MXGP #85 September 2020

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MXGP MAG Chief Editor: Marionna Leiva Photos: MXGP INFRONT MOTO RACING MEDIA World Trade Center II Rte de Pré-Bois 29 1215 Geneva 15 Airport Switzerland MXGP Mag #85 September 2020 The articles published in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the official position of Infront Moto Racing.

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L A I R O T I D E

David Luongo CEO of Infront Moto Racing

With Latvia now behind us, it marked a fantastic occasion to see the comeback of the MXGP World Championship. For the first time, we experienced a back-to-back 3 GP in a week and the return to racing was very positive from the riders and the whole MXGP community. The racing was very exciting in all the classes. In MXGP Herlings flew back home with some more points added to his championship lead but the 3 MXGP podiums showed us 8 different names with Seewer, Gajser, Febvre, Herlings, Cairoli, Coldenhoff, Prado and Jasikonis. In MX2, Vialle and Geerts made a bigger gap between themselves and Van de Moosdijk but only 8 points are separating them. The track crew worked hard to have perfect maintenance of the race track and bringing some flavours to each of the three Grand Prix events in Latvia. Over the last few months, Infront Moto Racing has been a part of the #Sport4Recovery panel, which features a group of people enthusiastic about sport and the regrouping of the biggest world sports associations, sport market leaders, press group, politics and sportsmen, including (in alphabetical order) the alliance of European Hockey Clubs (E.H.C.), Basketball Champions League, Basketball Champions

NO TIME TO REST, THIS IS THE MOTTO OF THE NEXT MONTHS, AS WE WILL ORGANIZE 13 RACES IN LESS THAN 75 DAYS League Americas, European Volleyball Federation (CEV), French Swimming Federation, International Basketball Federation (FIBA), International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), International Motorcycling Federation (FIM), International Ski Federation (FIS), Italian Athletics Federation (FIDAL), Italian Golf Federation (FIG), Italian Ice Sports Association (FISG), Infront, Le Five, Lega Serie A, MXGP, and Sporsora. In Latvia, MXGP was the first international motorsport event to get the authorization to host public onsite with 3.000 spectators which was a good reward. Everything went perfectly well and proved that with good preparation and good collaboration with the political authorities, it is possible to open up sports events to the public. For sure it is still a long road to be back to normality but we are on the right tracks. This week, we change landscape as we will hit Italy for a series of 6 Grand Prix in 30 days located in two beautiful areas. The first group of 3 Races will take place in Faenza (hard

pack track) which has not been on the calendar for 8 years. The organizer managed to do a fantastic job in such short notice to allow the whole paddock structures to fit in the area and the track has been perfectly prepared to host the best riders in the world and the different EMX classes. The second group of races will bring us back to Mantova, a venue that is well known by the MXGP paddock for its presence in the calendar. During all those races we will continue to deliver a very strict sanitary protocol and we will keep our close collaboration with the national and local authorities mainly based on the testing of all the participants and people working onsite. The wearing of the masks became mandatory onsite, also for the public when it will be authorized. No time to rest, this is the motto of the next months, as we will organize 13 races in less than 75 days, to deliver a fantastic championship, taking into the fact the worldwide situation and all the restrictions we have to face every day. Finally, I would like to thank all the MXGP partners that never stop to support us despite the difficult moments.. See you very soon on MXGP-TV!


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GOOD STARTS ARE THE KEY TO SUCCESS! 14

AS THE 2020 SEASON MADE ITS EPIC RETURN IN LATVIA, WE ALSO SAW THE COME-BACK OF ANOTHER HIGHLY SPIRITED COMPETITION, WHICH IS THE FOX HOLESHOT AWARDS.


Team HRC’s Tim Gajser, Red Bull KTM Factory’s Jorge Prado and Standing Construct GasGas MXGP rider Ivo Monticelli. is evident that during the lockdown period some riders have been putting in the hard graft to make sure their starts are on point! If there is one thing that we learned from the trio of races in Kegums, was that this season the field of riders in the FIM Motocross World Championship is fierce. Both MXGP and MX2 classes feature a gate full of riders who are eager to win, making it hard to predict a clear winner, which was clearly made evident in Latvia. With such intense competition, it’s obvious that there are many serious contenders this year who have the speed and the fitness to win, though the only way they can outdo their competition is by getting a good start and grabbing an early lead – and that’s where the FOX Holeshot competition comes into play. Getting a good start has never been so important, and with the numerous FOX Holeshot recipients in Latvia, it

How does the competition work? The FOX Holeshot black plate is awarded to the first rider who crosses the white chalk painted line in turn 1 after the gate drops of the MX2 and MXGP races. The two riders, one in each category, that finish the season with the most FOX Holeshot points, will be awarded with a hefty bonus cheque from Fox Europe that will be presented to them at the end of the championship.

During the MXGP of Latvia it was Tim Gajser and Standing Construct GasGas MXGP’s Glenn Coldenhoff who put the Honda and GasGas machines out front in race one and two, thus going on to claim a point each for the competition. Both riders also went on to take a race win each, with Coldenhoff claiming his first GP victory for GasGas, making for a historic day for the team and manufacturer. The MXGP of Riga saw Jorge Prado add a second point to his scoreboard as he claimed the FOX Holeshot in race one, while Ivo Monticelli claimed his first holeshot of the season in MXGP race two!

