The French Grand Prix has concluded here in Lacapelle Marival with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings and Tom Vialle making a comeback to the top of the box, as Herlings took back control of the MXGP championship.
The 12th round of the FIM Motocross World Championship delivered an amazing atmosphere thanks to the huge crowd of fans that lined the hardpack circuit, as they cheered for their home heroes from the side-lines. And in true MXGP fashion, the riders treated us all to some intense battles which saw the title and championship chase remain very close.
In the opening MXGP race, it was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings who was fastest out of the gate and went on to claim the Fox Holeshot. Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Seewer was second ahead of Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre and Glenn Coldenhoff of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing.
Team HRC’s Tim Gajser struggled in the start and started the race in around 10th position.
While Herlings led, Febvre was quick to get around Seewer, as he set his sights on the Bullet. Meanwhile a little further behind there was Jeremy Van Horebeek of SDM Corse Racing Team who was having a great ride in fifth place, ahead of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli.
Gajser was pushing his way up the field as he found himself in eighth place behind Arnaud Tonus of Hostettler Yamaha Racing. The Slovenian then made a small mistake which cost him two positions, which meant he had to start all over again.
Meanwhile, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado was keen to salvage some important championship points as he fought inside the top 20. It was clear that the Spaniard was struggling after the crash in Germany as he only managed to come back to 16th.
Herlings continued to lead, but it was clear that Febvre was not going to let him have the win. The Frenchman set the fastest lap of the race as he worked away at the gap and before he knew it, he was on the rear wheel of the factory KTM rider.
On lap eight we saw Febvre take over the lead, as Herlings dropped to second. Meanwhile Seewer was still third followed by Standing Construct GasGas Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass.
Gajser then managed to pass Gebben Van Venrooy Yamaha Racing’s Calvin Vlaanderen to move into eighth and then worked hard to get around Tonus too. Also making moves was Cairoli who finally found an opportunity to get past Van Horebeek, as Gajser also caught onto the Beta rider.
Unfortunately, Van Horebeek did not finish the race as he crashed while under pressure from Gajser.
In the final few laps, we saw Herlings step it up, as he caught onto the back wheel of Febvre, and it was game on for the win! Febvre did a great job to manage under immense pressure from the Dutchman and his efforts paid off as he was victorious in the first race. Herlings was second as Seewer held on to third.
In race two, it was Cairoli who took the Fox Holeshot from Herlings, Febvre, Gajser and Seewer.
Cairoli’s time in the lead did not last long as the Italian made a mistake which allowed both Herlings and Febvre through. Herlings then controlled the race by 2.835 seconds but that gap came down quite quickly as Febvre was on a charge.
Gajser then caught onto the back of Cairoli. The Slovenian needed to make the pass, not only for the championship points, but also for a spot on the podium.
Herlings then has a small bobble which played into the hands of Febvre who wasted no time to get out in front. The Frenchman was the new race leader on lap eight and immediately stretched out his lead to 3.614 seconds.
Gajser continued to search for a way past Cairoli, as Herlings was looking to make up for lost ground. And he did just that. As Herlings closed in, Febvre started to make little errors which proved to be costly in the end as Herlings was able to pass the Frenchman on lap 16.
The factory Kawasaki rider tried to respond but it was not enough, as Herlings took the win with Febvre second and Gajser third. And that’s exactly how the riders finished on the podium, with Herlings taking a 95th career Grand Prix victory.
Herlings is now back in the driving seat of the MXGP championship standings as he leads the way with 460 points, while Febvre moves to second and is just six points behind, while Gajser drops to third on 450 points.
Jeffrey Herlings: “Actually today was pretty good. I raced here three years ago so I definitely knew Romain was going to be good today and that I had to step up my game. This morning you could see that nobody could really match my speed. We were two seconds ahead of the 3rd. Going into the race I knew I had to bring my A game. Actually, the set up I had for race one was pretty difficult. I was struggling a bit and got arm pump. Then I just could not hold Romain and he made a pass. I had to let him go and try to close him at the end of the race but it was too late and I could not put a good fight anymore. He won fair and square. Second race, I had a good start again. He beat me on the first turn, then I managed to pass him on the second or third turn. I was trying to pull away, but it was tough with his speed. I think I had a 2 or 3 second gap, then I had an issue. I’m lucky I did not lose much time and kept the 3 second gap. I managed to win this race and win the overall and looking forward to next weekend”.
