Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP’s Arnaud Tonus maintained his podium form at the seventh round of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Saint Jean d’Angely, France, as the French Grand Prix runner-up. Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Romain Febvre celebrated his home Grand Prix from the third step of the podium.
The French Grand Prix got off to a sensational start for Tonus as he chased the championship leader, Antonio Cairoli, around turn-one, while Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s duo of Febvre and Jeremy Seewer made up the top five.
Tonus made a quick pass on Cairoli on lap one and led until the poleman, Tim Gajser, took over the lead on lap-two. Cairoli followed Gajser through but could not match his pace. The number ‘4’ of Tonus kept Cairoli honest and put in a thrilling charge all the way to the finish, as Seewer demoted his teammate, Febvre, to fifth.
Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP’s Gautier Paulin did his best to circulate the hilly clay venue after a rock severed his front brake on the opening lap. As a result, the 29-year-old made a series of unavoidable errors and despite the immence frustration, he refused to give up. At this point in the championship, every point counts and the French ace managed to salvage 5-points with his 16th place finish.
In the final race of the weekend, thousands upon thousands of French fans erupted with emotion as their hero Febvre took the holeshot and led fellow Yamaha stars Tonus and Paulin around turn-one. Paulin made a small mistake and lost two positions to Gajser and Desalle, but still held onto a place inside the top-five.
Urged on by the crowd, Febvre took the lead with both hands and managed to air a small gap on Tonus who had come under pressure from Gajser. Gajser threw an elbow at Tonus as he barged past on Lap-8 before doing the same to Febvre on Lap-10.
With 10-minutes on the clock, the atmosphere electrified as Tonus started to apply pressure to Febvre. The duo engaged in a thrilling battle all the way until the flag, but it was Febvre who held onto the runner-up spot.
While Febvre secured a place on the podium for the first time since the MXGP of Switzerland in August last year, Paulin managed to hold off the wrath of Julien Lieber for fifth.
Seewer made an impressive recovery after an unlucky start where the rider next to him hit the start-gate which caused his gate to bounce. The YZ450FM mounted Swiss rider put in an astonishing ride from the back of the pack to eighth.
Tonus’ second consecutive podium finish has launched him up the Championship Classification sheet. He is now seventh, 22-points behind his Swiss compatriot Seewer. Seewer’s second consecutive top-five finish means he is only 6-points shy of the top-five.
Paulin remains third in the championship chase, while Febvre has moved up to 16th.
Yamaha has concluded the MXGP of France with two YZ450F machines on the podium. The double podium delight is the first for Yamaha since the MXGP of Thailand, in March 2016.
The next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship will take place in Orlyonok, Russia, on June 9th.
3rd MXGP Overall, 16th MXGP Championship Standings
“It’s been a long road back to the podium. I still don’t feel 100% because I still have some pain in my ankle and have not had a lot of time on the bike. My speed is not so bad, I am quite surprised, but the racing itself is very tough, especially because I was sick all week with a fever and could not train. A holeshot in the second race made race much easier, so I just tried to enjoy my time on the track because I was missing some fitness, and I put in a good performance to end up on the podium.”
5th MXGP Overall, 6th MXGP Championship Standings
“Another positive weekend. I am feeling better and better on the bike. I had a good first race and finished fourth and then in Race 2, Cairoli hit the gate big time and then when the gate fell it bounced back and I got kicked. I still managed to get back to eighth which was good, and I was fifth overall which is always my goal, but still a bummer as my speed could have had me placed better this weekend. I will keep working hard and I look forward to Russia.”
10th MXGP Overall, 3rd MXGP Championship Standings
“I had a good start in the first race, and I am not sure if I was hit or a rock hit my bike, but I lost the front brake and at a track like Saint Jean d’Angely it is tough to ride without it. It was almost impossible to take the ruts, so I crashed a couple of times while trying to find a way to ride the bike like this. It was hard but I did not want to stop because at this stage the points are really precious, so I salvaged what I could. In the final race I was fifth which is not where I want to be either. I was not really happy with my riding this weekend or the result at my home GP, so I will just move to the next one.”
2nd MXGP Overall, 7th MXGP Championship Standings