French MXGP Preview

MONACO (Principality of Monaco) 17 May 2023 – The FIM Motocross World Championship is coming to France for the seventh Grand Prix of the of the 2023 season. The circuit of Villars Sous Ecot will be hosting the MXGP of France six years after the last event held there in 2017.

The French track was first introduced to the World Championship in 1982 and went on to host the 1988 MXoN. The 2023 edition will mark the comeback of Villars sous Ecot to the MXGP calendar and its 7th MXGP event, and this time the circuit returns with an 80% renovated track which will be an added challenge for the riders. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings won the last edition in 2017 (MXGP of Montbeliard) in MXGP and in 2015 in MX2 while French rider Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre won in 2015 in MXGP.

The MXGP of France will also host the 4th round of WMX and EMX125 presented by FMF Racing. Big Van World MTX Kawasaki’s Courtney Duncan leads the Women’s Motocross Championship while MJC Yamaha Team’s Janis Martin Reisulis is the leader in EMX125 Presented by FMF Racing in front of the young French rider 737 Performers GASGAS’s Mathis Valin.

The MXGP of France is always something special with large number of fans always ‘au rendez-vous’ to cheer on their heroes. While last season, the MXGP of France in Ernée was won by Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team’s Jeremy Seewer, the last edition in Villars sous Ecot in 2017 was clinched by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings in front Team HRC’s Tim Gajser and Max Anstie.

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In 2023, Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado arrives at the Grand Prix of France as the leader of the Championship although he doesn’t have the momentum with him. He missed the podium for the first time this season at his home GP in Spain but still finishing at very good 4th overall. His consistency his clear as he once again clinched the RAM Qualifying Race in Spain but the Red Plate will want to get back on the top step of the podium and make sure Jeffrey Herlings does not overtake him in the Championship Standings this weekend.

On the other side, Herlings second in the Championship, comes to France with a huge momentum as he won back-to-back Portugal and Spain to break the all-time record of GP wins with 102. He also won the MXGP of Spain with the first perfect 1-1 of the season in MXGP showing that he is simply back to his best. The ‘bullet’ will have the advantage of the track as he won in Villars sous Ecot in MX2 in 2015 and in MXGP in 2017 which will give him this extra confidence that motocross riders crave. Now with only 6 points separating him from Prado, the fight for the lead will be on in France.

Team HRC’s Ruben Fernandez is another rider that his on his way up having clinched the podium on his Home GP in Spain and showed an incredible level of competitivity over last GPs. With 3 Top 5s in the last 3 GPs it is not hard to see that the Spanish rider is getting quickly acclimated to his first MXGP season with a factory team. He showed in Spain his mental toughness to rise up to the occasion with all that added stress to perform on home soil.

Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre is coming home. The Frenchman has been very unfortunate in Spain as he was involved in a multi-rider collision during the MXGP RAM Qualifying Race that ruled him out of the MXGP of Spain. However, he clinched 2 podiums before the MXGP of Spain which puts him at a comfortable 4th place. He also has already won at Villars sous Ecot which will be the perfect way to come back with a bang and make his home crowd overjoyed. That would also be the perfect moment to win his first GP of the season.

Unfortunately, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team’s Maxime Renaux, who sits 5th in the Championship will not be present as he sustained an injury during the MXGP of Spain that will rule him out for the foreseeable future. 

Team Gebben Van Venroy Yamaha Racing’s Calvin Vlaanderen, 6th in the Championship is being very consistent as he got an incredible 6 Top 10s out of 6 so far this season. While he was not too far from the podium several times this season, the Dutchman still misses a podium which is definitely within reach for him after showing loads of confidence and regularity in 2023. On the back of another solid 8th overall in Spain, Vlaanderen will as always be a rider to watch in France.

Another Dutchman is Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team’s Glenn Coldenhoff who sits only one point behind Vlaanderen with 190 points and still very much in contact with a podium place. Coldenhoff has shown a lot of maturity after his dip in form in Switzerland as over the last 3 Grand Prix, Coldenhoff has finished 6th twice and 5th in Spain which makes him a constant threat for podium finishes as the season goes.

His teammate and 5-time Vice Motocross World Champion Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team’s Jeremy Seewer did not have the smoothest ride so far but still shows up in 7th position in the Championship which shows his undeniable talent. The Swiss rider is getting back to his rhythm as he got 5th in Portugal and 6th in Spain clinching 3 FOX Holeshots along the way to get to 4 in total this season. We can expect Seewer to come back challenging the top spots as we already saw him in Spain leading his first laps of the season.

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Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Mattia Guadagnini is also nearly levelled with Seewer and very close to Vlaanderen in 6th with 186 points. Guadagnini seems at peace in his riding at the moment and it shows on the track with him deservedly clinching his first MXGP podium in Spain in 2nd position. He is one who also took lead of a race for the first time this season in Spain. His impressive riding style looks like is becoming very efficient too which bodes well with the importance of the next GPs to chase higher position in the standings and get more podium along the way.

SM Action Racing Team Yuasa Battery MXGP’s Alberto Forato is a solid performer and a rider that is very reliable in 2023. 10th in the Championship, the Italian has shown many great ridings throughout the first 6 rounds and will also be determined to ride at the front more often than not to get more points and prove he can fight amongst the top riders.

De Baets Yamaha MX-Team’s Benoit Paturel will be one of the home riders this weekend and the privateer, 12th in the Championship, has shown plenty of quality riding so far this season as he clinched several top 10s in races. Riding at home may give him an added boost to get his first overall top 10 this season which is more than possible given what he displayed so far in 2023.

