A Challenging Latvian Grand Prix for All Official Yamaha Riders
The seventh round of the FIM Motocross World Championship that took place in Kegums, Latvia, was the most challenging of the season thus far. The 'Zelta Zirgs' circuit quickly deteriorated and became extremely rough and choppy developing massive high speed braking bumps into the turns, and sharp acceleration bumps out. It demanded 100% health and fitness, combined with a near perfect bike set-up which was the issue for both Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jeremy Van Horebeek and Romain Febvre, for two different reasons. Van Horebeek injured his back on his way to an impressive third place finish in qualifying, but put in a gritty ride to finish ninth overall for the grand prix, while Febvre struggled to get comfortable and came home in thirteenth.
Riders took a pounding on the choppy, rugged and extremely challenging track in Latvia, and it was felt in its entirety by Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing's Jeremy Van Horebeek. Van Horebeek was feeling every muscle in his back this morning after landing in a hole and jolting his back in the Qualifying Race yesterday. Despite his stiffness, he managed to ride a solid race for sixth in the opening race - a result he was frustrated with, knowing that if he was full strength he could have done much better. A fall on the opening lap of the final race put Van Horebeek and his YZ450FM to the ultimate test, but a few more errors and an unbearable tightness saw him finish with clenched teeth in fourteenth.
Getting around the first turn safely is crucial, but with the level in MXGP being as high as it is, it is also important to emerge from turn-one inside the top ten. Romain Febvre struggled with starts this weekend, which didn't make life easy for the Frenchman who is trying to breathe some life into his 2017 season. Despite his best efforts, the former champ struggled to get comfortable and had to settle for a sixteenth and a tenth place finish.
With the field in MXGP being stronger than ever, every race is a learning curve for the all new Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP set-up who are in their rookie season in the premier class. It was a bitter-sweet day in the office for both riders this weekend, Shaun Simpson in particular. Simpson is a proven sand rider having won multiple grands prix on the softer surface in the past, and his mind-blowing sand riding finesse was spotlighted in the opening race of the day as he took his YZ450F to a near podium finish, fourth. The Scot lined up with that same hunger and determination in the final race of the day and made sure his presence noticed before swapping out in the waves and hitting a steel pole, which resulted in a broken right hand.
With the first corner being a tricky 180-degree, right-hander, it favors the riders on the inside of the gate. Starting from the outside of the gate after failing to complete the qualifying race due to an unusual technical error, Arnaud Tonus had his work cut out for him. Never one to back down from a challenge, the Swiss sensation charged hard, consistently upping his pace lap after lap for an impressive eighth place. In the final race, his starting position left him eating roost as he tried to make passes stick, and in the process of charging through the pack, he got out of shape and was kicked over the 'bars in spectacular style. Because he landed heavily on his back and neck, he went immediately to medical unit for further examination.
More information on Shaun Simpson and Arnaud Tonus will be released as soon as possible. The next round of the FIM MXGP World Championship, round eight, will take place on May 20th and 21st at the world renowned old-school circuit of Teutschenthal, Germany.
Jeremy Van Horebeek
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing
"The weekend started off good but I hurt my back yesterday without crashing. This morning I had a lot of pain and wasn't feeling good but the first moto turned out okay. I worked my way through the pain and finished sixth. In the second moto, I crashed twice, and I kept pushing through the pain to get as many points as possible. It wasn't a good weekend, but the championship is still wide open, and really close."
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing
"I had a difficult weekend, I struggled to find a good set-up with the bike which made racing really hard. It was just one of those weekends. Difficult."