The 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship is back to racing this weekend as MXGP heads to the circuit of Mantova, Italy. Over a month since the last round took to Trentino in dramatic fashion the Monster Energy MXGP of Lombardia this weekend will be the second Italian round of the season. Last visiting the sandy Mantova circuit during the 2016 season Italian fans and the world’s best motocross riders will bring the venue back to life this weekend.
As the championship fights start to heat up in both the MXGP and MX2 categories the round of Lombardia will also host the two stoke FIM Europe Championships of EMX125 and EMX2T presented by FMF Racing. In EMX2T presented by FMF Racing Verde Substance KTM’s Brad Anderson will see if he can replicate his 1-1 result during the season opener in Great Britain while Team Ecomaxx Fuels’ Mike Kras will try and avenge his DNF during Race 2 at Matterley Basin. EMX125 Presented by FMF Racing will see its third round this weekend as Italian Mattia Guadagnini from Maddi Racing Husqvarna leads the Championship standings by 10 point over Team VR’s Tom Guyon.
The MXGP title chase heated up at the previous round in Trentino where Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli and Team HRC’s Tim Gajser went all out in a battle for the win. High speeds, endurance, and tight but clean racing made for an epic prelude to the break prior to this weekend. With the return of racing this week and again in Italy on a circuit the pair battled on in 2016 expectations are deservedly high for what lies ahead.
As Cairoli looks to maintain his points advantage Gajser will be striving to maintain the momentum at a venue he took 1-1 finishes for the MXGP overall in 2016. The pair of title contenders will have to do with the improving speed of Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s Gautier Paulin and others however.
Paulin finished 2nd overall in Mantova in 2016 and seemed to have found a way to separate himself from the rest of the field in Trentino but will now need to bridge the gap to Cairoli and Gajser.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Arminas Jasikonis could be a potential podium this weekend after showing impressive speed and consistency throughout the year thus far. The lengthy Lithuanian is no stranger to sand and currently holds down 4thin the championship standings.
Honda SR Motoblouzrider Jeremy Van Horebeek also has strong results from past editions of MXGP in Mantova scoring 5th in 2016 and 2nd in 2015. It is safe to say that the Belgian is feeling as good if not better than ever currently making him a threat to the podium.
Van Horebeek’s fellow countryman Clement Desalle from Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing is expected to return this weekend after Kawasaki announced the 6th place rider in the championship standings had a knee operation following Trentino.
While many were waiting to see Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings return to racing this week it looks as if they may have to wait a little longer as KTM has given no indication of his return yet.
The MX2 class meanwhile has all eyes focused on the defending champion from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Jorge Prado. It is Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen that leads the championship standings however.
The reason behind Prado’s popularity is clear though seeing that the young Spaniard has dominated each of the 3 rounds he’s entered, the problem being 4 rounds are in the books. Success for Prado should not be a forgone conclusion though as its not just Olsen looking to top the podium several others such as FH Racing Kawasaki’s Henry Jacobi, Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha’s Ben Watson and Jago Geerts, or even Prado’s rookie Red Bull KTM Teammate Tom Vialle.
Jacobi has been perhaps the most interesting rider to watch lately as his flamboyant and at times all out riding style appears to push the boundaries of control. Jacobi has already had a better season four rounds in than any year prior and what started as a goal of being in the top is no longer sufficient for the German.
The Kemea Yamaha’s of Watson and Geerts have surprised many as Geerts has surpassed expectations with brilliant riding and last-minute passes to hold fifth in the championship standings. Points wise Watson leads Geerts but while he has shown speed his inconsistent performances have yet to earn the Brit a podium this season.
The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate of Prado, Tom Vialle, has been the most impressive rookie yet aided by impeccable starts allowing him to run at the front from the beginning.
Team HRC’s Calvin Vlaanderen has scored 4th place overall in the first 3 rounds of 2019 before fracturing his fibula in Trentino just over a month ago. While we may not see Vlaanderen at full speed the Dutchman has been confirmed for racing this weekend by Honda.