MXGP Race 2
MXGP 2022
Round 8

Gajser leads the MXGP World Championship in challenging Sardinian sand

it Riola Sardo

Round eight of the FIM World Motocross Championship visited the Italian island of Sardinia this weekend and the raging heat and deep sand of the Riola Sardo circuit proved to be an epic challenge for riders and machines.

Gajser leads the MXGP World Championship in challenging Sardinian sand

In the MXGP class it was a harsh day for all Honda riders. Championship leader Tim Gajser came into the weekend with sickness and was very weak whilst trying to stay hydrated and salvage as much as possible from a difficult situation. 

In race one Gajser took a good start and quickly moved into the lead. Dispute his illness and physical condition the Slovenian looked smooth and in control, easily leading the race until lap 16. Gajser cruised home in second place opting to take the safe points rather than risk pushing to win a moto that he didn’t need to.  

Gajser’s teammate Mitch Evans had a good start to the day in race one, rounding the first lap in eighth place. By the mid-race point he found a good flow and began to pick-off riders and worked his way into fifth by lap eleven. His physical efforts though began to show and the heat bit hard towards the end of the race, dropping the friendly Australian out of a points scoring position. 

JM Honda Racing’s Henry Jacobi had a good start in race one and rounded the first lap in a solid fifth place. The German eventually finished the race in 13th position, finding the going very tough. 

Team Honda 114 Motorsport’s Rubén Fernández also had a tough moto with an early crash and could only make his way back to 16th at the finish.

In race two Fernández had better luck and started lap one in fourth place, followed by Gajser in sixth. Fernández dropped to fifth but regained fourth and held onto this position until the mid-race point, eventually coming home in seventh. 

Gajser suffered in race two with a crash on lap sixth putting the Slovenian down in 12th where he finished the race. 

Mitch Evans’ bad luck continued with an early crash in race two which damaged his bike’s front brake lever and forced a retirement from the race.  

It was also a tough day for Honda riders in the MX2 class as the combination of heat and energy-sapping deep sand took its toll. 

In race one Norwegian rider Håkon Fredriksen battled hard, maintaining a top-ten positing until moving up to eighth on lap 10. He eventually finished the race in eighth place which was a solid result for #427. 

Also riding the CRF250R Shiptocycle Honda SR Motoblouz’s Stephen Rubini struggled to make progress after a poor start. The Frenchman finished the race in 13th.

Rubini had another challenging start in race two rounding lap one in 13th place. He pushed his way up to 11th on lap two, but could only manage 12th at the finish.

Round nine of the championship visits Circuito Internacional Comunidad de Madrid, intu Xanadú-Arroyomolinos in two weeks time. 

Tim Gajser
Tim Gajser 243
Team HRC
Obviously these aren’t the results I wanted coming into the weekend, but leading up to the race I knew it would be a struggle. I hadn’t been feeling well at all and I knew that with the high temperatures and the difficulty of the surface I would need to be at my best to be able to compete in this MXGP class. In race one I got my second holeshot of the year and controlled the majority of the race. It was just the final two laps I ran out of energy and had to settle for second. Unfortunately in race two I didn’t get as good a start and although I was feeling like I could run the pace and move through the field, I crashed whilst I was in sixth and that really hurt my momentum as I re-joined the race in 12th. I kept running and finished the moto there, only dropping a couple of points in the championship battle but I am a little disappointed how it turned out overall. 
I would like to say thank you to my girlfriend Špela who missed her first event in six years as she was too sick to travel. I really appreciate everything she does and I missed her a lot. Also a big thank you to Giulia and Filippo and the whole of Team HRC who helped get me through these two races. It wasn’t easy and without everyone’s work my results would have been worse. Now I just need to get myself fit and healthy again and get back to my previous form.

Mitch Evans
Mitch Evans 43
Team HRC
For three-quarters of race one I was really excited for how the weekend would turn out. However, then the heat got to me and I really struggled to finish the moto and then race two was even worse. In race one I had moved up from eighth to fifth and I was closing in on fourth place and I was really happy with how I was riding. I’d had a good start as-well and had found a good rhythm and things were really flowing on what was a very rough and difficult track. Then I just really struggled to maintain the same feeling and dropped down the field. It was really tough and a big shame because I was riding so well. 
In race two I wanted to come out and try my best once again and I really got a good start and was in the lead heading down the straight. Unfortunately, I found a soft spot of sand as I rounded the first corner and tucked the front wheel. By the time I got back on the bike I noticed it was damaged so I had to pull into the mechanics to fix the issue. Of course by then I was way behind the rest of the field so I tried to do a couple of fast laps before pulling off the track. 
It was a disappointing weekend results-wise, but I felt my riding is getting better and I’m on the right path.

Rubén Fernández
Rubén Fernández 70
Honda 114 Motorsports
The track was very demanding this weekend and the heat made it much more difficult.
In timed practice I felt OK, but even during the qualifying race I felt quite tired and struggled to find my flow in the sand. 
In the first race I got a bit unlucky and got stuck behind a fallen rider in the second turn and then another rider crashed in-front of me a few turns later and that caused me to crash. I then came through the pack quite well and quickly. I pushed so hard that I started to feel tired again and had another crash, so the first moto did not go well for me.
In the second moto I had a better start and I was holding onto fourth place. Eventually I was passed by some other riders towards the end of the race but still made it over the line in seventh which was OK. Definitely my riding was better in race two and I adjusted to the sandy conditions more quickly.
I’m looking forward to racing at my home GP in two weeks time. I think it’ll be very warm too - probably over 30 degrees. I’m going to prepare well for it and I would like to finish on the podium in-front of my home crowd.

Stephen Rubini
Stephen Rubini 38
I’m not a sand specialist so it was a struggle for me all weekend long. 
I worked with my team to try to progress and make me feel better on the bike and flow in the sand. On the track though it felt like I was working really hard for the same result as a normal track. I had some good first laps of the races and then I was just fighting against myself to survive the motos. 
It was a tough weekend for me both physically and mentally because I was trying to push and find the flow, but without this you can’t go that fast. It’s also the first time we raced in heat like this, this season and you can’t escape it. It felt like the motos were really long. 
I like the track in Spain, so I’m looking forward to racing at the next GP and we expect better than this weekend’s result.   

Gordon Crockard
Gordon Crockard
Honda Motor Co. Ltd
We had quite a few challenges to overcome this weekend, especially the very high temperatures and a gruelling technical sand track, the first of these types of conditions we've had this year.  
In the MXGP class although Tim Gajser did well in race one, his sickness took its toll in race two and he could only manage 12th, which for sure would have been better without a passing incident by another rider bringing Tim to crash. Although this was disappointing for everyone, Tim’s large points lead in the championship means the damage is minimal. 
Mitch Evans was doing well in race one but hit a physical wall 20 mins into the race and dropped out of a good points scoring position. In race two he crashed with others in the first turn and his bike suffered damage which ruined his race despite rushing in for rolling repairs. 
Rubén Fernández had a lot for bad luck in race one getting tangled up in other rider’s crashes. Race two was better, but he lost the flow towards the end of the race coming home in 7th, which is actually good for his rookie 450 race in deep sand and high temperatures.   
In the MX2 class Stephen Rubini and Håkon Fredriksen both had a very tough weekend and would both benefit from more experience and practice riding in sandy conditions to find the same flow as some of their competitors. 
Overall, this was a challenging weekend for us which we’ll learn from. The good news is that we survived and I think all our boys will be happy to leave this round behind.
There were positives in certain areas that keeps us all upbeat and I am aware this championship is tough and we can't always have the top results. We have to accept and look to the next round in Spain in two weeks time.

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