24MX Lucas Oil Honda stand-in rider Steven Lenoir repeated his best MXGP moto result in Kegums at the Grand Prix of Latvia. The British MX2 champion finished 20th and 14th in the Sunday motos.
Ceriel Klein Kromhof made his MXGP debut at the fast and dry Kegums track. It turned out to be a frustrating affair for the friendly Dutchman.
CKK showed top-15 speed but he was unlucky in both motos. The Latvian GP started well for the 24MX Lucas Oil Honda team. More and more comfortable with both the team and the bike Lenoir rode his CRF450R to 15th in the qualifying race. Team-mate Klein Kromhof had good speed but clutch problems forced him to retire early on.
Slightly cooler conditions awaited the 34-rider strong MXGP field on Sunday. CKK was enjoying himself during warm-up resulting in an excellent 14th time. In the first sprint of the day both riders enjoyed good getaways. Lenoir even launched himself into fifth.
Unfortunately the #685 produced an erratic opening lap dropping back on the leaderboard to 11th. Once Steven found his rhythm he was consistent as ever. Lenoir had his sights set on 16th but an aggressive and dirty move by Butron put him down.
In the end the former EMX250 champ had to settle for one point. For 15 minutes CKK showed what he was made of. Ceriel pushed and recorded impressive lap times but when he started to suffer arm pump he was forced to back off. Ultimately he crossed the line 23rd.
The second moto of the day was probably Lenoir’s best of his MXGP stint so far. He started in 11th and confidently circulated in 13th for most of the race. In the final stages of the race he battled with Tanel Leok and Ben Townley after which he was relegated to 14th. With last year’s Latvian MXGP winner Glenn Coldenhoff breathing down his neck the heat was on for Lenoir’s last laps but he kept his cool.
If it were not for a first lap collision in the rollers things might have turned out completely differently for CKK. Although he had to get going from dead last Ceriel’s fastest lap surpassed that of Milko Potisek who came home in 11th. When Klein Kromhof got highsided on a square bump, luckily without injury, his moto was over.
“This was one of my best GPs so far,” commented Lenoir. “I had a really good start but I was riding way too tight. I was stiff on the bike and I suffered arm pump for most of the moto. With two laps to go I was 16th until I got t-boned by Butron. That was it, my race was finished.
“The second race I had an okay start and climbed up to 12th. I felt good and I was able to push. At the end some of the fast guys caught me however they didn’t drop me straight away, I was able to stay in contact with them.
“The last two laps I had Coldenhoff behind me and I managed to hold him off to take 14th. I think it just shows how strong the top-15 is if you have rider like Glenn [Coldenhoff] behind you.”
Ceriel Klein Kromhof said: “The speed was good and I had fun with my riding but not to get a result was tough. Of course the conditions were very challenging as well, it was my first race on a new bike, with a different suspension. On top of that the level in MXGP is currently incredibly high. I have to admit that I surprised myself that I was able to comfortably ride at the speed I was going.
“For 15 minutes I rode quite well in the first moto but when I got arm pump it became hard to hold on and I had to slow down. With this crash at the start of the second race my throttle grip was completely wrecked so it was pretty tough. Even then my pace was good and I was able to close down the gap with the guys in front of me. It was a pity that I was caught off-guard when I got flicked of the bike.”