Hot and sunny conditions played host to a grueling seventh round of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Kegums, Latvia, where Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek banked sixth overall. Following his impressive third-place finish in Race One, Romain Febvre crashed out of the race, and podium contention, in the final outing. He still finished eleventh-place in the Grand Prix overall and remains fourth in the 2018 MXGP Championship Standings.
Maximising the power of the YZ450FM, Febvre and Van Horebeek were lightening quick out of the gate in the opening race of the weekend. Febvre went bar-to-bar with the defending world champion Antonio Cairoli around turn-one, and edged him out by nothing more than a hair to take claim of the Fox Holeshot.
With exceptionally hot conditions, particularly for this time of year, the rough and choppy track was brutal. Riders were forced to make a decision about how hard to push, as a good level of hydration and energy was the key to finishing each race in a strong position. Febvre ran a fast and consistent pace for the entire 30-minute plus 2-Lap duration of the race to finish third after losing two positions – one to Cairoli, and another to the eventual race winner, and championship leader, Jeffrey Herlings.
As a rider that typically storms forward on the first few laps, Van Horebeek emerged from the first-turn in fourth before being uncharacteristically shuffled back to sixth place. The Belgian maintained the position to the flag.
An eventful second race left both Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing riders with a lot of work to do. Febvre got off to a decent start and was pushing for a top-five place before the rider in front of him slowed up too much and left him with nowhere to go but into his rear-wheel. The Frenchman made a quick re-mount but because he fell on the opening lap, he had already dropped outside of the top-20. A solid charge soon followed and in the space of two laps he was already knocking on the door of the rider in thirteenth place before a similar crash saw him go over the handlebars.
Van Horebeek’s first lap was slightly less hectic than that of his teammate, but still a challenge as he was buried outside of the top-ten. Ever the grafter, the 28-year-old knuckled down and kept chipping away at the riders in front of him, finding new and creative lines and ways to pass. His hard work paid off, and he was able to come home in seventh place, which was enough for sixth overall.
Febvre did not rejoin the race due to a suspected arm injury. An update on his condition will be posted when available.
Confronted with a rough and rugged sand surface this weekend, that is unlike any other Grand Prix on the calendar, Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s Jeremy Seewer faced another weekend of firsts. The Swiss rider was able to remain optimistic despite his desire to achieve better results. A minor issue with the bike in the opening race saw him cross the finish line in fourteenth, but more impressively he was able to respond in Race Two with another strong eighth place finish for tenth overall.
The next round of the FIM MXGP World Championship will take place next weekend, May 20th in Teutschenthal, Germany.
Jeremy Van Horebeek
6th MXGP Overall, 29-points
“I feel good actually, it has been a good weekend, and the best I have felt since my crash in Valkenswaard. The first race not too bad, but in Race 2 I felt better than I have in a long time. I was only seventh, but I came from the back of the field, so it’s not too bad. I made some good passes this weekend and my intensity was good. I feel like I took a big step in the right direction and if I can keep training on the bike during the week, I will be pushing top-5, top-3 every weekend. I am on my way back to the speed I know I can ride at!”
10th MXGP Overall, 20-points
“Another new track. I struggled a bit to find a set-up for this track yesterday, especially in the practice sessions, but I got it dialed pretty good for the qualifying race. The track today was different again. It was rough and gnarly, but I managed to have a pretty good feeling. Just a small issue in the first race with the bike, but I did my best to get some points, and I am happy with that. I made some good passes and followed some of the fastest guys for some laps. I am happy to leave here with a really positive feeling on the bike.”