Why the MXGP of Argentina could be critical for Yamaha's Coldenhoff

The Dutch rider goes to Argentina this weekend after a disastrous GP in Mantova.

Glenn Coldenhoff, MXGP of Lombardia 2022. - Yamaha Racing.

AFTER the second moto in Matterley Basin at the 2022 MXGP season opener, it seemed that Glenn Coldenhoff had figured the Yamaha YZ450.

The #259 had probably his best ride in blue at the British Grand Prix, finishing third and beating his teammate, Jeremy Seewer. 

In fairness to Coldenhoff, Seewer’s Grand Prix of Lombardia did not go to plan, either, crashing three times on Sunday, including twice in the same corner in race two. After the race, Seewer talked to MX Vice’s Lewis Phillips, and said it was a problem he had always had, even back in his Suzuki MX2 days.

Coldenhoff’s issues, though, seemed more fundamental. He finished 17th and 14th in the first and second motos, respectively, in Mantova, without any notable crashes or anything physically apparent that would hold him back. Ultimately, such results are not acceptable for a factory rider. Coldenhoff knows this, having been a factory rider for much of his career. 

The difficult Mantova only increases the pressure on the Dutchman for this weekend’s Argentinian Grand Prix in Neuquen. It will be the first time MXGP has been there since before the pandemic in 2019 (Argentina was scheduled to be round three in 2020, after Valkenswaard, but was cancelled as the pandemic situation ground the world to a halt), and on that occasion - riding for Standing Construct KTM - he went 17-18 for 19th overall.

So, not a good recent history for Coldenhoff in Argentina.

That said, ahead of the event, Coldenhoff said, “I like doing overseas races. I like going to Argentina, it’s a very beautiful place and I enjoy it. I don’t have any amazing racing memories there, but I feel decent on the track there, so I hope to change that this weekend.”

Certainly, Argentina could be a critical weekend for Coldenhoff. It is only round two, but this is a contract year for the factory Yamaha rider, and another bad weekend with difficult results could see one bad round in Mantova turn into something of a slump at precisely the wrong moment. Particularly with the impression Yamaha’s rookie, MX2 World Champion Maxime Renaux, has made in his first two GPs in the MXGP class, Coldenhoff needs to justify his position within Yamaha over the next few races, starting in Argentina.

With that in mind, Coldenhoff and Yamaha tested after Mantova, and then went to the Dutch Championship race in Arnhem to verify the tests. He finished 2-3 for third overall, but was beaten by Calvin Vlaanderen of the Gebben Van Venrooy Racing squad - one of Yamaha’s satellite outfits. In the pre-event press release, Coldenhoff gave no indication as to whether the direction he took in testing after Mantova worked or not, but the expectation for him will to be ahead of satellite riders like Vlaanderen.

With many non-factory riders and teams - and even factory ones in the case of Beta, and their riders Jeremy van Horebeek and Alessandro Lupino - not going to Argentina this weekend due to costs, it should theoretically be more straightforward for Coldenhoff to run at the front with the in-form riders at the minute; those such as Tim Gajser, Jorge Prado and Maxime Renaux. 

However, there is also the possibility that the reduced gate this weekend will highlight even further any struggles Coldenhoff is currently facing, for example if he is able to start with the leaders but not run their pace. 

But, it should certainly be an opportunity for the #259 Yamaha rider to reverse the negative trend his momentum this season has been picking up recently.