Febvre on losing his home GP win

The Marseillaise rang out for Romain Febvre on the podium of the seventh round of the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship at St Jean d’Angely before post-race penalties lower down the leaderboard sadly denied the Kawasaki rider overall victory.

After his brave victory in a rain-affected Saturday Qualifying as he gritted his teeth against the pain from a thumb injury sustained during the morning practice the Frenchman was less optimistic of further success on Sunday morning as blue skies greeted teams, riders and fans and the drier track worked in favour of his rivals. But, calling on his reserves of determination and willpower together with the unsurpassed power of the KX450-SR, he took a clear holeshot in the first GP moto and, although he surrendered the lead to a tough block-pass on the opening lap, he dug deep to stalk the new leader until the closing stages when the constant discomfort and pain took its toll and he had to accept third three laps from the finish. Rain returned during the interval between motos and, after his second clearcut holeshot of the day, he opened up a three-second lead already on the opening lap, extending his advantage to seven seconds by mid-moto in the slippery conditions.

Victory in moto, and in the overall GP classification, seemed assured until an incident four laps from the finish when an errant backmarker blatantly ignored the blue flags – which warn lapped riders of the imminent arrival of the leaders – and ran Febvre off the track, throwing up a bow-wave which filled the Frenchman’s goggles with water. His vision blurred and his lead slashed the Kawasaki race leader had to surrender the lead halfway round the final lap but was still greeted by the ecstatic home crowd as overall GP winner and his “success” was even honored ten minutes later at the official podium ceremony before an amendment of placings lower down the leaderboard of race two impacted the overall GP placings to reverse the podium in favour of another rider. Officially runner-up on the day after the revision the Kawasaki Racing Team MXGP rider retains his third placing in the championship standings and has, despite the amendment which handed the series leader three additional points, now sits just twenty-three from the pace.

Romain Febvre: “I worked really hard to be able to race today but the pain in my thumb was still quite high this morning and I surprised even myself in the first race to finish third as I had to ride through a lot of pain; I did a really good job but I knew before the start I would not be able to hold on for the entire race. But when it started to rain again I said to the team ‘this is what I need’. I was riding great after I took another holeshot and was riding a perfect race; I could ride my own race to manage my gap to second, but with four laps to go I had a really bad time with one lapped rider whose actions meant I had to roll two jumps. That was just not fair and my goggles got filled with water too. When I came to the finish I couldn’t understand why the fans were cheering at first because I thought I had missed the overall after Jeffrey passed me on the last lap, but then someone told me Tim had fallen off. It was so great to share this victory on the podium with the fans; they stood out in the rain for me yesterday and again in race two today. Thank you to every one of you for your support. But then, after the podium celebration, came the disappointment.”

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Febvre then posted the following message on social media: I don’t know what to say… At the end I didn’t win the GP. After the podium, tv interview, celebrations… We came to the press conference and somebody from MXGP told us that 2 riders has been penalized in the top five so I don’t win the GP but Tim Gajser wins. In one way, I get it because rules are rules. But something has to change quick, probably people. How can you wait that long, FIM? And why did no one from the FIM come to us to explain it? No one. Nothing like this would have happened in MotoGP… So it means they’re more professional, better and quicker. But it is also FIM, so, I guess it’s our people?!”. 

KRT teammate Jeremy Seewer continued to build throughout the weekend. Quickly converting a fifth-placed start to fourth in race one he shadowed the red-plate holder until a single mistake in the closing stages broke the contact, and an enthralling start to race two saw the Swiss complete a Kawasaki twin-holeshot. Surrendering two placings in the unpredictable muddy conditions which reigned throughout the moto he eventually took the chequered flag fourth but was penalised two positions a quarter-of-an-hour later for allegedly “not respecting a waved yellow flag”, which was unseen by both the Swiss rider and the other rider to be penalised for the same offence. Despite the penalty he was classified sixth on the day and retains the same position in the series points standings.

Jeremy Seewer: “Overall my speed is back with good starts, consistent laps and speed in the beginning of the race; it just doesn’t show in the results yet. Fourth in the first moto was good – it could have been even better but for one mistake – and the second moto was survival again in the mud. It’s a shame about the penalty, but those are the rules and that’s how it is.”

The Bike It Kawasaki MX2 Racing Team had another tough day in the FIM World MX2 Motocross Championship. Jack Chambers again had to progress from mid-pack starts to convert his initial seventeenth into his eventual thirteenth by half-distance in race one. Rain returned for race two but the American advanced from fifteenth to eleventh through the early stages before a couple of incidents left him fourteenth at the finish. He is now fifteenth in the championship. Teammate Bobby Bruce again showed good speed in the early laps of each moto though this was not reflected in his final scoreline. He raced top-ten, even running as high as eighth at one stage, through the first six laps of race one before a late fall pushed him down to seventeenth. Another strong ride through the opening stages of race two saw the English youngster move forward into the top-ten before he was eliminated.