Despite not being happy with his starts Yamaha Factory Racing Yamalube’s Romain Febvre dominates at Mantova.
Team-mate Jeremy Van Horebeek grabbed second position in the Grand Prix of Lombardia classification to mark the second time this season that both YZ450FMs have filled the top two spots on the podium.
Mantova last hosted a Grand Prix in 2010 and the Lombardian date slotted nicely into the calendar to replace the cancelled trip to Brazil. The compact, flat and sandy course was jumpy and full of tight turns.
Febvre took third place on his works YZ450FM in Saturday’s Qualification Heat after recovering from a second lap fall. The Frenchman thus rolled into the gate for the first of two 30 minute and two-lap motos on Sunday with the same slot.
In the opening phases of the first race run under cloudy skies but in warm temperatures, Romain chased Evgeny Bobryshev for the lead after a top five start. Although claiming later that he was not happy with his rhythm he made a move on lap eight of 17 and was never headed. It was the 10th moto victory of the year for #461.
Febvre followed his chequered flag with a virtuoso performance in the second race. The 23-year-old burst through to the lead on the opening lap and controlled a 10 second margin to make it 11 moto triumphs from the last 17 and it was his third ‘double’ of the year. Febvre leads the world by 101 points and only needs to defend the same gap next weekend at Assen to make sure of Yamaha’s first premier class title since 2009.
“It was a really good weekend and started from Saturday when I saw that I had the speed,” said Romain Febvre. “My starts were not great today but I managed to pass and lead both motos. I’m really happy to be back on top of the box. We are getting close now to the end [of the season] and the title can be won next weekend. We will see. I think next weekend will be even sandier and it will be easy to make a mistake. We need to stay on two wheels and keep pushing. I’m happy that Jeremy is back on the podium and for sure it is good for the team, for Yamaha and all the crew. We’ve all worked hard.”
Jeremy Van Horebeek didn’t have the best getaway from the gate and had to work hard to get into a position to pass a tiring Shaun Simpson for third place with two laps remaining of the first moto.
It was a re-assuring result for the Belgian who entered the top three for the first time since the Grand Prix of Sweden. In the next moto he was again efficient and fast – especially along the start straight with the holeshot – and moved into second place by the second lap whereby he kept steady to make sure of 3-2 and his second podium finish of the season.
“I’m really happy. The weekend did not start well and I didn’t feel comfortable but the team has been working so hard for me with many changes and I have to give this [the result] to them because they worked so much,” Jeremy van Horebeek said. “I managed to take the holeshot in the second moto and it has been a while! I had some stomach problems that made it a bit tougher but I am really happy to be on the box again. I hope I can keep going like this and I’m pleased we could go 1-2. I hope Romain can do it [win the championship] next weekend because it will be awesome for the team and Yamaha.”
DP19 Yamaha Racing’s David Philippaerts lamented a crash on Saturday as the former world champion was already nursing a painful left arm. The veteran started the first moto on Sunday but was hit around the sensitive and weak elbow joint in just the second corner of the race. Unable to hold the bike he pulled into the pits and is now targeting a swift recovery period to try and attempt the following date on the MXGP calendar.
The Grand Prix of the Netherlands will take place in an unusual location next week. The hallowed asphalt of the Assen circuit will get dirty for a temporary motocross course for round 16 of the calendar.