Vialle and Geerts unfazed as MX2 title challenge hots up

The story of the 2022 MXGP championship pales into comparison to the disparity and unpredictability of the 2021 contest but the continual pendulum effect of the 2022 MX2 duel between Monster Energy Yamaha’s Jago Geerts and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle – for the second time in the last three years – is providing decent entertainment fare this season.

Geerts won round thirteen in the Czech Republic for his fourth success against Vialle’s seven this year but the rostrum appearance was the Belgian’s eleventh compared to the Frenchman’s ten trophies. Vialle’s 10-2 scorecard at Loket meant he missed the top three for only the third time in 2022; one of those absences – at the German GP – was due to a technical problem. The day’s events meant ownership of the red plate swapped hands for the eighth time in thirteen rounds and underlines the close nature of the contest. Geerts now adds red to his Yamaha blue ahead of his home fixture in Lommel, Belgium and was a convincing victor in a tense chase with Vialle in the second Czech moto. Vialle had pushed into the lead on the first lap but a mistake on the long downhill section gave Geerts the momentum and the 22-year-old was also more effective through the backmarkers, allowing him to protect a cushion that fluctuated between 2 and 0.5 seconds.

After the class and the series received criticism for the small rider turnout in Indonesia three weeks previously – that saw only nine GP regulars racing in Asia – the near-full gate in the Czech Republic was almost a novelty.

“It’s a long time that we’ve had this many riders!” Vialle said. “There was quite a lot of traffic in the last five laps and sometimes it can go for you or against you.”

This article continues below

“It’s a hard battle with Tom and it has been all season,” said a typically reserved Geerts. “It will be tough until the end but I’m looking forward to it.”

“We’ve rebuilt [the championship bid] quite well after my crash in Mantova but then we lost points in Latvia and also Germany where I should have had a bit of a cushion,” Vialle lamented. “We have a new bike, which means we need to work a bit every race and when we come to sketchy tracks like Loket we have to find a way.”

Vialle, who is at the centre of rumours involving his future and a possible transfer to the American division of Red Bull KTM, ceded 12 points to Geerts after a meek first moto in which he couldn’t find his flow. Some suspension changes in the second race saw him back to speed, although he could not defeat Geerts and now sits 8 points in his wake. The duo have finished one right behind the other 14 times from 26 motos this season.

“It will be tight in the end,” Vialle said. “8 points is not much. We will need to be there every race but I am pretty confident.”

Words: Adam Wheeler

Pic: Gino Maes