After a forced five-month break from GP racing riders were eager to get again on the well known Zelta Zirgs track in Kegums. The Covid-19 inspired one day format presented the MXGP fraternity with new challenges on top of the heat and the treacherous sandy but hard edged soil. For Paturel the morning’s qualifying session didn’t go as planned. Plagued by painful arms the JM Honda Racing rider had to settle for the 25th gate pick.
In spite of his unfavourable starting position Benoit managed to make the best of his situation, got off to a solid start and put in a good effort to come home 14th. An inspired start from the outside into the top-10 set the tone for Paturel’s final moto. Consistent lap times allowed the former GP winner to pass Clément Desalle for eighth. In the final stages of the race the #6 JM Honda started closing in on Jorge Prado but unfortunately he ran out of time.
Team mate Artem Guryev had to come from the outside too in the start. To make things even more complicated the driven Russian lost valuable time getting stuck behind fallen riders early on. Although it took him a while to find a good flow, Guryev started to get into the groove halfway through the race. For his final moto Artem enjoyed a terrific getaway, launching himself from 35th on the gate to a top-20 position. A lack of race rhythm came back to bite Guryev who circulated in 25th until he made a mistake. After 30 minutes plus two laps he crossed the line in 30th just as he had in the opening race.
Benoit Paturel: “I knew we had a mission on our hands after my bad qualifying session! The first moto didn’t go 100% perfect but still it was okay and I fought until the end. In the second moto things went a lot better. I had quite a good start and managed eight for ninth overall. It was definitely a positive way to restart the season, let’s keep the ball rolling for next Wednesday! A big thanks to the team and all sponsors.”
Artem Guryev: “It was very hard physically for me because I hadn’t been training on the bike for three weeks after picking up a small knee injury. My last GP was 11 months ago so the first laps were definitely an eye-opener everybody was dropping the hammer immediately! The second moto was better already, especially in the first 10 minutes when my lap times equaled those of the top twenty. I know the next races will be a bit easier with more bike time under my belt and luckily my knee injury is improving day by day as well.”