A fast paced and intense MXGP of Portugal – round twelve of the FIM Motocross World Championship – saw Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre storm to fourth overall, while his teammate Jeremy Van Horebeek withdrew after catching a face full of ‘stone-spray’ – otherwise known as ‘roost’ – which cut his eye-brow and aggravated his injured finger. Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s Arnaud Tonus found some good lines out on the testing red clay and put in two solid rides for seventh overall.
The Portuguese Grand Prix greeted the riders with a beautifully prepared, red clay track that hadn’t been manipulated, ripped and made deeper by machines. It was left in a more traditional state, which made for grade-A racing with the world’s most elite motocross riders going bar-to-bar and wheel-to-wheel for valuable MXGP championship points.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre was fired up heading into this weekend. He was incredible in the Qualifying Race as he charged his way to third place, despite battling arm-pump. With the third pick of the gate in the main events today, Febvre had the pulsating Portuguese public on their feet when he got off to a decent start. A solid charge in the opening laps offered a glimpse of his potential before he was forced to slow down, breathe, and recompose with his right arm pumping up once more. After a few laps at a slower pace, the feisty Frenchman was back on the pace and with five minutes left on the clock, he put an impressive pass on Clement Desalle, for fifth place, by cutting to the inside line on a high speed sweeping 180 degree turn and blocking the Belgians line. After that, it was goodnight nurse, and 16-points for fifth was what he was awarded for his efforts.
In the final race of the day, Febvre was fourth place at the checkers after an incredible ride where he threw some elbows and took no prisoners on his charge forward from outside of the top-ten. On the note of banging bars – which is to be expected from elite riders in such a highly contested class – Jeremy Van Horebeek was at a disadvantage this weekend with his broken finger giving him grief. The courageous Belgian did his best to race both races today, despite struggling to use the front brake due to the injury. A cut eyebrow after being hit in the face by a rock in Race 1 was an insult to the hearty Belgian who was already ducking and diving roost in order to protect his hand. He still managed to make it home in fifteenth, but left him questioning his fitness for the final race.
After some thought and consideration, Van Horebeek decided he was not a quitter and still lined up for the final race of the day. He gritted his teeth while been showered in rocks, which eventually became too much and he shifted his focus to the recovery of his finger, and the next round of MXGP which will take place in Loket, Czech Republic, at the very same track that he took his maiden MXGP round win in 2014.
As a rider who is normally fast from the get go, Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s Arnaud Tonus took a slightly different approach to the MXGP of Portugal this weekend. Instead, he eased his way into the flow of things and it wasn’t until the second race that he revealed his cards. After a solid ninth place finish in Race 1, the Swiss rider came out all guns blazing in Race 2 where he soared from outside of the top fifteen to fifth within the first three laps. Unfortunately, riding at that intensity requires an immense level of fitness and concentration, which he admitted was quite difficult to maintain. He eventually faded back to seventh, which was enough for seventh overall.
The FIM Motocross World Championship takes a three-week break before the next round, round thirteen, which will take place on the weekend of July 23rd at the classic hilly clay circuit of Loket, Czech Republic.
4th GP Overall, 6th MXGP Championship Standings
“The racing was good, but in both moto’s I didn’t have a good start. In the first race, my start was not so bad but I got arm pump in my right arm, so I had to slow down a little bit and catch my breath in order to relax the arm. It was okay, but I didn’t ride like I know I can. In the second race, I missed my start completely, I was outside of the top fifteen. I rode good, but I used all of my energy to get back to fourth, so overall, I just need a better start.”
Jeremy Van Horebeek
18th GP Overall, 9th MXGP Championship Standings
“It was a difficult weekend, but I was prepared for that coming in, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. After racing yesterday, I woke up with a lot more pain today, and the track was more difficult too. The first 10 minutes in both races I felt pretty good, but I took a big rock to the face in the first moto and it popped open my lens and cut my eye, and then I got a stone on my finger too. It’s not the way you want to start a race, but now we have three weeks before Loket, so I should have enough time to be strong for that race.”
7th GP Overall, 10th MXGP Championship Standings
“It wasn’t easy with my gate pick. I didn’t get great starts in both races. It took me a while to come through the pack in the first race, but at the end I felt pretty good. In the second moto, I was really good in the first laps and found myself inside the top ten really quick. While that was really good, I put myself in a bad position because I couldn’t maintain that intensity and I dropped back a bit because I was tired. Overall it was quite positive, I just realize I have some work to do to be able to keep that intensity for the whole race. Like I said, it’s still been a positive weekend.”