Team Italy’s Antonio Cairoli, Mattia Guadagnini and Alessandro Lupino made history on home soil of Mantova, to take a hard-fought victory at the 2021 Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations.
Despite the heavy downpour and the thunderstorm that rocked the day from the first warm-up session until the final race of the day, this didn’t hinder Team Italy’s fighting spirit or the support of the crowd of fans that turned out to support their nations. The trio of Cairoli, Guadagnini, and Lupino put together some strong races to secure Italy’s third-ever victory at the 74th edition of the Monster Energy FIM MXoN, the first since 2002
Joining the winners on the podium were Team Netherlands who finished just one point behind the victors (38 points) and Team Great Britain who obtained their fourth consecutive podium to finish third overall on 39 points.
As the gate dropped for the first race of the day, it was Team Switzerland’s Arnaud Tonus who took the first Fox Holeshot of the day, though Team Latvia’s Karlis Sabulis was quick to take over the lead by the second corner ahead of Jose Burton of Team Spain and Tom Vialle of Team France.
Disaster struck Team Italy’s Antonio Cairoli and Team Netherlands’ Glenn Coldenhoff as the pair went down on the first corner, which meant that they had a long race ahead of them if they wanted to minimise the scores for their nation.
While Sabulis continued to lead, Vialle fought his way into second as he started to close in on the Latvian for the win. The Frenchman then fell to fifth place, as Team Denmark’s Thomas Kjer Olsen continued his charge towards the top end of the field after getting around Butron for second.
While Olsen was battling for the win, his fellow countryman Mikkel Haarup was unlucky as he crashed out of 15th place. He eventually finished the race in 26th position.
Struggling further down the field were Cairoli and Coldenhoff who were looking for a way inside the top 20, as Team Germany’s Max Nagl retired from the race.
At the top end of the field though Olsen was all over Sabulis and moments later he took over the lead on lap five.
Cairoli eventually found his way inside the top 20, but moments later made use of the goggle lane which meant he dropped positions as a result. But with clearer vision, the Italian was able to fight back to 21st.
His younger countryman, Mattia Guadagnini was having a strong race inside the top 10 and he only climbed further up as the race progressed. The MX2 rookie was able to find his way around Team Sweden’s Isak Gifting, who crashed, and then later Tonus and Sabulis.
With three laps to go, it was Olsen who led Vialle, with Watson still in third, followed by Tonus and Guadagnini. In the end, Olsen was able to hold off both Vialle and Watson to win the first heat for Team Denmark.
In the second heat, we saw Team Switzerland’s Valentin Guillod with the Fox Holeshot, though it was Jeffrey Herlings of Team Netherlands who was quick to take over the lead with Guillod dropping to second and Team Austria’s Rene Hofer starting well in third.
Meanwhile, Vialle had a nightmare start and was down in 15th position, while Team Italy’s Guadagnini and Alessandro Lupino started strong in fifth and sixth respectively.
Hofer then set the fastest lap of the race as he was just 1.017 seconds down on Herlings after taking second from Guillod. The Austrian was having a great rider for Team Austria.
Things then went from bad to worse for Team France and Vialle who struggled with his bike and was eventually forced to retire from the race.
Team Germany’s Henry Jacobi then started to apply the pressure onto Lupino, while Guadagnini made a mistake and ended up on the ground losing four positions as a result. He dropped to seventh.
There was more drama for Team France and Team Netherlands as Mathys Boisrame and Roan van de Moosdijk both crashed with the pair eventually finishing 19th and 20th, which was a blow for both teams.
Herlings then continued to edge out as he led by 23.951 seconds, with Guillod managing to get back past Hofer. Jacobi also found his way around Lupino and was up in fifth place, with Team Belgium’s Brent van Doninck just ahead.
Guadagnini then too got around his fellow countryman Lupino but was unable to catch Jacobi and was forced to settle for sixth as the chequered flag fell.
Herlings went on to win the race by an impressive 49.117 seconds, with Guillod securing second for Team Switzerland and Hofer finishing third for Team Austria.
The third and final race, like always, was the most important. It was the decider for the team who will take victory, as well as the teams who were going to join the victors on the podium. Team Italy entered the final race with a solid 19-point lead over Team Belgium who was second at the time, with Team Great Britain third and looking to stay in the fight for the podium.
And as the gate dropped, there was plenty of drama that unfolded which saw the nations classifications change for the final time, keeping the final order in question until the end of the race.
In the final heat of the day, it was Team Great Britain’s Ben Watson with the Fox Holeshot, but once again it was Herlings who muscled his way to the front, with Cairoli managing to squeeze past Watson also. While race one winner, Olsen was one of the unlucky riders who crashed in the start.
