The Swiss Grand Prix has received an incredibly warm welcome back to the calendar since its return last year. Thousands of fans fudged together on the grand stands that surround the unique man-mad track where they witnessed their own Swiss hero Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP’s Arnaud Tonus take the all-new 2018 YZ450F to his – and its – first ever premier class race-win. Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre was tantalisingly close to a podium finish and was forced to settle for fourth overall, while teammate Jeremy Van Horebeek bounced back from a rough start to the weekend to finish seventh overall.
Never has ‘Revs Your Heart’ been a more fitting phrase than after the first race at the Grand Prix of Switzerland – round fifteen of the FIM Motocross World Championship – when Arnaud Tonus out-dragged all of the ‘works‘ 450’s on the all-new 2018 YZ450F, for a near holeshot. The crowd went wild – making more noise than the forty 450cc four-strokes that were out on-track – as their Swiss star railed around Max Anstie to take the lead at turn-two.
With the fans on their feet, Tonus pulled a slight gap before coming under pressure from last year’s MX2 Grand Prix of Switzerland winner, Anstie, in the latter part of the race. But despite a hefty challenge from the young Brit, Tonus remained strong and managed to lead every lap for his first ever race win in the premier class.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre showed up to Frauenfeld-Gachnang with nothing less than podium finish on his mind. The Frenchman got off to a good start with his third place in the Qualifying Race yesterday, and he solidified his means by setting the fastest lap time in the morning session today. He got off to a top five start in Race 1, and wasted no-time in passing the championship leader Antonio Cairoli for fourth. It wasn’t long before he started reeling in his fellow countryman Gautier Paulin to challenge for third. The pre-empted battle didn’t amount to much as Paulin stalled the engine of his Husqvarna with ten-minutes to go, with Febvre doing exactly the same thing a few laps later. Unfortunately for Febvre, the mistake cost him two positions. He finished in fifth place.
Earlier this week, Team France announced their line-up for the most prestigious event of the year – the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations, which will be taking place at Matterley Basin, in Great Britain on the weekend of October 1st. As the defending champions – who have had a firm grip on the Chamberlain Cup for the last three-years – it is a huge honor to be selected to defend the nations crown. This year’s ‘Team France’ will be Romain Febvre, Gautier Paulin and fellow Yamaha rider Dylan Ferrandis – a solid selection with Febvre and Paulin proving their pedigree in the final race today as they rode wheel-to-wheel and battled for second place. The fight went down to the wire with Paulin edging out his counterpart ever so slightly.
Fellow YZ450FM rider Jeremy Van Horebeek had a less than perfect start to the weekend after he tangled with another rider and was taken to the ground at turn one in the Qualifying Race yesterday. Despite being walloped in the Femur by his handle-bar, which left him with a bruise, the gritty Belgian remounted and managed to salvage sixteenth place.
A savage pick at the gate doesn’t offer a lot of confidence heading into a race, but fortunately Van Horebeek has a good mind-set and his sole goal was to make the best of a less than ideal situation. The twenty-seven-year old has one of the best rut railing techniques in the business, although he admitted that he didn’t feel overly comfortable this weekend. Nevertheless, he soldiered on, and turned his sixteenth place on the starting grid into a ninth and a sixth for seventh overall.
Febvre came up a miniscule 2-points short of the podium, while the remains of red smoke bombs wafting through the air are still signs of the undying love and support from the Swiss fans who were absolutely gutted to see their hero Arnaud Tonus, the Race 1 winner, crash a few laps into the final race where he was taken to the medical unit with a suspected broken collar-bone.
More information on Arnaud Tonus will be released when available. The next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship will take place next weekend, August 19th and 20th, at Uddevalla, Sweden.
4th MXGP Overall, 6th MXGP Championship Standings
“The weekend was good, but not perfect. The most positive thing is we have found a good setting for the start and I can get out of the gate really quick. I had good starts today but in the first race I stalled the bike into one corner and I lost too much time and two places. I was really disappointed but in the second moto, I was third all of the race battling for second. It was quite difficult to find some good places to pass. I only just missed the podium which is hard to accept but I feel good on the bike and I hope that the next GP will be better again.”
Jeremy Van Horebeek
7th MXGP Overall, 8th MXGP Championship Standings
“It was a tough weekend, but I felt really bad all Saturday, I could not find the right setting with my bike. It was tough the first moto, I had a bad start and finish eighth, which is not where I want to be. In the last moto, I felt like it was really positive that we are moving in the right direction. I finished sixth in Race 2, which is not super good but I feel good about the way I rode and the start and everything. It was good, so I think it’s good to end the weekend on a positive note. Eighth and sixth is not what want, but I am feeling good on the bike so I am confident for the next race.”