Gajser on his Mantova win
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser won his second MXGP in a row, going two-one in another confident display of riding at the MXGP of Lombardia, increasing his lead at the top of the world championship standings in the process. Teammate Mitch Evans also looked much improved from last weekend’s effort as he went 13-15 for 12th overall.
After his victory in England last weekend, Gajser was looking for another win in Mantova, Italy, for what would be the first time in his career that he won the first two rounds. And after a qualification win yesterday, a large step had been taken, as it allowed him the inside gate-pick which is vitally important at this tight, tricky circuit.
In both motos, the Honda CRF450R rider capitalised on his position, rounding the first bend inside the top three and giving himself every opportunity to go for the moto win. Unfortunately, in the first race, he was unable to make it happen, despite pressurising the leader for the full 30 minutes plus two laps. He almost made the pass stick a couple of times, but in the end, he had to settle for second place, as he crossed just 1.3 seconds behind the winner.
Another good start in race two once again gave him the platform to go for the victory, something that would guarantee him the overall, and this time round he took full advantage. Before they’d crossed the line for the first time, the #243 was ahead and looking to pull away from the field. Putting in a number of hotlaps, including the fastest lap of the race, he had a nice cushion, but a small mistake meant that by the time he picked the bike up, he was having battle hard to keep his first position. Keeping calm, he held off the challenge and then set about pulling away again, eventually taking the chequered flag by over seven seconds. After winning both rounds of the 2022 season so far, Gajser is 12 points ahead in the MXGP standings, after taking 94 points from a possible 100.
For Evans, the sights are set a little lower, but this was another positive showing from the Australian who had missed the previous 15-months due to a wrist injury. An unfortunate problem in qualifying meant that he had an outside gate-pick and that meant he had very little chance of starting inside the top 10. Still, the #43 wasn’t to be discouraged and he tried his hardest to get out of the gate well. Race one went better, and as a result he was involved in a massive battle for the 10-15 positions, eventually taking home 13th after non-stop fighting. Race two didn’t start as well, but he worked himself forward from 22nd on lap one, into 15th by the time he finished, giving him a much-improved 12th overall.
Both riders will now have a weekend off, before heading down to the beautiful town of Villa La Angostura, Argentina for what will be the third round of the season. The track holds good memories for both riders and with confidence high, it should be another strong round for Team HRC in this competitive 2022 MXGP campaign.
Gajser: I am really happy with how today went, finishing off with that second moto win and taking the overall with it. Honestly, I struggled a bit with getting the bike setup because this Mantova surface was different from previous races we’ve held here, but the team kept working and we found a good balance for the second moto and that really made a big difference. I also got two good starts which was critical here, so I didn’t have to pass too many guys as it was really difficult to make moves. In the first race it was a little frustrating, being so close to making a pass but not quite making it stick. Then in race two, I was in the lead before the end of the first lap and controlled the race. I made a little mistake but I was able to stay in front and just kept calm and then pulled away once again to go two-one and make it two GP wins out of two. I can’t wait to head to Argentina as that is a track I like and hopefully I can make it another win and keep hold of the red-plate.
Evans: Much improved weekend for me in Lombardia, and I’m leaving here feeling a lot more positive about the rest of the year. The results still aren’t where I want them to be, but I felt like my riding was a lot better, and it was good to battle with these guys again. The first race especially was really intense and I was always fighting for my position, so that was fun and it was something I’ve missed when away from the series. Now, I have a weekend off to keep building before heading down to Argentina which is a track I have fond memories of.
Marcus Pereira de Freitas: A strong weekend for Team HRC once again with Tim winning the GP overall and Mitch showing signs that he is progressing and that it won’t be long before he is battling inside the top 10. Having first gate pick was good here and Tim was able to start inside the top three in both races. In race one, he just couldn’t make it happen but race two was much better and he rode as good as we’ve seen him. His confidence was high and it showed in his performance and we will be looking for more of the same in Argentina. For Mitch, he fought for his position in both races and looked much more comfortable than he did in Great Britain so that is good and another step in his progression towards the front of this MXGP class. A big thanks to all of Team HRC for their continued efforts and now we have a weekend off before the long trip down to the beautiful track in Villa La Angostura.
Words and image: Honda