Romain Febvre delivers an historic podium result for Husqvarna Motorcycles as the iconic brand makes a successful return to the FIM Motocross World Championship at round one in Losail, Qatar.
The eagerly awaited opening round of the 2014 FIM Motocross World Championship finally got underway beneath the floodlights in Losail with Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre putting his FC 250 on the third step of the overall MX2 class podium. Ensuring a memorable night for Husqvarna Motorcycles in Qatar, Febvre’s team-mate Aleksandr Tonkov placed an impressive fifth overall in MX2.
Despite crashing heavily in qualification, Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Todd Waters dug deep to claim an 11th overall result in the MXGP category.
With Qatar marking the only night race of the 2014 series, Romain fought hard to secure his impressive results. Starting outside the top 15 in the opening MX2 race, the Frenchman determinedly battled his way forward to place fifth.
Hoping to make life easier for himself in race two, Febvre again missed out on a top 10 start. Quickly finding a strong pace, the Husqvarna rider steadily worked his way forward and joined a five-rider battle for third. Moving into fourth position with six laps remaining he secured a well-deserved third overall result.
“I’m so happy to finish on the podium at the first race of the season,” said Romain Febvre. “It’s a fantastic result for both the team and myself. We worked hard during the winter to be ready for Qatar and it’s showed.
“Unfortunately, I qualified 14th on Friday and had to work hard from an outside gate pick. But I was able to find some good lines and work my way inside the top five in both races. It feels incredible to leave Qatar with a podium result and I’m excited to try and improve next weekend in Thailand.”
Claiming fifth overall, Tonkov ensured the GP of Qatar ended on a high for the Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing team. Gating strongly in race one, the Russian held fifth position with three laps remaining.
But with Febvre finding a way past in the closing stages, Tonkov was forced to settle for sixth. In race two Tonkov got off to a great start, holding fourth place on lap one. Although enjoying the five-rider battle with Febvre, the Husqvarna pilot eventually slipped back one position to end the race in fifth.
“Fifth overall is a competitive start to the season,” says Aleksandr Tonkov. “I’m really pleased with how I rode tonight. Despite a bad gate pick my starts were great and I was running inside the top five on the first lap of each race.
“I’m a little disappointed to have lost some pace during the midway stages in the motos, but towards the end I began to find a fast rhythm again and was able to finish strongly. Next weekend is the GP of Thailand and although it will be hot I’m confident I can do better.”
Crashing heavily during Friday’s MXGP qualification race, Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Todd Waters saw his debut ride in the Motocross World Championship get off to a tough start.
Suffering a high-speed fall in the tricky wave section Waters was unable to finish the race. Despite being battered and bruised the Australian gallantly lined up for the start of Saturday’s main events. Hampered by an outside gate pick in both races, Waters gritted his teeth and placed 14th in race one before improving to 11th in race two. He ended his first ever MXGP event in 11th overall.
“It’s been a rough start to my MXGP career,” commented Todd Waters. “I had a massive crash during qualification and was lucky not to get injured. Coming through the wave section the rider in front of me made a mistake and I had to take avoiding action – resulting in one of the biggest crashes I’ve had in a long time.
“I was quite beat up after it but was determined to compete in my first ever MXGP race. In race one I was still hurting but toughed out a 14th place result. I felt a bit better for race two but was struggling with confidence in the track. Finishing 11th overall was a good improvement. Hopefully next weekend things will go smoother and I can finish inside the top 10 like I know I’m capable of.”
Nursing an injured finger on his right hand, picked up during a pre-season race in Italy, Tyla Rattray bravely took to the start line for Friday’s qualification race. Despite qualifying in 13th position, Rattray opted not to further aggravate his injury and sat out the opening MXGP race of the season.