Dylan Ferrandis started the FIM World MX2 Motocross Championship with a podium finish at Losail in Qatar for the Monster Energy Kawasaki MX2 Racing Team.
The young Frenchman showed tremendous speed to storm past ex-champion Jeffrey Herlings on the seventh of 17 laps in the opening race and immediately pulled away until he became nervous and made a few mistakes which allowed his rival to catch and pass him again.
Determined to make amends in race two Dylan grabbed the holeshot, but was caught by surprise further round the opening lap. Determined not to make the same mistake as in race one when he showed his card too early Dylan settled in behind Herlings.
Unfortunately he was forced to change lines and crashed when his front wheel dropped into a hole. Losing many places Dylan eventually recovered to fifth place in the moto, which guaranteed him a place on the overall podium for the day in third place.
Thomas Covington nearly got the weekend off to a sensational start as he led the qualification race until the final lap, and he again showed good speed on race day to finish 10th and 11th despite crashes in each moto.
Jordi Tixier had a difficult start to his career on Kawasaki when he was knocked off by chief rival Herlings at the second corner of the qualification race.
The Dutch rider later apologised for the incident, but the damage had already been done, as it was difficult to achieve a good start in the GP motos from eighth choice of gate. Nevertheless the Frenchman persevered and, despite further crashes, was rewarded with ninth place overall.
Max Anstie of Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki suffered an unfortunate incident in qualification as the footrest of another rider’s bike slit open his boot and his foot was cut open, requiring three stitches. Nevertheless he persevered on race day for seventh place in the opening race before a big crash in race two eliminated the Englishman as he held fourth place.
Team-mate Mel Pocock was making strong advances in the opening moto until an awkward moment mid-moto when he twisted his knee but persevered to finish 12th. He bravely went to the start of race two, but an incident with another rider resulted in damage to his wheel and caused him to withdraw.
Dylan Ferrandis said: “I’m happy and at the same time a little bit disappointed, as I crashed in the second race and could have done better.
“In the first race I passed Herlings and led the race, but I felt some pressure and made a few mistakes so he passed me back as he was faster.
“I got the holeshot in the second race, but he surprised me when he made a move at the third corner; I had a good rhythm behind him and I didn’t want to try to pass him so early in the race but I crashed when I didn’t see a big hole after I changed lines. I stalled the engine and lost time but I recovered and finally got on the podium even if I’m far from being 100 per cent as I was sick this week.”
“It wasn’t a bad weekend for me, a lot better than last year as I rode consistent,” commented Thomas Covington. “I scored a top-10 overall even though I crashed in both races, that’s not so bad.
“In the first race I collided with Tonkov and went off the track, unfortunately I couldn’t find a place to get back on the track and lost a lot of time. I came back to 11th and then in the second moto I was running in fifth after a decent start, but I crashed before the big double and had to come back again from 19th to 10th.
“I’m happy with the way I’m riding, the bike was running very good and I never gave up as I wanted a top ten result here.”
Jordi Tixier said of his weekend: “Not so much to say about this first GP, it was not a good one for me and I’m very disappointed tonight. I had a good start in the qualifying race but Herlings pushed me down in the third corner, so I didn’t have a good gate for the races.
“Today I crashed; I’m not where I want to be after so much training this winter, but I hope next weekend will be a different story in Thailand.”
A downbeat Max Anstie said: “We have worked hard with the team for several weeks, and tonight I’m just disappointed with the way it has turned out. I had a few issues yesterday, but it was the first race for us this season and we needed to know where the bike was.
“I had a decent first moto with a seventh, the second race was even better; I felt really good and was in fourth when I had a big crash in a difficult section. The good news is that I’m still alive, even if I’ve got some pain in my leg.”
Mel Pocock said: “My starts are not so good so far this year as we’re still getting used to the new bike. I have good speed but unfortunately I twisted my left knee halfway through the first race. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to start the second race, but I soon had to retire because another rider’s footrest went in my wheel and broke the spokes.”