Home GP wins are rewarding for a rider but even more so when it comes in the most difficult of conditions. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli has now won 2 of 2 Italian GPs and today he did so in style. Cairoli started the day by winning race 1 by 18 seconds ahead of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Jeffrey Herlings. Herlings closed on Cairoli early in the race and attempted to make a pass on the Italian but it would not suffice. Cairoli, feeling the pressure responded and left Herlings to battle with the heat on the way to second.
In race 2 the story was similar but Herlings in his first pass attempt made it by the #222 but only momentarily. Cairoli, after passing Herlings back faced another charge and this time a mistake allowed Herlings into the lead on lap 4. Herlings then opened up a 4 second gap but the heat combined with the energy of battling again slowed Herlings. On lap 10 Cairoli charged his way past to secure his 81st career overall. Cairoli in the press conference said: “I did my best, I gave 100%, everything I had, and we had a good race. I’m happy to see all the people who came to support me and even after 14 years people still come to see me, it’s amazing. I am happy that I have a lot of fans and that motocross is growing in Italy because that is what we are working for. I had the “Sand King” behind me and we tried to keep him there, maybe he was faster in some places than me, but we race 35 minutes and in the end I beat him.”
While many riders tried to conserve energy in race 1 Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Anstie had no option but fight hard through the field after getting stuck in the gate. Anstie came from the dead last start to finish a remarkable 5th. After the strong effort in race 1 Anstie needed a better start in race 2. The Brit crossed the finish line 4 after the first lap but about halfway into the race passed for 3rd. The combination of 5th and 3rd put Anstie 3rd overall in what would be his first ever MXGP podium finish. Anstie in the press conference said: “It’s awesome, it’s amazing, I’ve been dreaming of this for a long time, it’s different in MX2 and you know it’s tough, these guys are so fast. It’s awesome to get my first podium and have Tony there in Italy, the fans are crazy. It’s awesome to stand up there alongside him (Cairoli), I have a lot of respect for all of these guys!”
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre was another rider who made passes in race 1 from 11th one lap 1 to 4th at the finish. His race 2 was equally impressive after he got off to a better start but fell on lap 5, dropping a handful of positions he would again charge back to finish 6th. His effort achieved him the best overall result of his season with 4th.
Max Nagl put the second Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing MXGP bike in the top 5 today. Yesterday Nagl grabbed the qualifying race holeshot and with his 4th gate pick. Although today he would start the first lap of both races outside the top 5 he would work his forward to 7th and 4th, scoring 32 championship points and 5th overall.
The other Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider, Gautier Paulin, had a strong race 1 where he both started and finished 4th. However race 2 he would finish 10th combining for 6th overall.
Another rider who had one strong race mixed with another that was subpar is Suzuki World MXGP’s Arminas Jasikonis. Jasikonis qualified 2nd but had issues after the first lap in race 1 today and by the end finished 32nd. But at the start of race 2 the long legged Lithuanian took the lead before being passed later in the race finishing 5th for 12th overall.
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser finished 10th overall in his return from injury. The 2016 champion did however run as high as 4th in race 1 before falling and taking tenth.
Coming into the weekend Suzuki Word MX2’s Jeremy Seewer struggled in qualifying but turned his luck around to take the GP overall. In race 1 after a top 5 start the Swiss rider passed his way into the lead and by the end he won with a lead of over 12 seconds. Seewer has succumbed to the heat before but in race 2 managed to fend off the challenge taking 2nd and winning his 3rd overall of the year. Seewer in the press conference said: “It is always nice to win, but this is only my third GP win. I tried to save as much energy as possible and it eventually worked out, it feels awesome to win a GP. It’s always good to gain points back but there is still a lot of racing left to go.”
Current points leader, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass, is accustom to having a good start, but in race 1 that would not be the case. Jonass came from 11th on the first lap to 4th on lap 10. The energy spent fighting forward would indeed cost him though, the #41 dropped two positions before the finish to take 6th, losing 10 championship points to Seewer. In race 2 he would resume his holeshot tradition and lead every lap to the finish. Jonass in the press conference said: “All weekend I struggled to find the flow and feeling, the first race I got a bad start and it made it tough, I lost a lot of energy in the first laps just fighting for position. But it’s nice to finish the weekend with a win, after how I felt yesterday it is good step forward and I’m just happy to bring home some good points.”
Yesterday’s qualifying race winner, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington, showed real speed in the sand today. Covington started 9th in race 1 but he charged alongside Jonass to the front. The American eventually edged out Jonass to take 4th. In race 2 Covington improved his start just losing out on the holeshot to Jonass. Finishing 4-3 secured him with 3rd overall in the sand of Ottobiano. Covington in the press conference said: “For me to get a podium in the sand it is an awesome feeling because my first couple years in Europe I really struggled in the sand as we don’t have anything like it in America, but we have made a lot of improvements the last few years. I’m just stoked to be on the podium.”
Kemea Yamaha Official MX Team’s Benoit Paturel would likely lead the championship if charging through the pack had bonus points. Paturel is clearly fast enough to win but is continually hampered by the first laps of racing. The Frenchman started 8th in race 1 then passed 6 riders to finish second. Race 2 would be even more of challenge when he started outside of the top 25 before passing 18 of the best MX2 riders to finish 7th. His mental fortitude and unwillingness to give up scored him 4th overall.
Suzuki World MX2’s Bas Vaessen accomplished the best result of his MX2 career today by far with 5th overall. Vaessen started 14th in race one before finishing 7th which in turn boosted his confidence for race 2. When the gate dropped for the second time Vaessen was 4th and after running 3rd for two laps he returned to 4th to finish out the weekend.
Race 1 holeshot winner, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado Garcia, finished 18th and did not contend race 2 after the heat proved to be to much.