Romain Febvre secured GP podium honours on his debut for the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team in the third round of the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship at Kegums in Latvia.
The Frenchman, making his first GP appearance for Kawasaki after missing the opening two GPs of the season through injury, was immaculate all day to fully deserve his first podium in Green. Fourth in qualification he settled into sixth place through the opening hectic laps of race one, advancing to fourth within ten minutes and taking over third just after half-distance; maintaining consistent laps he took the chequered flag less than five seconds behind the race-long leader. His path impeded by his neighbour at the gate soon after leaving the start in the second moto, he remained calm through the opening turn to again come out in the top six, moving forward conclusively to fourth within twelve minutes and taking over third place six laps from the end. Once more maintaining his pace despite the claustrophobic heat he closed relentlessly on the leaders throughout the remaining laps before accepting a safe third place and secure overall podium through the final few turns. Third in each moto delivered third overall and the forty-point haul has lifted him to twelfth in the championship standings despite missing the two opening rounds of the series.
Romain Febvre: “My first GP for Kawasaki, we are already on the podium and I want more. I am so happy not only for myself, but also for the team; we have come a long way after the disappointment with my injury just before the opening GP in February. It’s almost a year since I raced a GP whilst all the others have kept on riding so I have to be happy with this result. We had a lot of changes during the winter – new bike, new team – but I feel really good with both. I have shown I have the speed in the warm-up races; now I need to be consistent. My first start was very good. I was second but at the second corner I touched with Seewer; I lost a few positions but I found a good rhythm to come back to third, only a few seconds behind the winner. At the second start Jasikonis hit the gate and then Herlings cut my line, but I was on the inside in the first corner so I still had a decent start. I was faster than the leaders close to the end of race two but they really went for it on the last lap so I was satisfied with third. I made a few little mistakes during the first lap each time so I have to work on that. My thanks to the team who work so hard; I love the bike so much. I am not right back at the top yet, but I will soon be there!“
KRT colleague Clement Desalle was also full of confidence after qualifying seventh, just over a second off pole, and maintained a solid top six placing with highly-competitive lap times through the opening six laps of race one before gradually losing places to finish twelfth on a racing surface which proved unpredictable after a long dry spell. The second moto followed a similar pattern as he initially disputed sixth place with teammate Febvre for several laps before gradually losing ground to finish tenth. The Belgian is now eighth in the standings, but is just six points behind fourth in a tightly-packed series leaderboard.
Clément Desalle: “Of course my weekend was disappointing. At the first start I touched together with Tonus and I didn’t find a good feeling with the track or the heat. My start was better in the second race; the first ten minutes were OK but then I couldn’t maintain the rhythm. We know what we can improve for Wednesday, and the goal will be to do much better than today.”
The teams now have a short break before the next round of the series which will be held on a slightly-amended track at the same Kegums facility on Wednesday.