One week after a pivotal Grand Prix in Great Britain, the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP and MX2 teams will be back in action again this weekend in Maggiora, Italy, for the third round of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
Familiar with Maggiora, a clay-based, steep and twisty track where he has experienced previous success including his second-ever podium finish – in MX2 back in 2015 – Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Jeremy Seewer is excited that the iconic venue is making a return to the calendar after a six year hiatus. The 26-year-old Swiss rider loves the circuit and after making some promising changes to his YZ450FM in between races at the British Grand Prix one week ago, he is optimistic that these adjustments are just what he needs to fight for a place on the podium. The ‘91’ is currently sixth position in the MXGP Championship Standings, only 13-points off the top-three.
“Going into Maggiora, I am not going to be making any crazy big changes,” said Seewer. “We made quite a lot of changes to the bike between race one and race two in Matterley, and these worked really well, so I think this was a big step in the right direction. So we will work with this, and I will get used to it more, which means I will get even better. Maggiora as a track and venue, wow. I love that place! I have so many good memories there in many kinds of ways. The Nations in 2016, one of my first podiums in MX2, just many really great memories. It’s so cool, so I am really looking forward to going there to race!”
Like Seewer, Glenn Coldenhoff also carries fond memories from Maggiora. The old-school venue was the site of his first-ever MXoN podium, which was in 2016. Going into the Grand Prix of Italy this weekend, the 30-year-old Dutchman remains focused on his return to form, particularly after a confidence-boosting opening race in Matterley Basin where he challenged a place inside the top-three and eventually finished fifth. The ‘259’ currently has 42-points and is 10th in the championship standings.
“We have a lot of positives to take away from Matterley Basin – there is definitely something to build on,” said Coldenhoff. “If I have more motos like the first one, I will find my flow and get used to the intensity and we are good for Maggiora. I think the track in Maggiora is really, really cool! It’s natural and old-school and I always like riding old-school tracks. I have some good memories from Maggiora. I was on the podium at the Motocross of Nations in 2016 where we were looking like we would win until one lap from the end, and we ended up finishing second. It was the first time that I got a podium at a Motocross of Nations and that was definitely a great memory.”
For the youngest member of the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP team, Ben Watson, Maggiora is not a track that he has done many laps at. However, the 24-year-old Brit is excited to race at the hilly clay venue and is eager to continue his steady progress up the premier class ranks. The rookie currently makes up the top-15.
“In general, I was happy to have a consistent day at Matterley Basin, and it was good to get some solid results for my second race inside the MXGP class,” said Watson. “I won’t make any big changes to my bike or program. Maggiora is a great track, it’s been some years since I’ve raced there so I am looking forward to something new again, and it’s cool to have some elevation in a track with a few hills and nice jumps. It should be good.”
At present, the MX2 class has a minimum age requirement of 15-years and a maximum age limit of 23-years. Due to these age restrictions, not a single MX2 rider will have ever raced a Grand Prix in Maggiora prior to this weekend – although many of them are familiar with the venue as it staged rounds of youth series, the European Championship in 2014 and ‘15.
In fact, it was at the Italian round of the 2015 EMX125 Championship that Renaux put his YZ125 on top of the box and took the red plate as the championship leader. Fast forward the clock, and the ‘959’ is hoping to repeat history, this time on a works YZ250FM and in the premier 250cc class, MX2.
After celebrating an emphatic Grand Prix win less than one week ago – his first of 2021, Renaux launched himself up into second position in the MX2 Championship Standings and is now only 5-points off the series leader.
“I am feeling great! It’s really good to get my first victory of the season in the second round,” said Renaux. “I am starting to feel better and better with racing and I am really looking forward to the next races. I am really happy with the bike, so I won’t be making any changes and I really like Maggiora, and Italy in general. It’s like a second home GP for me as I know a lot of people there and I also have a lot of friends from past years in an Italian squad. I had a really good memory there in 2015 getting a victory in EMX125 and the red plate, so for sure this track is in my heart.”
After nearing Pole Position and challenging the main protagonists for a place on the podium at the British Grand Prix, 18-year-old Thibault Benistant is focusing on the positives. Wise beyond his years, the young Frenchman realizes he needs to use his first full MX2 season to gain as much experience as possible. Although the ‘198’ has never raced at the Italian venue before, he is confident that if he can get a good start aboard his YZ250FM, he will be able to challenge the front runners.
“I am focusing on the positives from Matterley Basin,” said Benistant. “I had good lap times and good speed; I was right there. I hope to continue to grow throughout the season. This week I will continue to work with the team to improve my starts, as this is an important point. Maggiora looks like it is one of the nicest tracks, but I have never been there before, so we will see how it goes.”
Maggiora has been a happy hunting ground for Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2’s Jago Geerts in the past, as it was the site of his first-ever top-three race finish in the European EMX125 Championship – back in 2015. This weekend, the 21-year-old Belgian hopes to bounce back from the woes of the first two rounds as he continues to build strength and stability in his injured left knee. Like Benistant, the ‘93’ will be working closely with the team throughout the week to improve the YZ250FM off the start. He is currently 11th in the championship chase, 15-points behind Benistant in ninth.
“This week, I will try some different things on the bike and hopefully make some progress for Maggiora in terms of the start,” said Geerts. “The track there is really good. It’s an old-school type of track which is something I like. I scored my first podium in the EMX125 class there, so I’m looking forward to ride there again this weekend.”
Coinciding with the MXGP series, the second round of the EMX125 Championship will also take place at the historic Maggiora circuit. The MJC Yamaha Official EMX125 team looks forward to welcoming back Karlis Reisulis, with the 15-year-old Latvian set to make a return to racing after sustaining a broken leg back in April.
Reisulis will be joined on the gate by teammate Ivano van Erp, who is determined to bounce back from a challenging opening round in Great Britain.
All classes will be operating on a one-day format. The EMX125 will race on Saturday, July 3, while the premier classes MXGP and MX2 will compete on Sunday.