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Kiara Fontanesi at the 2018 Grand Prix of Italy and world champion again
NEWS

Fonta rules WMX for the sixth time

Oct 012018

Proving the adverb that ‘class is permanent’ Kiara Fontanesi has set another absolute record by claiming her sixth FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship (her fifth crown decided in the last race in the ‘WMX’ series) and had the reward of partying in front of her fans at Imola in Italy as the curtain swung down on the long MXGP season.

‘Fonta’ dealt with a nervy scenario. Not only did WMX quicken the pulses of the protagonists for yet another tense finale but the defending number one also had the expectation and spotlight of her home race to deal with. Imola was a special stage: a temporary hard-pack and bump-laden track constructed over the famous motorsport asphalt.

Around the big jumps the 23 year old defeated Nancy Van Der Ven ‘at the death’ for the second year in a row. She finished a calm (but frustrated) second to the Dutch woman on Saturday and then rode brilliantly with a pressurised error-free performance on Sunday ahead of her stalking brandmate to again land the big prize.

“At the beginning of the year I said I wanted to enjoy winning races and that's what I aimed for today. I was really p****ed off yesterday because I rode a different bike compared to Assen two weeks ago and I was struggling. We had a bad set-up and there was a lot of water on the track: it was easy to make a mistake. Everybody was happy around me because we managed the race well but I wasn't happy because I was riding 50% and just saving the result – the opposite of what I wanted to do.”

Fontanesi brought a unique strand of experience to the very last WMX race of the season. One where just five points split her and Van Der Ven. Her ability to deliver when it really counted was again the decisive factor.

“Today I wanted to wake up in a different mood: I wanted the win,” she continues. “I kept the thought in my mind: this is a training session. It is almost unbelievable to say but I never thought of the championship during the race – not once – I was totally focussed on enjoying myself and the bike and finding the good lines. I was only thinking about what the pitboard was telling me, which was the lap-time. That's it. I did not want to lose the championship but I also did not want to lose the race. I was being smart not to let Nancy jump into me or make a block pass. The first time I was aware of the race time was when I saw the ‘2 lap’ board and I thought ‘she’s not going to pass me now’. This win means more than a title.”

 

Kiara now has the ‘half dozen’. Already the most successful female motocrosser in the history of the sport, she might know how to pocket a championship but the post-race furore is process that never wears thin.

 

“I still need to realise I’ve done it,” he smiles. “I’m tired and the pressure has gone: it will probably be different tomorrow! Every year you need to find the motivation and that one goal that makes you say ‘I want it’. 2017 it was a ‘comeback’ and this year I was struggling with physical problems and we didn't know if I could even race. I knew I had to be ready at the right time.”

 

Heralding from Parma, Fontanesi had a longing to make Imola a date to remember.

 

“I was motivated for the three Italian rounds this season but especially for this round in Imola,” #8 admits. “I have been waiting the whole year for this. I wanted to win here and sing the national anthem from the podium with all the crowd, fans and family. When we got here Friday and I knew it could be the first time for me to win a title at ‘home’ it already felt amazing. That feeling was my motivation this year. For the rest…6 is just a number. If I had to think further then it would be nice to retire when I have eight, but now I need to get some rest – it has been a tough year mentally and physically - and think a bit more about my future.”

Elsewhere and the last round of MXGP provided a parting shot to 2018 from KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings who finalised his squeeze on the series with a seventeenth win from twenty. On a weekend where Monster Energy and MXGP inked a five-year extension to their partnership, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Clement Desalle secured third place in the championship standings by 16 points over Tim Gajser. “I had a good season but for sure I would have like to have had more of the winning feeling,” Clement said as the sole non-KTM victor in 2018. “We’ve been consistent and had some strong podiums. I’m really happy to finish the season healthy because there have been a couple of years where I did not make the final GP. Finishing third in the championship is great for me and the team. We work to be the best possible each GP. It is not easy. We have a long season now with twenty GPs but I have still found areas where I can improve and that keeps me motivated.”

 

Props to Kemea Yamaha’s Ben Watson in MX2 for sealing 4th place in the world and emerging as one of the most improved athletes of the year after rising up from 15th in 2017.

 

MXGP has fully wrapped for 2018 but the encore comes in spectacular fashion in just seven days with the 72nd Monster Energy Motocross of Nations visiting American shores for the first time since 2010. The exceptional RedBud facility in Michigan will welcome a bumper and international crowd to the annual ‘World Cup’ of motocross and where the host country will be thirsty for winner’s champagne after a dry stretch reaching as far back as 2011. Will defending champions France be able to rule for the fifth year in a row?

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