MXGP heads to Madrid, just as Madrid heads to Paris

This weekend the MXGP World Championship heads to Spain for the ninth round of the 2022 season at the Xanadu-Arroyomolinos circuit in Madrid. 

Jorge Prado leads MXGP field into turn one, 2022 MXGP of Sardegna. - GasGas Media/S. Taglioni

Madrid will host round nine of the 2022 MXGP World Championship, the MXGP of Spain, this weekend, as Tim Gajser looks to bounce back after a tough Sardinian round. 

The deep sand of Sardegna was tough on pretty much all the riders in the MXGP paddock, whether in MXGP, MX2, or even the MXW and EMX250 classes. Particularly for Gajser, it was a struggle because of the illness he carried into the race. It was clear that he was tired even before the crash in race two, but fortunately for the Slovenian he carried a huge points lead into Riola, anyway. 

The other positive for Gajser was that it was not one of his title rivals who won, but instead it was Calvin Vlaanderen. The South African dominated both motos and walked away with a convincing 1-1, 50-point maximum score and a maiden premier class GP win. When MX Vice’s Lewis Phillips spoke to Vlaanderen after the race, the #10 said that he did not see himself as a rider who is better in sand than in hard pack, but rather that the level of the other riders is higher in hard pack, and drops off more in the sand. Precisely what that will mean for Vlaanderen in Arroyomolinos this weekend remains to be seen, but last year he did not finish in the top 10 in either moto in Spain. 

Vlaanderen’s win was mentioned in Yamaha’s press release after the MXGP of Sardegna, but in reality it was not such a good day for its factory riders. Jeremy Seewer showed great speed on Sunday, but instead of finishing on the podium he crashed and finished fifth. Seewer scored 33 points in Riola Sardo, which was the same amount as Maxime Renaux, who was perhaps one of the more anonymous riders in Sardegna, while Glenn Coldenhoff recovered from a poor start in the first race to finish second in the second one, which was enough for third overall. 

But, particularly for Renaux who went into Sardegna lying second in the championship, Riola could have been a chance to strike while Gajser was struggling through illness. But, instead, Renaux scored only two more points than Gajser, which means the #243’s points lead is still a colossal 79 points going into Spain. 

It does not seem that long ago that it was Jorge Prado who was chasing down Gajser, and even with almost a full GP worth of points separating the two, the title did not seem totally lost for the #61. But the shoulder injury that kept him out of Maggiora ended Prado’s chances, and even with his podium in Riola he misses 107 points compared to Gajser. But, that does not mean that the Spaniard’s Sardinian return was a disaster, in fact it was a success. He came back just over a week after the announcement of his withdrawal from Maggiora and finished on the podium with two third places in one of- if not the toughest tracks on the whole calendar. It was impressive from Prado, who, this weekend, will be hoping to win his home Grand Prix for the second time.

It has the potential to be a memorable event, but the circumstances and context surrounding it could also go against the 2022 MXGP of Spain. The race will happen at the same place as it has for the last couple of years now: next to the intu-Xanadu shopping and entertainment centre in Arroyomolinos, Madrid. Anyone with a vague sense of current football will know that in Paris this Saturday night Liverpool will play in the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid. 

There is as close to zero doubt as is possible that the MXGP of Spain will be the secondary sporting event in the minds of many of the people of Madrid this weekend, but a Jorge Prado win could add even further to what could be some intense celebrations on Saturday night. The GasGas rider’s shoulder injury is of course still fresh, but last year Prado was beaten only by a relentless Jeffrey Herlings who this weekend is absent (although apparently back riding already according to his Instagram stories), and the year before the #61 took a dominant 1-1. Circumstances-dependent, it could be a dream weekend in Madrid.

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