MXGP In MXGP the competition is wide open! So far there are a total of seven riders who have had their turn of leading the rest of the pack into the first corner. However, currently there are three riders who are tied in the lead on a total of two points each. Those riders are

The final Latvian Grand Prix, the MXGP of Kegums, opening MXGP race saw Monticelli once again fly out of the gate, reaching the first corner as the race leader, while in race two it was Gajser who claimed his second FOX Holeshot award, tying on points with Prado and Monticelli. 15


Gajser, Prado and Monticelli lead the competition, while Coldenhoff, Jeffrey Herlings, Jeremy Seewer and Henry Jacobi are all tied on one point each. MX2 In MX2, the FOX Holeshot competition is already being dominated by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Tom Vialle, who leads with an incredible six points difference, ahead of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts who has two points to his name. The two leaders are then followed by their fellow team-mates, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Rene Hofer and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Watson. During the first event in Latvia, it was Tom Vialle who dominated the starts with two out of two FOX Holeshots, making it for a much easier race for the Frenchman as he went on to claim the overall GP victory.

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At the MXGP of Riga, Vialle was once again flying out of the gate, to confirm his third holeshot in Kegums, while in race two it was Jago Geerts who was able to beat the rest of the field to the first corner! At the final GP in Kegums, Ben Watson timed the gate-drop perfectly and went on to claim his first FOX Holeshot of 2020, while his team-mate Geerts added another point to the competition chase in race two, which also aided him to a race win and an overall GP victory that day. With 14 Grand Prix’s left on the calendar, that’s 28 FOX Holeshots still up for grabs, so it will be interesting to see if Vialle can continue to dominate the competition in MX2 and whether we will see some more riders join the contest in MXGP!

WATCH THE VIDEO

MX2 TABLE Tom Vialle

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Jago Geerts

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MXGP TABLE Jorge Prado

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Tim Gajser

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Iva Monticelli

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F O S ! Y S A E D N 10 ESTO L I M 19


AFTER A LONG FIVE MONTHS, WE FINALLY PACKED OUR BAGS AND HEADED FOR THE AIRPORT – DESTINATION LATVIA! THE LATVIAN GRAND PRIX NOT ONLY WELCOMED BACK THE FIM MOTOCROSS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, BUT IT ALSO PLAYED HOST TO THE VERY FIRST TRIPLE-HEADER IN THE HISTORY OF MXGP.

WATCH THE VIDEO

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The trio of races in Kegums also introduced a brand-new racing format, that saw the European Championship (EMX250 and EMX Open) races take place on Saturday (and Tuesday), meanwhile the MXGP and MX2 action was condensed into a single day of racing, meaning that Saturday’s qualifying race was replaced by the Time Practice session on Sunday morning (or Wednesday for the mid-week race). The Time Practice session now determines the grid for the main races, which means it’s even more crucial for riders to put in the fastest lap time during the 25 minutes that they have on track, in order to get the best possible position on the grid and


of racing, during a very strange, yet special season.

The return of MXGP in Latvia, was much like a huge family reunion on Christmas. And while the number of personnel in the paddock was limited, we were all still able to re-unite with colleagues, teams, riders and long-time friends after such a long break, which was just as exciting as the racing itself!

Despite the social distancing rules, we were still able to enjoy the races as usual and even catch-up with the riders to get their take on the races with our Studio Show, Paddock Talks and Interview with Lisa Leyland. Though as per the rules, the interviews were a little different, with specially marked out carpeted areas to ensure the proper distance was kept during these moments. However, the exciting part was that fans at home were able to hear from their favourite mx riders for the first time in months, LIVE from the track.

Though the reunion was much different to what it would have been a year ago, as strict COVID-19 protocols were put in place, to ensure the safety of everyone in the paddock. This meant no handshakes, hugs or kisses and instead everyone wore masks and adhered to the social distancing rules. Though this didn’t stop the fun, as the paddock sprung back to life!

Following the first race weekend of action, the new week started off with an epic occasion. Riders across all four classes (MXGP and MX2, plus the support groups) gathered on the start straight of Kegums, for their ‘class of 2020’ riders picture, which gave everyone the opportunity to see everyone together for the first time in a while and celebrate the return

to better their chances at a good start which as we know is very important, especially with the line-up this season.

Despite the new way of paddock life, there was more excitement on the way, as the Motocross World Championship was able to welcome a limited number of spectators on race day. Though access to the paddock was off limits for the public, this didn’t stop the fans from showing their enthusiasm during the races. As we reached the first gate-drop of the Latvian stint, the noise of bikes and the crowd of fans who were eager to show their support, really made the long wait worth-while. And it is fair to say that the MXGP of Latvia, MXGP of Riga and MXGP of Kegums did not disappoint. Each race came with its own challenges and surprises, that made it extremely difficult to predict a winner and had the fans on the edge of their seats. While the MX2 races were mainly dominated by Red Bull KTM Factory’s Tom Vialle, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory 21


