St Jean D’Angely was an unforgiving hard-pack racetrack and test for the best of the FIM Motocross World Championship today, and the ninth round of 17 in the 2014 series saw Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek ‘on the box’ once more.
The resilient Belgian continues to form a permanent part of the leading elite of the premier MXGP class and his fast and consistent efforts on this difficult French surface meant second place overall and an eighth podium visit in a row.
created by 32,000 fans, fine weather and a sense of expectation with a healthy quota of French riders aiming for lofty positions in the MXGP and MX2 divisions. It would be a Belgian though who would grasp more spoils.
Van Horebeek quickly got down to business around a racetrack that he enjoys by cruising to third position in the qualification heat. The 24-year-old had a decent pick in the gate for the long start-straight drag race to the first corner.
JVH was a lonely third place in Moto 1 to Clement Desalle and Tony Cairoli after a mediocre getaway but was part of a front-running quartet in the second race. At stages Van Horebeek had to deflect the threat of Steven Frossard behind but in others was able to get close to the rear wheel of Desalle.
When leader Cairoli crashed with two laps remaining Van Horebeek was in a prime position to capitalise and his runner-up slot to Desalle meant the second step of the rostrum. The Yamaha ace keeps third place in the championship standings but is just 15 points from Desalle and 35 from Cairoli and the red plate.
Jeremy Van Horebeek commented: “I had a bad start in the first moto and Tony and Clement had already gone so I settled in third place and kept smooth, saving energy for the next race. I started better for the second moto and we got away together. I said to myself ‘keep on two wheels’ because this track was one line and difficult to pass; the same old St Jean.
“If you put pressure on people then it is easier for them to make mistakes and this is what I tried to do. I felt really good out on a difficult track and I believe this was one of my best races in the MXGP class.”
Former World Champion David Philippaerts has had good days and bad at St Jean. The French track was the site of his first GP win almost ten years ago but has also delivered misfortune. 2014 was the turn of some ill luck. An average start in Moto 1 meant a tough fight in mid-pack to arrive to 15th. The Italian crashed out of the second moto when a fall round the new section at the top of the track led to a broken throttle and dislocated pinkie finger on his right hand.
“I have many good memories here in St Jean,” says Philippaerts, adding: “but the more I think then also some big crashes! It is a very difficult track. It was well watered and very stony. I started badly in the first moto and was outside the top 20, so to come back to 15th was OK.
“I started better in the second moto but when I jumped through the new section I had a crash together with Strijbos and broke the throttle. It wasn’t possible to open the gas any more so I had to stop. I am happy because I know I am fast and the bike is working well and I can stay in the second group of MXGP; it is important to be there because it means positions 5-10. We will plan for the home Grand Prix now and then a long part of the calendar with Germany, Sweden and Finland coming up.”
Bike it Yamaha Cosworth’s Rui Gonçalves had a thorough outing in France. The Portuguese felt OK with his ankle twisted in the UK last week but was not spared the effect of a rock to the face on Saturday! Rui lost some positions in the first moto with a crash that dropped from the top eight down to twelfth but his rhythm was effective in the second race to seventh and his joint-best result so far this season. The veteran racer was 8th overall.
Yamaha’s MXGP crew will have a week to re-group and consider more testing and training for hard-pack dirt. Grands Prix in Italy (Maggiora) and Germany (Teutschenthal) constitute their international duties for June with the mythical circuit north of Milan ready for round ten on June 15.