Quick thoughts: International Italian Championship RD1 – Motocross season gets underway!
We take a look at the first Motocross race of the year in Italy – there’s already plenty of talking points ahead of the 2022 Grand Prix season getting underway.
- It’s great to see the Motocross season return
The 2021 MXGP World Championship might have only ended in November and with the International Italian Championship getting underway at the end of January, it’s a shorter off season than usual but it’s still great to see the Motocross season get underway for the 2022 season.
The International Italian Championship tracks tend to get rough and bumpy and the Alghero circuit certainly did not disappoint. The track is pretty natural with up and down hills which is pretty unique for a sand track but perfect prep for the upcoming MXGP season.
- Seewer and Gajser start the strong in the sand
It’s not exactly a huge surprise as Jeremy Seewer and Tim Gajser are both world class riders but the pair of them got of to a great start of the season winning a moto each. Seewer won the MX1 moto with Gajser winning the Superfinal and both looked good in the bumpy conditions.
The pair had a great battle for a handful of laps in the Superfinal to remind us of the sort of carnage we witnessed in MXGP last year and it was great to watch. After a slow start to the season and health problems for Seewer last year, it’s especially important for him to start to the season well and it’s nice to see him back riding at his true level. The Factory Yamaha rider is very consistent so if he can start to win more than he has done in the past then who knows, he might just surprise in 2022.
- Ruben Fernandez looks good on the 450cc
This guy is going to be really, really fun to watch in 2022. After riding the last two rounds of the MXGP World Championship last year we saw a glimpse of what Fernandez could do on the bigger bike and make no mistake about it – he’s fearless.
In the MX1 moto in Alghero he wasn’t scared of the opposition and he passed Jeremy Seewer and was even pulling away. Unfortunately two crashes meant he ended up a distant third but his speed is impressive and the rookie will be looking to turn heads this year. He rides aggressive and will take no prisoners so it should make for interesting viewing. He rides with his heart on his sleeve so like at Alghero he might suffer from a few crashes but hopefully he can stay fit for the entire season so he can learn from the best riders in the world.
It’s worth pointing out seeing how fast Fernandez is on the 450cc that Maxime Renaux himself might prove to be a handful in the MXGP class – it’s going to be exciting to see how the MX2 World Champion looks on the bigger bike himself.
- Long-term absentees return to racing
It was nice to see a few names back racing this weekend after long-term injuries ruled them out. Firstly, Davy Pootjes who nearly lost his arm and hasn’t raced in over two years but it’s going to be a new chapter in his race career after inking a deal with JWR Honda to race MXGP. It’s not going to be easy after missing so much racing but hopefully he can stay injury free and improve as the season progresses. After his Motocross career was in serious doubt it’s nice to see him back doing what he loves.
Another rider who’s future was also in serious doubt was Mitch Evans after a wrist injury and complications with surgery. It meant the Factory HRC Honda rider missed the whole 2021 season but like Pootjes it’s nice to see him back racing again. Evans might be under a bit more pressure to perform than Pootjes as he has a factory ride to try and keep hold off but his speed for one lap was encouraging at Alghero. Looking ahead Evans will just need more bike and race time to improve his intensity to hopefully get back to his old self.
Another rider making a return to Motocross racing was Christophe Charlier after a number of years racing Enduro and he surprised. A fifth place finish in the first moto was a great ride and he beat a host of MXGP riders and he backed that up with a solid twelfth in the Superfinal – maybe he should put in an entry for the MXGP opener at Matterley Basin!
- Geerts shows his incredible MX2 speed
There’s no doubting Jago Geerts talent – he has it all when it comes to ability and he’s just a joy to watch – especially in the sand. The Belgian dominated the MX2 class and then in the superfinal against the 450cc’s he even caught Seewer and Gajser at one stage to make it a brief three way battle for the lead.
Geerts will be feeling good after his first race but after going into the 2021 season with a knee injury he’ll just be looking to go to Matterley Basin healthy and then hopefully challenge for the title. Vialle is going to be a tough cookie to crack in the MX2 title chase but if anyone can – Geerts can!
- Fantic Maddii new signings looking good
Honestly, what a team! Corrado and Marco Maddii do a superb job picking up talented young riders but not only that. they’re able to improve them. There’s a long list of riders they’ve helped develop but more recently Alberto Forato, Mattia Guadagnini and Nicholas Lapucci are just some of the talents they’ve helped.
Looking ahead to 2022, the team have signed up Cornelius Tøndel to contest the EMX250 series on a two-stroke and he already looks at home. The Norwegian finished second in the MX2 race beating a host of GP names and will certainly go into the EMX250 series as one of the favourites after finishing sixth in the seires last year. The team have also signed up young Dutch talent, Cas Valk to contest the EMX125 class and he was arguably the fastest 125cc rider on the day but crashes cost him the win.
- Dutch talents dominate the 125cc class and show how good they are in the sand
There were some bright young talents racing the 125cc class at Alghero but it was the Dutch show – Ivano van Erp and Cas Valk were a lot faster than the rest of the field and watching them race the sandy conditions was just a joy to watch. They had a better style than some of the elite GP riders but they were born in the sand after all!
Valk had the second moto and overall win in the bag before a crash with three laps to go gifted van Erp the win but both should be happy with their speed. They should battle plenty at the front of the EMX125 series and potentially battle for the championship – the other riders will be pushing to close the gap in the sand and hoping they aren’t that fast in hard pack too!
This weekend there’s plenty of Motocross action with the second round of the International Italian Championship taking place at the gnarly Riola and the Lacapelle-Marival International in France with plenty more top riders in action – bring it on!
Article: Andy McKinstry