An electric fourth round of the FIM MXGP World Championship saw Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre put in an encouraging performance for 4th overall, while teammate Jeremy Van Horebeek bounced back from a frustrating opening race for 6th place in the final, and 8th overall.
With the hard and stony clay of Pietramurata demanding throttle control, and the short but steep hills demanding traction and horsepower, a good start couldn’t have come at a better time for the Romain Febvre. The former world champ chased the championship leader, Jeffrey Herlings, around turn-one in the opening race of the day and flaunted his exceptional hard-pack riding ability with a 3rd place finish.
Although he is renowned for his impeccable technique on slick and rocky surfaces, as well as his exceptional throttle control, a mediocre start made for a frustrating final race of the weekend. The Frenchman tipped the top-10 on the opening lap and latched onto Gautier Paulin for the entire 30-minute plus 2-lap duration of the race. The duo blitzed past a couple of riders on their way into the top-7 where they caught Van Horebeek to challenge for a top-5 place. The tight and compact nature of the track made passing very difficult, and despite his hunger to move forward in hopes of landing on the podium for the first time this season, all he could do was hope for a mistake from the riders in front of him – and that never came.
The weekend was a game of two halves for Jeremy Van Horebeek with two very different starts making for two very different results. In the opening race of the day, the Belgian ace was squeezed between two riders off the gate and had to battle hard with limited line selection on the rough and rutty, stone riddled clay of Pietramurata. It was not easy, but the 28-year-old was gritty in his pursuit from outside the top-20 up into 10th place.
After the exasperation of the first race, a better start in Race 2 meant he could maintain his place inside the top-5 for 17 of the 19 laps. One of the problems that can be encountered while racing on rocky surfaces is a stone getting stuck in the brake caliper. ‘Jerre’ experienced this first hand with 2-laps to go, which caused him to miss his line and Paulin to nip by. The rock had been shaken out within seconds and he managed to hold off his teammate, Febvre, for 6th place.
A 3-7 score card placed Romain Febvre in 4th overall for the Grand Prix, while a wearisome day put Jeremy Van Horebeek in 8th overall.
It was a similar day for the Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP Team. On a track that is difficult to pass Shaun Simpson started the first race in the exact same place he finished, 11th, while Jeremy Seewer got off to a fantastic start onboard his YZ450F and challenged the top-5 for the first half of the race before a few small errors cost him some positions. The Swiss talent finished 8th and reaffirmed his place inside the top-10 with another strong performance for 10th in Race 2, and 9th overall.
Unfortunately Shaun Simpson didn’t score points in the final race of the day after he fell hard on his shoulder. The tough Scot went to the medical center immediately after the race. An update will be shared on Yamaha-Racing’s social media channels when available.
The next round of the FIM MX2 World Championship will take place on the weekend of April 15th in Agueda, Portugal.
4th MXGP Overall, 4th MXGP Championship Standings, 135-points
“The weekend was pretty good. My speed is there, and so are my starts. The issue this weekend was the track. It was almost impossible to pass, so it was difficult. I think on a better track, things will be different.”
Jeremy Van Horebeek
8th MXGP Overall, 7th MXGP Championship Standings, 104-points
“This weekend didn’t go to plan. I still have some issues with my wrist, but my main problem was the starts. I had to come from 21st in the first race and I got to 10th which is not where I want to be. The second moto was better, I was 5th the whole race but got a stone in my back brake and on one turn I went straight which let Paulin pass me. That was a bummer but it is what it is. We will go testing and figure the starts out, then it’s on to the next one.”
9th MXGP Overall, 8th MXGP Championship Standings, 83-points
“I had a solid day. Of course I am not completely happy, but it’s another top-10 finish and I know my speed is there, I just need to put the whole package together. Two good starts and no mistakes, and just race with good rhythm. I am happy with how I am progressing. I struggled yesterday because a track like this is completely new for me on a new bike. So I am not really happy, but I know I can do better and it will get better, so I am looking forward to the next races.”