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.