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All eyes were on the support classes earlier today, as the Grand Prix of Lombardia got underway with WMX and EMX250 action. Those classes may not be your priority, especially seeing as the seventh round of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross is running too, which is fine. This rapid-fire report will ensure that you have all of the information that you need, without having to sift through countless pages on social media.
Points of Interest
– Courtney Duncan continued on as the winningest rider in WMX – she took the win in the first encounter and built her series lead to eight points. A vicious crash, similar to the fall that Maxime Renaux had on Sunday morning at Faenza 3, ruled her out of the second race though and forced her to give up the red plates. Duncan is really no stranger to big crashes, as injuries have robbed her of multiple championships. The good news is she’ll be fine for Tuesday.
– Today marked just the second time that the WMX riders have tackled Mantova. WMX first featured as a support class on this layout in June of 2016 – Kiara Fontanesi won on that day. Fontanesi also featured on the box today in third overall. Larissa Papenmeier has had double success at Mantova as well – she won the overall today and was third overall back in 2016. Papenmeier now leads the championship for the first time since April of 2018.
– Hakon Fredriksen is a name that some international fans will be familiar with. Fredriksen actually made waves whilst riding for Team Norway at the Motocross of Nations a year ago, as he romped to ninth in the first moto. Heck, he even had interest from MXGP squads after that! Fredriksen turned those offers down to compete in EMX250 for SM Action Yamaha and took his first moto win earlier today. An eighth in moto two left him in second overall, which was also a career-best result.
– Thibault Benistant won again, despite a lacklustre time in qualifying this morning by his standards. The fact that he is so dominant has caught some off guard, but just glance at the standings from last season. Benistant ended up fifth and all of the guys ahead of him have graduated to the MX2 division. The four riders who ended up behind him have done the same. That should have made him the heavy favourite heading into the current season, huh?
– Mattia Guadagnini, who runs second in the series standings, could have potentially clawed some points back. A crash early on in moto two left him in a precarious spot though and, after waiting for the whole of the EMX250 class to ride by, he eventually retired with a bent bike (a huge dent in his exhaust to be exact). Guadagnini is still second in the points, but’s now tied with Kay de Wolf. De Wolf is tipped to join the MX2 division with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing squad in 2021.
– Yamaha swept the EMX250 podium with Thibault Benistant, Hakon Fredriksen and Tim Edberg for the first time in EMX250 history. The manufacturer had not come close to pulling that off before, with the exception of the 2012 season. Mel Pocock had a constant presence on the podium that season, which helped. This is proof that the Yamaha strategy of having a clear pyramid system in the paddock is doing wonders.
Thibault Benistant (EMX250 Winner): “The day started not really easy, because I started a little bit far off the lap time with fourth in qualifying. I picked a gate a little bit too much outside [in moto one] and then had to come back from far behind, but I did quite a good race and finished fifth. In the second race I started better, inside the top three, and I waited for a mistake from Tom Guyon and then took the lead and won.”
Larissa Papenmeier (WMX Winner): “It’s a nice feeling. When I am riding, I am not really thinking about the championship or where I finish. I knew a second place in the final race would be enough for the overall win, but I didn’t think about the red plate. I just tried to keep it smooth and make no mistakes. I felt good out there. I had a really good feeling, I like the track. I’m looking forward to Tuesday.”
– Mantova is just how everyone would picture it. There have not been any significant changes, with the exception of jump faces being built up considerably. There are more booters out there than ever before! It is going to be interesting to see what changes are made between rounds, because there is the option to switch up some of the sections. It would not take much to switch jumps around or even create some inside berms.
– Thunderstorms were initially forecast for the Grand Prix of Lombardia, but there’s not a threat of that now. Conditions should be perfect for this weekend and even the Grand Prix of Citta di Mantova in the middle of the week. The final event at Mantova, the Grand Prix of Europe, could end up being a mudder. That is a week away at this point though, so it is not worth reading into those forecasts too much. Escaping rain will become a hot topic in the coming weeks.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer