A delayed start to the 2021 World Motocross Championship meant that the series had to finish in mid-November after an intense run of races which saw the last eight rounds take place in just six weekends.
It was one of the closest championship run-ins in recent memory, with Team HRC’s Tim Gajser falling just short of his target of becoming a five-time world champion, finishing only 20 points off the lead for third place in the standings.
The season got off to an excellent start in Russia on June 13th (like 2020, the races would take place on a one-day format) with Gajser sweeping through the field for a dominating one-one performance, taking the championship red-plate in the process. He then won another moto at the second round in Great Britain, further extending his lead and combined with Honda 114 Motorsports rider, Ruben Fernandez’s excellent results in the MX2 class, it meant that Honda headed to the third round at the majestic Maggiora, Italy with red-plates in both classes. This was the first time this achievement had happened for a number of years and was testament to how well both the CRF450RW and the CRF250R perform at the highest level of motocross racing in 2021.
A further GP victory followed at the sandy circuit of Oss in the Netherlands in round four, a venue which was new to the series and one which proved how good Gajser and the team were working in a multitude of terrain. He maintained his lead over the next few rounds, putting in consistent results despite a few strokes of bad luck before the championship headed off to Turkey for the first double-header of the season.
Winning two of the four motos, the Honda rider had increased his lead to 28 points with half of the season left to race, but disaster struck on his return to Europe. A crash in a training session left him requiring surgery and with only seven days before the next round – at the brutally tough Riola Sardo track in Sardinia – it would require a herculean effort for Gajser to make the start line. After some invaluable physio sessions in the week, the #243 somehow made it to the gate-drop, only for a crash in the first turn of race one to get him off to the worst possible start. However, he fought his way back to 19th for two valuable points before putting in an incredible ride to finish eighth in race two, somehow managing to overtake riders despite intense pain. Amazingly, he left the Italian island just one point off the championship lead and with a couple more weeks to recover, he was still very much in the title fight.
A mid-season Motocross of Nations allowed Gajser a weekend off before heading to Teutschenthal in Germany, a favourite track of the #243, and he showed his skill in the rutted hard-pack by recording three-one results to take the overall victory and reclaim the red-plate in the process.
Unfortunately, this was the last time Gajser would be in the championship lead as small things started to go against him. The next round in France at Lacapelle-Marival had been ridden by all of his rivals but was new to the CRF450RW rider and with the one-day format giving little chance to ‘catch-up’, he was unable to match the pace and had to settle for third on the podium. An inopportune crash in Spain when trying to take second place, instead dropped him to fourth and that point swing also lost him momentum heading into the final five rounds which would be split between Trentino (three) and Mantova (two).
With four motos to decide the fate of the title, Gajser’s chances essentially ended after just one corner of the first race as he was hit off the track and forced to re-join further along the course. He was deemed to have gained an advantage, despite waiting for a number of riders to pass, and subsequently docked five positions by the FIM. This meant that he headed into the final round 15 points behind the leader and 12 points behind the rider in second place.
Despite a second overall at the final MXGP of the Cittá di Mantova, - his 13th podium in 18 rounds – Gajser had to settle for a bronze championship medal, as he was unable to repeat his 2019 and 2020 MXGP title success. But with 2022 just around the corner, ‘Tiga243’ will be doubling his efforts to get back to the top step when the season starts at the end of February.
There was good news from the final two rounds though as previous MX2 red-plate holder Ruben Fernandez made his MXGP debut, posting extremely impressive results including a fourth place in his first ever moto on the Honda CRF450R. It was a positive effort from the Spanish rider and one that should give him confidence as he heads back to MX2 for 2022.
Team HRC should have their full line-up back on track next year as Australian Mitch Evans will make his expected return to action after missing the whole 2021 season through a wrist injury. He’ll be hoping to get back to the sort of form that saw him challenge for podium positions in 2020.
|1||Jeffrey HERLINGS||84||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||708|
|2||Romain FEBVRE||3||Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki||703|
|3||Tim GAJSER||243||Team HRC||Honda||688|
|4||Jeremy SEEWER||91||Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP||Yamaha||566|
|5||Jorge PRADO||61||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||562|
|6||Antonio CAIROLI||222||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||545|
|7||Glenn COLDENHOFF||259||Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP||Yamaha||442|
|8||Pauls JONASS||41||Standing Construct GASGAS Factory Racing Team||GasGas||391|
|9||Thomas Kjer OLSEN||19||Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing||Husqvarna||332|
|10||Alessandro LUPINO||77||MRT Racing Team KTM||KTM||319|
|11||Ben WATSON||919||Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP||Yamaha||300|
|12||Brian BOGERS||189||Standing Construct GASGAS Factory Racing Team||GasGas||290|
|13||Jeremy VAN HOREBEEK||89||BETA-SDMCORSE MX TEAM||Beta||232|
|14||Calvin VLAANDEREN||10||Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha Racing||Yamaha||203|
|15||Henry JACOBI||29||JM Honda Racing||Honda||188|
|16||Brent VAN DONINCK||32||Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha Racing||Yamaha||152|
|17||Shaun SIMPSON||24||SS24 KTM MXGP||KTM||126|
|18||Alberto FORATO||303||SM ACTION RACING TEAM YUASA Battery||GasGas||119|
|19||Arnaud TONUS||4||hostettler Yamaha Racing||Yamaha||119|
|20||Benoit PATUREL||16||Honda SR Motoblouz||Honda||110|
|21||Kevin STRIJBOS||22||Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha Racing||Yamaha||106|
|22||Arminas JASIKONIS||7||Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing||Husqvarna||103|
|23||Tom KOCH||226||KTM Kosak Team||KTM||76|
|24||Dylan WRIGHT||109||Honda 114 Motorsports||Honda||75|
|25||Mathys BOISRAME||172||Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki||62|
|26||Ruben FERNANDEZ||70||Honda 114 Motorsports||Honda||56|
|27||Ivo MONTICELLI||128||Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki||54|
|28||Alvin ÖSTLUND||161||JK Racing Yamaha||Yamaha||50|
|29||Valentin GUILLOD||92||hostettler Yamaha Racing||Yamaha||49|
|30||Lorenzo LOCURCIO||183||JD GUNNEX KTM Racing Team||KTM||47|
|31||Vsevolod BRYLYAKOV||18||JWR Racing||Honda||45|
|32||Adam STERRY||811||Hitachi KTM fuelled by Milwaukee||KTM||39|
|33||Jordi TIXIER||911||JT911 KTM Racing Team||KTM||33|
|34||Cyril GENOT||105||KTM Sarholz Racing Team||KTM||15|
|35||Josh GILBERT||326||Josh Gilbert||Husqvarna||11|
|36||Jose BUTRON||17||JD GUNNEX KTM Racing Team||KTM||11|
|37||Evgeny BOBRYSHEV||777||PAR Homes RFX Husqvarna||Husqvarna||6|
|38||Lars VAN BERKEL||107||Honda SR Motoblouz||Honda||5|
|39||Jimmy CLOCHET||520||BETA-SDMCORSE MX TEAM||Beta||4|
|40||Nathan WATSON||991||Honda SR Motoblouz||Honda||4|
|41||Maxime DESPREY||21||Team GSM DAFY MICHELIN YAMAHA||Yamaha||3|
|45||Morgan LESIARDO||44||Morgan Lesiardo||Honda||1|
|46||Todd KELLETT||998||hostettler Yamaha Racing||Yamaha||1|