Tony Cairoli wins the MXGP 2021 of Great Britain
The British Grand Prix formed the second round of the 2021 MXGP and the spectacular sprawl of the Matterley Basin circuit saw Tony Cairoli of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing claim his first victory of the season.
The rough, sticky ground at Matterley Basin provided a quick and technical challenge for the three MXGP riders and three MX2 riders of Red Bull KTM for the first of six Grands Prix to be held over the next seven weeks. A cool, cloudy and rainy climate blanketed the southern England venue, drawing 4,000 noisy spectators to the facility.
Timed practice saw a Red Bull KTM 1-2 with Tony Cairoli setting the fastest lap just ahead of Jeffrey Herlings, securing two KTM 450 SX-Fs first in the starting grid. Jorge Prado, 6th, seized the first holeshot but was overtaken by Cairoli in the first lap. With Herlings pushing for 3rd place at the halfway point (and keeping world champion Tim Gajser in his perch), Red Bull KTM went 1-2-3 with Cairoli winning his first checkered flag of the season. and his first since his triumph over at home last summer.
The second race provided fantastic entertainment with up to five riders vying for the lead and the overall podium. Cairoli secured 3rd place to ensure his overall triumph and Herlings finished 4th after being cautious when rains created slippery conditions around English soil. The Dutchman finished 3rd of the day for this second consecutive trophy. Jorge Prado was part of the group, but a poor assessment of his set-up forced him to return to 7th. The Spaniard finished the GP in 5th position, which means all three Red Bull KTM athletes have occupied the top five places in the UK.
Tony Cairoli: “In fact, I enjoyed the second run more because there were a lot of overtaking and it was nice to be back in this type of battle. The track was getting nice and it was a good race.
“I had two quick starts today. The first victory was nice, especially after the disappointment of being so close in Russia two weeks ago. We lost a lot of points back then, but today it was positive and I had a great time. I can’t wait to race in Italy now.
Jeffrey Herling: “Our goal this year is to get on the podium as much as possible. It has been proven in the past that if you do this almost every weekend you will be there or around the end of the season for the Championship.
“Both bikes were okay, nothing too impressive.
“I don’t have the speed yet. I can do it in the morning for one lap but I haven’t got it for the whole race yet. I’m not far off though and there are some good leads for me ahead.
Jorge Prado: “Today was good in some ways, but a bit negative with this second race. I had been struggling with the trail since morning and how flat it was. I knew the start would be important to me. I got the hole but I made a small mistake and Tony walked past. It was pretty good because he was driving very well: I could stay behind him and he led me.
“Physically, I felt strong in the second heat, which is positive for the next races, but I didn’t have the feeling with the bike or the settings. It was too difficult for me to turn, turn on the gas and go with the others when they were full. I was too slow, even taking a few risks. So, we have to look at this.
“We will continue to work. It will come. I am in the right place.
MX2 rookie Mattia Guadagnini was Britain’s top finisher. The Italian made his way to fourth in race one in an entertaining fight for the podium places. He then controlled the second race from the front. Guadagnini not only won what was only his fourth Grand Prix race, but also stepped onto the general stand in his second MX2 appearance in Red Bull KTM Factory Racing colors.
René Hofer finished ninth overall in a day of contrasting fortunes. The Austrian made a mistake at the start of the first heat and ended up riding with the leaders but with one lap late. He finished 30th and out of points. In the second heat, the 19-year-old was blazingly fast and fought for the podium, ultimately taking third place for a valuable 20 points.
MX2 world champion Tom Vialle attempted free practice but the pain in his right hand was too much for the Frenchman to consider both races at Matterley Basin. Vialle had suffered an abnormal and irreproachable training accident just five days before and will now be aiming for the third round for a return to action.
Mattia Gaudagnini: “I am so, so happy. I knew from Russia that I was driving well. My starts were good and I felt good with the bike and on the track during the first round. I had a lot of fun fighting for P2. My goal was to be at the forefront of the second race and I succeeded. I did my own race. I focused on the race like I was training and tried not to think about the GP. I couldn’t be happier than now.
René Hofer: “It was a bittersweet day. I missed the start of the first run and had a small crash on the second lap. Unfortunately, I was not able to restart the bike quickly. I still finished the race but all chances of getting on the podium have of course disappeared. It was a shame because I felt really good and I love Matterley. So for the second run I was really motivated and got a good start. I was in P2 for a long time and I had very good fights with the French. The track was amazing and had a lot of line choices so it was super fun and with P3 I took second in the top three of my career. I ended the day on a good note and that is why we will go with great confidence to the next round at Maggiora. Thanks to the team for all the effort: it’s good that we bounced back in the second round!
Tom Vialle: “I had a training crash on Wednesday with another driver who hit me hard. I’m pissed off because it wasn’t my fault. I’m a little hurt but it’s not that bad. I think I need a few more days. I was in pain and we wanted to play it safe. It was better to miss today and think of Italy instead.
The MXGP of Italy will see the World Championship rumble around the Maggiora Hills for the first time in five years with the third round of the series next weekend.