After three rounds of the FIM Motocross World Championship four riders have already started to emerge as the principal pacesetters and contenders for podium finishes and until now Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek has struggled to join Clement Desalle, Max Nagl, Tony Cairoli and Ryan Villopoto to make the group a quintet.
The reasons for the Belgian’s fifth, DNF and fifth through Qatar, Thailand and Argentina including two hefty crashes are not clear. The 2014 runner-up had doubts over the direction of his factory set-up after Thailand but further tests and victories in national events in Belgium and Holland helped give some reassurance.
It would seem the inclusion of MXGP rookie Romain Febvre in the team has had a part to play, particularly with the Frenchman performing so well on the YZ450FM and earning a top three result in just his second appearance in Thailand.
In 2014 Van Horebeek had the full attention of the Italian squad as the sole MXGP runner but now his nearest threat for results is only metres away each Grand Prix. The expectation on JVH’s shoulders to match – and even better – the haul of 12 podium finishes from 2014 could also be a factor.
The simplest explanation could come from the developed depth of competition in MXGP this year, something the rider himself admits: “This year the level is very high. We just need to keep working and I am in a good way.”
In Argentina last weekend Van Horebeek stretched his left thumb in a quick crash entering the waves in the first moto. He was able to recover and finish in ninth but it provided another small moment of insecurity before he determinedly ran to fifth position in the second race for arguably his best outing of the season so far.
“I just don’t know why I crashed again,” he said afterwards and in search of some reasoning for a tough start to the year. “It is not that I am riding over my limit. I saw many other riders in front of me and they are fu*king crazy.
“I don’t understand how they stay on the bike. Like Ryan [Villopoto] in the second moto; I cannot believe he stayed on it because he is going left-right-and-everywhere. It is not a criticism but when I do it then I’m off! I don’t understand why it is happening but my speed is there and I will soon be on the box.”