The first round of the European Championship EMX250 and EMX300, presented by FMF Racing, took place this weekend on the treacherous circuit of Valkenswaard, in the Netherlands.
Stormy skies darkened the atmosphere ever so slightly as rain came and went, and wicked winds gusted, but the real storm that is the depth of racing in the European Championship was enough to put a smile on everyone’s faces as Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s duo of Conrad Mewse and Yentel Martens reigned supreme at the opening rounds.
When the gates slammed into the sloppy sand of Valkenswaard, Norway’s Even Heibye was the quickest to react and took the holeshot with the two EMX250 rookies, Conrad Mewse and Maxime Renaux, in tow.
Mewse was looking right at home on the roughness of Valkenswaard as he hung right off the back of his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, keeping the front wheel light, and wheel tapped his way past Heibye on the rhythm section after the waves to take over the lead.
Saturday’s runner-up, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Hunter Lawrence didn’t do himself any favours with a mediocre start, but it didn’t bother him too much, he just got creative with his lines and put in two jaw-dropping laps to be on the heels of the leaders by the end of lap two.
Mewse started to inch away as Lawrence bashed bars with Heibye for second, eventually the Aussie made the pass and went after the race one winner Mewse. In no time at all, Lawrence, who was pinned beyond belief, blitzed past Mewse to take over the lead.
With 10 minutes to go, Heibye hooked a gear and got right on Lawrence. Lawrence ended up handing the Norwegian, Heibye, the lead when he got too hard on the gas and spun out at the bottom of a hill. Mewse then took second back four seconds adrift of Heibye while Lawerence remounted in third, 10 seconds back.
Lawrence was the fastest rider on the track by a full second but a race riddled with sketchy moments saw the ambitious youngster drop back to fifth with Bodo Schmidt Motorsports Thomas Kjer Olsen and Team Suzuki World MX2’s Dutchman Bas Vaessen taking third and fourth respectively.
In the final stages of the race Mewse regrouped and knuckled down to make a pass on Heibye for the lead and rode it home for a hard-fought win and an impressive 1-1 for the weekend. Heibye, Kjer Olsen, Vaessen and Lawrence followed.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Conrad Mewse was the dominator this weekend while Even Heibye stood on the podium for the first time in his EMX career. Bodo Schmidt Motosports Thomas Kjer Olsen was sick all week and was stoked with his performance for third overall.
EMX250 Race 1 Top Ten: 1. Conrad Mewse (GBR, Husqvarna), 30:13.460; 2. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Kawasaki), +0:02.489; 3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:30.169; 4. Even Heibye (NOR, KTM), +0:33.440; 5. Anton Lundgren (SWE, Husqvarna), +0:50.010; 6. Kevin Wouts (BEL, KTM), +0:54.589; 7. Darian Sanayei (USA, Kawasaki), +0:57.320; 8. Nick Kouwenberg (NED, Honda), +0:59.807; 9. Nicolas Dercourt (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:00.376; 10. Ken Bengtson (SWE, Yamaha), +1:08.529
EMX250 Race 2 Top Ten: 1. Conrad Mewse (GBR, Husqvarna), 30:38.200; 2. Even Heibye (NOR, KTM), +0:03.207; 3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +0:06.589; 4. Bas Vaessen (NED, Suzuki), +0:08.435; 5. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, Kawasaki), +0:15.792; 6. Kevin Wouts (BEL, KTM), +0:30.054; 7. Anton Lundgren (SWE, Husqvarna), +0:38.858; 8. Nick Kouwenberg (NED, Honda), +0:57.430; 9. Ceriel Klein Kromhof (NED, Honda), +1:00.250; 10. Anton Gole (SWE, Husqvarna), +1:01.413
EMX250 Overall Top Ten: 1. Conrad Mewse (GBR, HUS), 50 points; 2. Even Heibye (NOR, KTM), 40 p.; 3. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 40 p.; 4. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, KAW), 38 p.; 5. Kevin Wouts (BEL, KTM), 30 p.; 6. Anton Lundgren (SWE, HUS), 30 p.; 7. Nick Kouwenberg (NED, HON), 26 p.; 8. Bas Vaessen (NED, SUZ), 25 p.; 9. Darian Sanayei (USA, KAW), 23 p.; 10. Ken Bengtson (SWE, YAM), 21 p.
