Who impressed: MXGP/MX2 Maggiora

Jeffrey Herlings: Even before the stone in the back brake that ignited his raw speed to full capacity, Jeffrey Herlings did look to be riding with more intent in Maggiora. A pole position and then a determination to get by at the beginning of race one showed that Herlings was upping the intensity at round three – but it was still measured. However, once he had to stop and remove the stone and dropped back to ninth, Herlings just went for it and found the speed he had been looking for so far this season! This was the Jeffrey Herlings of old, rapid, taking no prisoners and pushing until the end. Herlings was doing lap times no-one else could match, the fastest lap at the end of the race and a crucial pass on Pauls Jonass with a couple of laps to go that ultimately would prove crucial in winning the overall. The second moto Herlings could afford to take his time with a good start in second, he then bided his time before passing Coldenhoff with ten minutes to take the win on a treacherous track – but his speed in that first moto will have removed all doubt to himself and his rivals that the old speed was still there when he really needs it.

Herlings said: “After the first race I was 7th or 6th behind Tim and got a stone between my rear brake, at one point I didn’t know what it was so I had to stop. I lost many places and about 20 seconds I think and then I had to come back to 6th. I had to make a really late race charge. Before the second race, I was really bummed and wanted to go for the win. Then just before I gave up it was pouring down rain and came a bit unexpected, so I had to make a last-minute decision regarding the tyre, goggle and whatsoever. Second race I came off really good, I was in third, raced to second then I wanted to save my goggle because in a mud race goggles are pretty important. So I always had a gap to Glenn, once I got into the lapped riders, I tried to attack and managed to pass Glenn, I was already counting and then I was like I will have the advantage for the overall and with a few laps to go I was going to win the overall. I lost a lot of the points into the championship, I started unlucky but it’s good heading into Oss in two week time. I think we are just 6 points behind. Still a lot in the championship so I won’t really look at the points because at the past I was counting, counting, counting, and sometimes I was over 150 points up front, I still didn’t win the championship, so I don’t count anymore, I just look race by race. I look at every race individually and try to be the best I can every single weekend. I want to thank the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team, they did a great job. The bike was good and especially in the second race with all the mud”. 

Image: Gas Gas

Pauls Jonass: What a season so far for Pauls Jonass. The Latvian was badly injury last season, missing the entire year after the pause for Covid but watching him ride you wouldn’t be able to tell! Even when he hasn’t had the greatest starts he has been fast and when he gets away with the elite riders, he can run the pace all moto long! He has passed Prado now twice at the end in the last moto of the last two rounds which no doubt put a smile on his face after their MX2 battle but Jonass, who hasn’t always had the credit he deserves for his talent, speed and accomplishments in the wider motocross world is really showing this year the level he is really at. His Standing Construct Gas Gas team deserve credit too but Jonass deserves a huge round of applause for his determination to come back and his ability to ride at this level.

“We had quite a fast track today and I feel like I was just missing that last little bit to be with the top guy,” assessed Jonass. “I was still consistent with my lap times and race one was ok, but in the mud in race two things went a little bit better. I stayed tight around the first turn to avoid any collisions and it paid off and I moved into sixth. Unfortunately, I had a small issue with my goggles so I had to take them off. But with around four laps to go I just put in a charge. It was risky with the conditions, but it paid off and I finished fourth. I did take a rock or a lump of dirt to the eye, so I have a black eye now, but it was worth it in the end. Now that we’re done with hardpack tracks to start the season I’m looking forward to the next GP when we’re in the sand and all being well I’ll be running with the top guys again.”

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Image: Ray Archer

Mattia Guadagnini: Yet again the Red Bull KTM youngster was massively impressive! A strong second place in race one was then usurped by a stunning race two win that won Guadagnini the overall – and gave him the championship lead! An elated Italian was overjoyed at the result and then shocked he had the red plate, it has been a rapid rise for Guadagnini and I’m not sure even he expected to be in this position! Again his composure and calmness was impressive, especially with it being his home Grand Prix and the overall win a stake, but nothing is able to interfere with Guadagnini’s purposeful stride to the top of MX2 right now.

Image: Yamaha

Thibault Benistant: I’m a big believer in this young French rider and his reaction to his first MX2 moto win showed he is a big believer in himself! Almost as impressive as he cool, calm and collected race one win was his demeanor after the race in his interview, yes he was happy but he definitely wasn’t shocked, this is something he had as a realistic goal and although race two was ruined by a first lap crash and he still rode well to come back to 14, the manor of his race one win points towards Benistant being a threat all season – if he can get the starts! The EMX2 graduates are showing their talent this year and race one must have felt like it was an EMX2 race from last season with Benistant leading from Guadagnini, the two title rivals from 2020! The kids are coming and the MX2 regulars are going to have their hands full with these two this year – and Kay de Wolf who is even younger but already impressing despite being on a 125 just two years ago!

The weekend started quite good with a good lap time, a holeshot and win in the first race,” said Benistant. “My speed was good and so was my physical condition. In the second race, I started from the back, and one guy jumped on my right arm, so I had a big crash. After I was a bit hurt and in pain, and the bike was a bit damaged. So it was difficult to ride, but I gave everything I could to come back to 14th.”

Image: Yamaha

Jago Geerts: It’s been a very difficult start to the season for Jago Geerts that culminated in a frustrating zero points score in race two at Matterley Basin but a week later and Geerts was back with great starts and a great podium! Yes, he wasn’t quite the rider of 2020, but with the knee injury and a lack of practice time, Geerts managed to stop the bleeding at Maggiora. Two great starts and a determined attitude to fight for his place despite having a que of riders behind him gave the Belgian his first podium of the season. Hopefully Geerts, who mentioned his injury is feeling good now, will be able to get back to his normal level and with Oss next, a sand track could be the perfect venue for Geerts to fight for his first GP and crawl his way back into title contention.

Geerts said: “I’m pretty happy to be back on the podium. I had two good starts today, and that is positive. I struggled a little bit with arm-pump in the opening race, so (Ruben) Fernandez passed me. But still, I finished third. In the second heat, I felt like my riding was pretty good, but I still miss a little bit of rhythm, so I finished fifth. Now we have two weeks before the next GP, so I want to spend some more time on the bike, and I hope that I have more speed in Oss.”

Article: Jonathan McCready

Herlings image: Ray Archer

For more on our thoughts on Maggiora including EMX and Red Bud AMA chat listen to out podcast below or on iTunes here:

MXGP chat is 1 minute in, MX2 33 min 50 seconds, EMX 1 hour 5 minutes 25 seconds, AMA 1 hour 23 minutes 40 seconds.