Fresh from spoils at the 2021 Motocross of Nations, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team resumed MXGP duties and obtained three of the six podium positions at an overcast and temperate Talkessel circuit for the Grand Prix of Germany and the eleventh round of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
Talkessel opened the paddock gates to Grand Prix racing for the first time since the summer of 2019 and provided the usual tough, narrow and hard-pack test. Undulations and long ruts were a feature of the German terrain under cloudy skies and with a large public attendance.
A lap-time almost 1.5 seconds faster anybody else gave Jeffrey Herlings his seventh Pole Position from 11 rounds this season. The Dutchman found a rhythm quickly on the rough course but it was teammate Jorge Prado who launched away from the line with his eleventh holeshot of the year and fronted the pack until the last three laps of the first moto. The Spaniard was caught by Herlings, who was also under pressure from Tim Gajser and Romain Febvre on his rear wheel. The duel between the teammates was decided by less than two-tenths of a second at the finish line but the two sensationally collided mid-air and Prado was taken to the medical center to cure a cut in his upper torso and did not start the second race.
Herlings, fortunately unhurt but nursing a blow to his knee, rode to a distant 3rd later in the afternoon as both Gajser and Febvre broke away. The result was sufficient for the second step of the overall podium.
Tony Cairoli classified 7th while still struggling with his ribs and the aftermath of his crash at the GP of Sardinia and the exertions of last week’s Motocross of Nations. The 36-year-old was 5th in the first moto but a poor start in the second meant he had to push from outside the top fifteen to reach 10th. Despite his non-score, Prado was 9th in the final Grand Prix list.
Herlings is only 2 points behind Gajser in world championship standings. Prado loses some ground but is 4th and 31 away from the red plate while Cairoli is 5th.
Jeffrey Herlings: “What can I say? As good as it starts as bad as it ends. I’m lucky to still be racing today. I made some mistakes in the first 15 mins of the first moto but was then able to catch Jorge. We know he is not the easiest rider to pass; he defends his line and there is nothing wrong with that but jumping? My knee had a big impact and it’s 100% OK, but the trauma of the bang meant it was really sore in that second moto. This is not my favorite track so when I got up to 3rd place I did not even try to close the gap and accepted second overall. We’ll work on the knee now and I’ll look forward to France and hope to fight with the boys again”
Tony Cairoli: “I knew it would be tough here because I couldn’t ride in the week due to my painful ribs. I took some medication and rode at the Nations – although the first moto crash and someone hitting my ribs again didn’t help – and I survived the weekend and we won. It was something I was missing in my career and I wanted to do it but I didn’t think too much about the reaction and the consequences and I was feeling really bad here. I was struggling with my health and I knew it would be a tough day from Timed Practice. After fifteen minutes I couldn’t really hold onto the bike that much anymore. A 5th in the first moto was OK and I was very happy with that result but the second moto was so tough and I knew it would be before I went to the gate. I just tried to make my way to the end. 10th is not what we want but I couldn’t do any more. Let’s try to recover this week and try to do what we can in France.”
Tom Vialle grabbed his second Pole Position (and second from the last four rounds) in morning Timed Practice and the prime first pick for the long downhill entry to the left-handed opening turn. The Frenchman needed twelve laps to catch and pass teammate Rene Hofer in the first moto. The Austrian started brightly and marked the pace until Vialle’s last gasp charge. The Red Bull KTMs were 1-2 at the flag with Vialle capturing his seventh victory of the season, Hofer entered the top thee for the third time in 2021. Mattia Guadagnini made a mistake that saw the Italian cross the line in 13th.
Vialle holeshotted the second moto and streaked away for his third 1-1 scorecard of the year but was later penalized two positions for jumping while a yellow flag was waved. He tied on points with Maxime Renaux and demoted to 2nd overall. Hofer worked his way up from 7th to 4th which enabled the Austrian to walk the box for the very first time and after only 15 GPs as a Red Bull KTM rider. Guadagnini was 10th.
Vialle’s five podiums this season and fierce form means he has raced up the points table to 4th and is only 29 from Guadagnini in 3rd. Hofer is 7th and 21 points away from the top five.
Tom Vialle: “What should have been a great weekend and started with Pole Position. It was really important to get good starts today. I enjoyed the track but it was hard for passing. I had to work to overtake Rene in the first moto and then had half the job done through the first lap in the second. I don’t know what to say about the yellow flag decision except that I didn’t see them and watching the video back you needed to be lucky to see them. Despite this decision it has been a good run of results so far and we’re looking good for my home Grand Prix next weekend. It’s nice to go back to France and LaCapelle is really technical. I’m excited already.”
Rene Hofer: “I finally put two solid motos together and I’m really happy that I was able to make my first visit to the MX2 podium. I led almost the whole moto and kept quite close to Tom. Fourth in the second meant decent points and I was really excited. It’s an important moment and I’m pleased it happened at this race and this track that is not that far from my home. Together with the team we have been working hard for this, so it’s really nice it finally happened. I’m in really good shape and better than the start of the seasn when I was coming back from injury, so I want to keep this kind of momentum.”
Mattia Guadagnini: “I’m not happy about today. We were all very close in qualifying and I felt OK. I didn’t start well in the first race and couldn’t find a good flow. I made a small mistake and lost some positions. Race two, the start was a bit better, my riding also, but I again had made some mistakes around mid-race distance. I couldn’t get a good feeling. I was losing too much time. A bad day. We’ll focus on the next one.”
The Grand Prix of France will be hosted by the LaCapelle Marival circuit next weekend as MXGP continues a hectic second half of the 2021 campaign.
Results MXGP Germany 2021
1. Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda (3-1)
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (2-3)
3. Romain Febvre (FRA), Kawasaki (4-2)
4. Pauls Jonass (LAT) GASGAS (6-4)
5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI), Yamaha (8-5)
7. Tony Cairoli (ITA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (5-10)
9. Jorge Prado (ESP), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (1-DNS)
Standings MXGP 2021 after 11 of 18 rounds
1. Tim Gajser 415 points
2. Jeffrey Herlings 413
3. Romain Febvre 407
4. Jorge Prado 384
5. Tony Cairoli 353
Results MX2 Germany 2021
1. Maxime Renaux (FRA), Yamaha (3-1)
2. Tom Vialle (FRA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (1-3)
3. Rene Hofer (AUT), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (2-4)
4. Jago Geerts (BEL) Yamaha (5-3)
5. Jed Beaton (AUS) Husqvarna (4-5)
11. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (13-10)
Standings MX2 2021 after 11 of 18 rounds
1. Maxime Renaux 445 points
2. Jago Geerts 361
3. Mattia Guadagnini 351
4. Tom Vialle 322
5. Jed Beaton 324
7. Rene Hofer 303