Racing’s Jago Geerts and the duo of Roan Van de Moosdijk and Mathys Boisrame of F&H Kawasaki Racing, the MXGP class saw a number of winners throughout the three GP’s, with riders reaching new career heights and celebrating incredible milestones along the way. Monster Energy Kawasaki MXGP pilot Romain Febvre made his season debut with his new team, after missing the first two rounds due to injury, with an incredible podium finish as he clinched 3rd place during the first GP weekend. That very same weekend was also a historic one for Glenn Coldenhoff, his team Standing Construct GasGas MXGP and of course the newest addition to our list of manufacturers in MXGP, that is GasGas, who claimed their very first race win and overall victory in MXGP! Another pretty impressive milestone came from A1M Husqvarna privateer Tanel Leok who lined up for his 500th Grand Prix race of his career! 500 gate drops in the FIM Motocross World Championship is an incredible achievement, and one that Leok celebrated with balloons and cake, alongside his family and supporters! Though more milestones followed that, as Arminas Jasikonis of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Racing added himself to the history books by claiming his very first race win in the premier MXGP class during the MXGP of Riga. That race in itself was dramatic to say the least, that saw Jeffrey Herlings and Antonio Cairoli both go down with a couple of laps to go, allowing the Lithuanian to take full advantage of that and get ahead of the pair. The Lithuanian then continued his confident run in Latvia to finish off with a 2nd overall during the MXGP of Kegums, just a single point shy of the victory! And he didn’t celebrate alone, as heaps of Lithuanian fans made the trip across the border to make 22


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sure there was a Lithuanian flag at every corner of the circuit. As Jasikonis celebrated his first race victory, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli celebrated his 90th Grand Prix win during the MXGP of Riga! 2019 and even the start of 2020 was not easy for the 9-time world champion, who struggled with poor luck and injuries – injuries that he is still dealing with today. Despite not the best beginning to the Latvian GP’s, Cairoli was able to turn things around by the fourth round of the series (MXGP of Riga) to claim a race win in race one, and even with the drama in race two, still managed finish fourth which was enough to put him on the top step of the podium, his first GP win of the season and 90th of his motocross career. After a tough few races, overshadowed by bad luck and a couple of silly mistakes, Jeffrey Herlings of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing got his chance at the top step, too. During the first two GP’s he fought hard to come through the field and despite his best efforts a GP victory was not on the cards for the Dutchman. However, the MXGP of Kegums saw Herlings win the GP by a mere point, making it his third win of the season and 89th of his career. With the Baltic run completed, the time came to pack up again and head home before the next stint of races. Following the Latvian Grand Prix’s more changes were made to the MXGP Racing Calendar, changes that unfortunately were unavoidable with the current COVID-19 travel and safety restrictions in place around the world. While originally, we were meant to be heading to Afyonkarahisar for the MXGP of Turkey, the plan changed and following the epic success of the races in Latvia, we’re heading to Italy in September for double the fun, with two lots of triple-headers! The first trio of races will take place in Faenza with the MXGP of Italy, 25


MXGP of Citta di Faenza and the MXGP of Emilia Romagna, as the famous circuit will welcome back the FIM Motocross World Championship for the first time since 2012. Faenza hosted its first Motocross World Championship races back in 1979 with the 500cc Championship which that weekend was won by Mikkola Heikki. Other winners at the Italian circuit includes the likes of Eric Geboers, Max Nagl, Gautier Paulin and Antonio Cairoli. Following an 8-year break from the MXGP calendar, Faenza will welcome back MXGP, with the added bonus of the EMX125 and EMX2t Championships running alongside, for an even more action-packed week in Italy. The Italian races have always been among the top favourites for the teams, riders and fans and with such fierce competition in MXGP and MX2, Faenza will be no exception as we will be treated to three times the fun, as the best riders in the world battle it out for top results. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli will be looking to impress at his home Grand Prix, while his team-mate’s Jeffrey Herlings and Jorge Prado will be looking for their own success on Italian soil, as Herlings will be pushing to extend his championship lead in MXGP. Team HRC’s Tim Gajser will be looking for redemption following a tough time in Latvia, as Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Arminas Jasikonis will be keen to carry on strong as he did previously in Latvia, though the different track conditions could be a test for the Lithuanian. It will also be interesting to see whether riders like Clement Desalle and Romain Febvre of Monster Energy Kawasaki MXGP can excel in Faenza, or whether Jeremy Seewer, Arnaud Tonus and a previous winner in Faenza, Gautier Paulin, of the Monster 26


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Energy Yamaha Factory Racing squad will get their turn at the front. Local riders Alessandro Lupino of Gebben Van Venrooy Racing and Standing Construct GasGas MXGP’s Ivo Monticelli will be looking for their own success as they aim to impress at home. For Monticelli, he will be keen to keep his momentum going after his success in Latvia, with two FOX Holeshot’s and some strong battles in the top 5. Meanwhile in MX2, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Tom Vialle will aim for more race wins as he takes to the hard-pack circuit, a familiar terrain for the Frenchman. Though Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts will sure put up the challenge as he will aim to close down that 8-point gap between him and Vialle who leads the championship. Additionally, all eyes will be on Roan Van de Moosdijk and Mathys Boisrame of F&H Kawasaki Racing to see whether the pair can respond and return to the podium, or whether a rider like Maxime Renaux of SM Action M.C Migliorini Yamaha J1 Racing can get up in the mix. Alberto Forato from Team Maddii Racing Husqvarna will also be pushing for top results on home soil, following some top 10 results in Latvia. After Faenza, the racing calendar will take us to Mantova for the MXGP of Lombardia, the MXGP of Città di Mantova and the MXGP of Europe for some more Italian fun! The first two events in Mantova will also see the return of the WMX and EMX250 Championship, while the MXGP of Europe will welcome back the EMX125 riders alongside the EMX250. September is looking like a busy month for us all, as we continue one of the most epic and unpredictable seasons of the FIM Motocross World Championship to date!

