MXGP – battle of the generations in 2023?

After two rounds the top four in MXGP points comprise the experienced world champions and the elite young guns of the sport intent on taking over after their world titles in MX2. There is always that sweet spot in certain eras where the older riders are still in their prime as the young riders enter their best years. Right now, with Prado, Renaux, Herlings and Febvre, the generational battle is on as the present battle to delay the future.

Championship leader, Jorge Prado, might be in his fourth season in MXGP but he is still only 22 years old and intent on achieving that MXGP title that has, thanks to injury, illness and elite competition has eluided the two-time MX2 champ so far. In 2023 we are probably seeing his best 450 form aside from relatively subsued sixth place finishes in the third moto of each weekend. But when he is out front Prado is picture perfect, mistake free, smooth as silk and a joy to watch. Prado has always had the confidence he can win but this year it looks like he has the pieces to put together.

2021 MX2 world champ, Maxime Renaux is also 22 and his adaption to the 450 machine has been impressive, he sits fourth in the world championship but his on track pace is as good as anyones. Starts and crashes have hindered his overall points tally, but as we saw in Riola, he isn’t afraid to take on Jeffrey Herlings even in the deep sand when JH is on a mission. With Herlings injured last year, Renaux hasn’t really raced him before but he showed in Riola he can dig deep against the best and pressure doesn’t faze him, he wants it badly and is all in to win.

Contrasting styles but similar in speed and talent, Prado and Renaux are both very mentally strong, Herlings and Febvre do not intimidate them and they don’t have that inferiority complex, They believe they belong and are proving it.

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Herlings himself is 27 but has 12 gruelling years of top level motocross, the highs and lows and everything inbetween all under his belt. There is not doubt he is more cautious this year so far, but he is being smart, making very few mistakes and using consistency to get the job done but, when it matters, when the opportunity to win is the as we saw in Riola, Herlings can unleash the speed that get:s it done. So far Herlings is more reminicient of prime Cairoli, playing it smart but having devestating speed when he needs it. The question remains is this, if Herlings produces that speed more regularly, can Febvre, Prado and Renaux stick with him week-in, week-out? When push comes to shove, in only his second race back, Herlings has already proven he still has what it takes.

Talking of pushing and shoving, Romain Febvre is more than up for a battle this year! His duel with Renaux and Herlings in Riola was the highlight of the season so far and underlined once again, if anyone needed it, that Febvre still has the fight and determination to give everything he has. Strong in every condition, with his sand riding taking a big lead forward over the last couple of years Febvre is showing the level that took him to the 2015 world title, again like Renaux, the odd crash has hindered him but after his own injury woe last season. like Herlings, it’s fantastic to see the former champs come back with such speed and determination.

MXGP champs Herlings and Febvre aren’t going away but Prado and Renaux aren’t waiting for their time, they are ready to take it now and with Geerts moving up next season, it’s only going to get tougher.

Image: InFront Moto Racing

Words: Jonathan McCready