MXGP: 2024 Championship chase heating up

Main images: Ray Archer | Article: Andy McKinstry

It doesn’t feel that long ago the MXGP World Championship was just getting underway in Argentina but here we are already five months into the season as twelve rounds have now been and gone.

After a double header in Indonesia, the series now has a weekend off before heading back to Europe with the next round at the old school Loket circuit in Czech Republic. Things are really starting to hot up in the MXGP World Championship between the ‘big three’. After twelve rounds here’s how the standings look:

  1. Tim Gajser 608 pts
  2. Jorge Prado 574 (-34) pts
  3. Jeffrey Herlings 557 (-51) pts

Gajser has healthy points lead on paper but as we know, anything can happen in a short space of time in this sport. The past two GP’s have been positive for Herlings as he has taken 20 points out of the championship chase but more importantly than that he looks to be improving every moto and that sprint speed at the start of moto’s he was missing at the start of the year is starting to come and at the right time.

After missing so much racing in 2022 and 2023, Herlings was always going to need time this year to get back to his best. But now you get the feeling the confidence is returning and he’s starting to believe he’s the man again whilst also being patient and smart when he needs to be – he’s not flat out all the time anymore as his goal this year has always been to make every single GP. So far, so good and it’s nice to see him getting back to his real level but you do feel he has even more gears to reach if he can stay injury free between now and the end of the season.

This article continues below
Image: Ray Archer

After having zero time off after the 2023 season which was a dream for Prado clinching the title before going to America to race four rounds of the AMA Supercross season, he came into Argentina in full on race mode. He was immaculate at the start of the season but with quite a lot of mud races hindered him and even Prado will admit he’s not as comfortable in the mud as Gajser and Herlings. There is no doubt though that recently Gajser and Herlings have lifted their level and the speed advantage Prado had at the start of the season is shrinking – all three have been evenly matched recently making starts even more important. But Prado is so smart and rides with so much style and precision. Amazing to watch.

Prado was also unlucky in the start crash at Maggiora losing vital points and who can forget the qualifying drama at Arco with his seat falling off. Championship points lost but nothing the Spaniard could have done about it.

Gajser so far this season has been the consistent one. Yes, a couple of small crashes here or there lately but nothing too damaging and zero DNF’s. Out of the twelve GP’s so far Gajser has only been off the overall podium twice. Consistency wins titles and so far, he’s been exactly that and if that continues with no big mistakes, he’ll be hard to beat in this title.

However, with eight GP’s remaining and 480 points still left to play for in the championship fight, it’s all still to play for between all three. Prado and Herlings have less margin for error, and we can’t forget Herlings DNF in Portugal – that could have been a 1-1 without the bike issue!

With a couple of deep sand GP’s still to come at Lommel and Arnhem things could get very, very interesting. A couple of months ago you weren’t too sure if Herlings, maybe for the first time in his career would have been a big favourite in his preferred conditions but he’s hit form at the right time and will no doubt want to stamp his authority in those GP’s to try and gain as much points as possible. Although, it’s never easy. Prado is excellent in the sand – he won Riola at round three and whilst it may not be Gajser’s preferred conditions he is still good in the soft stuff.

One thing that is going to be interesting is some top riders returning. Romain Febvre and Jago Geerts are now back on a bike. They will be eager to impress when they return – can they get in between the championship contenders and take points off them? It hasn’t been ruled out that Maxime Renaux and Ruben Fernandez will return before the end of the season either and they’ll be eager to impress if they do make it back.

Let’s just hope Prado, Gajser and Herlings can all stay injury free between now and the end of the season because as we all know, things can change very quickly in this sport. It could end up being a classic season. Imagine the excitement if all three all have a shot at the championship at the finale in Spain!

Images: Ray Archer