The 65th year of the FIM Motocross World Championship gets underway with the Grand Prix of Russia. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing is hoping to defend the MX2 title and compete for their third MXGP crown since 2017. As the race in Orlyonok fast approaches, KTM’s race management explained their views and hopes for the 19-round series.
The Grand Prix of Russia will be staged at the sweeping Orlyonok hard-pack circuit for the fourth time, and the first meeting of the season opens a busy flurry of events with visits to Britain, Italy, Latvia, Holland, Czech Republic and Belgium taking MXGP up to the first weekend of August.
Orlyonok brings the FIM Motocross World Championship to life after two previous delays to the race calendar and will see Red Bull KTM Factory Racing field a powerful six-rider line-up of varying age, experience and championship potential on the KTM 450 SX-F and KTM 250 SX-F material.
In MXGP KTM have the combined weight of fifteen world championships thanks to Tony Cairoli (35 years old), Jeffrey Herlings (25) and Jorge Prado (20).
In MX2 Tom Vialle (20 years old) is looking to recapture the gold number plate as #1 and extend KTM’s run to fourteen crowns since 2004 with the KTM 250 SX-F while Rene Hofer (19) attempts his second season in the class and Mattia Guadagnini (19) is the debutant.
In 2021 MXGP will again revert to a one-day format for the Grand Prix weekends. EMX European Championship and other support races will fill the Saturday timetable. On Sunday MXGP and MX2 will have Free Practice and Timed Practice to determine positions in the gate and then two motos per class to decide the overall classifications.
Dirk Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “Our expectations and enthusiasm to finally get racing for real are very high. Jeffrey will obviously want to make a mark on MXGP after two hard years and we hope he will be back in shape and fighting for the title with all the other guys. For Tom, he is aiming to defend his title, this is pretty clear, and he is looking fast and confident even though the MX2 class seems stronger now with some new contenders and some competitive bikes. We will just concentrate on what we can do to the best of our ability. Rene is also looking strong but he hasn’t raced a GP for a long time now. I hope he can be constantly in the top ten for what will be his first real ‘full’ season and on his day going for the top five.”
Davide De Carli, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Assistant Team Manager: “We’re really positive for the season ahead. We need racing! It’s been a long time. We’re motivated and all three riders are healthy. We’ve done a lot of testing in this off-season and quite a lot of things to the bikes. The riders say they are comfortable and there is a good atmosphere in the team. Mattia is a young guy with so much potential. It seems like he is growing day-by-day and we need to give him time as I believe he will progress. The jump from the European to World championship is not easy. He doesn’t need to have any pressure and I think we all would be very happy if he gets in or near the top five at the end of the season. Jorge is, of course, a title contender. He is eager to race and was very determined this winter to train and get prepared. Tony is feeling good with his knee and his condition, considering he had a delay to his training. Apart from a small, temporary issue with his hand he is pain-free and has been doing motos for well over a month. He’s fast! It will be a nice and long championship and we have to be smart. We have to enjoy the races and keep away from injury.”
Robert Jonas, Vice President of KTM Motorsports Offroad: “It’s exciting to think and talk about MXGP again. After many months of training and a few national races here and there we can finally anticipate the start of the world championship. Across the whole group we have some excellent teams and riders and it’s going to be cool to see all the stories that happen in the second half of the year but speaking about Red Bull KTM Factory Racing specifically we also have an envious spread of talent. In MXGP there is no reason to think that Jeffrey, Jorge and Tony won’t be in the mix for the title and Tom is in good shape to try for that second MX2 championship. Rene will also be bouncing back at GP level but we must stay realistic with our expectations both for him and Mattia: they need to stay healthy and to keep learning. Personally, I cannot wait to see a gate dropping again!”
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “With MXGP starting we can finally get all of our Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teams firing. 2021 has already been strong for Supercross and MotoGP™ and we fully expect the GP boys to again be showing all their quality and potential to bring the trophies home. The world championship is starting late but that doesn’t mean it will be any shorter or easier. We have a lot of experience in the team but also some exciting talent to watch. We want to play our role in the championship fight and keep all the guys healthy and happy.”