Heavy rain made the typically soft and loamy sand of Riola rough and brutal, which for many riders was a struggle especially with the conditions serving as the season-opener. In the two races, Van Horebeek was on the pace onboard his works YZ450FM as he kept the eight-time FIM Motocross World Champion Antonio Cairoli in check for two second place finishes.

“It was a really good day today,” Van Horebeek said, “I was really surprised that it was so easy. To be honest I was a bit lost in the Free Practice because I was back in the sand after being in Spain on the clay and hard-pack tracks for the last three weeks, but then in the races I just found my rhythm, I was not even close to going over the edge I was just riding at a comfortable pace, finding smooth and good lines.”

Wilvo Yamaha Official’s duo of Shaun Simpson and Arnaud Tonus debuted their YZ450F’s in the premier class with both riders making some solid progress throughout the course of the day. “We haven’t spent a lot of time in the sand,” Simpson said, “although I didn’t feel too bad on the bike, we just struggled with set up a bit, but that is what we use these races for, to prepare.” Tonus agreed, “it was not a bad day, we just haven’t been in the sand enough, but we made some solid progress.”

Van Horebeek and Febvre will be back on the gate at round two of the International Italian Championship at Malagrotta next weekend, February 5, while Simpson and Tonus will be racing in England at the Hawkstone International MX.

Fellow Yamaha rider Benoit Paturel was second in the opening MX2 race but fell in the Elite Superfinal and retired. He was not badly hurt.