Romain Febvre: “I was happy to win the first race, especially because I haven’t won a race in a long time so I am happy with that. Our speed with Jeffrey was really fast which made the second race really challenging because we were again 1 and 2 after a few turns, I knew it was going to be challenging until the end. Like he said, he made a mistake in the turn which allowed me to go around him and pass him. I tried to make a few fast laps to make a gap. At the end, I wasn’t that fast in a few sectors, then he caught me. Obviously, I was disappointed because I almost won at home, but anyway it’s good to be on the podium. It’s great to see a lot of fans out there. They deserved the win but I could not make it happen. We are really close in the championship which means every weekend you can take the red plate, which for me is fine. Hopefully we keep it like this until the end and we have to find something in the pocket in the few last rounds”.
Tim Gajser: “It was a difficult weekend for us. The track was really technical. Romain and Jeffrey were faster today. The start was something that I was struggling with, I couldn’t make a good start in both races, so it was hard to pass as there was one main line that was faster. In the end, we are on the podium, definitely not happy but that’s how it is, we still have a lot of races to go, just need to re-group and come back stronger”.
Main Photo: Jeffrey Herlings and Romain Febvre locked in battle.
Bottom Photos: 1. Tim Gajser 2. Jeremy Seewer
MXGP – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), 34:21.708; 2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:00.755; 3. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:37.609; 4. Pauls Jonass (LAT, GASGAS), +0:39.792; 5. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:41.014; 6. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:44.721; 7. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Yamaha), +1:02.787; 8. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +1:08.373; 9. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, KTM), +1:25.573; 10. Alberto Forato (ITA, GASGAS), +1:30.425;
MXGP – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 34:32.068; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:05.305; 3. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:21.165; 4. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:28.199; 5. Pauls Jonass (LAT, GASGAS), +0:29.453; 6. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:30.145; 7. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Yamaha), +0:50.673; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Yamaha), +0:55.934; 9. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Beta), +1:14.691; 10. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, Husqvarna), +1:21.171;
MXGP – GP Top 10 Classification: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 47 points; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 47 p.; 3. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 35 p.; 4. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 35 p.; 5. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 34 p.; 6. Pauls Jonass (LAT, GAS), 34 p.; 7. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 24 p.; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, YAM), 21 p.; 9. Alberto Forato (ITA, GAS), 21 p.; 10. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, KTM), 20 p.;
MXGP – World Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 460 points; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 454 p.; 3. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 450 p.; 4. Jorge Prado (ESP, KTM), 398 p.; 5. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 387 p.; 6. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 344 p.; 7. Pauls Jonass (LAT, GAS), 321 p.; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, YAM), 284 p.; 9. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, KTM), 215 p.; 10. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 201 p.;
MXGP – Manufacturers Classification: 1. KTM, 565 points; 2. Honda, 459 p.; 3. Kawasaki, 459 p.; 4. Yamaha, 388 p.; 5. GASGAS, 359 p.; 6. Husqvarna, 228 p.;
In the opening MX2 race it was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tom Vialle who once again grabbed the Fox Holeshot as he led Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jago Geerts, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Mattia Guadagnini and Rene Hofer.
Championship leader and home hero Maxime Renaux of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing did not get the best start as he began the race in around 10th position.
Geerts then looked like he was closing in on Vialle for the lead but a couple of laps later, the Belgian crashed and fell back to fourth place, which allowed Guadagnini and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jed Beaton through.
Renaux spent a couple of laps to find his rhythm but once he did, we witnessed the type of intensity from the Frenchman than we did not see before. After eventually finding his way past F&H Kawasaki Racing’s Roan Van de Moosdijk, Renaux went after Hofer.
A couple of laps later Renaux was in sixth after finding his way past Hofer, and his teammate Thibault Benistant was the next rider he needed to get around. It wasn’t easy but Renaux was able to make it happen to steal fifth position from Benistant.
Geerts was the next rider to come under attack from the hard-charging Frenchman who was looking to put on a show for his home fans. Renaux and Geerts battled intensely for fourth, but after several laps Renaux was finally able to get the job done.
In the end, it was Vialle who won the race on home soil, crossing the finish line ahead of Guadagnini and Beaton.
In race two, it was Vialle once again who grabbed the Fox Holeshot ahead of Guadagnini, Geerts, Benistant and Hofer. Renaux started down in eighth.
Bike it MTX Kawasaki rider Wilson Todd started well and was fifth behind Hofer, before going down and fading down the order. In the end he was able to recover and come back 15th.
At the top end of the field, Vialle stretched his lead to 3.100 seconds over Guadagnini as Geerts kept it close too. But further behind the leaders, Renaux was keen on making some fast passes once again. First to come under attack was Beaton and after it was Hofer.
