Paturel Races Night and Day In Charlotte
Kemea Yamaha Official MX Team rider Benoit Paturel came on with a late surge under the stadium lights in Charlotte to finish in the top 10 overall on Saturday at the MXGP of the Americas in North Carolina. His teammate Brent Van doninck struggled with the bright orange clay in both motos, but earned valuable points in the penultimate race of the 2016 FIM Motocross World Championship.
Wilvo Standing Construct Yamaha rider Alvin Östlund rode consistent motos in contrasting conditions, finishing 15th under bright sunny skies in the first race, and 15th again as night fell.
Paturel qualified 13th in timed practice on Saturday after race organizers cancelled Friday's qualifying race. Heavy rain and winds from a category one hurricane swept up the eastern seaboard of the United States beginning on Thursday, and race organizers quickly moved to protect the first-time motocross track at the Charlotte Motor Speedway by cancelling all track activity on Friday and covering the surface with plastic tarps.
The result was a slick and fast surface that the riders found ideal. Paturel made quick work of his starts and pushed into the top 10 in both motos, holding a steady line in both, and then in the second race moving late to jump past exhausted competitors to finish seventh under the lights.
Van doninck started better in the late race, but found himself off the back after touching wheels on the broad turns. A second forced braking put the Belgian back again, but he found motivation to push past the mistakes.
Östlund found himself racing for the first time in America, and said the fast starts thrilled him, but the high speeds proved an obstacle in passing other riders. The Swedish teenager has been a consistent top 15 finisher in his rookie MX2 season.
For his part, Paturel finished ninth overall and scored 25 valuable points to hold on to his third place overall in the 2016 World Championship. With one race remaining the French rider is 12 points ahead of Max Anstie of Great Britain, and will fight to the wire next week at Glen Helen.
Van doninck missed several weekends of racing this season in recovery from two separate surgeries, but holds on to 15th overall in the Championship and pulls to 21 points ahead of Michele Cervellin of Italy. Östlund is 14th in the standings, eight points shy of Calvin Vlaanderen of the Netherlands.
11th and 6th for 9th overall. Championship position: 3rd
"I had a bad start in the second race, but I came back strong, and it was a better result. I'm really happy about the riding, and I did everything I could to get back in. I'll give everything at Glen Helen for a result. For the championship we will see what happens next week."
Brent Van doninck
12th and 17th for 14th overall. Championship position: 15th
"The starts here aren't like in Europe, and we don't see anything like this in the GP. In the second race I had a good start, and for me that was good."
"We don't go quite this fast either, so it was a change to see the speeds. This is our second night race after Qatar, and it's strange to do a track in sunlight and under the lights."
15th and 15th for 16th overall. Championship position: 14th
"The speed in the second race was better, and so was my start. This was the fastest track I have ever raced on, the straights are long, the corners are fast and the jumps are really big."