the fifth position.

“It was a good race, and I got a good start,” Prado explained. “Then the guys behind started to close on me, but I then pulled away to win the race. That’s what I have been doing all year, so we’ll keep going like this for tomorrow.”

Australia’s Jett Lawrence said, “It was a little bit of a struggle initially but I was able to come out with a second place, which has helped Australia to third position. It should be good tomorrow, get some good starts and hopefully have a good weekend.”

Motocross rider Tom Vialle at the 2023 Motocross of Nations
Tom Vialle gave the French crowd something to cheer about taking the qualifying race win in the MX2 class. Photo: Ray Archer

MX2

In the MX2 class, the highly anticipated reunion between Team France’s Tom Vialle and the French fans lived up to the immense hype. The KTM rider did not disappoint the thousands of fans gathered at Ernée on Saturday. Starting from the second position, behind USA’s RJ Hampshire, Vialle initially faced the challenge of Team Germany’s Simon Laengenfelder overtaking him. However, he quickly found his rhythm and reclaimed the second position after Hampshire encountered an early crash. From that point onwards, the Frenchman closely shadowed Laengenfelder, patiently awaiting the opportune moment to seize the lead. Vialle’s pursuit was facilitated by the substantial gap he created between himself and Team Australia’s Hunter Lawrence in third place, with more than five seconds separating the two riders.

Meanwhile, the fierce battle for fourth and fifth place raged on. Starting from the seventh position in the initial two laps, Team Netherlands’ Kay de Wolf made a remarkable comeback. He surpassed Puerto Rican rider Jack Chambers on lap 2. Then, on lap 4, the Dutchman engaged in a fierce tussle with Team South Africa’s Camden McLellan for the fifth position, after the South African yielded under the pressure exerted by Hampshire. In their wake, Slovenia’s Jan Pancar and Spain’s Oriol Oliver competed fiercely, striving to inch closer to the Top 5. However, they ultimately settled for the seventh and eighth positions, respectively.

Motocross rider Hunter Lawrence at the 2023 Motocross of Nations
Hunter Lawrence finished third in the MX2 qualifying to help Australia to third fastest qualifiers.

It wasn’t until the closing moments of the race, specifically the last lap, that Tom Vialle executed a well-planned attack on Simon Laengenfelder. The Frenchman seized the inside line of a corner decisively, leaving Laengenfelder stunned and the crowd jubilant. The German rider was left with no recourse. Vialle’s triumph in the MX2 race fulfilled the high expectations of his fans, with Simon Laengenfelder securing the second position and Hunter Lawrence finishing third. Kay de Wolf claimed the fourth position, launching a late offensive against Hampshire, who completed the Top 5.

Tom Vialle remarked, “It was amazing, and the fans were great. I had a good start and was behind Simon (Laengenfelder). The pace was not that fast, but I struggled to pass. I was checking Hunter (Lawrence) behind as he was catching us a bit. I feel confident, and I was really happy to pass him on the last lap and win the MX2 Race.”

“It’s been fun to be racing in Europe once again,” Hunter Lawrence said. “We go to the line in third tomorrow so that’s good, which gives us a good chance and is a much better place than our ballot placing of P13, so we should be able to get out of the gate better. I’m happy with riding myself into form throughout the day, as it’s been a long time since we’ve ridden conditions like this as we just don’t get them in America. My back was pretty good and that is important too, so that was a relief to ride and that be okay, so now it’s just go out there tomorrow and get the job done.”

Motocross rider Maxime Renaux at the 2023 Motocross of Nations
Maxime Renaux made it a French double with the Open class qualifying win.

OPEN

Following Tom Vialle’s triumph in MX2, the French fans could only hope for a repeat performance from Maxime Renaux. The crowd favourite understood the weight of expectations and handled the pressure with poise as he embarked on an explosive start. Leading into the first corner, ahead of Christian Craig, Harri Kullas, Jere Haavisto, and Fabio Santos, the Frenchman showcased his sheer speed. Renaux also recorded the fastest lap time of the race, clocking in at 1’51.896.

Behind the scenes, Team USA’s Craig, Estonian rider Harri Kullas, and Australian contender Dean Ferris vigorously contested the second and third positions. However, the spotlight belonged to Team Spain’s Ruben Fernandez, positioned fifth, who rapidly climbed the ranks. Ferris was the first to fall victim to the Spaniard, succumbing on the first lap during a corner exit. A lap later, Craig found himself overtaken by the blazing speed of #18, who boldly secured the third position with a robust maneuver. The American relinquished another position after committing an individual error, which benefited Team Belgium’s Liam Everts. Nonetheless, Fernandez remained unyielding, determined not to settle for third place. On lap 6, he engaged Kullas downhill, seizing the second position before a corner. Although Fernandez jeopardized his hard-earned gains with a self-induced crash just two laps from the finish, he swiftly recovered and maintained his second position, fending off Kullas’s relentless pursuit. Despite mounting pressure, Fernandez The Estonian gave up his 3rd place a few moments later to Liam Everts. The Belgian was delighted to finish behind Fernandez in 2nd and Maxime Renaux in 1st. Harri Kullas and Christian Craig completed the Top 5 in 4th and 5th respectively.

After battling up front, early in the race Dean Ferris eventually crashed and was a DNF, but Australia had already qualified.

Motocross rider Ruben Fernandez at the 2023 Motocross of Nations
Ruben Fernandez helped Spain to second place with second in the Open class qualifying.

RAM Qualifying Race MXGP – Top 10 Classification:
1 Jorge Prado (ESP, GASGAS), 23:58.100
2 Jett Lawrence (AUS, Honda), +0:04.376
3 Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:06.438
4 Ken Roczen (GER, Suzuki), +0:08.476
5 Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:15.670
6 Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:23.761
7 Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:32.181
8 Aaron Plessinger (USA, KTM), +0:45.364
9 Pauls Jonass (LAT, Honda), +0:46.219
10 Ben Watson (GBR, Beta), +0:49.578

RAM Qualifying Race MX2 – Top 10 Classification:
1 Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 24:26.806
2 Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GASGAS), +0:01.856
3 Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Honda), +0:05.737
4 Kay de Wolf (NED, Husqvarna), +0:13.429
5 RJ Hampshire (USA, Husqvarna), +0:14.139
6 Camden Mc Lellan (RSA, Honda), +0:44.115
7 Jan Pancar (SLO, KTM), +0:58.045
8 Oriol Oliver (ESP, KTM), +0:58.564
9 Jack Chambers (PUR, Kawasaki), +1:02.945
10 Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), +1:04.701

RAM Qualifying Race Open – Top 10 Classification:
1 Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), 24:36.875
2 Ruben Fernandez (ESP, Honda), +0:11.139
3 Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), +0:14.659
4 Harri Kullas (EST, Yamaha), +0:21.036
5 Christian Craig (USA, Husqvarna), +0:29.938
6 Valentin Guillod (SUI, Honda), +0:34.351
7 Andrea Bonacorsi (ITA, Yamaha), +0:36.304
8 Tom Koch (GER, KTM), +0:50.560
9 Fabio Santos (BRA, Yamaha), +0:55.992
10 Hamish Harwood (NZL, KTM), +0:57.441

Nations Qualification – Top 10 Classification:
1 France 2 Points
2 Spain 3 Points
3 Australia 5 Points
4 Germany 6 Points
5 Switzerland 9 Points
6 USA 10 Points
7 Belgium 10 Points
8 Slovenia 13 Points
9 The Netherlands 15 Points
10 Italy 17 Points

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