Febvre & Van Horebeek Fight to the Finish in Russia
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing's Romain Febvre maintains his top-five streak at the sixth round of the FIM MXGP World Championship in Orlyonok, Russia, with another fourth overall. Teammate Jeremy Van Horebeek was the runner-up in the Qualifying Race and did his best to ignore the pain and discomfort of a slight Scaphoid injury to finish sixth in opening race, but with two crashes in the second race he dropped to twelfth in the Grand Prix Classification.
The track that hosted the sixth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship had a traditional feel to it. It sprawled out over the steep hills that overlook the Eastern shore of the black sea, and was made out of untouched white clay. The term untouched is in reference to the preparation of the track. Modern-day tracks are often strewn with ruts as they tend to be ripped deep and heavily watered over the days leading into a Grand Prix.
Without a ripped surface, the track in Orlyonok forced the riders to open their eyes and get creative with their lines. They had to search for traction and be gentle on the throttle while remaining aggressive and committed to the race. With less ruts, bright blue skies and high temperatures that hovered around 30 degrees Celsius, the water that was put on the sun-baked track to keep the dust down made the circuit slippery.
A good start at this venue was essential and Romain Febvre's seventh place finish in the opening race of the day was a solid reflection of just how important the start was. Febvre was the fastest rider on track yesterday. He pulled a holeshot and gapped the field with a string of fast laps that were only getting faster. He was in his element and feeling fabulous onboard his YZ450FM before he lost traction and fell from the lead.
As Febvre recovered for eleventh place, his teammate Jeremy Van Horebeek took full advantage of the error and went on to lead for a handful of laps, but had to be content with a second-place finish after the championship leader Jeffrey Herlings passed him.
Febvre's mediocre gate-pick made for a difficult race. The Frenchman was all heart as he ducked and dived the sharp stones coming off the 450cc motorcycles in front of him as he stormed forward from outside of the top-fifteen to finish seventh-place in the opening race, right on the heels of his teammate Van Horebeek who's sixth place position remained unchanged from start to finish.
In the second race of the day, a better start allowed Febvre to take control of fifth place and apply pressure to the nine-time world champion Antonio Cairoli, who eventually made a small error and fell. Febvre inherited fourth and went after the former World Champion Tim Gajser, while his teammate Van Horebeek dropped outside of the points after connecting with another rider.
With the top riders in MXGP being relative in speed, Febvre had to work hard to pass Gajser. He managed to get the job done with two-laps to go and finished third in the final race of the day, which was enough for fourth overall. Van Horebeek managed to score some points with an eighteenth place finish for twelfth overall.
Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP's Jeremy Seewer was smiling under his Shoei helmet as he wowed the enthusiastic crowd with some insane whips over the big jumps. As the best placed rookie in the premier class, his flamboyance onboard his YZ450F is a good sign he is feeling comfortable and confident on the bigger bike. If the twenty-three-year-old Swiss rider pulled the same start as he did in the Qualifying Race yesterday, where he dropped back to sixth after a fourth place start, the results of todays' main events could have been different. Nevertheless, the youngster was satisfied with his 9-8 scorecard for eighth overall.
Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP's Shaun Simpson was not able to race after his spectacular fall in the Qualifying Race yesterday. The thirty-year-old Scot was cleared of all injuries, but the impact and bruising on his hip made it difficult to race on the high-paced Orlyonok circuit. Hoping to line up in 4-days time at the Dutch Championship, Simpson decided to withdraw from the Grand Prix but is expected to be back on the gate at the next round of the MXGP World Championship in Latvia on the weekend of May 13th.
4th MXGP Overall, 4th MXGP Championship Standings, 203-points
"My weekend was pretty good. I was the fastest yesterday but I made two mistakes and only finished eleventh. Starts are so important; I had to pass many guys in the first race. I felt fast but because I was in the bottom five at the start, it was really difficult. I am not really happy with the weekend because I know I was the fastest, and in this class when you are the fastest you need to make the most of it and score some good points."
Jeremy Van Horebeek
12th MXGP Overall, 7th MXGP Championship Standings, 150-points
"It feels like after Valkenswaard I have not had any luck. It's like everything I do, some things go OK and some things don't. We just need to stay focused and stay positive. I hope that I can start riding in the week again, because recently I have not been able to with my wrist injury. It does feel like it is getting better all the time, but I need it to be healed because living from GP to GP with no riding during the week, it's tough."
8th MXGP Overall, 9th MXGP Championship Standings, 135-points
"First of all I had a lot of fun on my bike, and that has to be the most important thing. Another solid weekend again. I felt really good this weekend. I only made one mistake this weekend, and that was a little crash but otherwise it was pretty good. My speed is there and my fitness is really good. I could be happier of course because I am working hard to get inside the top five, but the ultimate goal is to be inside the top-ten at every GP and I am. It doesn't matter, sand, hard-pack, mud, rain, sun, whatever, I am there at every GP. I just need to keep working because things are getting better and the good times are coming I can feel it."
14th MXGP Championship Standings, 76-points
"I didn't feel comfortable pushing the edge on this track, but the first few laps of the qualifying race were pretty solid, but made a mistake and got cross rutted between two table tops and went through the advertising boards and down a 3 meter drop. I really hurt my back and my right hip. After than I hobbled to the medical center and had some checks and everything was cleared although I could hardly walk last night. I felt better this morning and tried to ride but that wasn't possible. I feel quite good now, but I think 3 or 4 days of good treatment and I should be back on the bike and looking forward to Latvia."