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FIM MOTOCROSS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

RESULTS MXGP CHAMP. STANDINGS 1. J. Herlings (NED, KTM) 2. T. Gajser (SLO, HON) 3. A. Jasikonis (LTU, HUS) 4. A. Cairoli (ITA, KTM) 5. G. Coldenhoff (NED, KTM) 6. J. Seewer (SUI, YAM) 7. C. Desalle (BEL, KAW) 8. G. Paulin (FRA, YAM) 9. J. Prado (SPA, KTM) 10. R. Febvre (FRA, KAW)

MX2 CHAMP. STANDINGS 213 p. 167 p. 163 p. 163 p. 146 p. 134 p. 131 p. 129 p. 120 p. 104 p.

1. T. Vialle (FRA, KTM) 217 p. 2. J. Geerts (BEL, YAM) 209 p. 3. R. Van De Moosdjik (NED, KAW) 153 p. 4. M. Renaux (FRA, YAM) 149 p. 5. J. Beaton (AUS, HUS) 148 p. 6. M. Boisrame (FRA, KAW) 128 p. 7. B. Watson (GBR, YAM) 127 p. 8. M. Haarup (DEN, KAW) 101 p. 9. C. Mewse (GBR, KTM) 95 p. 10. R. Fernandez (SPA, YAM) 92 p.

MXGP MANUFACTURERS

MX2 MANUFACTURERS

1. KTM 2. Honda 3. Yamaha 4. Kawasaki 5. Husqvarna 6. Gas Gas

1. KTM 2. Yamaha 3. Kawasaki 4. Husqvarna 5. Honda 6. Gas Gas

220 p. 202 p. 173 p. 169 p. 166 p. 160 p.

MXGP & MX2 STANDINGS BEFORE ITALY MXGP had a great comeback in Latvia after a long break. These are the MXGP & MX2 Championship standings after the Latvian triple-header

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230 p. 220 p. 187 p. 161 p. 101 p. 67 p.


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L A I C O S P G X M Discover all the secrets of the Monster Energy Yamaha Factoy MX2 Team!

@gaigalietis #TVHost #Best4sporTV #motocross #MXGP #MXGPofLatvia #Pafbet #MonsterEnergy #ÄśekavasAvots

@mxvisuals365 We’ve had 3 different winners from 4 rounds so far in MXGP...so who are your bets on for the title?

@diegofotocross #TBT #JEFFREY HERLINGS Y EL DIEGAAA!! @jeffrey_herlings84 In case you missed it: Check out the News Highlights video from the MXGP of Kegums! đ&#x;‡ąđ&#x;‡ť

@rasakrumina MXGP was different this time than usual, but IT WAS WORTH IT! đ&#x;¤Š

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@beegcreations @hoff259 came out swinging, he got @ standinggasgas it’s first GP win. When he is on, he’s on very fun talent to watch ride! đ&#x;¤›đ&#x;?źđ&#x;”Ľ


@cynthia_patisse @pat459strana Quick edit of @tiga243 #hrc #mxgp #honda

@gautierpaulin #gautierpaulin #gâteau #anniversaire #chocolat #motocross #monster #mxgp #fan

@miga135 Miss this tension before the race

Monster Energy Kawasaki Factory Racing Team Report from MXGP of Riga 2020!

@aneb_design Arminas Jasikonis ✨âœ? đ&#x;?ź #illustration #graphics #arminasjasikonis

P G X M # D OF ORL W HE IN T

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WITHOUT DOUBT, THIBAULT BENISTANT IS HANDS DOWN, ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING PROSPECTS IN EMX COMPETITION, AND AFTER FOUR ROUNDS, THE HUTTEN METAAL YAMAHA RIDER LEADS THE WAY IN THE HIGHLY COMPETITIVE EMX250 CHAMPIONSHIP FOLLOWING HIS STUNNING PERFORMANCES IN LATVIA AS MXGP RE-EMERGED FROM THE FORCED LOCKDOWN. WE CAUGHT UP WITH THE FRENCH TEENAGER TO GET THE LOW DOWN ON HIS SEASON SO FAR.

