It was an absolute treat for the thousands of extremely enthusiastic French fans who packed the hillside here at the French circuit of Villars sous Ecot at the weekend to witness round eight of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
The atmosphere was absolutely electric as Yamaha Factory Racing Yamalube’s Romain Febvre put in one of the most hair-raising performances of the year to claim his first ever MXGP overall victory.
Meanwhile in MX2, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings bounced back from his brief dip in results to claim his first double victory since his home grand prix in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands, a month ago.
Winning a home grand prix must be the ultimate feeling for any MXGP rider and for Febvre it would have felt like all his Christmases came at once this weekend when he claimed his first ever MXGP overall here on home soil.
When he mounted the top step of the podium, there was a ground shaking uproar from the completely stoked French crowd, Romain said when asked how it felt to be in that position and surrounded by so many people who are genuinely pumped for him: “It’s so nice! I hope it’s not the last time, I will work for it!”
“For me it feels like the first time I have stepped on the podium because I have had so many injuries over the last few years” were the words of Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev who also admitted he didn’t feel like he had a good flow around the rock hard, super rutty hillside track here in Villars sous Ecot. Nevertheless, Bobby is still on the climb and is consistently moving in the right direction.
The weekend seemed strange for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s defending world champion Antonio Cairoli who struggled in qualifying on Saturday, but showed us what champions are made of with his win in race one on Sunday. In race two, Cairoli didn’t get off to the best of starts, but managed to make the best of a crumby situation to claim his third consecutive podium finish.
The red plate holder Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl lost two points to the Cairoli with his fourth place finish. On the flipside, the German totally shook off his closest rival Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Clement Desalle who only completed one lap on Sunday in an attempt to race after crashing in timed practice on Saturday and dislocating his shoulder.
Rounding out the top five, Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Dean Ferris put his name back on the map with two amazing starts and two solid performances for his best overall finish of the season.
Meanwhile MXGP of France didn’t quite go in favour of the other French riders. Team HRC’s Gautier Paulin had a mechanical failure while hounding Cairoli for the lead in the first race, while the second race the number 21 just didn’t get a good start. 24MX Honda Racing’s Christophe Charlier finished 13th overall while Wilvo Forkrent KTM’s Steven Frossard finished 15th.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings is back to his wicked ways. The rider they call “The Bullet” finally returned to the top of the box in his traditional double race victory style. Herlings said, “It wasn’t easy today. These tracks are not my favourite. I am from Holland, so you know it is sand and flat,” he laughed, “and then here it’s hills and really hard and rocky. So it was tough but I did it.”
Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser wrapped up second overall. The Slovenian said he just wanted to stay on the bike this weekend after having a few crashes in recent times. This approach was evidently the best way to tackle the demanding, slick and edgy circuit as it still caught a lot of people out.
It was a pretty epic day for the fastest Frenchman in MX2 Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jordi Tixier who took two consistent thirds for third overall. Tixier smiled, “I don’t know about you guys, but for me this was definitely the best crowd we have had. When I took the lead in race one I couldn’t hear anything, just the people, it was amazing!”
Meanwhile it was another smooth and consistent day for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass who has been feeling under the weather lately. Jonass got off to a couple of good starts and rode smart for fourth.
Rounding out the top five was the next big thing in MX2, Standing Construct Yamaha Racing Yamalube’s Valentin Guillod. Guillod’s result doesn’t reflect the way he rode this weekend. The super Swiss kept the crowd raging in race one when rode the wheels off of his Yamaha YZ250F to take a close second behind Herlings’. Unfortunately in race two, VG92 and Kemea Yamaha Yamalube’s Damon Graulus whipped into each other and went down hard. Despite bending his bike in about five directions, he knuckled down and managed to get back to an impressive 13th.
The next MXGP will be held in Maggiora, Italy in 2 weeks time on the 14th June weekend.
RESULTS AND STANDINGS:
MXGP Race 1 Top Ten:
- Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 34:07.793; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), +0:03.893; 3. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:25.131; 4. Dean Ferris (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:30.105; 5. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:32.380; 6. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:37.604; 7. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:42.512; 8. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:43.953; 9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +0:52.376; 10. Gregory Aranda (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:57.131
MXGP Race 2 Top Ten:
- Romain Febvre (FRA, Yamaha), 34:41.009; 2. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Husqvarna), +0:03.574; 3. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:25.199; 4. Dean Ferris (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:27.686; 5. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +0:31.461; 6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Honda), +0:38.026; 7. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:43.190; 8. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), +0:47.747; 9. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:52.688; 10. Tyla Rattray (RSA, Kawasaki), +0:54.542.
MXGP Overall Top Ten:
- Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 47 points; 2. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 40 p.; 3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 39 p.; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 37 p.; 5. Dean Ferris (AUS, HUS), 36 p.; 6. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 28 p.; 7. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 28 p.; 8. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), 26 p.; 9. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 24 p.; 10. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 17 p.
MXGP Championship Top Ten:
- Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 332 points; 2. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 313 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 291 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 282 p.; 5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HON), 252 p.; 6. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 247 p.; 7. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 169 p.; 8. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 138 p.; 9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 134 p.; 10. Ken de Dycker (BEL, KTM), 133 p.
MX2 Race 1 Top Ten:
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 33:57.744; 2. Valentin Guillod (SUI, Yamaha), +0:01.656; 3. Jordi Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:11.411; 4. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:39.499; 5. Petar Petrov (BUL, Kawasaki), +0:51.998; 6. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +0:55.459; 7. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +1:00.416; 8. Julien Lieber (BEL, Yamaha), +1:10.927; 9. Roberts Justs (LAT, KTM), +1:14.420; 10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +1:15.450.
MX2 Race 2 Top Ten:
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 35:02.442; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:05.221; 3. Jordi Tixier (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:26.294; 4. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), +0:32.167; 5. Max Anstie (GBR, Kawasaki), +0:33.357; 6. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:41.292; 7. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +0:46.956; 8. Petar Petrov (BUL, Kawasaki), +0:52.817; 9. Benoit Paturel (FRA, Yamaha), +1:02.015; 10. Jorge Zaragoza (ESP, Honda), +1:05.226.
MX2 Overall Top Ten:
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points; 2. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 40 p.; 3. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KAW), 40 p.; 4. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 32 p.; 5. Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 30 p.; 6. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 29 p.; 7. Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 29 p.; 8. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 26 p.; 9. Max Anstie (GBR, KAW), 25 p.; 10. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, HON), 20 p.
MX2 Championship Top Ten:
- Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 358 points; 2. Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 246 p.; 3. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 245 p.; 4. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KAW), 229 p.; 5. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 218 p.; 6. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 209 p.; 7. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 208 p.; 8. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 205 p.; 9. Julien Lieber (BEL, YAM), 184 p.; 10. Max Anstie (GBR, KAW), 183 p.
Photo courtesy Yamaha