Herlings, Adamo, Everts and Coenen on their French GP

Images: Ray Archer

MXGP again ran the gauntlet with changeable weather conditions at the popular hard-packed St Jean D’Angely circuit in western France for round seven of the campaign and the third weekend of action on the bounce. The venue is one of the principal sites for Grand Prix racing in the country and has twice hosted the prestigious Motocross of Nations this century. The slick and stony course welcomed a typically large and boisterous crowd but the instability of the climate – summed up by sunshine and then thundery showers through practice and qualification on Saturday – soaked the track and made it muddy, rutty and hard to judge.

Liam Everts used his sensitive feeling with the terrain to capture 2nd place in the MX2 RAM Qualification with teammate Andrea Adamo in 5th and Sacha Coenen towards the rear of the gate after a couple of errors across the difficult soil counted against him. Everts was later judged to have jumped while yellow flags were waving and was bumped to 4th. Jeffrey Herlings was 10th in the MXGP affair on Saturday.

On Sunday decent starts were going to be key to podium contention, particularly for sodden second motos for both classes as the heavens erupted. Herlings worked to gain 6th in the first race from 8th. After the second start he made his way to 2nd on the opening lap and then had to keep his concentration under pressure from Tim Gajser. The track was almost flooded but Jeffrey found a faster groove and pulled away to catch Romain Febvre, seizing the lead with a gutsy move around the outside down one of the St Jean hills. He crossed the line in 1st for his second checkered flag of the season. Herlings took part in the podium ceremony as runner-up but with Gajser gaining places due to rider penalties he was later lowered to 3rd.

This article continues below

In MX2 reigning world champion Andrea Adamo demonstrated more high-level form with two top-four results. The Italian was precise and confident to rise to 2nd in the first moto and then kept cool when the rain fell to make sure of 4th in the second race. It was enough for the third step of the podium. Liam Everts was just as steady but a slightly slower rhythm and made sure of a 6-5 for 5th. Sacha Coenen’s excellence from the start gate led to more holeshot spoils: the Belgian is now up to 6 for the year. He fought with his twin, Lucas, for the lead in the second moto but several small mistakes meant he was 15th and 9th on the day to just miss out on the top ten.

EMX125 fired into life for the fifth date of eleven that runs concurrently with MXGPs in 2024. Gyan Doensen ranked 4th overall. The youngster was 8th in the mud on Saturday and grabbed an improved 3rd on Sunday morning. The KTM 125 SX rider is 2nd in the standings with the European Championship next in action at the Grand Prix of Latvia in three weeks’ time. Cas Valk, fresh after his decent MX2 wildcard in Spain the previous weekend, was 3rd for the fourth date of ’24 EMX250. The Dutchman rode his KTM 250 SX-F to a 7-3 scorecard and is 2nd in the points table; 23 from P1. Grand Prix’s principal feeder class will line-up as a support class again at the eighth round of the world championship.

MXGP will travel east and to Talkessel in Teutschenthal for the German GP in a fortnight. Trips to Kegums (Latvia) and Maggiora (Italy) will follow hard upon.

Jeffrey Herlings, 6th and 1st for 3rd overall in MXGP: “We finished 6-1 for 3rd and it could have been better, could have been worse. The results changing after the race meant I lost a few points to the others but I’m pretty satisfied with my second moto. The bike worked well, and ran clean all moto in those conditions, so the team did great. I’m looking forward to Teutschenthal now after a practice race in the UK next week.

“(It’s been) Difficult this weekend (with the weather), and we need to think about the health of the riders and think professionally. That’s my opinion.”

Andrea Adamo, 2nd and 4th for 3rd overall in MX2: “A pretty solid weekend and we’ve made a step compared to the beginning of the season because I am able to be decent every moto. It was a strange weekend because we had good conditions where it was almost dry, and then storms that made it very muddy. A strange feeling…but the second moto was pretty good. I have to be happy…and I have to keep consistent while looking for another step these coming races.”

Liam Everts, 6th and 5th for 5th overall in MX2: “Difficult weekend and a bit up and down. I won’t give my opinion on what happened on Saturday. Moto one, I was a bit behind Sacha and I crashed with Kay [De Wolf]: a racing incident. They can happen. Something went wrong for me at the start of the second and I struggled in the first fifteen minutes to pass the slower guys but once I got free air I had good pace…obviously it was too late. I’ll come back better in Germany.”

Sacha Coenen, 15th and 9th for 11th overall in MX2: “I had a really good start from the 35th gate pick! I was not so comfortable on the track and slowed my speed a bit but then had a fall, and after that struggled to see the ruts and went down again. I didn’t really know my position but finished the moto. Second race, I had the holeshot. I had the pace in the first laps and was 2nd for a long time. I made some mistakes again and lost the front after a jump and then hit the fence on the downhill. Not so nice to have two more stupid crashes. I’m healthy, and we’ll just look forward to Germany now.” Words: KTM