Red Bull KTM Factory Racing starred at the 74th Motocross of Nations in Italy as Tony Cairoli and Mattia Guadagnini celebrated victory for their country on home turf, Jeffrey Herlings dominated two of the three races at Mantova for the Dutch and Rene Hofer claimed the top spot in the MX2 class riding for Austria.
The Motocross of Nations’ traditional September slot meant that the third running of the annual competition in Italy since 2009 fell midway through the delayed 2021 FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship (Jorge Prado was one rider that elected not to take part).
Even though the event was not the usual end-of-season finale, a decent crowd braved overcast and showery/stormy conditions at Mantova and to watch 33 countries battle for the Chamberlain Trophy.
Tony Cairoli added Motocross of Nations victory to his glittering career record thanks to 7th position overall in the MXGP class. Cairoli, who had seen ‘MXoN’ and Grand Prix promoters Infront Motor Racing and the FIM formally ‘retire’ his #222 number before the races, was a first corner faller in the opening moto but rode back to 21st.
The Italian was still sore after his heavy practice crash the previous Sunday at the Grand Prix of Sardinia but took 2nd place in the final moto to give Italy the precious points they needed.
Mattia Guadagnini was also riding for the blue jersey and used his KTM 250 SX-F to go 5-6 and be runner-up in MX2. The MXoN debutant was the second of five KTMs in the final MX2 top six.
Jeffrey Herlings controlled the second moto from start to finish, winning by almost 50 seconds. The Dutchman then repeated his dominance by an even bigger margin in the third moto. The results gave the current MXGP championship leader his first 1-1 at the Nations (and since his first appearance for the Dutch in 2009) and helped the team secure silver medals although the difference was only 1 point from the Italians at the end of the day
Rene Hofer was the top rider for Team Austria and the overall victor in MX2 for what was his second attempt at the MXoN. The 19-year-old finished 8th against the 450s in the first moto. He then performed admirably in a far wetter second race to take 3rd behind Herlings and Valentin Guillod. His 8-3 scorecard enabled him to own the MX2 trophy on the day as Austria classified 9th in the final ranking.
MX2 World Champion Tom Vialle rode superbly to push Thomas Kjer Olsen all the way to the flag in the first moto.
The Frenchman, unfortunately, had to retire early in the second race with a technical problem. Team France were 5th as Vialle posted a 2-38.
KTM rider Liam Everts made his Motocross of Nations debut for Team Belgium and walked away with the Ricky Carmichael Award as the best youngster on the day and fourth overall in MX2.
Tony Cairoli: “This was the one missing in my career and I’m really happy to get it. For sure it was a bit risky to come here and ride after last week’s crash. I didn’t feel 100 per cent. On the dry track I could handle it better but on the wet track I was really struggling. The first moto crash didn’t help and I didn’t have the best feeling. I knew I needed just one decent moto and start and managed to do that. The other two guys did an amazing job, especially Mattia for his first time.”
Mattia Guadagnini: “The first time for me and I’m so happy! I did my best but made some mistakes and threw away a few points, My teammates did so well and we made it. This is really special for me and I want to thank everybody for the support and the belief in me.”
Jeffrey Herlings: “I did what I could today and going 1-1 was the maximum. The team did all they could, and we had some bad luck. Since 2016 we have been on the box at every Nations and you cannot always win. Sometimes you have to lose to get better. I am super-proud of Team Netherlands and also my results; I’ve never been 1-1 at this event before so it is good to add that to the collection. I’m looking forward to the German GP now.”
Rene Hofer: “It was a really great day for me. Coming as an underdog team meant there was not much pressure. It’s an achievement that I can certainly check off for my career and it was also great for Team Austria because ninth overall meant our first top ten for a long time. I hope – and I will try – to ride like that in the last GPs and aim for my first podium finish.”
Tom Vialle: “I was really happy about my first race. I had a great start and I should have won it. I was faster than Thomas Olsen but had to do the last three laps without any goggles. I was happy with the result but also a bit frustrated. In the second moto we had an issue and stopped after two laps. I won the qualification race on Saturday and was 2nd against the 450s so most of the weekend was pretty good. It wasn’t a bad day for Team France. At the moment I feel great on the bike and my speed is really high. I just had some bad luck. I will train a bit more this week and then be ready for Teutschenthal.”
Red Bull KTM will now switch back into MXGP mode and will approach the hard-pack of Teutschenthal for the Grand Prix of Germany this weekend.
Top 5 Motocross of Nations Teams Ranking
- Team Italy(Cairoli, Guadagnini, Lupino) 37 points
- Team Netherlands(Coldenhoff, Van de Moosdijk, Herlings) 38
- Team GBR (Watson, Mewse, Simpson) 39
- Team Russia (Bobryshev, Brylyakov, Petrashin) 44
- Team France (Paturel, Vialle, Boisrame) 50