Preview: MXGP heads to Portugal

MONACO (Principality of Monaco) 26 April 2023 – The FIM Motocross World Championship is going to Portugal for the second year in a row to mark the fifth stop of the 2023 campaign. The circuit of Agueda is historic and has been on the calendar for a long time, since 1985. The 2023 MXGP of Portugal will mark the 24th MXGP event of the circuit and will be held on the 29th and 30th April.

Over the years, some amazing riders put their name on the winning list in Agueda such as Stefan EvertsAntonio CairoliGautier PaulinRed Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings, Team HRC’s Tim Gajser and last year Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado. However, to spice things up the circuit will have a variation this year as the direction will be inverted which is going to add to the challenge for every rider as this will feel like a new circuit.

Last Sunday 10 riders were invited during a Press Day to test the new layout and all the changes made in the jumps throughout the circuit. Amongst them was Team HRC’s Ruben Fernandez, currently 5th in the Motocross World Championship and Portuguese riders invited by the organiser who will race this weekend. The excellent feedback showed that the circuit of Agueda will be even faster and more spectacular this weekend. 

The MXGP of Portugal will also host the 3rd round of the EMX250 and EMX125 presented by FMF Racing with Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing Team’s Andrea Bonacorsi and MJC Yamaha Official EMX125’s Janis Martin Reisulis leading their Championship respectively.

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The MXGP of Portugal in 2022 marked the 4th stop of the season and it was Jorge Prado who won the first GP of his 2022 season with a great 1-2 to stop Tim Gajser to win 4 GPs in a row at that time which showed how much Prado likes this circuit. 

This year, Prado arrives in Portugal with the Red Plate, 201 points and full of confidence after winning his first GP of the season in Trentino. He has been incredibly solid as he never missed a podium so far this year. Prado also won 3 times in Agueda over his career which places him as a big favourite. However, the competition will be tough as we saw 4 different GP winners over the first 4 GPs of the season which says a lot about the level of rivalry in 2023.

Prado is leading Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team’s Maxime Renaux by 17 points who also comes in Agueda with a back-to-back podium and a GP win in Switzerland showing that the Frenchman is getting into his rhythm to fight for the lead.

Jeffrey Herlings is 3rd in Championship after an amazing performance in Trentino as the ‘bullet’ won his first race of the season in an incredible manner. Without a struck of bad luck on the first race in Trentino when he got caught in the multi-rider collision, Herlings could have obtained even more points as he starts to show incredible speed recently. He also has already won in Portugal which will give even more of an edge over his rivals.

4th in the Championship Standing is Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre who has won the RAM Qualifying Race in Trentino rewarding an excellent start of the campaign although he also was involved in the collision on the first turn of race 1 in Trentino hindering his chances to get top points. However, Febvre has shown he is capable to win this season and will be determined to join the GP Winner List of 2023.

Ruben Fernandez is 5th and the other GP Winner this season. After a performance dip in Sardinia the Spanish has bounced back by getting a 6th and 4th overall finish in Switzerland and Trentino respectively. Coming in Portugal will be like going to compete at home for him and Prado with many home fans cheering for Spanish riders. This could be an amazing opportunity to get back up to the podium for Fernandez.

The other riders like Team Gebben Van Venroy Yamaha Racing’s Calvin Vlaanderen and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team’s Glenn Coldenhoff 6th and 7th are also consistently in the top 10 and performing very well. Vlaanderen has been fighting for the top 5 many times so far in the season which demonstrates his abilities to ride for the top points. He went 6-12 in Trentino for a 9th overall. Coldenhoff got 2nd on the podium in Sardinia with a race win and got 6th overall in Trentino with 8-6 after a dip in form in Switzerland which demonstrates that we can count on the ‘Hoff’ to chase podiums.

Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Mattia Guadagnini and Monster Energy Yamaha factory MXGP Team’s Jeremy Seewer are 8th and 9th respectively with 108 and 107 points in Championship standings and have different dynamics. Guadagnini just clinched his equalled best MXGP finish in his home GP in Trentino with a 5th place overall. Seewer has been quite unlucky so far with few crashes that unable him to get where he should be in term of his speed. With two 11th overall finish in Switzerland and Trentino, the Vice Motocross World Champion is ready to convert his well-known speed into big points on a circuit where he won in MX2 in 2017. 

