Dylan Ferrandis of the Monster Energy Kawasaki MX2 Racing Team charged to second place in the opening round of the FIM World MX2 Motocross Championship at Losail in Qatar.
The French rider briefly took the lead on the opening lap of the first moto before a slight mistake dropped him to second for two laps before he surged back into the lead on lap three and defied every attempt to dislodge him until five laps from the end of the race.
After suffering slightly with arm pump Dylan made the wise decision to settle for second rather than risk a crash but continued to pressure his rival, eventually crossing the line just two seconds behind the winner and more than 30 seconds ahead of third place.
The hard work the rider and team had put in through recent weeks showed their reward at the start of race two as Ferrandis took the holeshot award, but he surrendered the lead on the opening lap and again raced to a secure second place – 17 seconds behind the winner but an equal distance ahead of third.
With two second places Dylan is also second in the championship standings after the first of 18 rounds.
“I was not really expecting such good results,” Ferrandis said modestly, “even if I have the speed, as we didn’t do so much testing before this GP.
“Last week I raced an international in France and struggled with the bike, but everyone in the team spent many hours on the bike before coming here and it was great for everyone to get this podium!
“We worked on the settings of the bike through the weekend and we saw the results. The track was dangerous on some sections and I had arm pump in the first race and finished second.
“In the second race I got the holeshot but Jeffrey passed me – he took some risks but I didn’t want to make any mistakes. I go back home this week to do some more testing with the suspension, and to prepare for the next round in Thailand.”
Team-mate Petar Petrov made a poor start in the opening race after missing a gear shift soon after leaving the gate, but the Bulgarian persevered to the finish to convert 11th place in lap one into sixth place at the chequered flag. A much better start in race two saw Petar complete the first lap in fifth place and he moved forward to fourth for many laps before a late error cost him two positions. He holds down sixth place in the championship.
“This track is not really my favourite one, but it was a pretty good weekend,” says Petrov. “We saw that Dylan, the team and me have worked pretty well on the bikes, and we showed good speed all weekend.
“In the first moto I had a horrible start; it was my fault and I came back from 15th to sixth. I tried to pass Tonkov in the last turn but I couldn’t do it, anyway I was happy with my race and my speed was good.
“My second start was really good and I was fourth, I was getting gradually closer to [Pauls] Jonass but I struggled a little bit with the suspension; we had made some changes between the races, not really what I wanted, and I went down but finished again sixth.
“Sixth overall is not a bad way to start the season – the speed is there and we’ll try to come back from these first two rounds safe. I’m really happy with the whole situation, how the team is working, the whole system of working and I’m happy where I am.”
Vsevolod Brylyakov was making his GP debut for the Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki team and started well in tenth place before a second lap crash dropped him to the tail of the field in the opening moto.
Rapidly recovering to 17th, he suffered another crash in which another rider landed on his back and officials declined to let him rejoin the race once more until he had been thoroughly examined. Having received the all-clear to start race two the Russian started cautiously in 12th place, and, despite back pains from the earlier incident, he showed great character to advance to ninth at the finish.
Vsevolod Brylyakov commented: “It’s not exactly the weekend I wanted, but I’m happy to be in one piece after the big crash during the first race. I had a good qualifying race, finishing eighth so I had a good gate. In the first moto I was in the top 10 but made some mistakes and had some crashes, unfortunately another rider hit me when I crashed in front of the pit lane. He hit my ribs and my back, I was on the ground for two or three minutes and even breathing was very painful.
“I tried to recover between the races and took some painkillers but I couldn’t breathe deep and already in the first lap it was tough. I had a good start, put in some good laps and scored a top nine so that’s not a bad start for the season, especially as it was my first race this year.”