Guillod shines again but is denied podium in France
Yamaha enjoyed another exciting MX2 Grand Prix as the eighth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship took place at a 45,000-strong Villars sous Ecot in France and saw Standing Construct Yamaha's Valentin Guillod ride to second position in the first moto and recover from a heavy crash in the opening moments of the second to claim thirteenth place for fifth overall.
The daunting hillside circuit was hard-pack, slippery and difficult for overtaking due to the windy nature and narrow trajectory. Guillod began the weekend with confidence and form derived from two victories back-to-back on his YZ250F in Spain and Great Britain and ran away with the Qualification Heat on Saturday to confirm his second consecutive Pole Position.
On Sunday Guillod was again fizzing with energy and zest. He capitalised on a mistake by Jeffrey Herlings to close up to new leader Jordi Tixier and again lead the world cheered by a vast section of the crowd waving Swiss flags. Herlings would recover his composure and put Valentin back to second place but it was another fascinating duel between the pair.
The second moto sadly nullified a sequel. Tixier slid away on the approach to the uphill wave section that force Guillod to move across on the opening lap and when the pack is at its tightest. Kemea Yamaha's Damon Graulus was in the same spot as '92' and they crashed together. Graulus was unable to continue after the smash but avoided any significant injury. Guillod had to bash his handlebars into shape and rode with other damage to the bike not to mention a sore right foot and badly scraped shoulders. He made great progress to rescue thirteenth in the circumstances.
Team-mate Julien Lieber is enduring a groin injury but is still trying to push as hard as he can on the YZ250F. The Belgian scored thirteenth position overall in France, which he achieved thanks to eighth and seventeenth in the two motos. The second race was tough with two crashes, the first coming on the start straight and putting him in last place before the first corner.
Kemea Yamaha Racing's Benoit Paturel was dealing with the expectation and hype of his first home Grand Prix as a full-time rookie in MX2. The youngster had an unfortunate accident on Saturday when a rock smashed his goggles and ended up knocking out six of his teeth; Benoit still managed to ride to twentieth place! In the first moto he crashed with Jeremy Seewer on the slowest corner of the track - that was also the worst rutted - and managed one point for twentieth. The second moto was much stronger and ninth place was just reward for his perseverance and bravery.
Team-mate Brent Van Doninck will have another opinion on his right knee injury at the beginning of the week and then make a decision over a damaged ligament and whether to continue participating or seek corrective surgery and step away from the sport for the rest of the season. Damon Graulus occupied the MX2 race bike and although his second moto ended prematurely he rode to a thirteenth in the first sprint.
France was also the setting for the fifth outing from eight in the EMX125 European Championship and Maxime Renaux took his Kemea YZ125 to another podium finish with third place. The fifteen year old Frenchman now trails Jorge Prado and the series leader by just five points with the sixth fixture due to take place when the Grand Prix paddock next forms-up in Italy. In the fourth round of six in the FIM Women's World Championship Kiara Fontanesi ran out as winner on her YZ250F. The defending number one was surprisingly beaten by the narrowest of margins by Livia Lancelot in the first moto on Saturday but profited from her rival's poor start and race crash to win the second dash on Sunday. 'Fonta' actually headed a Yamaha 1-2-3 with Dutch lady Nancy Van De Van in second and Australian Madison Brown in third. Fontanesi only has to reduce an eight-point gap to Lancelot in the standings with two rounds and four motos remaining. The girls are next in action at the Grand Prix of Germany in three weeks time.
Maggiora, Italy is actually the ninth port of call for MXGP as the 2015 schedule is half way into the history books. The Grand Prix of Italy will travel to the steep hard-pack in two weeks time and take place on June 13-14 just before a trip to Germany.
2nd and 13th for 5th overall. Championship Position: 2nd
"For sure I am a bit frustrated because I had the speed to fight at the front but with that big crash I was lucky I could get back on the bike. I made some laps but then crashed again. I then said to myself "come on try and get one point". I rode and rode but I was making mistakes because the bike was so bent. I lost a lot of time on that first lap because my front brake was blocked. I then rode as I could. I'm a bit worried about my foot so will have an x-ray now."
20th and 9th for 14th overall. Championship Position: 13th
"I was really looking forward to get a good result in front of my home crowd but it didn't work out like I wanted It started with a first lap incident in the qualifying moto, I finished 20th but felt good on the track. In the first moto I got a good start and I was riding 9th when I crashed in the third lap. I dropped to 30th and could only come back to 20th. In the second moto I started in 12th. Near the halfway point I got to 9th position and I was feeling better but by then the gaps had been made and I couldn't move up anymore. The riding seems to be ok, but I must work on being consistent."
"I wanted to be on the highest step on the podium here for my home race. It was so nice to have the whole crowd behind me and cheering me on and I wanted to give them something back. In the first race I made a small mistake that allowed the leader to check out. The second moto I had a great start but I made some mistakes again and wasn't able to catch the first two. In the championship everything stays the same for me, so it's time now to regroup and work hard towards the next race."