Thibault Benistant was almost certainly born to race a dirt bike. His grandfather raced motocross and so too did his father Yann and two uncles, so to those close to him, it was perhaps no coincidence that ‘Tibo’ would follow suit at just three years old. Before long, the French starlet, who was born in Avignon in the south of France but now resides in Châteauneuf du Pape, was chasing local titles before turning his hand to the national championships and it wasn’t long before he started to catch the attention of the professional teams. His first foray into the big time was in 2017 where he placed twelfth overall in the EMX125 championship, his best race finish being fifth, something he 41


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achieved three times during the season. His best overall finish was fourth in Latvia after going 5-5. A year later, Benistant was crowned EMX125 champion in just his second year in the class and although he did not take an overall win, he did score three race wins during the season and stood on the podium twice, both of them either side of the top step. In his rookie season in EMX250 last year, Benistant secured fifth overall which also included another podium where he finished third at his home round in France, but at the end of the season, the young French talent moved away from the comfort of his home country as he aimed to continue his quest for more European championship glory. Enter Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing. Like Benistant, the team is still very young and is just entering its third term inside the MXGP Paddock. In 2018, the team focussed on the Dutch Championship before taking the giant leap into the premier class of MXGP a year later. However, this year sees Hutten Metaal in the EMX250 class as an officially supported team through Yamaha Motor Europe, and as teams go, this one certainly has all the right credentials to succeed. From the outside looking in, the team has everything it needs to go racing at the very highest level, and whilst some might look at the move from MXGP to EMX250 as a backwards step, the opposite is actually closer to the truth, something that the team’s Technical Manager, Henk Zanting agrees with: ‘It’s going really, really fast; Wim Hutten, the owner wants to do things in a certain way and that means being really professional, and me and Herjan Brakke (Team Manager), we advised things to him to take that step and that’s where he wanted to go and have that presence with the trailer and all the equipment which we think is necessary to run a professional team, and compared to MXGP last year, EMX for us is like a large step

upwards and we want to grow fast each year.’ With official support from Yamaha Motor Europe, the team now has everything it needs to secure the best riders, and when you have the best riders, you have a very good chance of winning championships. And so far, things are going according to plan. When the new season commenced in The Netherlands there was a great deal of anticipation, and from Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing there was a sense that they could be leaving Valkenswaard with the championship leaders Red Plate, but after a difficult first race, that all changed after Benistant was forced to ride through the pack after a fall early on in the first race, and there was probably nobody more disappointed than him: ‘It’s a new team for me this year, and a new country too – really cold (laughing) – but all the winter we worked a lot in the sand, so we worked a lot on this. I wanted to win in Valkenswaard; I worked all the winter for this. I knew I had the speed and the fitness but I crashed in the first moto on the second lap, so I was completely last and I finished 11th. The second race I also didn’t start very good, in the top ten I think, and I came back to 2nd, so it was not bad. I know the championship is really long, so we really need to stay focussed and to take a lot of points.’ ‘Tibo’ left Holland fourth overall and eighteen points off the lead. Immediately after the season opener, the world went into lockdown. There would be no more gate drops in EMX250 for another 154 days. So, how difficult was lockdown for Thibault? ‘It was really difficult to hear we would be a long time without racing because we needed to train, but for what? We didn’t know exactly because we didn’t have a calendar; so we continue 43


like this. Me, I worked on my side in France with the help from Herjan Brakke and Stef (Raben), and the team continued to work on the engine to be better for the next race, which was Kegums …’ and we all know what happened in Kegums, right? In what was a historic event where EMX and MXGP ran three rounds each in the space of eight days, riders needed to arrive in Latvia, either on top of, or very close to the top of their game, especially if they stood any realistic chance of being considered a worthy championship contender by the time they left the Baltic region. With the EMX rounds set to run on Saturday, Tuesday and again on Saturday, there would be no room for error, crashes, DNF’s or injury. For Thibault and Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing, things could not have gone any better. At the Round of Latvia, which was the first of the three events, Benistant stormed to his first EMX250 race win and followed this up with 2nd in Race Two after just running out of time to pass the eventual race winner, Matthia Gaudagnini. At the Round of Riga, the Frenchman underlined his credentials even further with a dynamic double-race victory, the first time he had ever gone 1-1, and he followed this up with a 1-3 at the final Latvian event, the Round of Kegums. As the winner of all three rounds, you could say that it was a very successful trip to Latvia; he left Kegums clutching the Red Plate and a 38-point championship lead! With six rounds left to run – Mantova (3), Spain and Belgium (2) – there is still a long way to go in the series, and for now the team will enjoy the spoils of victory earned in Latvia, but from the outside, it’s clear to see that the combination of new team and a hard winter programme have really paid dividends for the young rider and equally young team, and according to Henk Zanting, ‘Thibault made a lot of progress with Herjan, especially on the fitness side and on the

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sand track side. Valkenswaard was maybe a little bit disappointing for us, we expected him to be on the podium … but it was the first race; we already knew he was good and he is focussed and physically he is in top condition. He was 18 in August and he is already pretty strong, so it’s good progress, but the way Latvia went with the three races was super, we couldn’t have expected that, but we hoped it for sure.’ Whilst it’s easy to heap all of the praise on just one rider, motocross is very much a team effort, and as Benistant revealed earlier, as he was working away during lockdown, his team was also chipping away to make sure he had the best equipment possible to help fight for the title, and right at the centre of it is Henk: ‘It (Latvia) was a relief in one way, that the work we put in this year did show on the track with the bikes; we did a lot of work on the engines – also between Valkenswaard and Latvia we did a lot of work on the engines – so it was kind of a relief. There is a lot to go and a lot to do before we finish the season. But we have both feet on the ground and we will see what the season brings, hope for the best and put in all the work we need to do. We will just focus on the next race; it’s far from over this championship and we have a lot of races to go so we don’t think about the championship yet. We have to think about going race by race, doing the best we can and being steady, and don’t make mistakes for sure.’With a short break between Kegums and Mantova, you can bet that both rider and team will be pulling out all the stops to end the season on the top step, and if you were going to put your money on anyone coming up with the goods it would be ‘Tibo’ who already has a EMX125 title in his pocket. And just like Henk and the team, Thibault is taking this one step at a time: ‘For the moment, we are looking good but we need to stay focused and continue to train hard


