With the deep sand of Lommel behind them, Team HRC heads south to Imola, Italy for the 15th round of the 2019 world motocross championship where Honda CRF450RW rider Tim Gajser can potentially seal his third world title at the iconic motorsport circuit. Fellow 450cc rider Brian Bogers will be looking to improve upon his 2018 experience, while 250cc rider Calvin Vlaanderen will be hoping to continue his good run of from that saw him finish second overall at the last round in Belgium.
However all eyes will be on Gajser in the first MXGP moto on Sunday as the Slovenian rider needs to score just 13 points to clinch the 2019 championship, in front of what should be a massive amount of Slovenian fans who have crossed the border in anticipation of celebrating with their hero. It has certainly been quite some turnaround for Gajser since his last visit to Italy, when he left the Mantova track 40 points behind, after the fifth round of the series. From that moment on though, he has won eight of the last nine rounds and could seal the MXGP crown earlier than anyone has managed to do, in at least the last decade. It has been a massive effort from Gajser and Team HRC, but the job isn’t done yet so everyone is still focused on the work at hand.
For teammate Bogers, he’ll be hoping to banish memories of his 2018 event and finish the last few rounds of this season strongly, as he continues his battle with the top 10 of the MXGP class. A knee injury on Saturday last year meant he wasn’t able to line up for the main motos, but Bogers is coming into this weekend fully prepared after the gruelling experience of Lommel at the last round. With a couple of good practice sessions under his belt, he is ready to hit the hard-pack terrain, at the iconic Imola circuit and improve upon his recent results that have seen him finish inside the top 10 in two of the last four motos.
After a seventh in race one at Lommel, not many were expecting a podium, let alone his best overall result of the season, but Vlaanderen did exactly what he needed to do, knuckling down and finishing in second place for second overall. This also marked the second time he’d been on the podium since his return from injury and he’ll be looking for more of the same at the MXGP of Italy this weekend. He comes in as one of the form riders in the class and has proved that in sand or hard-pack, he is able to be one of the fastest guys on the track in the MX2 class.
This weekend the MXGP and MX2 riders are joined by the WMX and EMX2t classes, for what should be a scorching weekend of racing. Action for the Team HRC trio gets underway at 12:30 (GMT+1) on Saturday 17th August with the MX2 25 minute free practice, closely followed by the MXGP riders at 13:00. Then they have a timed practice session before qualifying races that begin at 16:55 (MX2) and 17:40 (MXGP). Gate drops for the points scoring races are then on Sunday at 13:15 and 16:10 (MX2) and 14:15 and 17:10 (MXGP).