The MXGP season is moving at an unrelenting pace, and good results are becoming more and more important. A good finish in today's conditions - with Mother Nature throwing a spanner in the works when she hammered the rolling hills of Orlyonok with rain - was going to be a challenge. The track was in complete contrast to the fast-paced, dry and flowing clay circuit of yesterday, in fact it had deteriorated so much that there was a massive 35-seconds difference in the lap-times. The fastest lap in the Qualifying Race yesterday was a 1:40.127 set by Antonio Cairoli, while the fastest lap in Race 2 today was a 2:13.616 set by Romain Febvre.
Romain Febvre was a beast onboard his YZ450FM during the first few laps of the opening race - he was the second fastest rider in the race less than 0.200 slower than Cairoli. The feisty Frenchman carved his was from fifteenth place up into fourth before losing the front end on a slippery corner. His goggles were filled with water, and his brake lever, clutch lever and grips were caked in mud to the point he pulled into pit-lane to have everything cleared. The stop dropped him back to fifteenth place and cost him more than 1-minute, but his determination saw him claw his way back up to tenth.
Renowned for his mud skills with one of his most memorable grand prix wins being at the 2015 MXGP of Italy in the mud of Maggiora, Febvre took the holeshot and pulled a lead to the tune of 10-seconds. He was the fastest rider on track, a whopping 2.2 seconds faster than the eventual race and GP winner, Clement Desalle.
With two-laps to go, the French ace connected with the Race 1 winner Jeffrey Herlings, who was 1-Lap down. It was a frustrating and unlucky end to the day for the twenty-five-year-old who needed that psychological boost. Fortunately, he was still able to finish second place which was good enough for sixth overall.
Equally as frustrated with the overall result, Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP's Arnaud Tonus can still head back home to Switzerland with some positives. Yesterday, he was one of the only riders capable of remaining error-free on the hard and slick sunbaked clay of Orlyonok. The Swiss sensation was running a sizzling hot pace as he took his YZ450F to pole in the MXGP class for the first time in his career.
A completely different track today after being battered by rain required an entirely different skill-set. Nevertheless, he was fast enough to finish inside the Top 5 but set fire to his chances when he lost traction upon entry into the waves - early on in the race - and spun out. He recovered for ninth. In the final race of the day, he got off to a good start and put in some solid laps to finish fourth and seventh overall.
The Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP team will be out in full-force at the next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship with Shaun Simpson expected to make his return. On the flipside, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing's Jeremy Van Horebeek won't be on the gate at that round, which will take place in Ottobiano, Italy on the weekend of June 25th. The Belgian dislocated and broke the index finger of his right hand at the start of the Qualifying Race yesterday. More on his injury and expected return will be announced when available.
6th GP Overall, 7th MXGP Championship Standings
"I feel good today, I got to fourth but I crashed and my goggles and gloves were filled with water so I had to stop. I came into pit-lane and with my crash I lost 1 minute and 30 seconds, but I came back to tenth. In the second moto I took the holeshot and led the whole race until 2-Laps to go and Jeffrey (Herlings) was in my way, he was ignoring the blue flag and on my line, and at one moment I slid and hit him and crashed, so I am disappointed, but I feel good on the bike."
7th GP Overall, 10th MXGP Championship Standings
"I felt good on this track right away and I won the Qualifying Race. I felt at home on this track and I was able to show my speed and prove that the speed is there. Today, the track was completely different, but even so, I felt great. I just crashed in the first race and came back to ninth. In the second race I stalled the bike at one point and got back to fourth. I feel good, and I hope to carry this speed through to the next grand prix."