With temperatures hovering around 30 degrees Celsius, the world's quickest Amateur 250cc riders under the age of 23-years went bar-to-bar on the fast-paced, sun baked clay of Orlyonok. The firm and dry surface meant traction was scarce, and throttle control and line choice was of the essence. For technically gifted riders such as Thibault Benistant, the surface was easy to navigate. The 17-year-old got his GYTR kitted YZ250F off to an incredible start in the opening race of the weekend and challenged the top-three for all but three laps, after former MX2 rider Stephen Rubini made a pass in the final throws.
Benistant kept his cool and rode smart for fourth position, while fellow rookie, Elzinga managed to salvage eighth after a rock damaged his water hose, which caused a slight loss in power. After getting off to a top-three start, the 17-year-old Dutchman was disappointed to have finished outside of the top-five but was happy with his speed on around the rock-hard hillside venue. The Orlyonok circuit is a spectacular track, although it is built in what appears to be a rock quarry.
The track is very stony, which means luck is generally a factor with the stones increasing the chance of damage to the bikes. As a result, SDM Corse Yamaha EMX250's Caleb Grothues suffered a very minor tyre issue and had to back off the pace to learn how the bike handled in that situation. He still finished strong in ninth, hot on the heels on his teammate Elzinga. The second and final race of the weekend took place on Sunday morning with Elzinga pulling off another brilliant start, with teammate Gianluca Facchetti being the next best placed Official Yamaha rider, in around tenth position. As one of the lesser experienced riders in the cut-throat EMX250 class, Elzinga lost a couple of positions to the class veterans but did exceedingly well to keep sixth position all the way to the flag.
With the start playing a vital role in motocross racing, Benistant's performance from the back of the pack, after crashing at turn one, up into the top-ten was mind-blowing. The Frenchman latched onto the back of Grothues, who had charged from outside of the top-15 and up into ninth, which is where is eventually finished in the final race. Benistant has moved up to seventh position in the overall classification and is only 8-points off of a place inside the top-five. Elzinga and Grothues have also climbed the leader board and are now 13th and 14th respectively.
The next round of the EMX250 Championship will take place in five days' time, at the sand-circuit of Kegums, Latvia on the weekend of June 16th.