Three Yamahas Inside the Top Eight at Loket
An intense day of racing on the slippery and one-lined hillside circuit of Loket, Czech Republic, saw Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing's Romain Febvre and Jeremy Van Horebeek make up the top seven at the thirteenth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship, while Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP's Arnaud Tonus rounded out the top-eight.
Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP's Arnaud Tonus opted for the inside gate in Race 1 and utilized every ounce of power that the all-new 2018 YZ450F delivers to emerge from turn-one in fourth. He lost a spot to yesterday's qualifying heat winner Antonio Cairoli almost immediately but wasted no time in getting inventive with his lines to keep the championship points leader - Cairoli - on his toes. Meanwhile, the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing riders Romain Febvre and Jeremy Van Horebeek were locked in a battle with Jordi Tixier for fifth for a couple of laps before un-doing the Kawasaki rider who made a small mistake which both YZ450FM riders capitalized on.
For the remainder of the race, the one-lined nature of the Loket circuit made it hard to propel forward, although Jeffrey Herlings found the edge necessary to do so and dropped all three Yamaha riders, Tonus, Febvre and Van Horebeek back a spot during the last three-laps. The trio eventually came home in sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively.
With starts being a vital piece to the puzzle here on the hills of Loket, a good start couldn't have come at a better time for the former MXGP World Champion Romain Febvre. The Frenchman found himself in fourth before the end of lap-two while fellow YZ450FM rider Jeremy Van Horebeek was back in seventh.
Loket is not one of the most technically challenging tracks on the calendar therefore lap-times were close which made for action-packed and tight racing. Any mistake made was costly and with the racing so close it's difficult for the riders to judge whether they should attack or defend. After 20-minutes of bar bashing Febvre fell foul to the wrath of Jeffrey Herlings and fellow Frenchman Gautier Paulin before tangling with a back-marker while trying to pass Paulin back. Miraculously, he managed to keep his YZ450FM on two-wheels while the slower rider crashed, but the issue cost him a couple of seconds and robbed him of a chance at finishing inside the top-five.
It was an intense and gripping race to the flag. Febvre had to be content with sixth while Van Horebeek managed to stay out of trouble and rode a clever race for seventh. Arnaud Tonus had an incredibly frustrating time trying to pick riders off, but he put in a hearty effort for tenth place.
The next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship will take place in the bottomless sand of Lommel, Belgium on the weekend of August 6th.
6th GP Overall, 6th MXGP Championship Standings
"The second moto was better than the first. I had arm-pump really bad in the first race and then in the second race I had a pretty good start but got passed by a couple of riders. I started finding my speed again and then a lapped rider hit me and I lost too much time to come back and make some passes, so it's hard to say I am happy. I look forward to the next race."
Jeremy Van Horebeek
7th GP Overall, 8th MXGP Championship Standings
"I am a little bit short in energy. I am already looking forward to the next race and being in the sand at Lommel. I found the start of the race really hard, it's the time off has affected my intensity in those first few laps, but I stayed close to the guys at the front so that wasn't so bad. I'm not super happy, but looking at the positives, it's not bad for the first race back."
8th GP Overall, 10th MXGP Championship Standings
"It was a positive weekend. We came here with a completely new bike, so we came here expecting to develop it and improve every session and that is exactly what we did. We had to do some modifications to the suspension and I actually changed the gearing as well. When it's a new bike you need to be ready to adapt and make changes, and that's what we did. I feel like it was a really good weekend, we learned a lot and I am feeling extremely positive for the future with the 2018 YZ450F."