The tenth round of sixteen in the FIM Motocross World Championship took place in yet more adverse weather conditions and consequently a technically difficult and draining circuit at Kegums for the Grand Prix of Latvia. In what was a testing event for the Monster Energy Yamaha team Mel Pocock’s continuing dominance of the GP feeder series, the European EMX2 contest, was clear cut and impressive.
Pocock came into the meeting with the red plate as championship leader and after a thorough outing for the first round of seven in France last month. The Brit set the fastest times in practice and then ran away with both motos to further extend his control on the championship in these early stages. His fitness and form on the YZ250F was again evident and has turned heads through the paddock. His speed would have been enough for a top ten finish in the Grand Prix MX2 class.
It was in the midst of the MX2 category that Arnaud Tonus and Zach Osborne tried to convert some promising pace around the shifting Kegums bumps, lumps and ruts into bone fide results.
Tonus initially struggled for top speed on Saturday because of arm-pump and the pain and discomfort from a rock that smashed his goggles and hit his left eye. The Swiss admitted that he never quite found the peak of his potential and an effective rhythm. Ninth position in the first moto was followed by the same rank in the second, although the performance later in the day was noteworthy after ‘7’ came back from last position having been pushed into a muddy puddle exiting the first corner.
Osborne was among the fastest of the protagonists throughout Saturday practice but a mistake on the first corner of the Qualification Heat meant he had to recover from last position to claim 16th for the gate. The handicap was obvious and a poor start and crash on the second lap of the first moto on Sunday instigated another process of recovery from which he gained three points for eighteenth spot. The American crashed out of the second affair and withdrew with a sore neck.
Monster Energy Yamaha will continue heading east this week in preparation for only the second FIM Motocross World Championship visit to Russia and the first since 2002. Semigorje faces inauguration as a Grand Prix venue for round eleven on July 22nd and Pocock will be going for his European hat-trick.
“It couldn’t have gone better today. I took the holeshot in the first race and made a seven lead so I could control it from there. In the next one I wasn’t first at the start but moved up quickly in the opening few turns. I pulled away again and managed to sit there! I’m so glad my races were scheduled when they were! We missed the worst of the weather, which was horrendous. I’m so happy to win again and keep the red plate. Steve [Dixon, Team Manager] has put together such a good bike. My speed would put me in a good position in the MX2 GP and it’s good knowing I could be running with those guys…with a bit of luck it will be next year!”
“I had the speed all weekend: third in the free practice, fourth in the pre-qualification and fastest in warm-up this morning. I went down on the first turn of the qualification heat on Saturday and that kinda snowballed into what happened today. The first moto was really bad. I had a poor start and then fell on the second lap and came back from last again to eighteenth. In the second one I crashed on my own. It is disappointing. In the first race it was so difficult to pass and when you get into the same rhythm and lines of the guys in front then you lose time. It was a tough track. I didn’t do very well this weekend. I have the speed and the fitness but to come away from here with only three points is frustrating.”
“In the first practice session I wasn’t so good on the bike but then I had a stone in the face. I had to stop and only managed ten minutes. In the second session I tried to get a rhythm going but it didn’t really happen for me all weekend to be honest. I did my best and dealt with a lot of arm-pump. On what was a bad weekend eighth is not a terrible result but I expect more from myself. Better form will come but it is taking a bit of time after the injuries. I want to do so well out there that sometimes I get down when I cannot show the rhythm and speed I make in training. I feel great on the Yamaha and need to do my best to put it all together and make it happen in the races.”
“The weekend started off well with Mel continuing his good form in the European Championship with two wins and another perfect run. Zach and Arnaud had mixed races. Arnaud taking a rock in the eye on Saturday hampered his whole weekend and Zach had good speed but a few too many crashes. The weather played havoc and made it all a bit of a lottery. I was pleased with how they were riding but we didn’t have much luck in terms of how the races panned out. Only seventeen riders finished the second race and in that sense I have to say ‘well done’ to the mechanics for getting the bikes ready throughout the weekend without any problems in this weather. We’ll look forward to Russia now and to some top results for where the guys deserve to be.”