Husqvarna Motorcycle’s official motocross teams Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing and Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing head to Thailand this weekend for round two of the Motocross World Championship at the Si Racha circuit, near Pattaya.
Frenchman Romain Febvre claimed a well deserved third place overall result in the MX2 class in Qatar to start his 2014 MX2 series in impressive fashion. Overcoming mid-pack starts Romain battled hard during both races to finish fifth and fourth and stand alongside Jeffrey Herlings and Dylan Ferrandis on the overall class podium.
Ensuring a memorable night for the Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing squad Aleksandr Tonkov also delivered strong results aboard his FC 250. Fifth in race one and sixth in race two, Tonkov ended the season’s opening GP in fifth overall. In Thailand both riders are looking to continue their good form, and secure more all-important championship points.
Husqvarna Motorcycles spoke to Febvre ahead of the second round of the Motocross World Championship to find out more about his incredible third overall MX2 result at the GP of Qatar, what it was like racing under artificial light and how battling with his team-mate Aleksandr Tonkov proved to be good for both riders…
Third overall in Qatar was a fantastic start to your 2014 MX2 championship. What did it feel like to secure an overall podium result?
Romain: “It felt great to cross the finish line in race two. My team told me I was in contention for third overall so I fought hard to hold my position in the closing laps of race two. Standing up on the podium was fantastic. The team worked hard over the winter for a result like that. It’s also the first time in over 10 years that Husqvarna Motorcycles have finished inside the top three in a Grand Prix so it’s a very special result for everyone involved.”
Qatar was the only night race on the calendar, what was it like racing under floodlights?
Romain: “I’m beginning to enjoy it. There is a whole different vibe to the event when you race at night. It’s really cool. This year the organisers had a lot more lights on the track so conditions were much better than last year. There were a couple of places that proved a little more slippery than I expected but overall it was definitely a big improvement over 2013 – I really enjoyed it.”
On reflection, were there any elements of your riding you were disappointed with in Qatar?
Romain: “During the pre-season races I was always fighting for the holeshot but in Qatar my starts were my weakest element. The ground was slippery and it was very easy to get some wheel spin. Also qualifying in 14th position didn’t help as it gave me an outside starting gate. Each race I had to fight my way from about 15th. But looking back on it I’m pleased with the way I raced. The track was difficult to pass on but I was able to make up positions early on and I think that made the difference.”
At one stage in race two there were around five riders battling for a top three result. Are you surprised by the competitiveness in the MX2 class?
Romain: “Not really. I always knew the racing was going to be tight in MX2. The track in Qatar was quite fast and everyone had a similar sort of pace. Race two did get a bit crazy with so many riders fighting for the same position. I was trying to pass the guys in front of me but then at the same time trying not to get passed. It was very competitive but a lot of fun. It will be cool if the racing is like that all season.”
Your teammate Aleksandr Tonkov was also in the mix. What was it like racing so closely with him?
Romain: “It’s good racing alongside Aleksandr. We’re both at a similar speed and are focused on pushing for a top result. It was weird in Qatar because during each race we seemed to find each other on the track, but in a way that also helped to move us both forward.”
With a podium result already in the bag are you looking forward to round two of the championship in Si Racha, Thailand?
Romain: “Starting off the new season with a podium result is exactly what I was hoping for but this weekend is a new race. I know I can improve and build on what I’ve achieved. I’m definitely looking forward to Si Racha. It will be tough to race in the heat and humidity but I feel like I can do better and I will give it 100 per cent to finish on the podium again.”
Enduring a tough career first GP outing, Australian Todd Waters is hoping for an easier time of things in the MXGP class in Thailand. Crashing heavily during his qualifying race in Qatar a bruised and battered Waters nevertheless rode his FC 450 to 14th and 11th place results for an overall 11th place result. In Thailand Todd is focused on breaking into the overall top 10.
With Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing rider Tyla Rattray unable to compete following his recent finger surgery, Austrian Pascal Rauchenencker will stand in as replacement for the South African in the MXGP class in Thailand.
Aged 20, Pascal will use the event to gain further top-flight experience having finished sixth overall in the MX2 class at the Italian GP in 2011 and third in the 2010 125cc Junior Motocross World Championship.