The EM250 and EMX Open races have concluded rounds four and three of the European Championships in Kegums, Latvia, that saw Thibault Benistant of Hutten Mataal Yamaha Racing take his third consecutive overall victory in the EMX250 class, meanwhile in EMX Open it was Kim Savaste of 137 Motorsport who stood on the top step of the podium.
In the opening EMX250 race it was Meico Vettik who was flying out of the gate become the early race leader. Though he did come under pressure straight away from Tom Guyon of Team VRT Nordpesca Holland.
Gianluca Facchetti of Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing got a brilliant start and was running second in the race, while his team-mate Thibaul Benistant was down in 10th on the opening laps.
Bastian Boegh Damm from WZ-Racing was also having a much better ride, as he was behind Facchetti.
As Vettik and Facchetti broke free from the rest of the field, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory rider Kay de Wolf was not far behind the group, as Guyon found himself in trouble after being tagged by another rider and going down.
As Facchetti edged closer to the race leader, the race took an unexpected turn for the Yamaha rider who was forced to retire from the race due to a bike issue.
As de Wolf continued to make his way through the field, with 12 minutes + 2 laps to go, we saw the 15-year-old rider challenge Vettik for the lead. Not long after he made a move on Vettik pushing him to the outside and that’s when he became the new race leader.
With not long left on the clock, Benistant was pushing hard as he passed Hakon Fredriksen of Yamaha SM Action MC Migliori – J1 Racing. He then went after Vettik, and after that he caught and passed Tim Edberg.
On the last lap, Benistant was charging for de Wolf. The Husqvarna rider tried his best to fend off the series leader though that wasn’t enough, and Benistant was able to take the opening race win. Second was de Wolf, with Edberg in third.
In race two, it was Vettik once again who was the leading guy around the first corner. Meanwhile Guadagnini was in second, closely followed by Joel Rizzi from PAR Homes RFX Husqvarna.
Though Guadagnini wasted no time on that win, as he quickly moved into the lead, with Facchetti following in tow, to push Vettik down to P3.
De Wolf was also there in 4th as he searched for lines to make a pass on Rizzi ahead of him. He managed to do this shortly after and then set his sights on P3, as Facchetti got passed by Vettik.
A couple of laps later and Vettik lost second position, with De Wolf and Fredriksen both going through.
Jorgen-Matthias Talviku of ASA United Husqvarna was not having a good race, as he went down pushing to make a pass, which saw him drop out of P5.
By lap 7 Benistant was making his way back up the field and was already on the back of Vettik. A lap later he finally was able to make a pass and move into 4th. Though being 20 seconds doing on the race leader and with 5 minutes plus 2 laps to go, it was going to be a dash to the end.
2 laps to go and Guadagnini continued to lead, with de Wolf in P2 and Fredriksen in 3rd. Benistant was now all over the back of the rider in P3, though he was not able to do so before the chequered flag.
In the end it was Mattia Guadagnini who took the race win, followed by de Wolf and Benistant who moved up in the results order due to Fredriksen being receiving a penalty.
Overall it was Thibault Benistant who took the overall round victory at the third and final Latvian event, with de Wolf finishing second on the podium and Guadagnini in P3.
Benistant now continues to lead the EMX250 Championship and is 38 points ahead of Mattia Guadagnini, with Isak Gifting third with 128 points.
Thibault Benistant: “The two races were tough because I started really bad and I needed to push hard to comeback. In the first race I managed the win but in the second one, everybody was really fast so I came back to only fourth, one guy took a penalty from fifth place so I win the overall, I’m happy about this, for me it’s not my victory because I didn’t win myself but it’s still good”.
Kay de Wolf: “I didn’t have the best starts in both races and then also had to work my way up and that was quite tough to pass a lot of people but we tried to keep going forward and work as hard as possible”
“It’s been quite tough, I still feel like I’ve won it but on paper Thibault won it so I want to say congratulations” he added.
Mattia Guadagnini: “The first race was tough because I had a bad start and then I came back to fourth so yeah it was a tough race to come from the back. The second race was easier because I got the good start finally, I was second, passed for the lead and then just found some good lines and tried to keep a bit of a gap to second; that was the race, and it was a good one”.
EMX250 – Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), 29:33.630; 2. Kay de Wolf (NED, Husqvarna), +0:03.241; 3. Tim Edberg (SWE, Yamaha), +0:10.007; 4. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, Husqvarna), +0:16.534; 5. Meico Vettik (EST, KTM), +0:18.634; 6. Hakon Fredriksen (NOR, Yamaha), +0:19.115; 7. Lion Florian (GER, KTM), +0:24.591; 8. Lorenzo Locurcio (VEN, Kawasaki), +0:25.781; 9. Jorgen-Matthias Talviku (EST, Husqvarna), +0:29.226; 10. Isak Gifting (SWE, KTM), +0:38.624.
