The ninth round of the MX2 World Championship was marked by Ben Watson’s incredible speed and finesse onboard his Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 YZ250FM around the sandy Mantova circuit in Italy. The 23-year-old Brit uncorked his first bottle of podium champagne on the third step of the box after finishing sixth and second in the two championship races. SM Action M.C. Migliori’s Maxime Renaux narrowly missed the box by 1-point and was classified fourth overall. At the same time, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2’s Jago Geerts was ninth after a day spoiled by crashes.
For the second time this season, and in his career, Renaux clinched Pole Position in a tightly contested Timed Practice session. All of the top-nine riders posted times inside the 1:54’s. Renaux set the pace with a 1:54.223, while Geerts was sixth with a 1:54.925. Only fractionally off the pace, Watson wrapped up the session in 13th with his best time being a 1:55.511.
Mantova is a compact motocross venue built inside the city of Mantua. It comprises a hard-pack base with a soft and sandy top-layer. The track’s steepest point is a small bank, but there are no hills, which means the track is less about horsepower and more about line choice and corner speed. A slower, more technical track favors Watson as he is tall and therefore, heavier than many of his competitors.
Good starts bolstered Watson’s first podium finish in 2020. In the opening race, the Brit powered his YZ250FM to a top-three start with Renaux in tow. Geerts had a rider fall in front of him at turn-two but managed to stay upright, just, and completed the first lap in ninth.
Renaux was riding like a man possessed and within a single lap the ‘959’ passed Watson and Mathijs Boisrame to move into second position.
Trying to keep clear vision on a sand circuit that has been heavily watered is not an easy task. Moving forward proved difficult for the current series runner-up, Geerts, as he tried to find new lines that would allow him to keep his speed high while avoiding the main racing line.
On lap-9, Watson was edged back to seventh by Geerts, who was starting to pick up the pace, but after trying to pass Boisrame for three laps, the ‘193’ desperately ran it up the inside the Frenchman but fell while executing the pass.
Upfront, Renaux found himself in the thick of an intense three-way battle for second. He was nipped at the flag by Thomas Olsen but held off Roan van de Moosdijk for third.
Watson inherited sixth from his teammate Geerts who recovered for 11th.
An emphatic Holeshot in the final race allowed Watson to prove his potential finally. The ‘919’ challenged a maiden race victory but couldn’t quite get the job done and had to settle for second position.
Determined to make amends to an early race mistake that saw the ‘193’ crash out of third position on Lap-2, Geerts took no prisoners as he charged past some of the fastest MX2 riders in the world, including the Championship Leader, Vialle, and Renaux on his way to fourth position.
With five minutes left on the clock, Geerts suffered another fall and eventually came home in eighth, while Renaux rounded out the top-five.
Geerts has retained second position in the MX2 Championship Standings, 61 points clear of Renaux in third. Watson remains seventh in the MX2 World Championship after mounting the podium for the third time in his career here at the MX2 Grand Prix of Lombardia.
The FIM Motocross World Championship will return to Mantova on Wednesday, 30th of September, for round 10.
3rd MX2 Grand Prix of Lombardia, 37-points
7th MX2 World Championship Standings , 228-points
“It feels really really good to be back on the podium. It’s been a long time coming and it is now my third, it’s just finding those missing pieces that prevent me from being here more often. In training I have been feeling really good, and during the races it has been a bit of a struggle. Even today, I was down this morning and not feeling good at all, but I just managed to take two good starts and that played a big part in today. I was especially happy to have a solid second moto to get back on the podium.”
9th MX2 Grand Prix of Lombardia, 23-points
2nd MX2 World Championship Standings, 356-points
“I had a bad start in the first heat. I made some passes and got up to fight for the fifth place but had a small crash. I restarted in 11th and finished there. In the second heat I got to third and felt really good but crashed and was back to eighth but I came forward back to fourth again but crashed again. I was closing in on the first three but crashed again and finished seventh or eight or something. It was not a great day, but it’s behind us now and we have two more rounds here in Mantova so I will be ready for Wednesday. “