Red Bull KTM Factory Racing are MXGP World Champions for the third time since 2017 as Jeffrey Herlings rode to 1st position overall at the eighteenth and final Grand Prix of the season at Mantova in Italy. The 27-year-old Dutchman picked up his fifth FIM gold medal and his second in the premier class of the sport with the KTM 450 SX-F.
The sandy and rough, shallow bumps of the Tazio Nuvolari circuit in Mantova, Italy again hosted MXGP for the final round of the year and the second consecutive Grand Prix. In chilly, wintery conditions, all eyes were on the gripping chase for the championship in the premier class with Herlings locked in a close dispute for the title.
Nerves were taut for the last two motos of an epic season. At one stage all three Red Bull KTM riders were in pursuit of the 2021 world championship but the final races of the year saw Herlings in a prime position to bring the gold plate back to the team for the first time since 2018.
In Timed Practice Herlings assumed his usual position at the top of the timing screens and duly recorded his 13th Pole Position from the 17 rounds he has contested. In the first moto he worked his way to the front, passing holeshotter Jorge Prado and then weathered some arm-pump to maintain a gap over main threat Romain Febvre. His fourteenth checkered flag of the year meant he tied on points with Febvre and created a straight shoot out in the second moto for the world championship. Herlings repeated the feat and a crash by Febvre meant he had a small margin over his rival and that of Tim Gajser who was second on the track but ended the day 3rd in the championship.
Jeffrey Herlings: “I’m super-happy but at the same time I feel bad for the other two guys. I want to thank both of them for a great championship. My riding was terrible today! In the first moto I was just so scared to crash that I was riding very tight and got arm-pump. It was really bad but I still managed to bring it in. After four-five laps in the second Romain crashed and that gave me some seconds but at the same time I did not want to go full gas and make a mistake. I stayed in my comfort zone and was thinking and thinking. Tim came a bit closer but I just carried on doing my thing and didn’t look back. I went into training mode. I’m very happy to have made it happen and to go 1-1 today – even though my riding sucked – is really good. This wasn’t an easy championship. All three of us kept charging until the last moto.”
Results MXGP Citta di Mantova 2021
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (1-1)
2. Tim Gajser (SLO), Honda (3-2)
3. Romain Febvre (FRA), Kawasaki (2-3)
4. Jeremy Seewer (SUI), Yamaha (4-4)
5. Jorge Prado (ESP), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (5-7)
15. Tony Cairoli (ITA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (DNF-10)
Final standings MXGP 2021
1. Jeffrey Herlings 708 points
2. Romain Febvre 703
3. Tim Gajser 688
4. Jeremy Seewer 566
5. Jorge Prado 562
6. Tony Cairoli 545