Two of Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s three riders, Jeremy Seewer and Gautier Paulin, and the complete Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 team, Jago Geerts and Ben Watson, lined up for the first time in 2020 at the first round of the International Italian Championship in Riola-Sardo, Sardinia.
Jeremy Seewer made a positive return to racing with an impressive third-place finish in the opening race after making a costly mistake while running second position. The 25-year-old Swiss rider redeemed himself in the Superfinale with an easy second-place finish for second overall in the final classification.
The Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP team uses the pre-season races as a stage for the riders to start building race fitness in preparation for the FIM Motocross World Championship, which will commence in Winchester, England on March 1st.
Gautier Paulin also uses the pre-season races to continue testing the set-up of his YZ450FM. In the opening race the 29-year-old Frenchman soon realized his suspension setting for the soft and rough sand of Riola was not right. He ended up fighting the bike and the track while trying to navigate his way through the field on his way to eighth place, but felt much better in the second and final race where he finished fourth after a major off-track excursion while trying to avoid the carnage at turn-one.
In MX2, Jago Geerts and Ben Watson got their 2020 campaigns off to a powerful start with their dominant performances in Riola. Geerts rocketed out of the gate on his new and improved YZ250FM and took an exciting holeshot, while his teammate Watson made a hasty pass on SM Action M.C. Migliori’s YZ250F mounted Maxime Renaux for second position.
The Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 duo remained unchallenged at the front of the field and were separated by less than 1-second at the chequered flag with Geerts taking a narrow victory over Watson. Renaux recovered from a small crash and finished third.
In the second and final race of the weekend, the MX2 stars lined their 250cc motorcycles up against the worlds quickest 450cc riders. Despite their obvious lack of power with 200cc less than their MXGP counterparts, the dynamic duo showed incredible form as they fought hard to round out the top six in the combined result as the best placed MX2 riders.
After two commanding performances today where they celebrated from the top-two steps of the podium, Geerts and Watson have already proved their status as 2020 MX2 title contenders. Renaux also confirmed his potential as the third best placed MX2 rider in the SuperFinal where he was ninth in the combined result.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Arnaud Tonus will start his pre-season ‘race prep’ in Ottobiano, Italy next weekend, February 2nd, while Seewer and Paulin’s next event will be at the French International, La Capelle-Marival in France on February 16th.
The next event for the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 team will be the Hawkstone International in Shropshire, England on February 9th.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Position: 2nd SuperFinale, 3rd MXGP
Really positive race, especially for this time of the year, it is really early days. The track was really tough for a rider like me, being so small, but I am happy. I had good starts and had good rhythm. I made a small mistake in the first race, but other than that I felt super good and that it was a good start to the season, and a good start to racing with Yamaha’s new team structure.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Position: 4th SuperFinale, 8th MXGP
We have been preparing only 5km from Riola, so it was easy to go there with limited stress. I had a few problems with the rear-shock in the first race and was a bit stuck in the traffic and couldn’t ride my race. So, I was not happy. At the Italian Championship the second race is mixed with MX2, so the MXGP riders get to choose their gates after the MX2 riders, which put me in 28th and that is quite far out. I had a good start and gave all to the first turn but decided to turn off the track to avoid a crash. I came back from 30th to fourth. I wanted to be on the podium, but yeah. We have some things to work on with the bike set-up so this race for me was just another step in our preparation for the World Championship. I am looking forward to the rest of our pre-season preparation.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Position: 5th SuperFinale (1st MX2), 1st MX2
It was a good day for me here in Riola Sardo today. First heat I took the holeshot and I was riding a good pace the whole moto but I had really bad arm pump after a couple laps so that made the race more difficult, but in the end, I won so I was happy with that. Superfinal, I had a good start again. Some guys passed me, and I finished fifth in the total classification and first in MX2. It was a good warm-up race for me. I felt good on the YZ250FM and I’m ready for Hawkstone Park in two weeks.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Position: 6th SuperFinale (2nd MX2), 2nd MX2
I am happy with my day, it’s only the first race of the season so we are all just getting back into the groove of things. I managed to take 2 good starts and 2 solid races without any mistakes. It’s nice to get the first one out the way and we can work on the weak points and focus ahead to the next race in Hawkstone Park to prepare for round one of the MX2 World Championship in Matterley Basin.