Yamaha Factory Racing are likely to focus once again on a two-man team in MXGP and the rider expected to join Jeremy Van Horebeek on the powerful blue YZ450Fs is Frenchman and Goias Grand Prix winner Romain Febvre.
Although the current Husqvarna rider has yet to be confirmed as part of Michele Rinaldi’s works operation from Langhirano, Parma, the 23-year-old has spoken about the challenge of moving to the premier class and out of MX2 due to the age regulation on the category.
“I was really happy when I signed because I knew it was the best opportunity for me,” was all he could say on his ’15 deal before then commenting on the transferal of his loose style to the bigger 450 and the preparation ahead. “The 450 means different training compared to the 250. The 250 is all about the power and even your own personal weight can make a difference. For the 450 I need to work on more strength but I will adapt the bike and my riding also. I am excited to start the new deal. I really enjoy fresh challenges; so a new team, new bike and new category.”
Unlike some other riders such as Christophe Charlier who uses a 450cc motorcycle for training, Febvre freely admitted that he lacks track mileage on the larger engine. “I have been doing the Belgian Championship with a 350 Husqvarna and I’ve still to get time on the 450,” he says. “I cannot say too much about how I would like the bike to be but I like the power spread to be smooth and not so aggressive at the bottom. I like soft power because I am not an aggressive rider that has to be on the clutch every corner. I think I will be able to change what I want so it will be cool.”
Febvre had a strong finish to the season with his maiden win at Trindade, fourth place in Mexico and two other podium appearances in 2014. #461 should have had more silverware but last lap tangles with backmarkers, other riders (Butron in Spain) and crashes (Czech Republic) often pushed him just out of the top three. “I was doing the best I could so I don’t have regrets. When I made a mistake then it happened and I cannot change that. It can go that way, just look at Jeffrey [Herlings]. It can be on an 85, or in training or riding a bicycle. For sure I look back at some races… but I know I was giving 100 per cent.”
Yamaha have scored several hits with young riders coming straight onto the YZ450F. Some athletes like Brian Jorgensen, Marc de Reuver and Joel Roelants struggled but then racers like David Philippaerts (champion in his first season), Steven Frossard (runner-up in his initial Yamaha term in 2011) and now Van Horebeek -second to Tony Cairoli this year – have excelled. The Belgian received the full attention of Team Manager Mino Raspanti and the crew during the campaign but should have Febvre alongside him as the Italians are due to hone directly on MXGP for the first time since 2009. “I’ve never seen him riding a 450 but he is a young kid with a lot of talent,” Van Horebeek assessed before adding. “I think he can be too aggressive and you need to be more consistent in MX2 and have more podium finishes before you can step up to MXGP and expect to be at the top.”