EMX250 – Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, Husqvarna), 29:50.126; 2. Kay de Wolf (NED, Husqvarna), +0:04.059; 3. Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:06.753; 4. Meico Vettik (EST, KTM), +0:40.046; 5. Bastian Boegh Damm (DEN, KTM), +0:46.143; 6. Camden Mc Lellan (RSA, Husqvarna), +0:46.377; 7. Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), +0:48.075; 8. Hakon Fredriksen (NOR, Yamaha), +0:05.560; 9. Isak Gifting (SWE, KTM), +0:48.912; 10. Maximilian Spies (GER, Husqvarna), +0:50.062.
EMX250 – Top 10 Overall Classification: 1. Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 45 points; 2. Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 44 p.; 3. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, HUS), 43 p.; 4. Meico Vettik (EST, KTM), 34 p.; 5. Tim Edberg (SWE, YAM), 30 p.; 6. Hakon Fredriksen (NOR, YAM), 28 p.; 7. Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), 24 p.; 8. Isak Gifting (SWE, KTM), 23 p.; 9. Lion Florian (GER, KTM), 21 p.; 10. Joel Rizzi (GBR, HUS), 17p.
EMX250 – Top 10 Championship Classification: 1. Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 174 points; 2. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, HUS), 136 p.; 3. Isak Gifting (SWE, KTM), 128 p.; 4. Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 127 p.; 5. Tim Edberg (SWE, YAM), 91 p.; 6. Jorgen-Matthias Talviku (EST, HUS), 89 p.; 7. Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), 87 p.; 8. Meico Vettik (EST, KTM), 84 p.; 9. Bastian Boegh Damm (DEN, KTM), 79 p.; 10. Hakon Fredriksen (NOR, YAM), 72 p.
EMX250 Manufacturers: 1. Yamaha, 179 points; 2. KTM, 168 p.; 3. Husqvarna, 164 p.; 4. Kawasaki, 51 p.
Main Photo: Thibault Benistant
Bottom Photos: 1. Kay de Wolf; 2. Mattia Guadagnini
In the EMX Open class, it was Kim Savaste with the holeshot in race one, as he was closely followed by Karel Kutsar and Toms Macuks of Rodeo Racing Team.
Early on in the race Savaste was able to pull a gap on the rest of the field as Macuks applied the pressure onto Kutsar, who later crashed dropping down to 6th place.
Miro Sihvonen then moved up to 3rd, with Karlis Kalejs, Cornelius Toendel of JWR Racing as well as Kutsar right there with him.
By lap 5, Kutsar was making a comeback as he was starting to apply the pressure onto Toendel, as Domantas Jazdauskas was looking to do the same with Andero Lusbo for P8.
As Savaste extended his lead to 8 seconds over Macuks and Sihvonen, Kutsar found himself in trouble again losing two more positions which saw him drop to 7th place.
Toendel was having good ride in 4th, after two unlucky rounds that saw him crash out of top positions and DNF the races, so it was good for the Norwegian to finally get a solid result as that was where he also finished in the race.
Towards the later stages of the race Kutsar made another mistake allowing Jazdauskas through, though with 2 laps to go, he managed to pick up another position to finish the race in 6th place.
In the end it was Kim Savaste who claimed the first race win, with Macuks a further 10 seconds down and Sihvonen crossing the line in third.
In the second EMX Open race, it was once again Savaste who was flying out of the gate, with Kutsar right there in second. Juuso Matikainen and Nathan Dixon of PAR Homes RFX Husvarna were also right there in 3rd and 4th with the leaders.
Once again Savaste had already pulled a small gap on Kutsar, with Macuks right there behind him as he made up two positions.
Greg Smets was having a solid ride at the beginning of the race before going down and having to fight back from outside the top 15. Though he did manage to pick off some positions as he came back to 8th in the race.
Dixon then made his way up into 4th having made a pass on Matikainen, though a couple of laps later the Brit came under pressure from Toendel and Sihvonen dropping to P6. The Husqvarna rider finished the race there, though a problem with his bike, resulted in a failed noise test which dropped his result to P11.
Towards the later stages of the race, Karel Kutsar was able to move into the lead as Savaste dropped to P3, allowing local hero Macuks to move up into 2nd place.
With 3 laps to go, Kutsar had a comfortable 4 second lead over Macuks, which is exactly how they finished in the race.
