Febvre and Brylyakov make Mexican MXGP podium breakthrough

Spiky, prevalent and stubborn; there was a lot in common between the voluminous cacti that surround the Leon circuit and the MXGP Grand Prix runner-up performance by World Champion Romain Febvre to be a leading protagonist at round five of eighteen in Mexico yesterday. The Frenchman guided his works Yamaha to first and second in the two motos under hot sunshine and around a rough and fast Leon hard-pack for his fourth podium this season and second in a row at the busy event situated in the heart of the Guanajuato region. Props to Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Vsevolod Brylyakov for finishing third in the MX2 class for the twenty year old’s first ever Grand Prix champagne celebration.

MXGP moved up from the picturesque beauty of Patagonia in Argentina last weekend for the third race at Leon in a row and – thanks to the scheduling earlier in the calendar year compared to 2015 – found the site (mercifully) dry and sun-scorched. The soil churned into deep, solid ruts and was hard physically and technically to negotiate. The layout of the track meant a decent start was nigh on essential for designs on victory.

Febvre didn`t make the best getaway in the first moto but his body language, sheer skill and will on the works YZ450FM was a treat to watch and he made short work of cutting past Evgeny Bobryshev and Max Nagl to face a six second gap to rookie title pretender Tim Gajser. Febvre copped a small slice of fortune when the Slovenian’s left radiator plastic came loose and started to flap and Romain had a red target for the next three laps and until he was able to pass the 243 and assume control.

Wearing the red plate as MXGP championship leader Febvre was poised to depose Gajser again in the second moto when both riders left their opposition somewhere in the Mexican dust plumes. The 2015 MX2 World Champ kept a good pace at the front and although Romain drew close several mistakes and the limiting nature of the track ultimately saw him ride-out to second place and thus – somewhat frustratingly – tread the second step of the MXGP box.

“I started the second race well and we’d changed the bike a little bit for that but Tim was in the lead very quickly and it was difficult out there,” ‘461’ said. “I was faster in the beginning but had different lines and once he changed then it was hard to pass. I made a few mistakes and the gap was bigger. I kinda gave up a little bit and I was disappointed about that. We still have the red plate and there is a long way to go.”

Febvre and Brylyakov make Mexican MXGP podium breakthrough

Febvre still controls MXGP with a narrow three point advantage over Gajser who has owned 50% of the motos and surpassed all expectations so far in 2016.

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Clement Desalle is inching back towards the potency of the rider that has fought for the premier class title every season since 2009 (and won Grands Prix each of those years up until an injury-perturbed 2015) and his top five run in the first moto and repeat in the second race gave much cause for encouragement and perked up the staff of the luckless Kawasaki crew. Kemea Yamaha’s Valentin Guillod – a rookie to MXGP in 2016 – took a pleasing seventh place and was a battling, competitive force in the top ten on the YZ450FM. Tommy Searle (eighth) and Jeremy Van Horebeek (ninth) will look back on Leon as an opportunity missed after falls and poor starts limited their chances.

MX2 was again the domain of Jeffrey Herlings. The Dutchman has a startling 100% record in 2016 with five Grand Prix wins and ten moto victories and has faced little in the way of a challenge through successes in Qatar, Thailand, Holland, Argentina and now Mexico. Leon was the setting for Brylyakov to hit the big-time. The Russian has been slowly building form and confidence in his first season on the KX250F and since recovering from a shoulder injury that ruined a promising emergence in 2015. Under the Mexican sunshine ‘Seva’ made a great start in the first moto and pressurised Jeremy Seewer to eventually earn a career-best second place. A mistake in the second race saw his trophy teetering on the edge of the podium when ‘18’ crossed the finish line for the first time in thirteenth place. An emphatic scramble and no small dose of determination dragged the Kawasaki up to sixth, which meant the exhilarated athlete tallied enough points to gaze upon a Grand Prix circuit from the lofty heights of the box for the very first time.

“It’s amazing; a dream come true,” he beamed. “I’ve been training so much for this and now it has paid off. The second moto did not go as planned. I think I was a bit nervous and ended up having a big crash and had to come back from thirteenth. Anyway, I’m so happy.”

Wilvo Standing Construct Yamaha’s Aleksandr Tonkov ended the day fifth (two Russians in the top five) and can be satisfied with his efforts as a problem in the Qualification Heat on Saturday meant the YZ250F racer was last into the gate on Sunday. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Petar Petrov lamented bad starts and was sixth overall, just in front of Kemea Yamaha’s Benoit Paturel in seventh.

MXGP has traversed the Americas in the past ten days and can now pack up and think about a slew of races closer to home and on European terrain. A weekend of downtime will be followed by an intense stint of three fixtures back-to-back with Grands Prix in Latvia, Germany and Italy set to fill weekends into May.


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