MXGP Race 2
MXGP 2021
Round 3

Tim Gajser and Team HRC retain the World Championship lead in Italy

it Maggiora

The challenging and hilly Italian circuit of Maggiora Park in the northern region of Piedmont hosted round three of the 2021 FIM World Motocross Championship today.

Tim Gajser and Team HRC retain the World Championship lead in Italy

Cloudy but dry conditions prevailed for the first races of the day, but heavy rain fell towards the end of MX2 race two transforming the notorious hard-pack circuit into a muddy ordeal -  challenging riders for grip, visibility and lap consistency.

As Team HRC’s World Champion Tim Gajser (MXGP) and Team Honda 114 Motorsport’s Ruben Fernandez (MX2) both carried the World Championship leader’s red plate, Maggiora was always going to be a challenge within this super-competitive arena of motocross racing.  

As the gate dropped for the first race of the day, the MX2 field hit turn one with Fernandez down in around 11th position. The tall Spaniard made it to eighth position by the end of lap one and set about a ferocious attack through the field - making solid and consistent passes and eventually finishing the race in third position. 

MXGP race one soon followed as the skies hung heavy with the ever-present threat of rain. It was Team HRC’s Tim Gajser who lead the Honda charge - hitting turn one in fifth position where he remained for the race duration, struggling a little to progress through the field at the Maggiora Park circuit. The four-time World Champion wasn’t alone however, as the whole top five saw zero passes throughout the moto, underlining the Italian circuit’s notoriety for ‘hard-to-pass’ racing. 

With the circuit still dry, MX2 race two leapt into action and again Honda’s World Championship leader Ruben Fernandez struggled a little to rekindle the great starts we’ve seen in previous rounds. Further bad luck came the Spaniard’s way soon into lap one with a crash at the bottom of one of the big hills, followed by another rider hitting Fernandez’s bike and locking their front wheel into the rear of CRF250R. The crash virtually ruined #70’s chances of a podium result, but Fernandez set about a hard charge back through the pack from 33rd on lap one to a fantastic 12th place at the finish. Quite an astonishing recovery by any standards - and all credit to Fernandez, Team Honda Racing Assomotor and the Honda CRF250R. 

Ruben now sits in third place in the championship - just five points off the lead and hopes to regain the red plate in Oss, The Netherlands in one week’s time.

The final race of the day once again saw the larger capacity MXGP bikes on track. This time however the heavy skies could no-longer hold onto their payload and soon turned a dry, but challenging Maggiora Park into a slippery and unpredictable morass.

Lap one saw a fantastic start for JM Honda Racing’s Henry Jacobi in third place on the CRF450R.

Still struggling with pain, following a massive crash the week before at Matterley Basin, the 24 year old German racer soon dropped into a fast and consistent pace - holding onto third position for 14 of the race’s 17 laps.

Jacobi finished the race in fifth place, adding 16 points to his weekend classification and ended the day in an excellent 11th overall.

Team HRC’s Tim Gajser had an event-filled race two after spinning-up on the wet mesh start-gate and hitting turn one down in 11th place. A stone then caught the Slovenian’s goggles disrupting his vision as more mud and stones flew into his face. The current World Champion regrouped and despite some small mistake, set about a heroic charge towards to the front and within striking distance of a fourth place finish, but time ran out and Gajser had to settle for a sixth place, but retains the World Championship leader’s red plate going into the next round in two week’s time

Tim Gajser
Tim Gajser 243
Team HRC
It was a difficult day, with the weather and the results but I’m still leading the championship so I have to look at the positives. 

In the first moto I had a decent start but I couldn’t work my way through the field so I just had to be happy with a fifth place, although I felt I was faster than those in front. 

Again, I struggled out of the gate in race two and with the heavy rain that made things hard. Then a rock hit my goggles in the first lap and that was really difficult because it meant I was having to work even harder to make passes but I made my way up to sixth and I still keep hold of the red plate. 

I am excited to go to Oss though as it’s a new track and I’m enjoying riding sand so it should be fun.

Henry Jacobi
Henry Jacobi 29
JM Honda Racing
I had a good start in race one and quickly found a good rhythm and was defending my position well in ninth place. I then experienced some pain - first in my legs and then my whole body. I think this is as a result of my big crash at Matterley Basin last weekend. I lost my rhythm and my focus of the best lines and couldn’t get back into a flow before the race was over. 

Then in the second race the muddy conditions actually made it less physically demanding and I finally got a really good start in moto two which helps a lot as it’s far easier to manage the first few laps and be calm and maintain my race position. 

Everything is working really well and we have a base setting at high-level that I’m happy with. This means that any changes we make only need to be small. I get good starts with my CRF450R and you really need a good bike for this. It’s a great package that I have now with Honda. I have a great team around me and it feels like I’m at home.

Rubén Fernández
Rubén Fernández 70
Honda 114 Motorsports
I had some bad starts today which made things very difficult. 

In the first moto I had to work very hard to come back to third place after being out of the the ten in the first turn. 

In the second moto I got a slightly better start, but then was hit by another rider and was pushed off-line and was passed by some riders. Then later on the first lap I was hit again by another rider from the rear and I went over the handlebars. His bike got stuck between my mudguard and my rear wheel, which took some time to separate. I restarted the race from completely last, so I had to charge to the front. 

It was super-difficult the pass on this track today but I still made a lot of passes. We’re not far from the championship lead still. We just had a little bit of bad luck and bad starts but we go race-by-race. It doesn’t always go as we planned, but on these days you have to give more than 100% - this is what I did and I’m still happy.

Gordon Crockard
Gordon Crockard
Honda Motor Co. Ltd
Although we didn’t see a Honda on the podium this weekend and lost the championship lead in the MX2 class, our riders performances today belie their final results. 

In the MXGP class it was great to see JM Honda Racing’s Henry Jacobi deliver some fantastic race starts, backed-up up by some really promising results and he’s gaining confidence whilst running inside the top-ten. This is a great result for the Honda CRF450R and really underlines what we already know about this bike’s performance at all levels of racing.  

Like many riders today, Team HRC’s Tim Gajser had a challenging day but still leads the MXGP World Championship by six points and of course Tim is looking to build upon this next weekend in Holland.    

Average starts and a crash derailed the opportunity for Team Honda 114 Motorsport’s Ruben Fernandez to achieve a bigger points haul from today. 

His riding, attitude, fitness, team and bike are all at a very high level, but the obstacle of arriving at the first turn in an average position made it hard work today. We saw this unfold in race two as Ruben’s first turn deficit then resulted in a crash - further compounding the poor start. Ruben not only restarted race two from last place, he also had a huge gap to make up to the second-to-last rider, but he cut through the pack and finished the race in 12th. This is an exceptional result as he was looking at a potential no-points race score. 

Our Honda EMX250 European Championship rider Email Weckman deserves a mention for battling well over the weekend as a wildcard entry in the MX2 World Championship class. This represents a big step-up in level of competition for the young Finn and we’re pleased to see that he managed to score three points in race one on his CRF250R.

Within the unpredictable arena of motorcycle racing, we have to be realistic and accept that some days just don’t go our way. As bad as today seems on the surface, we do have a lot of genuine positives to be thankful for and we’re looking forward to seeing the rewards from all of our hard efforts at round four in Holland in two weeks. 

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