2018 GP of Portugal
Incredible Performances at Portuguese Grand Prix for Watson and Brylyakov
Kemea Yamaha Official MX2's Ben Watson had the fans on the edge of their seats in Agueda, Portugal, at the fifth round of the FIM MX2 World Championship with yet another tantalizingly close run at the podium. The 20-year-old Briton finished the Grand Prix 2-points shy of the box in 4th, while teammates Vsevolod Brylyakov and Jago Geerts finished 6th and 18th, respectively.
Battered by rain over the days leading in, the burnt-orange clay of Agueda, Portugal provided one of the most physically and mentally demanding tracks this season.
The track was riddled with some of the longest and gnarliest ruts imaginable. Vsevolod Brylyakov got off to a favourable start in opening race. He was 8th around turn-one, and fought hard for 7th, but the illusory clay was hard to read and each attempt at a pass came unstuck.
Line choice and speed through ruts were two skills that were spotlighted on the treacherous Portuguese circuit. Ben Watson has been recognized as one of the most technically gifted riders in the world and his skillset was brought into focus as he charged from outside of the Top-10 up into 5th place, despite grabbing his gear-lever on one of the waist-deep ruts which jammed his bike in second-gear. Proving just how strong his YZ250F engine is, the Brit made it home in 5th place, while Brylyakov was forced to settle for 8th.
In Race 2, Watson stormed from a mid-pack start and engaged in a gripping battle with his teammate, Brylyakov for 5th. The duo tossed the position back and forth for a few laps before catching the 4th place rider, Pauls Jonass. With Jonass in front of him, Brylyakov was forced to take some different lines. Watson capitalized on his teammates hesitation and put an abrupt end to the three-way battle when he passed both riders in one fell swoop.
Watson went from strength to strength as the time-clock ticked down. With an interesting selection of lines in his repertoire, he reeled in Jed Beaton and ran his YZ250F hot up the inside of the Australian rider to take claim of 3rd. He remained on a charge and incredible in his craft all the way to the flag, where he had the fans on their feet as he crossed the line side-by-side with Thomas Kjer-Olsen, only to miss out on 2nd place by a hair, less than 1/10 of a second to be exact. Brylyakov also put in a phenomenal ride for 5th, which also gave him enough points to move up into 6th place in the MX2 Championship Standings.
After twisting his ankle in the first practice session of the day yesterday, it was unsure that Jago Geerts would line up to race today. Mentored by some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry, the talented youngster is aware that any points salvaged could be a factor in the final result of this season. The 17-year-old talent managed to brave the extremely rutty conditions for 19th place in Race 1, which he remarkably bettered in Race 2 with a 14th place finish for 18th overall.
The next round of the FIM MX2 World Championship will take place in 2-weeks, on April 30th and May 1st in Orlyonok, Russia.
4th MX2 Grand Prix Overall, 4th MX2 Championship Standings
"I didn't start the first race great, but towards the end I started to get better and was happy at the flag with how I was riding and my position. It was good points for the championship, but I know I can ride better. I pushed on in the second race and was right next to 'TKO' over the line and really close to getting on the podium. I've got to be happy with how the weekend was, but I am also so gutted that I came so close and have just missed out on the podium again."
6th MX2 Grand Prix Overall, 6th MX2 Championship Standings
"I have to be happy with how this weekend went. Two solid moto's and I am happy that I am back up front again fighting for better positions. Every weekend it gets better. There is still 13 rounds to go, and I am really looking forward the next GP, it's my home round in Russia, so I am really excited."
18th MX2 Grand Prix Overall, 13th MX2 Championship Standings
"I twisted my ankle yesterday, so I knew it was going to be a tough weekend, and even tougher with a painful ankle and a really rutty track. I had some issues with my goggles in the first heat but still got some points, which was not too bad considering how my ankle feels. I did better in the 2nd race, so it was not too bad."