The FIM World Motocross Championship entered the penultimate race of the season today, this time at the arena-style sandy circuit of Mantova, Lombardia, Italy - 160km east of Milan.
Unprecedented in recent years, at the start of the weekend the top three riders in the MXGP class were separated by just three points with Team HRC’s Tim Gajser just one point away from the championship lead.
Gajser qualified in sixth place today, which gave him a mediocre choice on the start-gate. On occasions not having the best start gate choice doesn’t have major consequences, but Mantova’s notorious first (left) turn usually favours the very inside line as riders sweep from inside to out, cutting across left to right on the exit of the turn.
In an eerily similar incident to the recent Motocross of Nations episode involving one of Team Italy’s riders, Gajser was slammed off the track in turn one. Unable to safely rejoin the track in the same place Gajser reacted swiftly to rejoined at turn two in sixth position and quickly made his way up to third place. He then secured second place on lap five.
Towards the end of the race lapped traffic played a role in bunching up the top four and in the melee Gajser lost a position and brought his CRF450RW home in third place, only to be docked five race positions following the first turn incident and subsequent rejoining of the race. This decision was a big disappointment to both the team and to Tim as it hampered their hard-earned position in the championship.
Honda 114 Motorsports’ Ruben Fernandez had a fantastic first outing in the MXGP class as the likeable Spaniard battled for half of the race in fourth position and eventually brought it home in fifth. Fernandez was elevated to fourth place following Gajser’s relegation.
MXGP race two was another challenge for Gajser with the Slovenian buried in seventh position on lap one. Gajser worked very hard to bring his CRF450RW to fourth place by the mid race point and soon moved into third where he finished the race.
MXGP class rookie, Ruben Fernandez had another very encouraging outing in race two. The Spaniard completed his first full lap in ninth position and pushed ahead into seventh place on lap five where he finished the race. Fernandez finished the day in sixth overall looking fast and confident in the premier class of World Championship motocross.
In the MX2 class Honda’s entry was reduced due to the recent shoulder injury of Honda Racing Assomotor’s Stephen Rubini who will miss the Mantova races and Fernandez racing in the MXGP class. Fernandez’s team-mate Roel Rizzi managed a 20th place finish in both races to give him 20th overall and Honda Racing Assomotor’s Filippo Zonta took his CRF250R to 19th overall with two 18th place finishes.
Saturday’s EMX250 class saw Honda Racing Assomotor’s Emil Weckman finish in ninth overall going 11-9 in the races respectively. Weckman now sits in ninth place in the championship after missing three rounds due to a back injury he picked up in Holland.