Guillod makes MX2 top five at bumpy Valkenswaard
A demanding Grand Prix of Europe through the dark sand of Valkenswaard drew some determined performances from the MX2 crew of Kemea Yamaha and Standing Construct Yamaha with Standings Valentin Guillod shining the best and classifying fifth overall on his YZ250F. The fences were lined with a 32,600 attendance across a damp and changeable weekend at the Eurocircuit close to Eindhoven for what was the fifth outing of eighteen in the FIM Motocross World Championship.
The Valkenswaard sand has become packed and bumpy through constant use over the decades. The shallow terrain means that the wavy and shifty nature of the course remains in place but a hard base can sometimes catch out the normally accomplished sand expert. Regardless of the evolution of the venue, this type of racing surface is still a tough test of machinery and fitness and the presence of five racing classes battered the track to intensify the challenge.
Guillod headed Yamaha's roster in Holland and recovered well from a difficult Saturday programme where the Belgian team were unable to get the set-up optimised for the former European Champion to produce the goods. A crash in the last two laps while pushing hard to take sixth place dropped the likeable Swiss to eleventh in the first moto. A further alteration to the bike for the second race paid dividends for the start as '92' shot straight into the top three. Guillod tried to establish a comfortable pace and to blast across the finish line with fifth (later improved to fourth after Dylan Ferrandis penalty of ten positions) signified his best ranking of the year yet.
Team-mate Julien Lieber rued some so-so starts and although the Belgian posted a sixth place finish in the first moto, a crash and light concussion in the second meant that he did well to pass the chequered flag in fifteenth for eleventh overall.
Sitting in eighth was Kemea's Brent Van Doninck in just his third Grand Prix for the team. On almost home turf the Belgian was never quite at ease at Valkenswaard and didn't reach what would have been impressive potential top five finishes. The youngster fought for a 10-9 scorecard and weathered a painful lower back. Team-mate Benoit Paturel posted a best result of tenth. The French rookie earlier earned sixteenth in the first moto and the combination led to twelfth overall.
Valkenswaard was home to another round of the busy and popular European Championship. YZ125 and YZ250F machinery cut through the sand in EMX125 and EMX250 categories respectively and it was a good meeting for Kemeas Damon Graulus who defied the effects of sickness to finish third overall in the second outing for the highly competitive EMX250 contest. Maxime Renaux used his YZ125 to grab a third place in the second moto (thus fourth overall in EMX125) and two YZ250s enter the podium ceremony for the first foray in the EMX300 (two-stroke) championship; Lewis Gregory and Mike Kras sitting second and third.
The Dutch affair represented MXGPs second fixture on European soil in the 2015 FIM Motocross World Championship schedule. The teams now have a free weekend before driving through the continent to Talavera de la Reina for the second Spanish Grand Prix at the hard-packed venue on May 10th.
11th and 5th for 5th overall. Championship: 6th
"We had a bad Saturday and found the problem by the time of the qualification race so we were confident for today. I made a good start in the first moto but in the first fifteen minutes it was like I wasn't on the bike; I don't know why. I was watching the race from the inside I think! I finally woke up and rode better and caught some guys. With five minutes to go I pushed more and took one jump longer than usual and as soon as the front wheel landed on a bump it threw me over the bars. So from seventh to eleventh. Between the motos we decided to change exhausts to look for some power in the sand and it worked on the start. I was third and it was the first time that I began a race this year with the guys at front instead of being tenth-fifteenth: that was a good point and to be able to take higher speed right from the first corners. I made a mistake on the rhythm section and hit my head on the handlebar. Ferrandis passed me and I needed two laps to be good again. I recovered to finish fifth which was not too bad and the place that we want to be, but in both motos. Now I want to arrive in Spain and not have to alter the bike. Maybe just some clicks or change the sprocket but we need two top fives and to go home happy."
Brent Van Doninck
10th and 9th for 8th overall. Championship: 17th
"I didn't have a good feeling today and was riding nervous and tight; I don't know why. I had a lot of pain in my lower back and I think that might be from riding too tense. The track was really rough and I have never seen it like that. I had two bad starts and in both motos came back to the top ten and couldn't do any more. I just had to hold on. I expected more from today and because of that I'm disappointed."
7th and 15th for 11th overall. Championship: 8th
"Again bad starts. In the first moto I was seventh and that was OK but I was stuck in traffic at the beginning of the second. I crashed again and I'm so disappointed because I always have one moto OK and the other a crash or bad luck. I landed on my head so I'm not feeling so good and I hope I will be better for Spain."
3rd and 3rd for 3rd overall. EMX250 Championship: 4th
"Overall it was a difficult weekend for me because I had been feeling sick before coming here. I felt weak riding and didn't have any energy on the bike yesterday but still managed third place. In the evening I took some medication and in the morning also but didn't feel any better. The second heat was really hard so I just did my best. I wanted to win but in the state I was then third place was OK."