Romain Febvre of the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team won the toughest race of the season at Lommel in Belgium to go second in the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship points standings.
The Frenchman earnt fourth choice of gate in the morning and confirmed his reactions and the incomparable power delivery of the KX450-SR with a clear holeshot – his third in the last four GPs – in race one. Immediately pulling out a three second lead, the suspension eating up the rough track impeccably, he methodically extended his advantage by half distance to six seconds over his only immediate rival as the duo outdistanced the rest of the leaderboard by half a minute. Five laps from the end his only challenger – the undisputed fastest sand specialist in the world – finally ran down the Kawasaki leader but second was safe; such was their advantage over everyone else that even a small error three laps from the finish could not endanger Romain’s fifth moto podium in eleven races. KRT teammate Ivo Monticelli grabbed the holeshot award in race two but Febvre had already moved ahead as they swept out of the turn and immediately outdistanced the field with the fastest lap of the moto. Suddenly on the second lap a small crash pushed him back to fifth and, with the peak broken off his helmet, he had to deal with the wet roost of sand from the rear wheels of his rivals but they had no answer to the pace of the Frenchman and his Kawasaki. After twenty minutes he claimed second in the moto – sufficient to ensure the overall GP victory – but he was hungry for more and five laps from the end swept around the race leader with a clever move built through several turns to celebrate the GP win with a moto victory too. The forty-seven point haul has moved Romain to second in the championship standings, just five points shy of the championship leader’s red plate, a third of the way through the gruelling series.
Ivo Monticelli inevitably found the going tough against the sand experts in Qualifying and was restricted to seventeenth fastest time but the Italian shot out of the gate in race one and roared around the outside of turn one to establish himself in seventh position. Unfortunately a fall further round the opening lap left him at the tail of the field but he kept pushing for the entire race to finish twenty-sixth. His Kawasaki again getting stunning drive out of the gate Ivo claimed the holeshot award for the first time this season in race two but his day’s racing was over already at the next turn as he crashed heavily on his left shoulder and was in too much pain to continue.
Romain Febvre: “Yes !!! I didn’t move to live close to here all those years ago for nothing. All the hard work is finally paying off; I did some really good work with my teammate and the entire Kawasaki team this week and we did it … it really means a lot to see my face on the top of the podium here in Lommel after I was close several times in the past. I was making a mistake both motos but I still won the GP. I had a really good pace already in the first race but then I tipped over; when Jeffrey caught me I tried to analyse where he was faster and I didn’t let him go but after two laps I tipped over. Then I was alone for second and just rode it home; I knew the second moto was for the GP and I put in a really fast lap at the beginning to be alone. I was clear until I made a small mistake which pushed me back to fifth; it took me a few laps to regroup but I was determined to win both the moto and the GP. I passed the guys in front of me and I did it; I was on it that second moto. I’m so proud of my team and my thanks to them for everything; for sure we’re gonna celebrate tonight. It’s always good to be close to the points lead but the red plate means nothing at this stage of the season. It was a good day for us but there are many race to go; it’s a long season. We only did six races so far, but I feel this is going to be our year! “
Ivo Monticelli: “It was a really hard weekend. I was just seventeenth in Qualifying but my lap time was close to the top ten. I got a good jump from the centre of the gate to hold seventh but I had a big crash already on the first lap and broke the visor on my helmet; that made it hard to take a good rhythm in the rain. The second moto I took the holeshot but I crashed at the second turn; my shoulder popped out and in again and my race was done. I’m disappointed with myself; I work hard but mistakes are costing me. I still believe in myself and will keep working for better results. I also want to say thanks to the team. It was a bad day for me but they do such a good job and I really appreciate how they still believe in me after the race. I know they are behind me all the time. See you in Latvia. “
Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team MXGP would like to thank: Kawasaki, Monster Energy, Alpinestars, Motorex, Pro Circuit, Dunlop, Showa, Xtrig, Renthal, Vertex, Polisport, Hinson, Wagner meca, Braking, Kawasaki Apparel, D.I.D, Twin Air, NGK, Blackbird, Cometic, Antigravity batteries, Haan Wheels, Beta, CRM, Samco Sport, JTEKT, Ogio, Mechanix Wear, Matrix concepts, Mollar, Garage Tonon, Oakley, GoPro.