The Grand Prix of China acted as the final round of the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship over the weekend. The Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP duo – Gautier Paulin and Arnaud Tonus – travelled to a purpose-built circuit in Shanghai and competed in front of 25,000 passionate fans.
Paulin enjoyed a consistent first day on Chinese turf, as he ended inside of the top ten in every session and eventually secured eighth in the qualifying heat. The position left him around the middle of the gate in the points-paying motos – a spot that led to a good start in the first moto. Paulin finished the first lap in eighth then fought in the lower half of the top ten for the duration. An eighth was the position that he secured at the chequered flag, but he clearly wanted more.
The second moto was similar for Paulin, who started in eighth place once again. There were more positives to take from the final moto of the season – he immediately latched onto that lead group and made progress. Sixth was where he finished in the second encounter, which gave him seventh overall at the Grand Prix of China. Fourth was his final ranking in the premier-class series standings. Eight measly points separated him from the rider who claimed the bronze medal at the end of the eighteen-round campaign.
Arnaud Tonus had an opportunity to gain a position or two in the premier-class championship standings at the Grand Prix of China but suffered a blow on day one of racing. A fall in the qualifying heat forced him to head to the hospital for further evaluation and eventually withdraw from the race. Although he did not get any points at the Chinese stop, Tonus still secured fifth in the final championship standings.
Although the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship is now complete, there is another race for Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP to turn their attention to. The Motocross of Nations will be run in the sand of Assen, in The Netherlands, in just two weeks. Gautier Paulin will represent Team France – with that massive number-one plate – and Arnaud Tonus is scheduled to ride for Team Switzerland if healthy.
Gautier Paulin: “I really want to thank my team first of all, Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP. We have had a tough season and have worked hard all year long as a satellite team. We were fighting for second in the championship to begin with then second, then third and finally we came up short in fourth. It was a good year for my first year back on the Yamaha. We have some experience for the future. The bike was working good today, although it was not the best day for me. I am happy I put in a full season without injuries and could fight to the finish.”