The circuit of Agueda time-warped the riders back to the grass-roots style of racing. The distinctive red soil was left in its natural state rather than ripped deep by machines, which made for a hard and slick surface. Reveling the unique conditions, Tonus and Seewer went bar-to-bar in the first Grand Prix race of the weekend as they rubbed plastic on more than a few occasions while battling for third position.
With 13 minutes left on the clock, Tonus found his groove and set the fastest lap of the race, which gave him the edge he needed to inch away from Seewer. Tonus maintained his speed to the flag and finished third, while Seewer held off a tough challenge from Julien Lieber for fourth. After a 10-week hiatus forced through injury, Romain Febvre made a heroic return to racing. The Frenchman got off to a sluggish start in race one, but as one of the most technically gifted riders on the gate, his throttle control and ability to power slide his YZ450FM around the Portuguese circuit worked in his favor.
Despite missing 'race fitness' and suffering from arm-pump, the 26-year old was able to push through the pain barrier for a hard fought ninth place. Suffering the effects of a heavy fall in the Timed Practice session on Saturday, Paulin was stiff and miss-read the track surface while pushing for sixth position on lap-1. He fell spectacularly.
On a track that is high speed with limited line selection, passing was difficult. The Frenchman remounted his YZ450F and did his best to bounce back from the nasty crash. He managed to put in a spirited performance for 15th position. In the final race of the Grand Prix, the power of Yamaha's popular YZ450F was on full display as all four riders exited turn-one inside the top-seven. Evenly matched, the four Yamaha stars fought for a place inside the top-four with Tonus leading the way closely followed by Seewer, Paulin and Febvre. The action-packed race saw Tonus break free from the trio that chased him after he capitalized on a mistake by the championship leader, Cairoli, with 10-minutes left on the clock.
As Tonus challenged and claimed second position from Clement Desalle before relenting to a hard-charging Cairoli with 4-Laps remaining, the thrilling battle between Seewer and Paulin for fifth raged on until the final lap when Seewer fell through the wave section. Tonus finished third and was able to uncork a bottle of champagne on the third step of the podium for the first time since the MXGP of Trentino in Italy, April 2017.
Paulin inherited fifth position and Febvre sixth, while Seewer recovered as quick as he could to finish the race in tenth.
Paulin remains third in the MXGP Championship Classification, while Seewer is sixth, only 13-points shy of a place inside the top-five. Tonus' performance allowed his team to toast a fourth podium success this season. The Swiss rider has moved up into ninth in the championship chase. After missing four rounds due to injury, Febvre is 19th in the Championship Standings.
The next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship will take place in five days' time, on the weekend of May 26th, in Saint Jean d'Angely, France.