Van Doninck storms to first MX2 podium in maiden Grand Prix season


The Grand Prix of the Netherlands brought MXGP together again for the second time in a week and the paddock expanded into the copious space of the famous Assen circuit for the sixteenth round of eighteen on the schedule. Yamaha were able to count on a rampaging performance by Kemea Yamaha's Brent Van Doninck as the youngster rode to a brilliant third position overall to lift his - and the Belgian team's - first trophy at the highest level.

Massive quantities of sand had been imported to create a compact and difficult layout covering the final chicane and down part of the start straight of the road racing bitumen. 37,000 fans filled the 'wall' of seating to create an atmospheric and spectacular setting.

Standing Construct Yamaha Yamalube's Valentin Guillod suffered a crash early in Saturday's Qualification Heat and hurt his right shoulder. After checks there was no serious damage but the Swiss was sore and struggled for movement and strength in the joint. In the same race Van Doninck showed his prowess and comfort in the sand by pushing the leaders hard to take a season-best fourth (which he further backed up with the second fastest lap in warm-up on Sunday morning).

In the first moto it was Standing's Julien Lieber who made the better start and was fourth at the end of the opening lap. The Belgian pushed up to second place but did not have an answer to Tim Gajser who surged through to the front. Julien's third place on the YZ250F was his best moto finish since Lommel and his fifth top three result of the season. Just behind was Van Doninck whose ride to fourth was a career-highest in just his first term in Grand Prix. Benoit Paturel was seventh to help place three Yamaha motorcycles in the leading group of the sprint. Guillod did his best to collect six points for fifteenth.

After the quick lunch break MX2 was again in the gate and it was Van Doninck again near the front. The youngster rose as high as third place and motored across the line in fourth by the end of the thirty minutes and two laps. With Lieber gaining ground from tenth on the first lap to sixth there was a battle between the Yamaha stars for the final step on the box, which was decided in 'BVD's favour by just one point. Paturel took another solid finish with seventh while Guillod managed fourteenth.

In the final standings Van Doninck headed three Yamahas in the top ten with Lieber fourth and Paturel ending the long European stint of the calendar with eighth place.

Assen was the stage for the last meeting of the EMX250 European Championship and a demonstration of the skills and determination of Kemea Yamaha's Damon Graulus as the Belgian earned overall victory with a 1-1 for the second time this season. '172' confidently controlled proceedings on Saturday but it was his mammoth charge through the pack to pass Frederik Van Der Vlist on the last lap - with a time four seconds faster - that earned his a well-deserved double on the YZ250F. Graulus made sure of runner-up status in the standings thanks to his full bag of fifty points.

The MX2 standings show that Guillod is now 28 points from Max Anstie and third position. Lieber is eighth and Paturel ninth with Van Doninck thirteenth. Grand Prix dates in Mexico and the United States are all that remain on the 2015 calendar. MXGP will head to Leon for the second year in a row on September 11-12 and then to the hills of Glen Helen in San Bernardino in California the following week.