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Benistant’s Career Stats … so far 2017 – EMX125

because everybody wants to be the best. We saw it in Latvia; everybody wants to push more and I need to do the same. Winning the title was my goal this winter, and it’s coming, but I need to continue like this, but I hope to take the title, yes.’

‘It’s really nice to work with Thibault, he is that type of athlete that gives you positive energy; he has a big will to improve himself and he has clear goals. He wants to work for his goals and he has a lot of self-discipline. His strengths? He is smart; he knows when to take risks and when not. He has great riding skills, is physically strong and he never gives up.’

Herjan Brakke on … Thibault 46

2018 – EMX125 European Champion – 3 Race Wins, 2 podiums (1 x 2nd, 1 x 3rd) 2019 – EMX250 5th overall – 1 podium, 3rd overall (3-4) 2020 – EMX250

Thibault on … Herjan Brakke ‘Of course, he is a sand rider, he knows the bike and when it is working well and that is a nice opinion to have which is good. He still rides fast in the sand, so it’s nice to hear what he says and we work really good. He likes to work to give this energy for us, so that is also good.’

12th overall – best result, 4th overall (5-5) in Latvia

Thibault on … Gianluca Facchetti ‘Gianluca is crazy but he is a really good guy. We laugh a lot on the side but when we need to work, we work hard all the time together, like when we go cycling or go to the gym, ride the bike, we work. But we have a really good relationship and we enjoy spending time together.’

Currently leads the championship with a 38-point lead Has 4 Race Wins, 2 x 2nd, 1 x 3rd Has 3 podiums, all of them 1st place Benistant is currently enjoying his best championship so far





L L A H

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E M A F F O


MIKE ‘GUNNER’ HEALEY AMERICAN MIKE HEALEY STAYED FOR ONLY FIVE SEASONS IN EUROPE BUT LEFT A MARK IN THE SERIES WITH TWO GP WINS AND TWO FINAL PODIUMS WITH A SILVER MEDAL IN THE 250CC CLASS AND A BRONZE ONE IN THE 125CC SERIES. THE CALIFORNIAN NATIVE WAS A PURE TALENT, BUT HIS ‘REBEL’ ATTITUDE DIDN’T REALLY HELP HIM TO HAVE A GREAT CAREER. Born in California on the 20th of November 1968, Mike started racing in Southern California at the end of the 70’s and was so talented that he soon got a contract with an amateur team and became one of the Suzuki’s premier mini talents. He then joined the Suzuki factory team in 1985 and won two rounds of the US 125cc Supercross championship but missed the title due to a broken femur. Forced to move in the 250cc class by an AMA rule for the 1986 supercross series, he was only seventeen when he raced against legends such as Jeff Ward or Ricky Johnson and just survived before being back in the 125cc class for the outdoor series. But he didn’t finish the season as Suzuki fired him when he showed some insubordination during two races, coming there with a blue Mohawk! In 1987 he joined Cagiva to race the outdoor, but also had a taste of Grand Prix when he travelled to the French round in Arbis and scored a fourth position in one race. It was enough to convince him to enter the World Championship in 1988 and to join fellow countryman

Bobby Moore. Missing the first three rounds of the 1988 campaign, he got his best result during the penultimate round of the series with a second position in Finland. Fifth overall for his rookie season, he then joined KTM in an “all American squad” as his teammates were Bobby Moore and Trampas Parker. Parker surprised everyone when he clinched the 1989 world title, and even if he won his first Grand Prix in the Netherlands and scored four race wins, Mike wasn’t really dangerous for the championship as he retired in six heats. Third in the standings, he again entered the 125cc class in 1990 but didn’t improve his classification with a fifth position; he won one race that season, but also retired in six races. Getting bigger, he moved to the 250cc class in 1991, always with KTM. With his wild long hair, earrings and tattoos, Mike was really different than his rivals but his talent was sufficient to get good rides. 1991 was for sure his best season as he remained a title contender all 51


season long against Trampas Parker. Once more Mike was able to win races and GP’s, but his inconstancy was dramatic as he didn’t finish eight of the twenty-four heats that season! At the end of the season there was only four points difference between Parker and Healey, but the champion was Parker. The season was not a bad one for Mike, and he signed a deal with Sylvain Geboers to join Stefan Everts – the 1991 champion in the 125cc class – in the Suzuki factory team for 1992. It could have been a dreaming deal, but that season was a nightmare for the flamboyant Californian, so far from the Flemish mentality. 1992 was the inaugural season for the triple heats, and Mike had eleven DNF’s that season between crashes and technical troubles. Only twelfth in the series, he just shined that season when he won a race in the US at Steel City during one round of the nationals. Back in the US in 1993 he scored a fifth in the 500cc class, made another appearance during the 250cc US GP in Budds Creek and ended his GP career during the 1996 Italian GP. Text & Photos: Pascal Haudiquert