Kim Savaste finished third and with that took the overall victory in the EMX Open class, with Macuks joining him on the podium in P2, and Kutsar making it 3/3 podiums with a 3rd overall.
Karel Kutsar continues to lead the EMX Open Championship with 131 points, followed by Kim Savaste who is on 122 points and third is Miro Sihvonen with 101 points.
Kim Savaste: “I don’t really know myself either about what happened in race 2, I was feeling so good in the beginning of the second race but then out of nowhere something hit me. I didn’t have any issues with the bike and of course I’m really disappointed about that, even though I got the overall victory, I don’t feel like the second race was a good one, so just a lot to do for the next races”.
Toms Macuks: “Of course I feel better than the last round when I got disqualified in race one and then a big crash in the second race; now I was riding with a bit of an injury and with big pain in my chest so I couldn’t give 100% but 2-2 for the podium is quite okay”.
Karel Kutsar: “The first race was really bad for me. I had a good start but then I crashed in the same corner two times, one time I jumped and hit a hard landing and hit my wrist; in the final lap I lost my rear breaks so tried to take sixth place. The second race was much better, got a good start and then Kim pushed really hard so I tried to hold my own speed and hold a good rhythm, finally I caught him and passed him and won the race; I’m really happy about that second race”.
EMXOpen – Race 1 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Kim Savaste (FIN, KTM), 29:21.676; 2. Toms Macuks (LAT, KTM), +0:10.857; 3. Miro Sihvonen (FIN, Husqvarna), +0:14.123; 4. Cornelius Toendel (NOR, Honda), +0:31.538; 5. Andero Lusbo (EST, Husqvarna), +0:45.083; 6. Karel Kutsar (EST, KTM), +0:52.287; 7. Juuso Matikainen (FIN, Husqvarna), +0:55.005; 8. Karlis Kalejs (LAT, Husqvarna), +0:56.519; 9. Stefan Ekerold (GER, Suzuki), +1:00.158; 10. Domantas Jazdauskas (LTU, Husqvarna), +1:03.053.
EMXOpen – Race 2 – Top 10 Classification: 1. Karel Kutsar (EST, KTM), 29:34.382; 2. Toms Macuks (LAT, KTM), +0:19.579; 3. Kim Savaste (FIN, KTM), +0:26.336; 4. Miro Sihvonen (FIN, Husqvarna), +0:37.816; 5. Cornelius Toendel (NOR, Honda), +0:55.201; 6. Juuso Matikainen (FIN, Husqvarna), +1:06.444; 7. Rene Rannikko (FIN, Husqvarna), +1:15.502; 8. Greg Smets (BEL, KTM), +1:17.324; 9. Szymon Staszkiewicz (POL, KTM), +1:24.982; 10. Simeo Ubach (ESP, Husqvarna), +1:29.255.
EMXOpen – Overall Top 10 Classification: 1. Kim Savaste (FIN, KTM), 45 points; 2. Toms Macuks (LAT, KTM), 44 p.; 3. Karel Kutsar (EST, KTM), 40 p.; 4. Miro Sihvonen (FIN, HUS), 38 p.; 5. Cornelius Toendel (NOR, HON), 34 p.; 6. Juuso Matikainen (FIN, HUS), 29 p.; 7. Greg Smets (BEL, KTM), 23 p.; 8. Andero Lusbo (EST, HUS), 23 p.; 9. Karlis Kalejs (LAT, HUS), 22 p.; 10. Rene Rannikko (FIN, HUS), 21 p.
EMXOpen – Championship Top 10 Classification: 1. Karel Kutsar (EST, KTM), 131 points; 2. Kim Savaste (FIN, KTM), 122 p.; 3. Miro Sihvonen (FIN, HUS), 101 p.; 4. Toms Macuks (LAT, KTM), 94 p.; 5. Stefan Ekerold (GER, SUZ), 93 p.; 6. Andero Lusbo (EST, HUS), 93 p.; 7. Juuso Matikainen (FIN, HUS), 83 p.; 8. Karlis Kalejs (LAT, HUS), 75 p.; 9. Domantas Jazdauskas (LTU, HUS), 67 p.; 10. Greg Smets (BEL, KTM), 67 p.
EMXOpen Manufacturers: 1. KTM, 150 points; 2. Husqvarna, 114 p.; 3. Suzuki, 93 p.; 4. Yamaha, 39 p.; 5. Honda, 38 p.
Main Photo: Kim Savaste
Bottom Photos: 1. Toms Macuks; 2. Karel Kutsar