JM Honda on Lacapelle Marival International
The JM Honda Racing squad continued its pre-season preparation at the highly regarded Lacapelle-Marival international. After a positive showing at Hawkstone Park last weekend the race in France produced mixed results. Benoit Paturel was the standout JM Honda Racing rider with a solid 10th overall in the MX1 class.
In stark contrast to last weekend in the UK weather conditions were perfect in Lacapelle-Marival, about 180 km to the north east of Toulouse. Former GP winner Benoit Paturel placed 8th in qualifying and showed good speed all day long. Paturel had a decent getaway in the first sprint, fought hard inside the top ten to cross the finish line less than 1,5 second behind seventh placed Shaun Simpson.
In the second 20 minute plus two laps affair the CRF450R mounted Frenchman came through the field after a bad start. Paturel captured 10 but got knocked back to P11 by countryman Gautier Paulin in the final stage of the race. Unfortunately a small technical issue prevented Ben to show his potential in the Superfinal.
JM Honda Racing’s Belgian recruit Julien Lieber had a tough day in France. He struggled with an old wrist injury and only mustered a 19th time in qualifying. Possibly Julien’s wrist issue was aggravated after some hard landings. Eventually Lieber rode to P21 in the opening race after which he decided not to line up for the final MX1 race. Artem Guryev never gelled with the track and was unable to find a good rhythm in France. It also became clear that Artem needs more time to find suitable settings for the type of conditions Lacapelle-Marival provided.
The opening race of the 2020 MXGP World Championship will be held at Matterley Basin in Great Britain on March 1st.
Benoit Paturel: “Overall I would say it was a pretty positive day. Not perfect but definitely lots to build upon! The first two pre-season races showed that we’re heading in the right direction. I’m working well together with the JM Honda Racing team and things are also going great with my physical trainer Joël Roelants. Now we need to keep on pushing for the first GP in England. The goal is to gradually improve as the season goes on. A big thanks to everyone in my corner.”
Julien Lieber: “It became clear early on in the day that I’m still encountering some issues with my wrist, which is a result of the injury I had last year. I lined up for the first moto but the wrist gave me too much trouble so I decided not to race anymore. It’s disappointing of course but we’ll see know how to treat this problem in the best possible way.”
Artem Guryev: “It’s great to get these kind of races under your belt before the World Championship starts. Luckily conditions were so much better than last weekend in Hawkstone Park! The Honda is still very new to me so to learn about the bike on a track that’s similar to a GP track is very useful. We have some things what we need to work with the team so that will be my focus until we go to Matterley Basin.”
Jacky Martens: “All things considered Lacapelle-Marival was a nice development for us. We know that we still have some work to do however that’s exactly why these pre-season races are so important. Both Benoit (Paturel) and Julien (Lieber) haven’t been behind the gate for a very long time before last weekend so it’s clear they need race rhythm. Paturel already showed some good things which is very encouraging given the circumanstances.
Julien didn’t take any risks after he didn’t feel comfortable with his wrist, hopefully we can find a good way to treat this in the next few days. For Artem (Guryev) there’s a lot to take in for the moment, on top of that the Lacapelle track was pretty sketchy in places. He felt a bit banged up after he crashed which made things even harder. Anyway, Hawkstone Park and Lacapelle gave us great feedback now it’s up to us to use this input in the best way possible.”
Words: Tom Jacobs
Pic: MX July