Mixed Emotions at the MXGP of Europe
In below freezing temperatures, thousands of fans gathered to witness the second round of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands, where Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing's Romain Febvre put in another top-five performance, while teammate Jeremy Van Horebeek turned his pole position into a third place finish in Race 1 before an unfortunate crash put him out of the final race.
In some of the coldest conditions ever experienced at the FIM Motocross World Championship, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing's Jeremy Van Horebeek celebrated his first Qualifying Race win since the MXGP of Italy 2014, which gave the Belgian ace an added boost of confidence when the gates dropped for the opening race of the day.
In Race 1, Van Horebeek and his Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Romain Febvre had their YZ450FM's singing as they made up the top-five in the opening lap of the race. Looking more buoyant than usual, the familiar number '89' wasted no time in blitzing past Dutchman Glenn Coldenhoff and the former MXGP World Champion, Tim Gajser, to take over second place.
As Van Horebeek set his sights on the race leader, Antonio Cairoli, Febvre rode a solid pace in fifth after a brief tussle with Gajser for the position. With the wind chill factor reading -11 degree Celsius, the riders lost feeling in their hands. Van Horebeek managed to hold on for a high-spirited third place finish, while Febvre braved the cold for sixth.
In the final race of the weekend, Van Horebeek got a brilliant jump onboard his YZ450FM and chased Antonio Cairoli around turn-one. Eager to replicate his incredible Qualifying Race performance, the Belgian started to pick up the pace before an enormous crash put him out of the race as his bike took a hard hit.
Running a hot pace on such a brutal and unforgiving sand track is a high stakes game. Febvre charged hard from ninth place up into fifth and bravely managed to retain the position despite finishing the race with pain in his lower abdomen and a black eye after he over jumped a jump late in the race. The former world champion finished fifth overall, while Van Horebeek was dropped back to tenth.
After facing their fair share of hardships in the opening race of the day, the Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP duo of Shaun Simpson and Jeremy Seewer managed to even the score in the second race of the day with their powerful performances for sixth and eighth respectively.
Simpson didn't finish the opening race after a series of crashes left him struggling to re-start his bike. Desperate to shake the uncomfortable feeling, the Scot returned back to the paddock and made some positive changes to his set-up, changes that allowed him to reaffirm his ability to navigate a merciless sand circuit. He finished sixth place finish in Race 2, which paired with a 'DNF' in Race 1 left him in fifteenth overall. Meanwhile the rookie of the premier class, Seewer, proved his consistency and was satisfied with an eighth and a tenth place finish for eighth overall.
The next round of the FIM MXGP World Championship, round three, will take place on the weekend of March 25th at the Red Sand circuit of Valencia, Spain.
15th Place MXGP Overall, 9th Place MXGP Championship Standings
I had a slight issue with the tear-off's breaking on my goggles because it was that cold that the plastic was freezing. That was how bad the conditions were yesterday, so I struggled with 13th gate pick but was couldn't get comfortable in the first race and made three big mistakes. Not sure what the issue was, but I couldn't get the bike re-started, so had to DNF. I went back to pits and we put our brains together and changed the set-up of the bike completely. I couldn't be happier with the results. The bike felt like a completely different bike to ride. I felt so at home and felt like I wasn't pushing. I felt smooth, and like… 'me'. A couple of guys passed me towards the end of the final race, but I am not bothered about that. I am just ecstatic with how the bike was handling and what we came up with. A DNF and sixth isn't great, but I'll focus on the sixth because I genuinely believe it should have been a sixth in the first race as well. Get ride of that and let's move on to Red Sands where I believe I will be back in the top six, and for the rest of the season.
8th Place MXGP Overall, 10th Place MXGP Championship Standings
I had a good feeling on the bike, especially after my crash in Argentina. I wasn't sure I would ride this weekend, but I came back and my speed was the same, I was on the pace. I decided to take it easy and just have fun today and make sure I didn't crash again. I managed to finish eighth overall, which I feel is really positive especially because I have not been riding so much in the last couple of weeks. I am happy with where I am at under the circumstances and I am just trying to adapt to the MXGP class, and improve every race.