Starting on an already battered circuit from the European Championship races yesterday, the YZ450FM riders tried to put in some fast laps in Timed Practice. With results from the session determining gate pick, Paulin’s fastest time allowed him to go to the start-line in fourth position followed by teammates Tonus and Seewer in eighth and 10th.
Already rippled with sharp bumps, deteriorated jump faces and massive holes, the challenging Lommel circuit lived up to its reputation as the toughest track in the world. Paulin got a great start but over jumped the first ski jump and bobbled straight into the path of his teammate Tonus. Both riders were shuffled back to sixth and seventh as Seewer fell on Lap-1 and started from last.
As one of the most technically gifted riders inside the MXGP class, Paulin excelled. The Frenchman wasted no time stylishly moving back up into the top-three on the opening lap. The ‘21’ impressively jumped past Jorge Prado and up into second on Lap-2 and went after the race leader Tim Gajser. With 10-minutes left on the clock, Paulin started to apply the pressure to the Gajser. The Championship Leader, Gajser, eventually made a mistake and crashed which handed the YZ450FM rider his first race victory since the MXGP of Europe, in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands, 2017.
Having spent a month recovering from the concussion sustained at the MXGP of Lombardia in Mantova, Italy. Tonus made a solid return to proceedings with a commendable seventh-place finish.
Many riders fell foul to the brutal conditions. Seewer recovered from a big mistake in the wave section early-on to pass Tonus for fifth but suffered from a crash and an incredibly strange issue that saw the holeshot device lock-down with 2-laps to go. He eventually finished eighth.
In Race 2, all three riders were fortunate to avoid the carnage at turn-one. Seewer was inside the top-three and managed to move up to second after a tight pass on Prado but lost a position to Romain Febvre after jumping off-track and crashing. The ‘91’ ended up crossing the finish line in third.
Paulin was mindful of Lommel’s demands and after starting sixth, the Frenchman put in a tidy ride to finish fifth in the final race for second overall. Although the 30-year-old has mounted the Motocross World Championship podium on 58 occasions, this success was particularly emotional as at one point he was unsure if he would ever return to this level after suffering a broken vertebra, C3 and C5, in the downtime before the MXGP season restarted in August.
Understandably lacking some race fitness after a huge effort in Race 1, Tonus faded from eighth back to 15thon the unforgiving, brutal and energy sapping circuit but was content with tenth overall.
Seewer is tied on points with Prado for third in the MXGP Championship Standings while Paulin remains seventh.
The Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team will remain in Lommel, Belgium, until October 25th with the next two rounds of the FIM Motocross World Championship set to take place at the venue over the next five days, on Wednesday 21st and Sunday 25th.