Julien Lieber
News Report 28 February 2015
Qatar

2015 Grand Prix of Qatar

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Qatar
1700 m
02 / 28 / 2015
Time to be confirmed

Fantastic first career podium for Lieber

Race

The Grand Prix of Qatar opened the 2015 FIM Motocross World Championship and was the opening foray in the MX2 category for the Standing Construct Yamaha Yamalube and Kemea Yamaha teams with their fresh YZ250F technology. Across the hard, rough and fast Losail soil the standout performer in the first round of eighteen and the first two motos of thirty-six this season was Julien Lieber who scored a brilliant second position overall. It was not only the Belgian’s first podium result for the team he joined late last summer but also the first rostrum for the 20 year old in his career.

Losail kicked off ‘MXGP’ for the third time since 2013 and the sensational nocturnal meeting housed the same wide, flowing and inviting layout as in previous years. The course mixed fast turns, rollers and long jumps with tighter sections and some off-camber challenges; the high speed meant similar lap-times and some close-running groups.

Lieber was embarking on his first Grand Prix appearance in ‘blue’ and took advantage of two starts that slotted him into top five positions and an ideal platform to push towards the overall podium. Consistent speed coupled with the strength of the YZ250F from the gate were the building blocks to his success; something that even the rider admitted was a surprise after he struggled through practice and barely broke into the top ten. Third place in the first moto was already a personal best in MX2 but he took profit of a crash by Dylan Ferrandis in the second moto to follow leader and winner Jeffrey Herlings to go one better and claim the runner-up slot; posting a 3-2 scorecard.

Lieber’s achievement was a memorable opening chapter for Standing Construct with Yamaha and represented the manufacturer’s first appearance on the MX2 ‘box’ since the Grand Prix of Belgium last August. Team-mate Valentin Guillod suffered a technical problem on Saturday that meant he entered the gate in twentieth place. The Swiss was battling against the handicap in the starts and registered a result of eighth overall. He was eighth in the first race and improved to sixth in the second moto.

Kemea Yamaha were encouraged by the speed and potential of Damon Graulus as the Belgian rode well to take ninth position in the Qualification Heat on Friday. The youngster was luckless in the motos however. He crashed on the fourth corner of the first race and had to retire and then suffered a light concussion through a nasty-looking fall in the second outing. Benoit Paturel took a best result of sixteenth in the first moto for his first Grand Prix points but in the second was adjudged to have cut the track and was disqualified.

Qatar was also the scene of the first round of six in the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship (WMX). Reigning number one Kiara Fontanesi earned Pole Position by over a second in Timed Practice but would have to leave Losail content with second place overall with finishes of 2-2 to Livia Lancelot. ‘Fonta’ was following exciting new Dutch talent Nancy Van De Ven in the first race but the Yamaha rider made a mistake and was lucky to walk away from a big crash that almost gathered the world champion. Fontanesi ran off the track and allowed Lancelot to pounce for the lead. In the second moto the number ‘8’ machine played a safe game and the Italian was pleased to open the season with more confidence and more points that her troubled appearance in Qatar last year.

The Grand Prix of Thailand at the new Nakhonchaisri circuit takes place next weekend for round two of both championships where the heat and humidity is likely to pose a different set of circumstances for some of the world’s fastest racers.

Julien Lieber

“The beginning of the weekend was difficult for me. Really bad. I was low down in the practice sessions and managed to recover to seventh for the qualification race but my start was bad! My speed was good in the race; I could come back from some bad starts quite well and gained some important positions. I’m really happy and I want to thank the Standing Construct Yamaha team because they did a really good job in the winter. We didn't have much time because the race engine and suspension came late and the testing period was short. I’m really surprised with the result today. It would be great to try and do the same next week.”

Kiara Fontanesi

“Not a great set of races but for sure much better than 2014 here. I was more confident in the bike, myself and my potential. I am fitter and faster and I know I made a mistake last season and lost some points. Livia was quick today and I was thinking of the best position I could take without any stupid risks.”