Monster Energy Yamaha began their 2012 motocross campaign today (Sunday) with victories and podium results at the Valence International near Lyon in France and the Mantova Starcross in Italy. The meetings represented the first events in what will be a seven-week pre-season build-up to the FIM Motocross World Championship on Easter Monday in Holland. Arnaud Tonus (pictured) captured two moto victories to win the MX2 class on his YZ250F for the second year in a row at Valence. Steven Frossard was third in the MX1 category while David Philippaerts also rode to third position overall on the works YZ450FM in the sand of Mantova.
Four of the six riders representing Monster Energy Yamaha in 2012 were in action at a bright but cold Valence circuit. Tonus shone from the crop but MX2-GP team-mate Christophe Charlier, steering the prototype YZ250FM, also made a mark with the fastest qualification slot on Saturday and then a fine second place to give Yamaha a pleasing 1-2 in the second of the two races on Sunday. Former European Champion Charlier was unlucky to DNF the first sprint after an engine stall in the start gate and then couldn’t join the fray. He was 8th overall.
“I’m happy with today and we played with the setting on the bike as it was the first time I had used this season’s YZ250F, but I had a great feeling,” said Tonus. “I had a bit of arm-pump, like most guys, but I rode well in the first moto and the races worked out pretty good.”
In the MX1 category Steven Frossard finished 3rd with results of 3rd, 5th and then 2nd in the Superfinal. The Frenchman, and 2011 MX1-GP runner-up, was dicing with Clement Desalle for the lead in the second moto but hit a stone with his front wheel on the approach to a jump on the last lap and ran off the track. New team-mate Shaun Simpson rode to a conservative set of 12th and 10th positions on his Yamaha debut in what was a field busy with Grand Prix riders.
“It was a hard meeting because I suffered with some arm-pump but the results were not too bad and it was nice to finally get to a race and get the year started,” commented Frossard. “We didn’t really change anything on the bike and I was happy with set-up. I just needed to get the race mileage and now we have quite a busy programme from here.”
Further south in Europe David Philippaerts returned to competitive action for the first time in seven months after injury curtailed his 2011 world championship last summer. At a chilly and misty Mantova – that enjoyed a very healthy attendance, Monster Energy Tech3 Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso one of the spectators – the Italian was runner-up to Jeffrey Herlings in the popular ‘1-1’ duel over one lap and then recorded three top four finishes on the YZ450FM. Philippaerts was pleased to be behind a gate once again and the potential of his 2012 race-bike was clear with two holeshots from the three twenty minute and 2 lap motos. Although struggling a little with arm-pump, ‘DP19’ was able to tussle with Tony Cairoli, Anthony Boissiere, Herlings and Evgeny Bobryshev to go 4th, 3rd and 4th in the races.
“Yeah I’m happy,” he said. “It feels like a long time since I was at a race so it was good to be in the paddock again and seeing all the fans. I took it easy today and felt a bit tight with my arms but this is normal at the first event of the season. It was good to see many people here and I’m very happy with my starts.”
The sixth member of Monster Energy Yamaha, Zach Osborne, returns to Europe next week from his recent AMA West Coast Lites Supercross exploits. The Rinaldi-entered trio of the team – Frossard, Philippaerts and Charlier – will compete at Montevarchi in the opening round of four in the Italian Championship next weekend where Frossard will be aiming to defend his MX1 title. Testing and preparation in the countdown to Valkenswaard will then take place in the dwindling time remaining until the season and sixteen planned Grands Prix gets underway.