Romain Febvre and Jeffrey Herlings rack up another GP win each in their respective classes at the MXGP of Europe in Valkenswaard, Holland.
Reigning FIM MXGP World Champion Romain Febvre and former MX2 World Champion Jeffrey Herlings showed that their intentions to keep or regain a number one plate on the world stage are legit when both men scored their second straight GP wins at the MXGP of Europe on the brutal sand track at Valkenswaard, Holland, Sunday.
Torrential rains helped to pack the Valkenswaard circuit, but the track became extremely rough, taxing the riders’ strength and testing their skill at every turn. In MXGP, the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing-backed Febvre proved once again that he may be one of the fittest riders on the circuit, as he had to come from behind after finishing third in the first moto, behind Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gasjer and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Max Nagl.
“I couldn’t find my rhythm in the first race” Febvre said. “I crashed, and I couldn’t find my lines. I was really disappointed and angry so before the second race I was hungry, I wanted to win.”
Dutch fans were treated to an epic second moto in which Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli battled toe-to-toe with Febvre, who crashed again in the second moto before getting up a head of steam and coming after the Italian. Cairoli, who finished seventh in the first moto, led every lap of the second except the one that counted. Febvre came through and passed the eight-time World Champion before going on to win the race with a little over 5 seconds in hand and collect the GP win.
“I found the missing rhythm and tried to race to the finish for the lead,” Febvre said. “In the last lap I found Cairoli ahead of me and did everything I could to pass him and take the victory.”
Nagl, who spent much of 2015 on the sidelines with an injury, showed both the speed and consistency that had him winning GPs and leading the MXGP series points standings early last season. The German rider actually passed Febvre to take second place in moto one, but slipped to fourth in moto two and carding second overall.
“We had a really positive weekend, and we managed to step it up to the next level,” Nagl said. “My riding was good on both days despite the rain making the track slippery and difficult. If I could get another good start in moto two, I’m sure I could have fought for the overall win. We take all the positive things and move on. I’m feeling good on the bike, and the track in the following round in Argentina is one of my favorites.”
Gasjer struggled in the second moto, finishing way down in eighth place, but he still scored well enough to land third overall.
“I had a problem with my bike in the last race where it kept stopping,” Gasjer said after the second moto. “I stalled it twice but it actually wasn’t my fault. I haven’t been back to the paddock to know what the problem is yet, but anyway I am happy to be back on the podium, especially in the sand because it’s not actually my favorite dirt.”
Cairoli’s 7-2 finishes were good enough for fourth overall. Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek went 5-3 for fifth overall.
Not that Herlings needed any extra motivation to snatch his third consecutive MX2 GP win through the first three rounds, but the Red Bull KTM rider was also on showcase in front of his home crowd, and he was keen to bag another victory at the site of his very first back in 2010 when he was just 15 years old. Herlings has since gone undefeated in GPs at Valkenswaard, adding to the pressure for another win in front of the home fans.
But there was simply no stopping the rejuvenated Dutchman as he stormed through the wet sand to win both motos by huge margins over teammate Pauls Jonass, who finished second in both motos. Herlings’ domination can best be described by his margins of victory: over 50 seconds in moto one and just under 1 minute and 20 seconds in moto two! Adding even more specialty to the win, it was Herlings’ 50th Grand Prix win, and it came in front of his home crowd.
“To win 50 grand prix is something special,” Herlings said. “It’s like your first, then 10, then 50, then 100.”
Finishing second to Herlings in the sand is almost as good as a win for most riders, and Herlings’ brilliance should not totally overshadow the fine rides put in by Jonass, who charged hard and claimed to solid runner-ups for second overall.
“I felt confident this weekend,” Jonass said. “I struggled a bit with suspension settings yesterday and in the first race too, but we changed some things and it was much better.”
Team Suzuki World MX2’s Jeremy Seewer also had a good run in the Valkenswaard sand, finishing 3-3 for third overall.
“I have been on the podium a few times now, but for me this one is an emotional one,” Seewer said afterward. “To do it in the sand as a Swiss rider was something really important to me especially after last year. I was not so good here, and even in years before I couldn’t even qualify in the sand in the European Championship on an 85cc. I have worked really hard, and it’s starting to be alright now.”
Kemea Yamaha Official MX Team’s Brent Van doninck did not finish the Saturday’s qualifying race, and thus was forced to start both GPs with a poor gate pick, but he charged his way through the field from near the back of the pack in both motos to record amazing 5-4 moto finishes for fourth overall. Van doninck’s Kemea Yamaha teammate, Benoit Paturel, finished fifth overall via 6-5 scores.
2016 FIM Motocross World Championship
MXGP of Europe
Results: March 26, 2016 (Round 3 of 18)
1. Romain Febvre (FRA)-Yam/3-1
2. Maximilian Nagl (GER)-Hus/2-4
3. Tim Gajser (SLO)-hon/1-8
4. Antonio Cairoli (ITA)-KTM/7-2
5. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL)-Yam/5-3
6. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS)-Hon/4-6
7. Kevin Strijbos (BEL)-Suz/6-5
8. Shaun Simpson (GBR)-KTM/10-9
9. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED)-KTM/13-7
10. Tanel Leok (EST)-KTM/11-12
2016 FIM MXGP World Championship Series Points Standings (After 3 of 18 rounds)
1. Romain Febvre-137/2 wins
2. Tim Gajser-124/1 win
3. Evgeny Bobryshev-107
4. Jeremy Van Horebeek-104
5. Antonio Cairoli-100
6. Maximilian Nagl-84
7. Shaun Simpson-80
8. Kevin Strijbos-79
9. Tommy Searle-63
10. Glenn Coldenhoff-55
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED)-KTM/1-1
2. Pauls Jonass (LAT)-KTM/2-2
3. Jeremy Seewer (SUI)-Suz/3-3
4. Brent Van doninck (BEL)-Yam/5-4
5. Benoit Paturel (FRA)-Yam/6-5
6. Alvin Östlund (SWE)-Yam/9-10
7. Michele Cervellin (ITA)-Hon/14-7
8. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS)-Kaw/12-9
9. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS)-Yam/10-11
10. Davy Pootjes (NED)-KTM/6-15
2016 FIM MX2 World Championship Series Points Standings (After 3 of 18 rounds)
1. Jeffrey Herlings-150/3 wins
2. Pauls Jonass-112
3. Jeremy Seewer-112
4. Aleksandr Tonkov-91
5. Brent Van doninck-78
6. Petar Petrov-76
7. Benoit Paturel-75
8. Samuele Bernardini-60
9. Alvin Östlund-60
10. Vsevolod Brylyakov-59