Team HRC’s Tim Gajser won his fifth race of the season at the beautiful Faenza track, to move within striking distance, as the battle for the lead of the 2020 MXGP world championship intensifies. Teammate Mitch Evans also impressed as he finished in fourth place in the second moto, posting the fastest laptime of the race and reminding everyone just what he is capable of when he is fully fit.
In what is the seventh round of the series, and the second of this triple-header at the hillside track, Gajser started off the day well by qualifying in first position, giving himself first gate pick and setting himself up for an important two races. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to capitalise in the opening moto, just getting edged wide across the holeshot line and losing some positions in the process. As he was fighting for position, the harsh roost took its toll and he was forced to settle for fifth place.
Despite having an outside shot of the overall victory, Gajser showed up for the second moto in determined mood and when he rounded the first lap in second place, expectations were high that he would add to his four previous race wins. Within a few more laps, the Honda CRF450RW rider was in the lead, which he eventually pulled out to just under five seconds, in another great display of hard-pack riding. His five-one results meant he finished second overall, and more importantly, closed the gap at the top of the championship with plenty of racing still to go.
In what was a great moto for Team HRC, Evans came extremely close to making it a Honda one-two as the Australian fought for 35 minutes to score his best race finish since round one in Great Britain. Sitting in third at the halfway point of the moto, the #43 tried his best to follow his teammate home, even posting the fastest lap of the race, but it wasn’t quite to be as he had to settle for nine-four scores for seventh overall. It was still another encouraging step for the rider in his first season in the MXGP class as he comes back a shoulder injury sustained in round two of the series, and with a third race on Sunday before three rounds in Mantova at a track he won at in pre-season, he will be looking for even more improvement in the coming weeks.
Stephen Rubini was the standout rider in the Honda MX2 contingent as he posted seven-five results for sixth overall. The French rider is improving every round and had his best points tally of the season with 30 points, which moved upto 13th in the championship. Team Honda Assomotor teammate Alvin Ostlund had a pair of consistent 14th places while Honda 114 Motorsports’ Bailey Malkiewicz had his best start of the season which allowed him to run up front with the top guys for a good portion of the first moto.
The third of the triple-headers in Faenza, is on Sunday 13th September for what should be another hot day of racing in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.