Paturel takes landmark first Grand Prix podium finish in Mexico
The Grand Prix of Mexico brought the 2015 FIM Motocross World Championship up to the penultimate round of eighteen on the calendar and the rain-hit circuit of Leon - entertaining MXGP for the second year in a row - was the scene for Kemea Yamaha Yamalube's Benoit Paturel to plough through the mud to third place and record his first podium finish in his rookie GP term. The trophy and celebration represented the second rostrum achievement on the bounce for the Belgian team.
Poor weather before the event and then on Saturday evening after a dry practice and qualification schedule (where Lieber finished a decent second on his YZ250F) meant the Mexican terrain kept shifting in terms of the demands it forced. The high altitude of the venue - some 1800m above sea level - meant that the team already had to work on engine configuration to achieve the best power and performance.
The first moto on Sunday saw Paturel quickly find third position. The thirty minute and two lap sprint was an exercise of caution, luck and consistency. There was little action of note on the track but Paturel showed maturity to keep his YZ250F the right way up and enter the top three of a Grand Prix of the first time in his career. Elsewhere Standing Construct Yamaha's Julien Lieber was one of many fallers and retired with a technical problem. Teammate Valentin Guillod was nursing a weak right shoulder after his crash two weeks previously at the Grand Prix of the Netherlands. The Swiss had a tough time after being caught in Petar Petrov's first corner pile-up and several mistakes pushed him down to tenth position and two laps behind the leaders. Brent Van Doninck was also involved in the Petrov melee and then fell on the last lap to belatedly cross the line in ninth.
There was a gaggle of Yamahas disputing third position in the second moto. The track had dried and become quicker and more varied in line choice and options for the riders. Paturel was again in the mix but he also had a lively Lieber and Guillod for company. Eventually Lieber made third place his own (ninth overall) and was chased by the Swiss (sixth overall) and then Paturel who had enough points with fifth to walk the podium. Van Doninck (fourteenth at the end of the day) was disappointed to suffer a mechanical glitch that ended his moto prematurely.
Romain Febvre has clinched the MXGP series on his YZ450FM but the MX2 contest still has to be settled. Pauls Jonass and Tim Gajser are disputing the number one plate and Guillod can still rest in third place if he can outpoint Max Anstie by 31 at Glen Helen. '92' is eight points in front of Jeremy Seewer. Lieber is now up to seventh, Paturel in ninth and Van Doninck is twelfth, although he missed two rounds through injury.
The Monster Energy U.S. Grand Prix is the eighteenth and final appointment on the FIM slate for 2015 and will take the series into the hills around San Bernardino where the layout of Glen Helen snakes around the sharp slopes.
3rd and 5th for 3rd overall. Championship position: 9th
"This is incredible for me. Last year I had nothing and Hans Corver and Marnicq Bervoets took me into their team. I progressed step-by-step and I'm happy about that. I have such a good sensation with this first podium and I think for every rider it feels the same. I don't really know what else to say! The team works really hard every day and they really perform. We have factory engines and I have everything I need to progress. I hope to be better for next year."
14th and 3rd for 9th overall. Championship position: 7th
"Every week I seem to have missed a podium chance! The first moto here was horrible. I had some crashes after a bad start, broke the bike and finished fourteenth. The second race was pretty good and I moved up from eighth. Third was a good position. I saw Jonass' big crash so I feel lucky to have finished the day healthy."
10th and 4th for 6th overall. Championship position: 4th
"The track was better in the second moto. In the first it was not really the conditions that I like! I had a crash at the start because someone touched my bars and I couldn't turn so I headed straight into the mud. I came back but had another two falls, one when a guy took away my front wheel. It really wasn't good. They had worked on the track for the second moto and I was feeling better but I really did not want to crash again. I still made a few mistakes but came back through well to fourth, which, overall, is a bit better than the last few GPs. We'll ride on Wednesday before Glen Helen and try to make it to the podium there."
Brent Van Doninck
9th and 16th for 14th overall. Championship position: 12th
"I had a pretty good start in the first race but I think it was Petrov who made a mistake on the start straight and took three riders down. I went straight into all the mud they had scraped away and I was totally covered. I couldn't even hold the bars so I came into the pits to change my gloves. I was a long way behind and kept going to reach ninth but then crashed on the last lap and took forever to start the bike. I started well in the second race and was in seventh - behind Guillod - but the bike started to lose a bit of power. I had to pull in. I'm so disappointed about this weekend. I didn't have a good feeling, only really in the second moto. I hope I have more luck in Glen Helen."