The 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship wrapped up a gruelling three-week stretch at the weekend, as the Grand Prix of France played host to round seven of the current campaign. It was a massive race for the Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP team, of course, as Gautier Paulin has an army of French fans.
Although his result in qualifying was not overly positive, the way in which he got to that spot was extremely impressive. Gautier Paulin started second, right behind Arnaud Tonus, but fell in turn three and needed to charge all of the way up to eleventh at the chequered flag, a result that salvaged a respectable spot on the line. Tonus continued to fly the Wilvo flag at the head of the pack though, as he qualified second. There were high hopes entering the points-paying motos.
The first moto on Sunday was eerily similar to the qualifying race. Arnaud Tonus took the holeshot yet again, making the most out of the power in that YZ450F, and immediately entered a fight for a position on the podium. Tonus slipped to third early on and then found another gear towards the end, so pressured a nine-time world champion until the chequered flag waved. Although he could not push beyond third in the end, his speed was clear for all to see. That first premier-class moto marked the third points-paying race in succession that he has landed inside of the top three.
Another brilliant start served Arnaud Tonus well in the second premier-class encounter, as he rocketed out of the gate and slotted into the runner-up spot. Tonus put on a superb charge and made a run at the leader, before eventually settling into third for the fourth race in succession. The result put him second overall on the day and ensured that he got to taste champagne for the second time this season. Those points gained also helped him jump up to seventh in the championship standings.
Gautier Paulin had a tricky day, as an incident on the first lap of moto one left him with a lot of work to do yet again. An issue made things even tougher, but he still soldiered on and salvaged a fifteenth. A much better start in the second race helped him put on a show for the passionate French crowd, as he was able to charge on and take fifth at the chequered flag. That put him tenth overall on the day and also helped him maintain his ranking of third in the championship standings.
The Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP team will now turn their attention to the next round of the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship, the Grand Prix of Russia at Orlyonok, which will be run in two weeks.
Arnaud Tonus: “I am super happy. I am very thankful for everything. Thankful for my team, for Yamaha and everyone who has stood behind me. I just want to keep going this way.”
Gautier Paulin: “I had a good start in the first race. I am not sure if I was hit or a rock hit my bike, but I lost the front brake and on a track like St. Jean d’Angely it is tough to ride without it. It was almost impossible to take the ruts, so I crashed a couple of times whilst trying to find a way to ride the bike like this. It was hard but I did not want to stop, because at this stage the points are really precious. I salvaged what I could. In the final race I was fifth, which is not where I want to be either. I was not really happy with my riding this weekend or the result at my home GP, so I will just move to the next one.”news