Positive Display of Potential at EMX250 Season Opener
The entire SDM Corse Yamaha EMX250 squad showed great potential at the first round of the 2019 EMX250 Championship at the spectacular venue of Matterley Basin in England.
Gianluca Facchetti set the initial pace as the best placed qualifier in sixth ahead of teammates Ruben Fernandez in seventh, Caleb Grothues in ninth and Rick Elzinga in eleventh.
Proving to be a title threat, Fernandez got off to a fantastic start in the first race of the season as he entered turn-one inside the top-five. The talented Spaniard wasted no time forcing his way into the lead before the end of Lap 1 and looked smooth at the front of the field before the eventual race winner Alberto Forato passed him.
Mental strength plays a vital role in the overall result of a championship. Fernandez used his 'race smarts' to settle for second-place. Meanwhile, teammate Grothues had to fight tooth and nail for a place inside the top-ten. The Australian spent the 25-minute duration of the race in a gripping battle with a quick group of EMX250 title challengers, and managed to achieve his top-ten goal. He was tenth.
After spending the majority of the off-season recovering from a knee injury, Facchetti struggled for fitness and strength to fight forward after wheel-spin on the start gate made his race difficult. The 19-year-old made some small mistakes on his charge forward and finally finished 28th.
The rookies, Elzinga and MJC Yamaha's Thibault Benistant are in an adjustment period as they step up from the EMX125 ranks to the bigger and faster paced class, EMX250. Elzinga's odds of a top-ten finish were hampered by a crash on the opening lap that caused damage to his bike, while Benistant was impressive as he stormed his was from the back of the pack and up into 17th place.
In the final race of the weekend, Fernandez hopes of standing on the podium dwindled when he ended up at the bottom of a pile-up on Lap 1. Despite the adversity he faced, the 20 year-old put in a gritty ride from last place all the way up to 14th after he passed his teammate Grothues on the final lap.
After a mediocre start Grothues got caught in a mid-pack rut and could not break into the top ten, while teammate Facchetti started strong and challenged the top-ten for 6 laps before making a costly mistake. Grothues finished 15th while Facchetti was unable to finish the race.
EMX250 newcomers Elzinga and Benistant had a dramatic first lap which made their charge for points extremely difficult. Both riders remounted their GYTR kitted YZ250F's after their falls but could not recover the time that was lost. Elzinga finished 23rd and Benistant was 25th at the flag.
In face of the challenges endured, Fernandez was sixth overall, narrowly missing the top-five by 1-point. The number '70' is still placed well with seven rounds of the EMX250 Championship remaining. Grothues was 12th, while Benistant rounded out the top-20. Elzinga and Facchetti are 27th and 37th respectively. All five riders hope to improve their results at the next round of the series, which will take place in Pietramurata, Italy on the weekend of April 8th.