Jeremy Van Horebeek captured a steady pair of fifth positions for the same ranking overall on his debut riding the works YZ450FM at the challenging Losail circuit and under the Doha desert night sky for the opening round of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
The Belgian marked some effective speed across a fast and difficult track at the Grand Prix of Qatar, one week before the series heads to Thailand for round two of 18.
Unsettling lumps and sharp kickers littered the Losail hard-pack only a stone’s throw from the MotoGP asphalt ribbon. It was a harsh opening test for the riders of the MXGP class, most of whom steering factory 450cc machinery.
Van Horebeek was present with the 2014 YZ450FM for the first time and although he could not count on a set of decent starts he was able to make some swift overtaking moves in the two 30 minute and two-lap motos to work his way near the top five.
With the leaders all marking a similar severe pace in the 1min51s, 52s there was little chance to forge much of a difference at the top of the leader-board. The fetching-in-blue YZ was an apt foil for the Belgian to round-out a consistent pair of motos and start the campaign on a promising foot.
“Really solid today and I’m happy with the Grand Prix,” says Jeremy Van Horebeek. “I missed the starts this weekend. I had almost the same speed as the four guys in front of me but to go faster on this track was almost impossible. The bike is really awesome with how we set it up and it’s great for the rest of the season.
“The first one is done and I know where I am, which is near the front. Just a little bit more work to do on the starts and the podium is not far away.”
DP19 Racing Yamaha’s David Philippaerts threw his leg over a YZ450F for the first time since 2012 and from within the confines of his self-run new team. The Italian, starting his ninth season in the premier class, had a few teething troubles with his suspension set-up and could not really gel with the idiosyncrasies of the Losail terrain.
The former world champ was 12th by the end of a long evening. Rui Goncalves piloted the YZ450F for the Bike it Yamaha Cosworth squad but was suffering from Flu. The Portuguese grabbed eight points for 18th overall.
David Philippaerts commented: “It was difficult. Very hard. The track was strange. Some parts were very slippery and others had a lot of traction and in the second moto there were a lot of small bumps.
“I was not riding that well tonight. I need to work more with the suspension because we did not have the best set-up. We pushed hard to be here and the result didn’t come but we have seventeen more rounds ahead and to get near the front.”
The FIM Motocross World Championship heads onwards to Thailand this week with round two happening at Si Racha.