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1985:

3rd in the US 125 Supercross West coast (Suzuki)

1986:

10th in the 125 US Motocross Championship (Suzuki)

1987:

10th in the 125 US Motocross Championship (Cagiva)

28th in the 125 Motocross World Championship

1988:

5th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Cagiva)

1989:

3rd in the 125 Motocross World Championship (KTM). Winner of 1 GP

1990:

5th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (KTM)

1991:

2nd in the 250 World Championship (KTM). Winner of 1 GP

1992: 12th in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Suzuki)

10th in the 125 US Motocross Championship

1993:

5th in the 500 US Motocross Championship (Honda)

1994: 48th in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Honda)

10th in the 125 US Motocross Championship (Honda)

1996:

31st in the 500 World Championship (KTM)



S K L A T K C O D PAD 2

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4

3

7

6 8

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1

Back to school for Courtney Duncan, who visited some school kids in New Zealand to talk about her WMX career!

2 2 riders on the podium is always better than one! 3 When you try to take a serious photo, but your team has other ideas… 4 90 GP wins! An incredible achievement for Antonio Cairoli and the team in Latvia.

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5 It’s a team effort! Arminas Jasikonis celebrating his race win and podium in Latvia! 6 Tanel Leok reached an incredible milestone of lining up for his 500th GP race in Kegums… 7 Thibault Benistant celebrated his incredible performance by leaving Latvia with the red plate for the EMX250 Championship!

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8 Henry Jacobi doing his best ‘serious face’ at the MXGP of Latvia! 9 Class of 2020! MXGP riders all joined together for the official riders photo of the season in Latvia… 10 MXGP trophy waiting for a new name to be added in 2020… But who will it be!?

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E L R A U I T C A E E SP F

BOB MOORE’S 1994 YAMAHA YZ125 56

AFTER LANDING ON EUROPEAN SHORES IN 1986, AMERICAN BOB MOORE HAD ONE THING ON HIS MIND AND THAT WAS TO WIN A WORLD MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE HE RETURNED HOME TO HIS NATIVE USA.


to sign an Italian, and despite finishing 4th overall, Alessandro Puzar remained on the team, at the expense of Moore.

And, after a nine-year spell competing in different classes and on different teams, his ambition was finally realised when he lifted the 125cc title in 1994. We didn’t know it at the time, but history tells us that his win was also the last for an American rider in the FIM Motocross World Championship. This month, the bike we will feature in this issue of MXGP Magazine, is Bob Moore’s 1994 Yamaha YZ125. Bob Moore’s journey in Europe started in 1986 racing the 125cc class but it wasn’t until 1989 that he recorded his first, real solid season where he placed

4th overall. He improved to 2nd overall in ’90 and ’91 but then switched to the 250cc class for the 1992 season. He also traded his factory KTM for a factory Michele Rinaldi Chesterfield Yamaha. In what was his rookie season in the class, Moore impressed on his way to another 2nd overall for the third consecutive year. However, when the season was over, the American found himself surplus to requirements and needed to search elsewhere for a deal, and he ended up signing for Suzuki, the reason being that Rinaldi and Yamaha stripped the team back from three riders to two. With Donny Schmit winning the title, he was the obvious choice to stay, but Rinaldi also needed

The 1993 season on Suzuki did not go according to plan as Moore missed almost half the year due to injury; so how and when did the move back to Yamaha for the following season come about, as well as a change of class? ‘Basically, it fell into place real nicely; I obviously kept a real good relationship with Michele when I left in ’92, the Suzuki deal was only a one year deal so I kept in communication with him and towards the latter part of the season after I got injured I just called him back up and said, ‘hey, is there any way I can come back to Italy and come back and race with the team?’ He said, ‘you know 57


Photo: AMERICANMOTORCYCLIST.COM

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what? I’m just finalising, and looking at giving to Yamaha a 125 programme and I think you’d be a perfect fit.’ So, it was just really a quick conversation, and I was like ‘great, as long as you can give me the tools to go out and win then I’ll do it!’ And that was it.’ After spending the winter riding a stock YZ125 back home in America, Moore didn’t ride his race bike until February of 1994 when he returned to Europe. Having ridden factory KTM’s just a couple of years earlier, Moore realised there was a lot of work to do, but for him and the team, the foray into the 125cc class wasn’t just about going racing; it was very much a development program as well: ‘Their whole idea was to make a kit motorcycle and so I was just responsible for developing and promoting that. So, we started out with a kit bike, which was a little bit faster than the stock bike; it still wasn’t what I thought we needed, and then after the third race, and after getting really bad starts, I was like ‘man, this thing must be down on power’ because I’m not a traditionally bad starter. So, we really started working hard on the engine performance and it was not until probably half way through the series when we got to San Marino that I basically got an engine mod upgrade, and from there on I always started getting really good starts, so I was really happy.’ Another key component was the Öhlins Suspension; the Rinaldi Yamaha came equipped with conventional forks and this made a huge difference to the handling performance: ‘I had the best handling motorcycle of all; I had conventional forks. The Öhlins conventional forks that I used and the suspension was just … I could put that bike anywhere I wanted and that was kinda like the advantage, at least from my side. I really liked the feeling of 59


