Magic Top-5 Start to the 2018 EMX125 Series for MJC Yamaha’s Thibault Benistant
MJC Yamaha Official EMX125's Thibault Benistant has got his 2018 EMX125 Championship campaign off to a promising start with a top-five finish at the opening round in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands, last weekend, March 18th.
Situated next to the Eurocircuit road course, between Eindhoven and the Belgian boarder, the dark sand of Valkenswaard hosted the first of eight rounds inside the 2018 EMX125 Championship.
The MJC Yamaha Official EMX125 Team lined up two of their three riders. Having completed his first full season inside the EMX125 Championship, MJC Yamaha Official EMX125's Thibault Benistant will spearhead the challenge with high hopes for his second full-term in the highly competitive EMX125 class. Alongside him was the winner of the 2017 YZ125 bLU cRU Cup, Jörgen-Matthias Talviku, while Dutch talent Rick Elzinga was forced to watch on from the sidelines after breaking both arms three weeks prior.
Fortunately for Elzinga, there will be one more shot at racing in front of him home fans with the eighth and final round of the EMX125 series taking place on the weekend of September 16th at the Dutch TT Circuit in Assen, The Netherlands.
Renowned for its popularity and hugely animated crowds, which are bolstered by the influx of ever passionate two-stroke motorcycle fans, 16-year-old French talent Thibault Benistant proved he is a threat to the crown with a solid top-five finish.
80 riders entered the first round of the EMX125 Championship, which will run over eight rounds in seven different countries. The 80 riders were split into two groups, odd numbers and even numbers. Benistant, number '98' and Talviku, number '100' both have even numbers and were placed in Group 1. Benistant Qualified immediately in the first session, in eighth place, while Talviku narrowly missed out and was forced to race the LCQ - Last Chance Qualifier, but crashed in the first turn and lost all hopes of making the main event.
Having qualified eighth in his group, Benistant was dropped back to sixteenth place on the start grid after the lap-times between the two competing groups were combined. With a mediocre gate-pick and in sub-zero temperatures and snowfall, the gates fell for the first race of the weekend. The Frenchman crossed the first timing sector well outside of the top-20, but with Valkenswaard being an incredibly technical and challenging sand track, it didn't take long for him to mount an impressive charge through the field. Before the end of lap-two, the '98' was up into 13th place and pressing on the top-10, which he cracked with ease before diligently moving his way up into fifth-place.
For a rider that excels on hard-pack tracks, fifth place in Race 1 is a remarkable achievement, and with knowledge that a better start would have improved the result, the youngster lined up for Race 2 with confidence.
When the gates dropped for the second and final race of the weekend, Benistant was buried deep in the field once again. Similar to Race 1, as the other riders struggled to find their lines, the Frenchman took charge and slung-shot his GYTR kitted YZ125 up into eighth place before a small error dropped him back to eleventh. After re-grouping, he put in a heroic ride to salvage seventh place which was enough to wrap up the first round of the series in fifth overall.
The next round of the EMX125 series will take place on the clay of Trentino, Italy on the weekend of April 8th.