In front of an extremely energetic Spanish crowd at the Red Sand MX track, located in the region of Valencia, Spain, round three of the MXGP World Championship saw Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre come tantalizingly close to his first podium finish as he tied on points with the third place receiver, while his teammate Jeremy Van Horebeek nursed an injured wrist home for ninth overall.
There was an intense vibe at the start of Race 1 with the highly animated Spanish crowd showing an unworldly amount of support for Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre as he led forty of the worlds fastest motocross riders around turn-one. His first holeshot of the season couldn’t have come at a better time, and he managed to set the fastest lap of the race – on lap four – while attempting to stave off a challenge from the reigning World Champion, Antonio Cairoli, who later succeeded and knocked him back to second place.
Febvre remained calm and in control as he made an effort to keep Cairoli in his sights, but that task alone proved difficult as the track crew had put a lot of water down on the sticky red coloured sand. Wet sand spray made keeping clear vision toilsome, and a decision to pull a tear-off at the wrong time allowed the current series leader, Jeffrey Herlings, to take bragging rights for the fastest lap, as well as the second position. Nevertheless, the former world champ – Febvre – was content with a third place finish in the first race of the day.
In Race 2, the 26-year-old maintained the high levels of enthusiasm that were coming from the Yamaha pit-box with yet another solid start. Fifth place at the end of lap-one, the Frenchman was caught in a grippingly close battle with Clement Desalle and Tim Gajser. The trio threw some elbows at each other before all three fell foul to the wrath of Herlings. Herlings pulled a gap and the battle for third soon became a battle for fourth with Febvre eventually being forced to settle for fifth, which had him finish on the same points as Clement Desalle, who stood on the third step of the podium.
Fellow Monster Energy Yamaha Racing Team rider Jeremy Van Horebeek put in a hearty performance this weekend as he bravely nursed a swollen scaphoid through both races. Following his big crash 1-week prior, the determined Belgian came into this weekend with the goal of two top-10 finishes and managed to achieve that with a tenth in Race 1 and a eighth in Race 2.
Meanwhile, Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s rookie Jeremy Seewer was impressive as he mixed it up with some of the fastest and most experienced 450cc riders in the world on his way to sixth place in Race 1, while his teammate Shaun Simpson was left frustrated with an issue that cost him points paying finish.
In Race 2, both Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP riders were unlucky on the opening lap. Simpson went down in the first corner, while Seewer had a minor issue on the start and spectacularly collided with another ride on a big jump. Regardless of their misfortunes, the strong-hearted Scot and the Swiss sensation were gritty in their approach to the race and fought hard to round out the top-15.
Seewer finished 1-point shy of tenth overall, while Simpson’s eighteenth overall has him already looking forward to the next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship, which will take place on the weekend of April 8th in the Trentino district of Italy.
4th MXGP Overall, 4th MXGP Championship Standings
“Overall, I had a good weekend. I was only just off the podium, which is good. I know my speed is good, my starts were also good. I just need to be a little bit better.”
9th MXGP Overall, 7th MXGP Championship Standings
“I did the most I could do this weekend. I suffered all week from a lot of pain, and all through the weekend as well. I would say this was some of the worst pain I have ever raced with, because it was coming from my wrist and my neck as well. When it comes from two places, it is really difficult. I gave my all, and I am taking home some important points, so that is a good point.”
11th MXGP Overall, 9th MXGP Championship Standings
“Although it ended up on a negative, overall I am happy with most of the weekend. I am happy with my speed, and the steps I am making in the MXGP class. I got an awesome start in the first race and just focused on my laps, and I finished sixth which is very good because I was so close to the top guys. I still need to improve in some spots, but otherwise it’s very good. I had big crash in the second race over one of the jumps, because when you are in a group of riders near the back you never know if the guys will jump the jumps or not. I decided to jump and then I collided with another rider, and it cost me the whole race. I lost my front-brake, but I fought hard and managed to finish fifteenth. I am still very positive, it is a shame we lost some important points, but this year is a learning year and I am happy with the progress I am making.”
18th MXGP Overall, 13th MXGP Championship Standings
“Frustrating weekend. I felt like my speed was there yesterday and I was feeling positive coming into today. I felt like the start position didn’t really matter, so I tried to cut inside on the start but it didn’t work and I got totally boxed in and had a small technical issue in the race and I couldn’t continue. In the second race, I ended up on my ear after I mis-timed the start. I got back up and cracked on, but I just wasn’t there. I didn’t feel like myself. I felt heavy on the bike, and didn’t feel like I was on it at all. But, 2-weeks now until Trentino. We have some ground work to do, and from here the only way is up.”