Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP travelled to the picturesque circuit of Matterley Basin in the United Kingdom for the opening round of the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship this past weekend. It had been eight years since the Grand Prix campaign last begun in front of European fans, so it is not surprising that 34,500 fans turned out to take in the action.
Unfortunately, poor weather hindered proceedings at the start of the weekend. A horrific storm forced the powers that be to run an abbreviated schedule, which meant the MXGP guys had one timed session instead of the qualifying moto. It was a race against time during the session, but the three Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP riders all secured solid positions on the gate for the two heats. The weather was better by the time the points-paying motos started and the riders raced in enjoyable conditions.
Jeremy Seewer was the strongest YZ450FM pilot. Seewer finished a brilliant second in moto one, reminding everyone why he was the runner-up in the points a year ago, and set himself up to stand on the box at the end of the weekend. A mediocre start and lack of back brake restricted him in the second encounter though and he could only salvage an eighth. That was still good enough for fourth overall – just three points separated him from the rider on the lowest step on the podium.
Gautier Paulin has always been a solid contender around Matterley Basin and this year was no different. A seventh in race one (after a crash) was followed up by a fourth in race two, which left him in sixth overall at the end of the weekend. Three points separate him from his teammate, Jeremy Seewer, heading into round two in less than a week. Arnaud Tonus salvaged solid points via an eleventh and eighteenth in the races. Tonus is still recovering from a very small thumb injury that was sustained in recent weeks.
There is no time to rest for those in the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP squad, as round two of the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship will be held in the Valkenswaard sand next weekend. The home Grand Prix for the squad is undoubtedly going to be a spectacular affair.
Jeremy Seewer: “It was a strange weekend because of the time schedule. We lined up with no time on the track, but it was the same for everyone. I started off with an epic holeshot, like a whole bike length ahead of everyone, so that was super cool. I finished second, so that was a really positive start to the season. It proved we did a good job in the winter because the track was really technical and tricky. In the second race, I had contact with another rider and he damaged my brake. I had to ride without my brake for the whole race which made it super tough. I think I still took good points, so I am happy with this and my speed is good. It is just a shame I couldn’t stand on the podium today, but we will keep working and be back next weekend.”
Gautier Paulin: “I’m in the game. I felt good all weekend long, but it was just a strange weekend. Riding a new bike on such a tough track, with not a lot of time on the track, and then with the weather being off and on, rain and then sunshine and then rain. I got sideways out of the gate and then it was tough to come back through the pack. I crashed but got back to seventh. In the second race I got to fourth pretty quickly, but I really struggled with the sun. I didn’t want to pull my laminates off because I didn’t know if it was going to rain or not. I am really happy with the team: They are all working really hard. The feeling is good, and the season is long.”
Arnaud Tonus: “It was a hard weekend for me. I kind of expected it because I have had some time off with a thumb injury. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to ride, so I am already happy that I could line up. I felt alright on the track, but I had bad starts and I just didn’t have the pace to move forward. My thumb was still hurting quite a bit as well, but from here I will recover and be back next weekend.”