News Report 8 March 2015

2015 Grand Prix of Thailand

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1700 m
03 / 08 / 2015
Time to be confirmed

Lieber recovers to enter MX2 top three once more as Fontanesi wins WMX


The 2015 Grand Prix of Thailand was the third visit in a row by the FIM Motocross World Championship to the bike-mad country and even if the GP paddock found a tricky, flat and jumpy new track at Thailand Circuit the same hot and demanding conditions as experienced in previous years remained in place. Round two of eighteen in the MX2 class saw Jeffrey Herlings run out victorious and from Yamaha’s exciting young wing of YZ250F riders Julien Lieber recovered from a massive first moto crash to capture third place in the second (ranking ninth overall). In the second outing of six for the FIM Women’s World Championship Kiara Fontanesi was an undisputed winner, owning both motos with superior speed and lap-times. It was the reigning number one’s first ‘double’ of the campaign.

Temperatures hovered in the high thirties for a draining and humid weekend at Nakhonchaisri. After the night race at Losail, Qatar the previous week Thailand was a different prospect altogether and the Thailand Circuit course offered inconsistent grip and various options for lines and approaches to the numerous jumps. The second race was actually reduced in duration (five minutes) by officials after many riders were hit by heat exhaustion.

Julien Lieber was again the standout Yamaha rider for desirable and undesirable reasons. The twenty year old Belgian’s ‘get-off’ while running fourth in the first moto was spectacular and shocking. He was lucky not to suffer more than just compressed vertebrae. While some of his peers could not deal with the heat and at least five riders could not take to the line for the second moto, Lieber put aside some aches and pains to ride comfortably in the top three once he had passed Thomas Covington. Lieber was disappointed not to be in a position to aim for a second trophy in a row but his recovery and twenty points was at least some consolation.

Team-mate Valentin Guillod has been sick during the week and was therefore not in the best state to be able to handle the demands of Thailand Circuit this weekend. He got a little too close to the dirt on Saturday but pushed through for two decent sixth positions for fifth place overall.

Also going for an encouraging top seven was Kemea Yamaha Racing’s Benoit Paturel. The French rookie was seventh in the first moto and optimistic of a similar result in the second. An early race ‘moment’ with Covington led to a damaged front brake and the youngster had to retire as the front wheel kept ‘grabbing’ over the jumps. Team-mate Damon Graulus was still feeling the effects of his crash in Qatar last week where he hurt his head and neck and he pulled out of the first moto before the mid-race stage. He also tweaked his sore left ankle and the combination of factors led to a team decision that the Belgian would sit out the second sprint.

Kiara Fontanesi seized control of the FIM Women’s World Championship with a dominant double victory at Nakhonchaisri. The Italian bounced back from second position at Losail to grab two chequered flags in Thailand. She caught and passed main championship rivals Meghan Rutledge and Livia Lancelot in the first race on Saturday and then led fellow Yamaha rider Nancy Van De Ven in the second one on Sunday. The Dutch woman would cross the line in fourth but Fontanesi was adrift and almost effortless to make a convincing statement regarding her intentions for a fourth consecutive world title. Round three of six takes place at the British Grand Prix in May.

In the MX2 standings Lieber is the highest placed rider in fourth position with Guillod right behind in fifth. Just four points separate the team-mates.

Standing Construct Yamaha and Kemea Yamaha can now return back to Europe and replenish resources with round three of the FIM series not set to take place until March 29th. The paddock will this time jet west instead of east and will find another new circuit with the location of Neuquen to entertain the Grand Prix of Argentina.

Julien Lieber

“I was riding really good in the first moto and came from mid-pack until third when I then crashed on the triple. I never thought I would be able to ride the second moto but we got my back checked and did some stretching. I had a go at the second moto and started in fifth. I passed a few people and finished third. It was really good. I’m tired but know I will be in shape for the next GP. I’m fourth in the championship, which is good but I also know that I lost a lot of points in that first moto. Anyway I would like to thank the mechanics for their help. The bike was pretty bent and damaged after the first race and the guys did such a good job getting it ready for me to go again.”

Valentin Guillod

“Considering I was sick all week with a cold I’m happy with the weekend. To finish sixth twice, fifth overall and get into the top five in the championship is positive. The raced were really difficult with the weather and luckily the second moto was cut short. Overall I still want to find the feeling with the bike that I had in training this winter and I know it will come.”

Benoit Paturel

“I felt a lot better this weekend than in Qatar. There I was riding tight but I felt comfortable all weekend long here in Thailand. My starts were good and I’m happy I was able to follow the pace of the top five riders. I think I could have battled for a top five overall without the problems in the second race. I don’t know what happened there. Maybe a stone hit the brake or I hit Covington, but my front wheel locked up and it was impossible to ride. That’s racing I guess… I want to thank the team and everyone around though for supporting and believing in me. I’m looking forward to the next GP!”

Damon Graulus

“Hot work out there today and I tried to ride but it was still too much for me after the crash in Qatar. I wanted to see if I could make some results or points but just didn't get the feeling. I hope to be better for Argentina.”