MXGP & MX2 Teams Set to Surf the Sands of Sardinia

2024 Yamaha YZ125

Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP & MX2 Teams Set to Surf the Sands of Sardinia

The Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP and MX2 teams are gearing up for the third round of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Riola-Sardo, Sardinia, this weekend.

Despite Riola being a relatively new addition to the MXGP calendar, the track holds a special place for most riders as it is a popular off-season training spot. With its deep sand surface and dry climate, Riola is like a second home for the teams in January, offering ideal conditions for physical fitness training and bike testing.

The upcoming MXGP of Sardinia will be the first deep sand race of the season, promising an exciting challenge for the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP and MX2 riders who thrive in sandy conditions.

Flying the flag for the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP team with teammates Jago Geerts and Maxime Renaux both sidelined through injury, Vlaanderen arrives fit and ready to challenge his first bottle of podium champagne in 2024. Having celebrated some of his best Grands Prix in Riola, including a memorable double-moto victory in 2022, Vlaanderen is eager to get going and confident of a good result. The South African is currently eighth in the MXGP Championship Standings.

Adding to Yamaha’s strength in the sand this weekend, the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP team is poised to welcome the reigning Sand Race Cup World Champion, Todd Kellet, into the mix. After winning two of the most prestigious sand races in the world this year, Enduropale du Touquet and Enduro del Verano, Kellet has proven his sand-riding prowess and is excited to test his form against the best in MXGP.

Leading the charge as the best-placed Yamaha rider in the MX2 ranks, Thibault Benistant is ripe and ready to start his 50th Grand Prix. He arrives in Sardinia fifth in the championship standings, just 10 points shy of a place in the top three, and after finishing on the third step of the podium in Riola last year, the talented Frenchman is confident he can achieve another good result.

At the same time, Andrea Bonacorsi is pumped for the Sardinian Grand Prix. The young Italian prefers soft racing surfaces and carries fond memories of two EMX250 round victories at the venue. He is fit, strong, and ready to play to his strengths on a track that demands peak physical and mental condition. He is currently 11th in the MX2 Championship Standings, just one point shy of his Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 teammate, Rick Elzinga, in 10th.

As for Elzinga, the Dutchman is ready to showcase his progress since returning from injury in February and is optimistic about what he can achieve in Riola.

The excitement in Riola-Sardo extends beyond the MXGP and MX2 categories as the ‘Queen of Sand’, Lotte van Drunen, aims to challenge the top step of the podium at the second round of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship. After an impressive start to her season in Spain, van Drunen is second in the WMX Championship Standings and excited to return to the track that saw her celebrate her first-ever WMX race win and podium finish.

Furthermore, the MXGP of Sardinia will host the opening round of the EMX125 Championship, where the MJC Yamaha Official EMX125 team will debut its new team of young guns, Dani Heitink, Jarne Bervoets, and Mano Faure.

Click here to view the MXGP of Sardinia Timetable.

Calvin Vlaanderen
8th MXGP Championship Standings, 56-points
“Back in the sand this weekend with the GP in Riola and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve had some good training sessions in the sand over the past couple of months because I live in The Netherlands, so, it’s all we can ride in the bad weather. Physically, I feel like I’m back to 100% after a small injury in the winter. I’ve had a lot of good memories there, so I can’t wait to get out on track. The goal is to put my YZ450FM on the podium. I’m feeling fit, I’m feeling comfortable, the speed is there so I think I am ready for it.”

Todd Kellett
MXGP Wild-Card Rider
“I’m looking forward to racing this weekend. Obviously, motocross is completely different to the Sand Championship, it’s a different type of intensity, and these guys in MXGP train to be good at this day-in, day-out, but I’ve been given this incredible opportunity to race it on the factory YZ450FM, and that was too good to pass up. The team have been mega over the past week or so, and the bike is next level, so I look forward to getting out there and getting amongst it.”

Thibault Benistant
5th MX2 Championship Standings, 72-points
“First sand GP of the year. I’m feeling good and happy to be back in Riola and in the sand. My goal is always the same. I just want to find my flow and feel free on the bike, then everything will work out how it should. I haven’t had any special memories in Riola other than a podium, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s always nice and one of the hardest races on the calendar.”

Rick Elzinga
10th MX2 Championship Standings, 42-points
⁠”I feel like my physical condition has improved lately and I feel ready for the heavy sand in Riola. This weekend, I really want to perform like I do when I am training and to show what I am capable of. The track is physically and mentally challenging, so it will be a tough weekend, but I feel ready for it.”

Andrea Bonacorsi
11th MX2 Championship Standings, 41-points
” Sand is my strength, so I am ready for this weekend. Riola is a suffer-fest, so pure strength shines through and makes it easier to come through the field. I’ve won in Riola the past two seasons, so I have a lot of good memories, and it’s a track that suits me and that I feel comfortable on. The main goal this weekend is to embrace the suffer and progress to the top.”


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