30,000 spectators created a vibrant Grand Prix of Argentina for the third round of 18 in the FIM Motocross World Championship and the packed new circuit near the wonderfully scenic town of Villa La Angostura witnessed a bittersweet day for all four of the riders in the Standing Construct Yamaha and Kemea Yamaha teams in MX2.
The contest was owned by Frenchman Dylan Ferrandis while Julien Lieber posted a decent fourth position finish in the first moto but the rest of the day was a dramatic one for the YZ250F-armed quartet.
MXGP came to Argentina for the first time since 1995 and Grand Prix-starved fans lapped up the action around a new facility that was wide, quick and slippery in parts as the fine, sandy soil concealed a hard and bumpy base. Raceday was unexpectedly temperate and cloudy but the conditions did not dull the enthusiasm of the crowd and the riders also attacked a layout that boasted some nice jumps and features.
Lieber had a strong start in the first moto and shadowed Britain’s Max Anstie for a period of the thirty minutes and two laps. He was then challenged by Jeremy Seewer and the pair rode together disputing fourth. The Belgian eventually won the duel for his third top five finish of the season. In the second outing the race was over before it really got going as a hefty crash in the rolling waves section led to a damaged motorcycle and put ’33’ out of the running.
Team-mate Valentin Guillod made the most of a misjudgement with tyre choice in the first moto to work through from ninth place until sixth. The Swiss had his eyes on the overall podium as he changed his set-up for the second sprint but a technical problem on the sighting lap curtailed his involvement and Standing Construct unfortunately had to suffer another retirement.
Over in the Kemea camp and Brent Van Doninck made his Grand Prix debut as a replacement for Damon Graulus who will recover fully from his leg injury sustained at the season opener in Qatar and focus on winning the 2015 European EMX250 series. Van Doninck, only nineteen, had a superb first moto and collected points for a top ten finish in ninth. Any possibility of repeating the feat and bagging a superb overall classification was ruined by a front brake problem that forced him to retire after seven laps and while in ninth once more.
Benoit Paturel was reasonably content after the first MX2 moto in which he rode his YZ250F to eighth place and his second-best result of the year so far. The rookie is looking fast and fit on the Kemea machine but could do nothing about a ‘moment’ in the second moto where he was pitched onto the ground and out of seventh place on lap three. The Frenchman picked himself up to reach the flag in eighteenth and was the second highest Yamaha rider on the day behind Lieber in the overall standings.
The Grand Prix of Trentino at the narrow and hard-packed Arco di Trento will bring the FIM series back together for round four and the first European event of the 2015 calendar on April 19th.
“This morning I tried the normal tyre profile and it felt good but the track changed quite a lot before the first moto and it ended up not being the best choice,” commented Valentin Guillod.
“I didn’t make a good start. I was pushing but missing traction. I tried to go faster and faster and finished sixth, which was OK. I changed to the scoop tyre for the second moto but the bike stopped twice on the sighting lap. We tried to fix the problem and it was running good when the gate dropped but then we missed some power. So it was a shame. I think I had the possibility to get on the podium today and we have to work for Arco. The team made a great job and I want to thank them for everything they did this weekend.”
Julien Lieber said: “I’m really disappointed. The first race was good and fourth was decent for me. I’m not sure what happened with the gate in the second but I hit it and started dead last. I made a stupid mistake and the bike was damaged a lot in the crash. I just couldn’t see a hole that was there. I couldn’t continue the moto and I hurt my leg a little bit.”
“I had a bad start in the first race but I knew I had a good physical condition and I could make some passes,” said Brent Van Doninck. “In the second I wasn’t away so well again but rode quite good for fifteen minutes and passed [Brian] Bogers until I had a problem with my front brake that stopped the front wheel from turning well. Anyway I’m really happy to be here at my first GP and to be in the top ten. I have something to build on and the bike was awesome, the team worked really hard.”
Benoit Paturel commented: “The finish was nice in the first moto…but I was not happy with my riding. The second moto was better and I was running with Seewer, Covington and Gajser but then I had a really big crash after a jump and through the bumps. I stopped because the bar was damaged. I tried to go out again but it was difficult. I will work really hard for the next race in Italy.”