Top Five for Tonus and Van Horebeek in Mexico
High altitude made the cloudless Grand Prix of Mexico, round four of the FIM Motocross World Championship, one of the most wearing races of the season thus far. On a track that demanded the utmost amount of respect due to its uncanny and hard-to-read blue groove nature, Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP's Arnaud Tonus proved his pedigree with a hair-raising ride onboard his YZ450F for fourth overall, while Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing's Jeremy Van Horebeek kept the crowd on the edge of their seats as he fought tooth and nail for fifth.
The Mexican Grand Prix posed the unique technical challenge of ensuring the engines can get as much air as possible at altitude. With the track built at a location that sits 1800m above sea level, this round of MXGP was perhaps the most challenging of the series for riders and mechanic's alike. High altitude means the air is thinner - which in short means there is less oxygen. An engine won't run without oxygen nor will the human body, so less oxygen naturally equates to less power for both the bikes and the riders themselves.
Arnaud Tonus was posting blistering fast lap-times all weekend long and was one of the only riders to make passes out on the one-lined, hard and slick circuit. Tonus is a rider who is more or less unfamiliar with the track in Leon having only raced here on one previous occasion where he finished fifth overall in MX2 back in 2014. Three years later, the Swiss rider has moved into the premier class, MXGP, and bettered that performance onboard his YZ450F by edging out fellow Yamaha rider Jeremy Van Horebeek for fourth overall.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing's Jeremy Van Horebeek was silky smooth and superb despite his struggle to breathe at high altitude. The air was so harsh it burnt and blistered his lips. The Belgian made the most of the challenging circumstances and posted a pair of fifths for fifth overall.
Almost all of the riders on the grid had to chop down, from their typical second gear starts, into first, which proved a challenge for Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing's Romain Febvre who had a hard job to follow up his previous successes on the tricky circuit of Leon. In 2015 - the year he was crowned world champion - the firey Frenchman absolutely dominated here onboard his YZ450FM with a 1-1 finish. Last year, he stood on the second step of the podium despite tying on points with the eventual GP winner Tim Gajser. A combination of poor starts and too many small crashes this weekend meant the former champ failed to find his rhythm and achieve the results he is capable of achieving. He finished in ninth overall.
Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP's Shaun Simpson was just as frustrated with his overall result of twelfth. The Briton stood on the second step of the podium here in Mexico back in 2015, but that was nothing but a distant memory today as he did his best to overcome the adversity he was forced to face after finding out his knee-braces, neck brace and body armor had gone missing.
The next round of the nineteen round MXGP series will take place at the stunning Pietramurata circuit in the Trentino district of Italy on the weekend of April 16th.
My weekend has been really good. I was feeling really good on the bike even though my starts were not so good but I found some solutions and managed to come back for sixth and fourth for fourth overall. I am really happy.
Jeremy Van Horebeek
Overall my weekend was not too bad. I didn't get the best starts but I managed to get through the first lap really clean and into the top five straight away. It was like a battle all the way, and there was only one good line on the track. In the first moto I was okay with the altitude but in the second moto I struggled a bit. I was pushing for third but I got really tired in the last laps because of the altitude and dropped back to fifth. But two times inside the top five is good and is also good for the championship.
The start was difficult. The first moto I started mid-pack and then I was eighth after a few laps. I got stuck behind Max Nagl and could not pass him and then I started to make some mistakes. I got arm-pump and had to slow down so a few riders passed me and I only finished eleventh. In the second heat, my start was better, but I only got back to seventh. I am not really happy about the weekend but I am happy to go back to Europe where everything will be back to normal.
I felt like it could have been better than the results I had today. I didn't really get off to a great start yesterday with losing my knee braces and all that stuff so, I never really felt great all weekend. I just kept riding within myself. In the first race I rode pretty solid, in the second race my speed was there and my fitness was there, I just got caught in a battle with Evgeny Bobryshev, but it was only for fifteenth. It was frustrating, unlike Argentina where I definitely felt off the pace, this weekend I felt I had the pace to be inside the top ten but couldn't make it happen. I am looking forward to getting back to Europe where we can continue to improve and develop the bike especially in conditions that are really hard and slick and bumpy, and come back strong in Trentino.