Herlings then set the fastest lap of the race as he looked to check out, like he did in race one. Cairoli kept things close for a few laps with Watson remaining third behind the pair.
While Team Belgium were looking to fight for a potential podium finish, they were dealt their first blow with their rider Cyrcil Genot forced to retire from the race early on. Later in the race, Van doninck was forced to do the same. This put the team out of the run for a medal this time around.
In the early stages of the race, the top 10 consisted of Herlings, Cairoli, Watson, Coldenhoff, Sabulis, Lupino, Team MFR’s Evgeny Bobryshev, Team Great Britain’s Shaun Simpson, Boisrame and Ken Bengston of Team Sweden.
Benoit Paturel of Team France dropped to 16th place which allowed Olsen and Jasikonis through, while Lupino had a huge crash and dropped down to 9th place.
Not long after, Watson was another rider to get caught out with the Brit going down big. Luckily, he was able to get going quickly and only lost a position to Coldenhoff who was having a much better race that time around.
With five minutes to go before the end of the race, there was drama as a pending penalty put into question Italy’s fate. By that point Herlings had once again checked out of the race as Cairoli was keeping it steady in second.
It was all down to Lupino to make up another position in order to keep the hope of a victory alive, despite that pending penalty for course cutting. It was game on for Lupino who was keen on getting around Sabulis and eventually managed to do so which put him seventh. In the end, the Italian was given a 10-place penalty and was classified as 17th.
In the end it was Herlings who won the race and went 1-1 for the first time at the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations, though it was not enough for Netherlands to win, as a 2-17 score in race three from Cairoli and Lupino was enough for Team Italy to secure the victory on home soil. In terms of the race, Cairoli was second with Coldenhoff finishing third.
Following the day’s races, it was time for the usual team press conference of the top three nations, including the overall winners of each category and the winner of the Ricky Carmichael Award.
Team Great Britain’s Ben Watson was the overall winner in the MXGP category, while in MX2 it was Austria’s Rene Hofer and finally in open it was Jeffrey Herlings of The Netherlands’s who was victorious after his 1-1 result.
Also receiving an award this weekend was Team Belgium’s Liam Everts who was the recipient of the Ricky Carmichael MXoN youngest talent Award. Everts, who was making his Monster Energy FIM MXoN debut, had a solid day finishing fourth overall in the MX2 category.
Following the words of each rider, the top three teams were presented with their FIM medals by FIM President Jorge Viegas and FIM/CMS Director Antonio Alia Portela, followed by the presentation of the Champions Rings by Infront Moto Racing CEO David Luongo.
“I’m super happy of course, we did everything we had in our power, I was not in 100% of shape but I gave everything I had,” Antonio Cairoli said, “I think the guys did even more than me and we deserve this title”.
Race 1 (MXGP + MX2) – Top 10 Classification:
1 Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), 35:32.712
2 Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), +0:01.476
3 Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +0:04.751
4 Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +0:33.115
5 Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), +0:33.789
6 Cyril Genot (BEL, KTM), +0:41.608
7 Vsevolod Brylyakov (MFR, Honda), +0:42.832
8 Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), +0:47.009
9 Benoit Paturel (FRA, Honda), +0:52.042
10 Karlis Sabulis (LAT, Husqvarna), +1:07.752
Race 2 (MX2 + Open) – Top 10 Classification:
1 Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:33.811
2 Valentin Guillod (SUI, Yamaha), +0:49.117
3 Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), +0:50.463
4 Brent Van doninck (BEL, Yamaha), +0:59.303
5 Henry Jacobi (GER, Honda), +1:09.370
6 Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), +1:19.682
7 Alessandro Lupino (ITA, KTM), +1:22.312
8 Isak Gifting (SWE, GASGAS), +1:23.152
9 Arminas Jasikonis (LTU, Husqvarna), +1:45.469
10 Evgeny Bobryshev (MFR, Husqvarna), +1:56.140
Race 3 (MXGP + Open) – Top 10 Classification:
1 Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 36:25.997
2 Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:55.480
3 Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Yamaha), +1:03.943
4 Ben Watson (GBR, Yamaha), +1:07.886
5 Evgeny Bobryshev (MFR, Husqvarna), +1:44.958
6 Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +1:51.152
7 Vsevolod Brylyakov (MFR, Honda), +1:57.546
8 Karlis Sabulis (LAT, Husqvarna), +1:59.052
9 Mathys Boisrame (FRA, Kawasaki), +2:03.104
10 Ken Bengtson (SWE, Husqvarna), +2:04.321
Nations Classifications – Top 10:
1 Italy 37 Points
2 The Netherlands 38 Points
3 Great Britain 39 Points
4 MFR 44 Points
5 France 50 Points
6 Belgium 74 Points
7 Estonia 78 Points
8 Switzerland 80 Points
9 Austria 82 Points
10 Denmark 84 Points