Standing Construct Yamaha Yamalube toasted a third Grand Prix victory of the 2015 FIM Motocross World Championship as Valentin Guillod rode with style, ferocity and courage across a rough and slippery hard-pack at Loket to own the 13th fixture of the calendar in the Czech Republic.
The Swiss was the first of all four YZ250F racers in the MX2 class to place inside the top nine for a decent day for the Standing and Kemea Yamaha Yamalube squads. Guillod also drew level with Tim Gasjer in second place in the MX2 championship standings and with leader Jeffrey Herlings now out for the rest of the season #92 is right at the heart of the chase for the title.
As a staple part of MXGP since the start of the century the riders were more than familiar with the demands of Loket: a flowing and twisty layout, slippery and pebbly terrain where grip is a sought-after commodity and some hard overtaking moves. Good starts were again essential for ambitions of the podium.
In the first moto Guillod was already rampaging near the front and passed Pauls Jonass to take third place before he lost control in a slow left hairpin and had to retrieve his YZ250F. From that point he attacked again and kept pushing to finally pass Jordi Tixier for second position on the last lap with a measured manoeuvre at the bottom of Loket’s vast step-down. Kemea Yamaha’s Benoit Paturel equalled his season-best finish (taking on two other occasions this year) of fifth position and was the second Yamaha Yamalube man home. Standing’s Julien Lieber was seventh – after a strong recovery from a crash on the first corner – and Kemea’s Brent Van Doninck gave Yamaha a full compliment of riders in the top nine: more than any other brand at the peak of the leaderboard.
In afternoon sunshine the second moto got underway and the MX2 elite again had to contend with a track that had been freshly watered. Guillod was cautious in the opening exchanges and when Max Anstie crashed out of the lead the Yamaha man engaged in a fruity exchange with Gajser that involved a few block passes.
Eventually Guillod was able to demonstrate his superior speed. Due to Gajser’s first moto DNF he did not need to overtake the Slovakian to claim the Grand Prix but saw the importance of gaining championship points on the teenager. Paturel was in the full heat of the six-rider fight for third position and although he improved his career-best result to fourth he missed the final podium slot by just two points. Julien Lieber was at the back of the group and just couldn’t make any solid overtaking moves to gain more ground. He was eighth for sixth position overall. Van Doninck was again in ninth and finished in that slot for the Grand Prix.
Guillod is now level on points with Gajser as both have 399, just 24 away from the absent Herlings. Guillod stays third by virtue of Gajser’s marginally superior win rate. Lieber is eighth, Paturel 10th and Van Doninck 15th.
YZ250F joy came double-handed in the final round of six in the FIM Women’s World Championship as Nancy Van de Ven claimed her first Grand Prix conquest with a confident 1-1 and Kiara Fontanesi classified second to lift her fourth consecutive title with the motorcycle. The Italian rode to third spot on Saturday and then second on Sunday morning as main championship rival Livia Lancelot experienced a technical problem on the sighting lap and could not enter the decisive last moto. Fontanesi ended a tight and entertaining season 18 points ahead of the Frenchwoman.
Yamaha were also successful in the fifth round of six in the EMX300 European Championship with Brad Anderson taking the YZ250 two-stroke to a 1-1 scorecard in a wild-card outing. It was the manufacturer’s first triumph in the class this season.
MXGP reconvenes at Lommel for the Grand Prix of Belgium next weekend and the first of three consecutive sandy appointments as the 2015 schedule starts to head towards the final stages of the eighteen-race calendar.
“I was feeling good throughout the weekend and the more I rode the better I became and it was the same story in the races,” said Valentin Guillod. “I took it easy in the beginning and waited for the track to dry a bit from the watering and when the good lines popped up I started to push really hard.
“I lost the rear wheel when it slid out of the line in the first moto and had to work to third. On the last lap I tried to pass Jordi and almost made it to Max. My start was better in the second moto and when Max had his crash I had a nice fight with Tim. It felt really good to get that third victory. When I saw that Tim did not take points in the first race then I wanted to push to finish in front of him and get as close as I could in the championship. Now we will see. We have five GPs left and two of those are overseas. I need to make big points every GP. For sure I am thinking about the title and working towards having it at the end of the year.”
Julien Lieber said: “I was in the crash on the first corner in the first moto and was almost last. I made a good moto and came back to seventh. My speed was good and I felt quite comfortable on the bike.
“I didn’t get a good start again in the second moto and I was stuck at the end of all those riders fighting ahead of me. I tried to pass but couldn’t and was a bit disappointed to finish eighth. I think it was possible to do better. Overall it was not a bad weekend and I was consistent. We have to keep working and trying to do better.”
“I’m satisfied with my weekend and it was a shame I missed the podium by only two points but it’s good for my confidence to battle at the front,” Benoit Paturel said. “I enjoyed my riding and had a good feeling all weekend long. Onto Lommel now. We will go riding in the sand this week and prepare as well as possible for next week’s race.”
Brent Van Doninck commented: “I’m happy with my riding but not with the result. I must work on my starts, as those are weak points. Passing was so difficult and everybody was riding the same pace.
“I could have been sixth, as we there were four of us riding the same speed in the second moto. In the end I can look back with a positive feeling; two times in ninth is still okay. I’m looking forward now to next week. I like the sand and riding at your home GP is always fun. I don’t put my expectations too high but it will be fun for sure.”