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Romain Febvre at the 2019 Grand Prix of Argentina

MXGP rips back into life with rapid Argentine Grand Prix

Mar 042019

Six months can seem like a long time. For motocross fans, especially those of MXGP and those not too distracted by the lights and leaps of AMA Supercross, the winter felt endless. Relief then that the resistant curtains finally and firmly dropped on the 2019 FIM World Championship at the spectacular setting of Neuquen for the Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina.

Among the mountains, lakes, forests and tranquillity lay a circuit crowded by more than 35,000 typically noisy and appreciative fans and the blare of four-stroke factory dirtbikes. For the second year in a row Neuquen opened MXGP and the jumpy, fast and awe-inspiring track demanded a hard pull of the throttle cables.

With World Champion Jeffrey Herlings absent through injury a large question mark hung over the premier class and every factory rider fancied a nibble from the unguarded carrot of success. Taking Pole Position on Saturday Monster Energy Yamaha’s Romain Febvre put up stern resistance to Tony Cairoli in the first moto and eventually succumbed to Tim Gajser in the last minutes to finish in third. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Clement Desalle was fourth in front of Gautier Paulin who was making his debut on the Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha.


The speed of Neuquen was one of the most jaw-dropping aspects of the weekend: the bikes and suspension protesting under the physics and demands of the course. In the second moto Febvre was again a protagonist but the slick soil and roughened terrain carried a higher price for error and when the Frenchman was spat away from the Yamaha entering the waves section a painful right ankle was an unfortunate consequence.


Desalle had eaten soil far earlier. His mistake on the first corner meant a busy 30 minutes and 2 laps of recovery. The Belgian was in fine form and rose all the way back through the field to ‘rescue’ the day with fourth overall. Winner Tony Cairoli would toast an 86th career victory at the age of 33.


“It was great to be back racing GPs as you can’t find these conditions when you train,” Clement said. “I scored a fourth position in the first moto. I’m just disappointed with the second start; I had a good jump off the gate but they ripped the ground in the first corner and I was ‘surprised’ in a rut and touched handlebars with another rider. I was last but I came back to sixth, which is not so bad as my front brake lever was bent in the crash. We now have three weeks to work on small details we have learnt at this first GP.”

Three weeks until the Grand Prix of Great Britain gives the paddock enough time to return to Europe and conquer the jetlag. Matterley Basin holds a slot earlier on the calendar and the MXGP teams and brands will be hoping that a good spring climate graces the venue in southern England.