The historic road-race track of Imola, in Italy, beckoned for the Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP outfit this past weekend, as a purpose-built layout played host to the fifteenth round of the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship. The race was a pivotal point for the Louis Vosters-run outfit, as it was confirmed that the team would transform into Yamaha’s full-factory effort when the 2020 season begins.
The qualifying process was a positive one, as Gautier Paulin was engrossed in some entertaining fights and eventually crossed the finish in sixth. The finish gave him a good gate pick on a circuit that truly emphasises just how important the start is. Fortunately, he rocketed out of the gate aboard his YZ450F in moto one and led for the first three laps. A few tussles ensued from that point on that left Paulin in third at the end. It was a positive start to race day at the Grand Prix of Italy.
The second and final race did not get off to as good a start, as Paulin was on the cusp of the top five. It was tricky to make progress on the man-made circuit, but he charged up into fourth and held that position until the very end. Fourth is also the position that he occupied in the overall classification. Although he tied with the rider in third, he missed out on spraying champagne. Paulin still holds third in the series standings.
Arnaud Tonus clearly had the pace to fight for a spot on the box as well, which was proven when he hit the finish in fourth in moto one. An untimely fall cost him dearly in moto two, however, and he only salvaged a sixteenth at the chequered flag. Ninth overall was his final ranking at the end of the weekend. Tonus still sits fourth in the championship, but now trails his teammate by twenty-one points.
Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP now face a quick turnaround, as the sixteenth round of the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship will be run in Sweden in a matter of days.
Gautier Paulin: “I am happy. I changed my training programme after Lommel, and it has paid off. I am really enjoying riding. In the first moto, I took the lead and was really happy to finish third. I am really happy with my entire crew at Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha MXGP. The way they worked on my bike this weekend made the difference with this track being really sketchy and square-edged. The track is also very tight, so to handle the 450F bike in these conditions is tough and the bike has to be good. I felt good but came up short of the podium. That is how it is, I did not have enough today. I would just like to congratulate Tim Gajser on winning the championship. Well earned.”
Arnaud Tonus: “The weekend was ok for me until the last race. I felt good in most of my sessions. I felt like I suited the track. I had a great start in the first race, but I was t-boned by [Tim] Gajser and lost some positions. I managed to fight back to fourth, then in the second one I made a mistake and lost my rhythm completely. I could not come back from the mistake. I am disappointed with how that race went, but it is behind us now. Three rounds remain in the championship and I will do my best.”