For Ship to Cycle Honda SR Motoblouz’s Valentin Guillod who is 11th, the MXGP of France is not far from his home too. The Swiss will want to continue on his journey as he has been in the top 10 over the last 4 GPs and will want to keep these performances going in the neighbouring country.

The last time MX2 competed in Villars sous Ecot was in 2017 and it was Thomas Covington who came out victorious in front of Hunter Lawrence and Jed Beaton. However the last MXGP of France in 2022 saw home hero Tom Vialle win in front of the other French rider Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team’s Thibault Benistant and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team’s Jago Geerts. 

Jago Geerts is still the MX2 leader as he finished 2nd on the podium in Spain behind the imperial Simon Längenfelder who sustained an injury in training last week and will not compete in France. Geerts showed plenty of maturity as he settled for the 2nd place and accepted this place knowing that the season is long. The Red Plate holder has been 5 out of 6 time on the podium which is a testament to his consistency and which is crucial to be able to stay on top of the Championship. 

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Andrea Adamo is also a model of regularity which is why he is 2nd in the championship and continues to show strong ridings. He got 4 out of 6 podiums so far and will be coming in Villars sous Ecot on the back of a 3rd place overall in Spain. The Grand Prix winner in Trentino paradoxically has not won a race so far and he will want to rectify that at the MXGP of France.

Another rider who performs and always fight at the top is Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Kay de Wolf who is 3rd in the championship and missed the podium in Spain but with the same points as Adamo. De Wolf has won one race in Sardinia and even if has not won a GP yet he is not far from it as he already showed he can beat all his rivals over the course of a race. The MXGP of France will be the perfect occasion to align everything a get a deserve GP win.

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Now 4th in the championship thanks to his impressive performance in Spain with a perfect 1-1, Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Simon Laengenfelder has sustained an injury on the back of his win and will unfortunately not be able to compete for the foreseeable future. Thibault Benistant, 5th so far and very much in the course for the MX2 Title has experienced a dip in form over the GPs of Trentino and Portugal, 6th and 10th respectively. He got back into his usual showings in Spain with a 3-5 for 5th overall. This is a perfect timing to get back to his best with the MXGP of France coming this weekend. The Frenchman will be supported by the passionate home crowd that will him perform on home soil.

Following in the Championship are Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Roan Van de Moosdijk and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Liam Everts, 6th and 7th respectively. They both recently tasted their first podium and are riding more often at the front of the pack. Everts got a good 7-6 for 6th overall in Spain collecting important points and not falling behind too much behind the top five. Van De Moosdijk is on the rise in term performance as he is getting his fitness and rhythm back after his injury in pre-season.

F&H Kawasaki Racing Team’s Kevin Horgmo finds himself 8th while Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Lucas Coenen is 9th. After his 4th place in Patagonia-Argentina Horgmo has not managed to get back to this kind of showings but the qualities of the Norwegian are well known as he is consistently into the top 10s, with his recent 7th place in Spain. Lucas Coenen managed a 14th overall in Spain with some misfortunes but the Belgian has already all he needs to perform with the best riders and simply need to put it all together over one full GP. The MXGP of France will be another chance for these riders to clinch their first podium.

TEM JP253 KTM Racing Team’s Jan Pancar who is 10th in the standings is the first privateer in the MX2 Motocross World Championship. That speaks volumes for his riding qualities and determination and it will be interesting to see if he can get even higher as the season goes. In Spain, he went 16-9 for 12th overall to keep his solid 10th position.

Another home rider will be Fantic Factory Team Maddii’s Tom Guyon who finds himself 22nd in the championship as he missed a couple of Grand Prix due to a sore shoulder. He came back in Spain for a 19th overall but getting along the way precious competition time and fitness before coming to Villars sous Ecot. The MXGP of France is ideal for Guyon to draw extra confidence from the fans support and get back to compete at the front of the pack.

The 11th in Championship, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team’s Rick Elzinga will unfortunately not take part in the MXGP of France after sustaining an injury. On the other hand after the return of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Sacha Coenen to the competition in Trentino, S.Coenen has definitely kickstarted his season after a promising top 10 in Spain, 9th overall which will give the young Belgian plenty confidence to continue his ascension to the Championship Standings (18th) starting with the MXGP of France. 


SATURDAY: 08:10 WMX Free Practice, 08:35 EMX125 Group 1 Free Practice, 09:00 EMX125 Group 2 Free Practice, 09:30 MXE Time Practice, 09:50 WMX Qualifying practice, 10:30 MX2 Free Practice, 11:00 MXGP Free Practice, 12:15 MXE Race 1, 12:30 EMX125 Group 1 Qualifying practice, 13:05 EMX125 Group 2 Qualifying practice, 13:45 MX2 Time Practice, 14:20 MXGP Time Practice, 15:05 WMX Race 1, 15:45 EMX125 Race 1, 16:35 MX2 RAM Qualifying Race, 17:20 MXGP RAM Qualifying Race.

SUNDAY: 09:45 WMX Race 2, 10:25 MX2 Warm-up, 10:45 MXGP Warm-up, 11:15 MXE Race 2, 11:55 EMX125 Race 2, 13:15 MX2 Race 1, 14:15 MXGP Race 1, 16:10 MX2 Race 2, 17:10 MXGP Race 2.

Words and image: InFront Moto Racing