As the MXGP series returned to France for the first time since 2019 and to Lacapelle-Marival for the first time in history, thousands of boisterous French fans were treated to some epic racing as home soil hero Maxime Renaux raced his Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 YZ250FM to the third step of the podium. Also banking solid points at the 12th round of the FIM Motocross World Championship in France, teammates Jago Geerts and Thibault Benistant finished fifth and seventh, respectively.
With limited line choice around the tight and narrow circuit of Lacapelle-Marival, the lap times in Timed Practice were closer than ever. Putting that into perspective, Mattia Guadagnini went pole with a 1’46.019. His time was fractionally quicker than Renaux’s 1’46.168. Benistant made up the top five with a 1’46.403, while Geerts was feeling under the weather and ended the session in the 12th with his best time being a 1’46.844.
The first race of the French Grand Prix was full of bar-banging action. Geerts chased the defending world champion Tom Vialle around turn-one but fell from second position on Lap-4. From there, the 21-year-old Belgian made a lightning-fast remount and re-joined the race in fourth position, right in front of his teammate Benistant who was doing his best to defend fifth position.
On a track that is as tight and one-lined as Lacapelle-Marival, Renaux was awe-inspiring as he charged through a field of hard-charging MX2 riders to take fifth from Benistant with 10 minutes on the clock.
The French sensation then set his sights on Geerts, and after a thrilling bar-to-bar battle of wits, the red plate holder squeezed up the inside of the ‘93’ to take the position with 3-laps remaining.
At the flag, Renaux, Geerts and Benistant finished fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.
Like race one, Geerts and Benistant started inside the top-five in race two, while Renaux had to fight back from outside of the top-10. This time the battle forward was slightly easier for the championship leader, with Benistant making a mistake to lose fourth, and Wilson Todd crashed out of fifth.
After making some truly incredible passes on the slick and narrow circuit, Renaux found himself in the thick of a titanic battle for second with teammate Geerts and Mattia Guadagnini.
Determined to celebrate his home Grand Prix on the podium, the ‘959’ roared around the outside of Geerts for third and set the fastest lap of the race on his way past Guadagnini. At the flag, the Frenchman’s performance was mind-blowing. He finished in second position, only 2-seconds shy of the eventual race and round winner, Vialle.
Geerts was fourth and Benistant managed to finish seventh.
Renaux leaves France with a solid 91-point lead in the FIM MX2 Motocross World Championship over teammate Geerts. Benistant remains sixth in the championship standings.
The next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship will take place in Madrid, Spain, on Sunday, October 19th.
3rd MX2 Round of France, 40-points
MX2 Championship Leader, 488-points
“I think I tasted all of the rocks from Lacapelle. I had to fight so hard. I had two similar motos in the end. I started both races inside the top-12 and had to fight like never before because this track is not an easy track to pass. It’s very tricky and small in places, but anyway, I managed to find my way through. Honestly, I am super happy with myself today because I did all that I could. It’s bittersweet because I feel like I gave 100% and it’s my home GP and I really wanted to win, but I have to be happy with myself and how I was riding. I gave it my all.”
5th MX2 Round of France, 34-points
2nd MX2 Championship Standings, 397-points
“It was a good day for me. Last night I felt really bad and needed to throw up a couple of times. This morning i didn’t even know if I could ride. I was really unwell, so I’m really happy with 5-4 moto scores. Now I will rest this week and hopefully feel 100% again in Spain.”
7th MX2 Round of France, 29-points
6th MX2 Championship Standings, 336-points
“The weekend was not so bad. I struggled a little bit with my starts and my feeling on the bike was not the best today. The result was not too bad, but the riding itself could be improved. Sometimes we have days like these. It is what it is and I look forward to the next one.”