launching off a big jump and landing flat ground and just having that solid-dead feel to it, versus that thing popping back up; it just seemed like the USD always just popped back up, so I just preferred that, and I don’t know how much they did development side from an Öhlins perspective, but they didn’t really have to. I was always happy with it.’ As this was considered a development program and something of a work in progress, the man responsible for the engines was Iler ‘Aldo’ Aldini, but Moore also had a personal contract with FMF exhaust pipes from America, and so the two worked side-by-side to produce the best possible system to ensure the project was a success. The season started off with a win in Italy, but it was Mickael Pichon who won the following round in the deep mud of France with a 1-1 as Moore struggled to a 3-9. The American responded in Argentina with another win but it was the following round in Spain where the team experienced their first, and only DNF of the season at Bellpuig: ‘My choke got put on, I don’t know how, but in the parc fermé maybe it was somebody else that came up and popped it open or whatever but the choke was on. My bike was just cutting out on the start line. I thought, ‘What is going on?’ Anyway, I went a few laps but I just wasn’t going anywhere obviously with the choke being on, so I didn’t make any points first moto and then went out and won the second one.’ As the season progressed, it was clear the title race would go down between Alessio Chiodi and Moore, but there were two rounds that almost cemented the title for the American. The first was in Holland, where he crashed in both races early on and came back to score to 5th place finishes, ‘which by the way I will say was like a win for me because Chicco 60


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Photo: Ray Mayes


Photo: Serge Frocheur Photo: cleaned me out in the first lap of the first race, and I had to start from dead last. And then the second race, again, crashed but ended up getting 5th so for me it was like, I did really good in the sand, for there.’ The other round was San Marino, where the much needed and overdue engine was introduced, something that was head and shoulders above the kit-engine he had been using: ‘That was a better overall package and it was kind of a combination of the pipe that we helped FMF build and just the components of everything, my riding style as well, you know, because I didn’t really ride it like a traditional 125cc, I tried to ride it more like a 250cc and all of those kind of components helped out with it a lot.’ Heading into the final round, Moore needed just four points 62

to secure the title, and with such a big lead, there was no sign of nerves, and after winning the first race, it was all over. He sealed the deal with a double race win with victory in the second outing: ‘It was kind of a really weird, strange feeling. Obviously, it was unbelievable crossing the finish line, seeing the wall of people there and people throwing me up in the air; those are things I remember like it was yesterday. It was like a house had been lifted off the back of my shoulders, and I’m like, ‘oh my gosh, I just did the childhood dream of mine that I’ve always wanted, and I’ve been here for 9 years trying to get it.’

I need to give a shout out to my mechanics; Pere Ibañez was by far, in my opinion the best mechanic I ever had in my whole racing career. What

we had, together with Nicola Malzone, the crazy Brazilian guy, we just had such a cool team, it was just the three of us but you know, we went to the races with kinda just our own goals and our little truck, the Mercedes 613 and that was it, you know? It was a good time, but I couldn’t have done it without those guys. Pere was just unbelievable, if we had an issue with something going on and he would just fix it right there on the spot. We didn’t have like factory support programme with other trucks and stuff there, it was him; he did everything, it was awesome.’ During the 1994 season, Bob Moore claimed eleven race wins and six GP wins on the way to the 125cc world championship title. It was Yamaha’s second victory in the class and the first since John van den Berk won the same title in 1987 and as it stands right now, he is America’s last FIM Motocross World Champion.



S N R O O I T T I S E ED E U QO TH T ❝

Hello, is the MXGP Magazine free? Jason

Hi Jason, Yes, of course, you can read the MXGP Magazine for free online! You can find the latest issue HERE: https://issuu.com/ mxgpmag/docs/mxgpmag084 Regards MXGP

Hello, I would like to watch the MXGP’s this season, how is this possible? Marion

Hi Marion , thanks for your message! Watching MXGP events is super easy, all you need to do is create an account on www.mxgp-tv. com and buy either a yearly or a GP subscription to enjoy the races LIVE and OnDemand! Many Thanks Regards MXGP

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Hello MXGP, where can I find the live results during the race weekend? Julius

Hi guys, I’m really enjoying seeing all the pictures from the events on your social channels, is there anymore that I can have a look at?

Dear Julius , live timing is available during every race, all you need to do is follow this link: https://results. mxgp.com/mxgp/livestandings. aspxBest Regards MXGP

Daisy

Hi, can you explain FOX Holeshot to me? Manuel

Hello Manuel ! the FOX Holeshot Award is a competition we have been doing for several seasons now. For every MX2 and MXGP race, we award the rider who reaches the white chalk line (usually turn one) first, with a point and a FOX Holeshot black plate. At the end of the season the rider who has the most points will win the competition, receiving a prize from Fox Europe! Hope this helps  Thanks MXGP

Hi Daisy that’s great to hear! And yes of course, you can find the full photo gallery from each event this season by following this link: https://www.mxgp. com/photos?year_filter=2020 Thanks MXGP


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