The pressure only pushed Hofer further as he set his fastest lap of the race and caught onto the back of Geerts who was ahead in third. Despite his best efforts to keep the Frenchman behind him, Hofer lost out on a spot as Renaux went through.
And then it was like ‘Déjà vu’ of the first race as we witnessed a nice fight between Geerts and Renaux. It took Renaux four laps before he was able to pass his teammate and set his sights on Guadagnini ahead in second.
With just a few laps remaining, Vialle was comfortably in the lead as Guadagnini was coming under attack from Renaux. The pair were not afraid to get their elbows out, as they touched at one point coming into a turn and eventually it was Renaux who came out on top and took over second place.
But as the chequered flag fell it was Vialle who celebrated his victory in race two, with Renaux crossing the line second ahead of Guadagnini.
With two race wins, Vialle stood on the top step of the podium which sent the French crowd wild, as Guadagnini celebrated on the second step of the podium while Renaux was forced to settled for third.
Renaux now leads the MX2 World Championship standings with an impressive 91-point gap to his teammate Geerts, while Guadagnini is a further four points behind in third.
The riders will continue their championship battle next weekend in Arroyomolinos at the MXGP of Spain.
Tom Vialle: “I was a really nice day, it’s the first time I won the French GP, so it’s just amazing to ride in front of the public and it’s really nice to have them at the race. There was a little bit more pressure than a normal GP but I managed to do good. I’m really happy because the start was really important today as it was not so easy to pass and I did two great starts. I’m really happy to win both races again and it’s just amazing for the fans”.
Mattia Guadagnini: “I’m happy to be back on the podium, especially coming back from last weekend because the feeling was really bad, I was not very good. We come here and we did great job, so I’m really happy and I was also about taking my first pole position and here was really important for the start, I took two good starts and I tried to do my best. The track was tough, the start was really important, I’m happy to finish second. The second race, I lost a bit of rhythm on the track, made a few mistakes and Maxime passed me but anyway I’m happy to take second place and hopefully we will have some good races in the next few weeks”.
Maxime Renaux: “The intensity actually came from a bad start. At that point you are just ok, now you go and you don’t think. So I had to really work hard in both races and I think I started two times out of the top ten, eventually could find a great intensity, great lap times and I find some different lines and try to pass. I had to keep my elbows out sometimes, the track was really nice, I am really happy about myself because I did the job, just struggled with the starts but anyway I’m really happy for the riding as I got good points for the championship, no risks, no crashes, everything is good”.
Main Photo: Tom Vialle
Bottom Photos: 1. Mattia Guadagnini 2. Maxime Renaux
MX2 – Grand Prix Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 34:55.130; 2. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), +0:04.885; 3. Jed Beaton (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:07.369; 4. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:10.833; 5. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:11.843; 6. Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:12.576; 7. Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), +0:18.307; 8. Wilson Todd (AUS, Kawasaki), +0:27.206; 9. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, Kawasaki), +0:32.579; 10. Stephen Rubini (FRA, Honda), +0:35.083;
MX2 – Grand Prix Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 35:06.498; 2. Maxime Renaux (FRA, Yamaha), +0:02.020; 3. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), +0:03.925; 4. Jago Geerts (BEL, Yamaha), +0:05.081; 5. Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), +0:05.998; 6. Jed Beaton (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:06.966; 7. Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:20.272; 8. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, Kawasaki), +0:26.934; 9. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, Kawasaki), +0:28.185; 10. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, Honda), +0:29.173;
MX2 – GP Top 10 Classification: 1. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 50 points; 2. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), 42 p.; 3. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 40 p.; 4. Jed Beaton (AUS, HUS), 35 p.; 5. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 34 p.; 6. Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), 30 p.; 7. Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 29 p.; 8. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, KAW), 24 p.; 9. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, KAW), 22 p.; 10. Stephen Rubini (FRA, HON), 19 p.;
MX2 – World Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 488 points; 2. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 397 p.; 3. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, KTM), 393 p.; 4. Tom Vialle (FRA, KTM), 372 p.; 5. Jed Beaton (AUS, HUS), 359 p.; 6. Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 336 p.; 7. Rene Hofer (AUT, KTM), 333 p.; 8. Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 313 p.; 9. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, HON), 262 p.; 10. Mathys Boisrame (FRA, KAW), 223 p.;
MX2 – Manufacturers Classification: 1. KTM, 531 points; 2. Yamaha, 531 p.; 3. Husqvarna, 405 p.; 4. Kawasaki, 359 p.; 5. Honda, 303 p.; 6. GASGAS, 280 p.; 7. TM, 4 p.;