News Report 29 April 2012

2012 GP of Italy

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04 / 29 / 2012
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Superb maiden podium for Leib


The Grand Prix of Italy at the Fermo circuit close to the Adriatic Sea was the scene of round three in the FIM Motocross World Championship and a second weekend of action in succession for the MX2-GP division of the Monster Energy Yamaha team. It was also the stage on which Michael Leib was able to shine in the second of two outings as a replacement rider on the factory-backed YZ250F. He not only finished as runner-up for a personal best GP result but also secured Yamaha’s first trophy in the category this season.

17,000 fans enjoyed sunny weather conditions with occasional light clouding and the Italian hard-pack track was a typical mixture of a challenging hilly layout, rutty corners and big jumps. Leib was in fiery form in the first moto when he recovered from a mid-pack start to rise all the way through the field to third position. The American sprained his knee in the exertion but still set-up the first part of a podium display.

In the second moto Leib nailed the start and proceeded to build up a lead of almost twelve seconds over his pursuers. In the final laps he was unable to contain the pace of Jeffrey Herlings and Tommy Searle – and is not quite physically ready for 35 minute and 2 lap motos having left the short sprints of AMA Supercross – but another third place was good enough to crown an excellent day.
Christophe Charlier made his debut as a factory rider and with the YZ250FM after recovering from his broken right foot. Charlier used an aluminium plate for protection and also buckled up a larger-sized boot. The weekend began well enough with lap-times in practice that placed the Corsican in the top five. The former European champion made a few mistakes in the two motos and was hit off the prototype machine on the first lap of the second race but his speed and confidence was clear to see. Charlier scored eighth and ninth for sixth overall.

Mel Pocock notched sixteenth in the MX2 ranking for his third Grand Prix appearance for the team in what is due to be a season of European and British Championship racing priorities. The 20 year old DNF-ed the first moto after a blameless crash left his bike in tatters. A mature approach to the second race and refusal to be beaten by the deteriorating track let the Briton take a decent eleventh.

Monster Energy Yamaha now face two trips outside of Europe in the coming weeks. Rounds four and five will take place in Mexico and Brazil starting with the trip to Guadalajara on May 13th. Charlier is the only confirmed representative for the crew at this stage with injured riders Zach Osborne and Arnaud Tonus continuing their recovery and rehabilitation schedules.

Michael Leib:

“I got the opportunity to come over here for two weeks and ride a good bike and the goal was to do exactly what I accomplished today. It is not everyday you can achieve a highly set aim like that, especially one other people think you cannot reach. I proved myself and it was a very emotional feeling. I’ve had pretty good success in supercross and I was starting to build myself up. Today was a day where I wanted things to come together and they did. The first moto was one of the best I’ve had in a professional race and I have to thank Steve Dixon for giving me the chance and the equipment.”

Christophe Charlier:

“I feel happy. This was my first GP of the season but we worked hard over the winter so it was easy to find the right setting and the feeling came quickly here. It was good to be back in the GPs. I took it a bit easy because I didn’t want to do any more damage to my body but I made mistakes and I think without these I would be able to go for the top five and then with good starts also the top three. I have two weeks now before the next race so I will do some light training and will look forward to Mexico.”

Mel Pocock:

“On Saturday morning I did not gel with the track at all and I was hating life but I got out of the gate in the heat and had a solid ride to twelfth, so I was happy with that. I had a blinding start in sixth for the first race and as we went over the finish line jump and down the hill Lieber cleaned-out about five of us. It put me down, bent the bars and damaged the bike. I couldn’t carry on and I was bummed-out. It is the first race I’ve pulled out of in years. I had an amazing start again in the next race and was drag-racing with Michael down the straight. I was right up there but coming into a rutty downhill section I got cross-rutted, caught my foot and it dragged me off the bike. The crash went on for ages. I rode a strong race after that and passed a few riders to get to eleventh. My three GPs are over now and I’ve done my job. We’ve had three different tracks and the last two are not really good for my style so I think I’ve done pretty well and it’s prepared me for the European races and brought some more speed to my British Championship effort, hopefully.”