A hot and challenging day in the sand dunes of Riola Sardo concluded the eighth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship and the second edition of the MXGP of Sardegna.
For Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha Racing’s Calvin Vlaanderen it was an unforgettable weekend as he topped the charts in every session over the weekend, won the qualifying race and both heats to secure his first ever overall victory in the MXGP category. Meanwhile Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle also celebrated big as he secured his first GP victory since Trentino and his second here in Riola Sardo.
In the first MXGP race of the day, it was Team HRC’s Tim Gajser who claimed his second Fox Holeshot of the season and led the way ahead of Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado and Standing Construct Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass.
Riley Racing’s Brent Van doninck started well in fourth ahead of JM Honda’s Henry Jacobi, Monster Energy Yamaha Racing’s Jeremy Seewer and Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha Racing’s Calvin Vlaanderen.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Maxime Renaux tipped over in the start which also caught out Standing Construct Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Brian Bogers, Honda 114 Motorsports’ Ruben Fernandez and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Glenn Coldenhoff.
As the race got going, Alberto Forato of SM Action Racing Team YUASA Battery and Fernandez went down together, as Renaux also crashed once more.
Seewer then passed Van doninck for fourth on the second lap as Vlaanderen followed too. The South African born Dutchman then, set his sights on the Swiss as he set the fastest lap of the race. Though it took Vlaanderen a total of five laps to actually get by the Factory Yamaha rider.
Vlaanderen’s pass on Seewer came shortly after the pair got around Jonass and by the 10th lap Vlaanderen was third. Gajser continued to lead the way with Prado in second.
Team HRC’s Mitch Evans was also looking good as he got by Van doninck for sixth and then got around Jonass too. Things were looking good for the Australian until lap 15 when he fell back to 12th and eventually ended up 22nd.
Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing’s Mattia Guadagnini was having a good ride in around 10th and just slipped back to 11th towards the end of the race.On lap 14, Vlaanderen eased past Prado for second and then set his sights on the win. The Yamaha rider had some very fast laps and with two laps from the end got by Gajser to win his first ever MXGP race. Gajser crossed the line in second ahead of Prado, Seewer and Bogers.
In race two, the Fox Holeshot went to Prado, who led Jonass, Fernandez, Vlaanderen, Coldenhoff and Gajser. Kawasaki Racing Team MXGP’s Ben Watson and Evans were unlucky in the first corner as they went down.
After a better start in the second race, Vlaanderen looked determined to make quick moves to the top but Jonass made him work for it, as it took the Dutchman four laps to find his way into second. Gajser was having a much tougher second race as struggled in sixth. The Slovenian was briefly passed by Renaux though got him back shortly after. Though crashed and then faded down to 12th, as it was revealed that he had struggled with a sickness during the weekend.
On lap six, Coldenhoff got Jonass for third, and Renaux and Seewer were next to go by the Latvian as the two teammates battled on. Seewer briefly passed his teammate and then shortly after got Fernandez too but made a small mistake and crashed.
The Swiss was not finished as he passed Guadagnini and Jonass within the same moment as he got going again. Meanwhile on lap eighth Vlaanderen eased past Prado for the lead. He looked in control for the rest of the race as the heat and tough track conditions did not look like they were affecting him. A couple of laps later Coldenhoff also got by Prado too.
In the end, Vlaanderen won the race ahead of Coldenhoff, Prado, Renaux, and Bogers. A perfect 1-1 scorecard gave Vlaanderen his first overall victory in the MXGP category, with Prado making his return from injury onto the second step of the podium, while Coldenhoff celebrated his first trip to the box in third!
Despite not making it onto the podium, Gajser still leads the championship with a 79-point advantage over Renaux and Seewer, as Prado remains fourth in the standings.
Calvin Vlaanderen: “I’m speechless. Just honestly, it was a perfect weekend. I was first in every single session that mattered. First in time practice, first in the qualifying race and then both races. It’s just… I don’t know what to say, just years and years of hard work, this is what I dreamed of coming into MXGP. You know, winning and to be here right now. It’s like a dream. I just wish my family was here and everyone from back home”.
“I think it all started with the week leading up to this, like mentally it’s such a big thing in the sport, especially at this level to believe you can win. And coming to this weekend, I honestly believed for the first time in my career, I can win it. And it’s such a nice feeling, just confidence and it showed today that I could do it”.