EMX250 Manufacturers: 1. Husqvarna, 50 points; 2. KTM, 40 p.; 3. Kawasaki, 38 p.; 4. Honda, 26 p.; 5. Suzuki, 25 p.; 6. Yamaha, 21 p.
Forty 300cc two-strokes on a gate is music to the ears of most genuine race fans.
The tinny sound is like a shot of adrenalin that pumps everyone up right before the gate falls. When the gates dropped for the final race of the weekend it was Saturday’s runner-up Yentel Martens who took the holeshot ahead of the race one winner Mike Kras who slid out on the exit.
With Kras down, Martens, who was coincidently last year’s dominator here in Valkenswaard, checked out and cruised home for an easy victory.
Meanwhile, behind the leggy Belgian, GL12 Yamaha Racing’s Lewis Gregory wasted no time in muscling his way forward and was in a comfortable second on lap two. Gregory’s GL12 team-mate Brad Anderson was also flying in the opening stages of the race but stacked it on lap three.
Dutchman Patrick Vos soldiered his way from eighth all the way to third ahead of Belgian Mike Vanderstraeten and Kevin Van Geldorp. As for the Race One winner Mike Kras, he had a disastrous first lap where he went down in the first corner and then tangled with another rider a lap later. Despite losing his front fender the Dutchman dug deep and managed to come home in sixth.
Yentel Martens went 2-1 for the overall and the first red plate of the season while Lewis Gregory replicated his result of last year with second overall. Dutchman Mike Kras rounded off the podium after his outstanding recovery from two crashes in the final race.
EMX300 Presented by FMF Racing Race 1 Top Ten: 1. Mike Kras (NED, KTM), 30:08.630; 2. Yentel Martens (BEL, Husqvarna), +0:08.004; 3. Mike Vanderstraeten (BEL, TM), +0:33.141; 4. Lewis Gregory (GBR, Yamaha), +0:45.442; 5. Francisco Utrilla Antonio (ESP, Yamaha), +0:56.162; 6. Brad Anderson (GBR, Yamaha), +1:08.082; 7. Joshua van der Linden (NED, Yamaha), +1:25.761; 8. Joey Smet (BEL, KTM), +1:27.409; 9. Kevin Van Geldorp (NED, Yamaha), +1:50.594; 10. Thomas Marini (SMR, Husqvarna), +1:52.637
EMX300 Presented by FMF Racing Race 2 Top Ten: 1. Yentel Martens (BEL, Husqvarna), 29:24.719; 2. Lewis Gregory (GBR, Yamaha), +0:28.437; 3. Patrick Vos (NED, KTM), +0:30.782; 4. Mike Vanderstraeten (BEL, TM), +0:32.322; 5. Kevin Van Geldorp (NED, Yamaha), +1:07.049; 6. Mike Kras (NED, KTM), +1:08.861; 7. Matthew Moffat (GBR, KTM), +1:11.126; 8. Dietger Damiaens (BEL, KTM), +1:12.242; 9. Joshua van der Linden (NED, Yamaha), +1:12.497; 10. Francisco Utrilla Antonio (ESP, Yamaha), +1:13.548
EMX300 Presented by FMF Racing Overall Top Ten: 1. Yentel Martens (BEL, HUS), 47 points; 2. Lewis Gregory (GBR, YAM), 40 p.; 3. Mike Kras (NED, KTM), 40 p.; 4. Mike Vanderstraeten (BEL, TM), 38 p.; 5. Kevin Van Geldorp (NED, YAM), 28 p.; 6. Francisco Utrilla Antonio (ESP, YAM), 27 p.; 7. Joshua van der Linden (NED, YAM), 26 p.; 8. Patrick Vos (NED, KTM), 25 p.; 9. Matthew Moffat (GBR, KTM), 24 p.; 10. Dietger Damiaens (BEL, KTM), 22 p.;
EMX300 Presented by FMF Racing Manufacturers: 1. Husqvarna, 47 points; 2. KTM, 45 p.; 3. Yamaha, 40 p.; 4. TM, 38 p.