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Dylan Ferrandis at the 2016 MXGP of Great Britain


Jun 202016

The fate of the UK in the European Union might be the topic dominating news headlines for the Brits in the month of June but there was plenty of ‘foreign’ talent keen to ply their trade on English soil for the Fullback British Grand Prix this weekend. The FIM Motocross World Championship nudged up to round eleven of eighteen with the wide, wonderful and whip-tastic Matterley Basin staging the British stint on the calendar for the sixth year in a row. In the premier MXGP class Slovenian Tim Gajser celebrated victory while Dutchman Jeffrey Herlings ruled MX2 once more. It was left to Frenchman Dylan Ferrandis to lead what was a frugal weekend for the Monster Energy crew by taking second place overall in MX2 and scooping his fourth podium trophy of the year and third from the last four events.

Initially bright skies were a welcome relief from a stormy weather forecast and 37,000 spectators were able to find space around the large ‘sunken’ racing layout: the ‘bowl’ setting of Matterley providing excellent views of what is an eagerly anticipated course by most of the riding fraternity. Dark clouds and ‘traditional’ English drizzle arrived to close the meeting.


The MXGP motos (two outings of thirty minutes and two lap duration) saw Gajser utterly in control for what is turning out to be a phenomenal debut campaign on a 450 by the nineteen year old. Gajser has yet to miss the box since wiping the slate at the opening round in Qatar. The British Grand Prix was a grim experience for the Honda man’s main rival and World Champion Romain Febvre. The Frenchman was flying back from a poor start in the qualification heat on Saturday when he collided with Ben Townley and hit the ground suffering a concussion and requiring medical checks in hospital. 24 points down on Gajser prior to the meeting, Romain could only watch helplessly as the Slovenian stretched the gap to 74 and almost three motos. With Febvre also compelled to miss next weekend’s Grand Prix of Lombardia the championship outlook for ‘461’ is suddenly quite grim.


Another MXGP rookie – Kemea Yamaha’s Valentin Guillod – was an impressive fifth overall and a first race classification of third marked a career-best so far. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jordi Tixier was able to take the works KX450F to seventh ahead of teammate Clement Desalle.

Multi AMA SX and MX Champion Chad Reed made his first Grand Prix appearance for fifteen years and the first of a ‘double bill’ with another outing set for Italy next week. The Australian was riding almost on an ‘exhibition’ basis and was a popular draw for fans through the two days of the event. Chad took a largely stock Yamaha to fifteenth place in the first moto and then had to charge back from last in the second after failing to avoid fallen brandmate Jeremy Van Horebeek on the first lap.  


Obviously I have been racing supercross so my physical and cardio fitness is totally fine but I just don't have the muscle memory and thirty minutes of pounding-pounding-pounding,” 22’G’ explained. “This track, compared to what I am used to, has a lot of acceleration bumps and a lot of G-outs at the bottom of the hills and truthfully my legs and back just found it tough. My riding, feeling with the bike, my pace were all fine. I have to be honest and say I didn't have that grind. I woke up this morning and thought ‘argh; it’s gonna be a long day’ just because I’m used to that one day schedule. What we did in one day I had to back up twice more today. Hopefully my body shocks-up a little bit for next week. The pace for me doesn't seem too gnarly and in terms of my feeling on the bike it was the best I’ve had for the ‘outdoors’ in a long time. I enjoyed it…even if it was tough and I was praying for the rain in the second one to slow the pace a little and you have to respect the faster parts a bit more. Crashing on the first lap and coming from last to seventeenth wasn’t ideal…but I had a good time if I’m honest.”


So it was left to Ferrandis to hoist Grand Prix silverware and uncork bottles. The Frenchman suffered through two starts that did not allow him to compete with double holeshotting Jeffrey Herlings but worked into a brace of second positions in the MX2 motos. “I had two bad starts today and I had to battle in both motos to come back as soon as possible,” Dylan offered-up. “It wasn’t easy and I had a small engine problem in the last four laps. I’m happy with a 2-2 today because the last two GPs were not so good for me and I finished pretty far from the podium. The track was not easy but fun. Now we will try to fight for the win next weekend.”


Bad news for countryman Benoit Paturel who suffered a big crash in the first moto and the Kemea Yamaha man could not take to the gate for the second affair. Alex Tonkov guided his Wilvo Standing Construct Yamaha to sixth overall.

Bud Racing Kawasaki’s Darian Sanayei was again a powerful force in Grand Prix’s ‘feeder class’: the EMX250 European Championship. The American chased Jorge Prado in the moto before sprinting clear to grasp his third victory of the season. In the second he was denied another double by the efforts of wild-card rider Steven Clark and had to accept the second step in what was his fifth podium turn-out in the seven rounds of the championship so far.


From tacky soil to shifting sand: MXGP plummets through Europe this week to form-up in the compact confines of Mantova (just north of Bologna) for the Grand Prix of Lombardia. Round twelve will precede a summer break where the FIM Motocross World Championship will switch off engines and down tools until late July.