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SM Action Racing Team Yuasa Battery MXGP’s Alberto Forato has been a very good performer so far and is 10th in the series. The Italian is really consistent and this could help him to get some opportunities to get even higher on the leader board. 10th overall in Trentino with a 5-15, Forato sits in 10th and showed the potential to get even higher.

In MX2 last year, it was Tom Vialle who won in Portugal in front of WZ RACING TEAM’s Mikkel Haarup and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team’s Jago Geerts.

Jago Geerts is still the Red Plate holder after the MXGP of Trentino. The Belgian managed to finish on the podium, 3rd after winning race 1 but going down twice successively in race 2. He has not won a GP in the last 2 outings and he could stop that series by winning the MXGP of Portugal for the first time of his career. He is still the only MX2 rider to have won more than one heat this season with 4 in total.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Andrea Adamo is 2nd in the Championship and arrives in Agueda on the back of his first GP Win of his career in Trentino, closing the gap on the leader Geerts and overtaking Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team’s Thibault Benistant along the way. Adamo has displayed incredible control over the beginning of the season as the Italian didn’t seem nervous to close the victory in Trentino. Benistant with a 4-5 in Trentino got 6th overall. Although this is very close, he lost a bit of ground in the Championship running and moved down to 3rd. The Frenchman has 3 out of 4 podiums this season so that proves that he is always a threat for his competitors

Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Kay de Wolf who is 4th in the Championship has performed to high standards and looks like he could get his first GP win at any time now. With 2 podium and a top 5 in the last 3 GPs, de Wolf shows we can count on him to push for the win at every occasions. Red Bull GASGAS Fatcory Racing’s Simon Laengenfelder, 4th in Trentino, won race 2 with a formidable display leading from start to finish and making up for his 9th position in race 1. He proved again that he can win GPs and if he shows consistency over 2 races, he could soon be a GP winner in 2023.

Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Roan Van de Moosdijk 6th in the Standings, was a bit quieter in Trentino but still managed 7th overall and continues on his good form. Winning race 1 in Switzerland will definititely put him with the favourites in Portugal. Liam Everts, 7th in the Championship and getting better and better results as the season goes, clinched his first podium of his career with a 3-3 and a 2nd place overall. With the pressure to get a first podium out of the way, the Belgian is now even more threatening for his rivals and will be one to watch over the weekend. He will want to carry on and grow his family’s legacy. 

Other riders such as F&H Kawasaki Racing Team’s Kevin Horgmoand Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Lucas Coenen, 8th and 9th in the Championship showed some fulgurance this season and even if they still missed on podiums and race wins, they proved that the potential is there and only need to get into good position early in races. TEM JP253 KTM Racing Team’s Jan Pancar is another rider that has definitely made some noise this season, even leading the MX2 RAM Qualifying Race in Switzerland for few laps. Being 10th in the Standings is a testament to his hard work and tenacity. 

The MXGP of Portugal will mark the debut of another podium-worthy young rider,Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Sacha Coenen. After an injury that had to push back his debut in MX2, S.Coenen will definitely be an important rider this season and it will be interesting to see him and his twin brother Lucas compete against each other in the big class. 

SATURDAY: 09:00 EMX125 Free Practice Group 1, 09:30 EMX125 Free Practice Group 2, 09:30 EMX250 Free Practice, 10:30 MX2 Free Practice, 11:00 MXGP Free Practice, 11:55 EMX125 Qualifying practice Group 1, 12:30 EMX125 Qualifying practice Group 2, 13:05 EMX250 Qualifying practice,13:45 MX2 Time Practice, 14:20 MXGP Time Practice, 15:05 EMX125 Race 1, 15:50 EMX250 Race 1, 16:35 MX2 RAM Qualifying Race, 17:20 MXGP RAM Qualifying Race.

SUNDAY: 09:40 EMX125 Race 2, 10:25 MX2 Warm-up, 10:45 MXGP Warm-up, 11:30 EMX350 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