Maxime Renaux becomes second debut winner in two races at MXGP of Spain

A second new winner in succession, a second Yamaha winner in succession, but the 2022 MXGP of Spain did not go the way the home fans wanted.

Maxime Renaux, 2022 MXGP of Spain. - Yamaha Racing/ShotbyBavo

Round nine of the MXGP World Championship took the 2022 season to Spain, and the intu-Xanadu Arroyomolinos circuit in Madrid.

Jorge Prado must have arrived in Madrid expecting to be on the podium at the very least. He was able to finish second overall to the dominant Calvin Vlaanderen in Sardegna in his first race back after dislocating his shoulder, and has generally done well in front of his home fans, winning in Arroyomolinos at the first edition of the race in 2020.

The first moto was acceptable for Prado, too. He might have fought for the win were it not for a mistake that sent him wide in the first turn after the finish. In that moment, he lost second place in the first race to Tim Gajser, and was unable to get it back. Otherwise, he may have been able to pressure race one winner Maxime Renaux. 

Prado then led the early stages of the second moto. In comparison to MotoGP, where the Spanish fans have numerous riders to cheer for, in MXGP they choose between two: Jorge Prado and Ruben Fernandez. Prado is the only one of the two to have won a World Championship, or a premier class GP, so the decision for the fans is somewhat straightforward. Prado is their hero, and when he was leading the second moto, looking like he would at least be on the podium, and possibly even win the GP, at his home race, the atmosphere was even substantial through the TV. 

But, after 10 minutes or so, the dream was over. Prado washed the front on the landing of a jump, and slammed the super-hard-pack dirt- well, hard. It was a tough one for the Spaniard, who hurt his legs in the crash, MX Vice’s Lewis Phillips noting that Prado was limping through the paddock after the race. In Phillips’ post-race interview with Prado, the two-times MX2 World Champion was unusually deflated, knowing not only that he was in pain, but also that he had thrown away the chance of a great result at home. 

Prado’s crash was great news for Maxime Renaux, though. The Frenchman came out of that with the lead, and ended the day with a perfect 1-1, 50 points and maiden MXGP-class overall victory. Renaux had been fast since he first jumped on the 450 over the winter, and was able to be win at the preseason international race at Lacapelle. But to do it in a GP is tough. He was close in Argentina, but Gajser was able to beat him in the second race, denying the Frenchman. But, in Spain, Renaux was untouchable for his rivals, and took a deserved win. 

For Yamaha, it was a second win in a row, but for the factory team in particular, it was an important, immediate response to the victory of satellite team Gebben van Venrooy’s victory in Sardegna with the aforementioned Vlaanderen. And, while Vlaanderen backed up his maiden top class win with a 13-13 for 13th overall, the feeling is that this could be a ‘floodgate’ moment for Renaux, who has been consistently challenging for, and finishing on, the podium in 2022. Perhaps this is too late to challenge Gajser for the title (the Slovenian still has a 66-point advantage over Renaux), but there is definitely a chance that Renaux could yet pick up more victories before the end of the season. 

With Gajser still in mind, it is important to point out that his 2-6 for fourth was a result of a continuation of the illness that bothered him in Sardegna. It was clearly less of an issue in Spain, but was still enough to prevent him being able to get around Mattia Guadagnini for fifth in the second moto, which in the end cost Gajser the podium. The anticipation is that Gajser will be stronger again in France this week, but how strong it is difficult to say. Already two riders have taken advantage to win their first Grand Prix in the top category, so will another be able to do so in Ernee?

Perhaps, but it is hard to see who. Sure, no one expected Vlaanderen in Sardegna, but that is a special case, with the heat combining with the deep sand for a challenge like no other in the season. 

Maybe, if anyone, it will be Brian Bogers. The Dutchman came into this season having become the guy who is top 10 fairly regularly, and fights for the podium in Lommel. But, this year, he has become a regular podium challenger, whether on hard pack or sand. Bogers’ typical forte is definitely not Ernee, but it is also not Spain, where he finished third overall. So, if anyone is going to become a third-straight first-time MXGP winner in France, it will be Standing Construct Husqvarna’s #189.

From the entire field, including those who have already won GPs, Renaux should be the favourite, theoretically. He comes to his home GP off the back of his maiden win in Spain, and as France’s top MXGP rider at the moment in the absence of Romain Febvre. But Renaux has never raced a GP at the undulating French track, and in Portugal we saw him relatively struggle in a circuit which he had not raced at the World Championship level. And, perhaps, in that case, the door is thrown open for the likes of Bogers, or, if Gajser is stronger again this weekend, and able to push on through both motos, we will return to the pre-Sardegna norm of a dominant Gajser 1-1.