Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2’s Ben Watson and Jago Geerts set the foundation they hope to build on at the third round of the FIM MX2 World Championship, the first of three Grands Prix that will be hosted over the next seven days in Kegums, Latvia. Watson edged teammate Geerts out by 1-point for fifth overall, while Geerts finished sixth after a race plagued by mistakes was amended with a superb race win.
The first Grand Prix with the new one-day format had a unique feel to it. Everything moved at a faster pace throughout the entire day, but no pace was faster than that of the Timed Practice session where the lap times determined the order in which the riders went to the gate.
Qualifying through lap times often does not suit riders that are ‘pure-bred racers’ – this meaning that they thrive on the pressure of racing and can often push harder when championship points are what they are riding for as opposed to doing a single fast-lap at a speed and level of intensity that cannot be sustained for a 30 minute plus 2-lap race duration. Watson and Geerts prefer racing over busting out fast laps, nevertheless, both managed decent lap times in the Timed Practice with Watson finishing up sixth on the timesheet and Geerts eighth.
Kegums this year is a lot firmer and slicker than in previous years. The hardpacked, rough and choppy base caught a lot of riders out. It demanded vigilance as well as a careful hand on the throttle.
Geerts got off to a great start but fell hard after his front wheel hit a slick patch on a sweeping left-turn whilst challenging for the lead. The young Belgian remounted his YZ250FM in good time and remained inside the top-ten until he hit a kicker in the wave section and crashed again.
Frustrated, beat-up yet determined Geerts was able to salvage 4-points for 16th.
The sheer speed of the ‘Zelta Zirgs’ circuit in Kegums makes for intense racing. Lap times are often close, so riders like Watson that are very tall and therefore heavier need to ride the wheels off of their 250cc bikes to make passes stick. After starting tenth, the 23-year-old Brit got creative with his line selection and kept his momentum high as he charged to sixth in the opening race of the day.
Fired up for the final race of the day, Geerts got off to another blistering start and wasted no time inserting his YZ250FM inside the top-three. He was not scared to rub plastic with Mathijs Boisrame and Ruben Fernandez in a wild battle for second position before demoting the polesitter, Boisrame, to third on Lap-3.
15-minutes into the 30-minute plus 2 lap race, Geerts passed Tom Vialle to take over the lead for the next 15 minutes until Vialle passed him back on the final lap. Determined to fight till the bitter end for the MX2 crown, Geerts responded immediately and eventually managed to win by more than 4-seconds.
Watson also had a decent start and was quick to pass SM Action M.C. Migliori Yamaha’s Maxime Renaux for sixth position before inheriting fifth from a fallen Fernandez. The Brit m was happy with his speed around the rough and edgy Latvian circuit and was satisfied with a top-five start to MXGP’s first-ever tripleheader.
Geerts has won three from the six completed MX2 races this season. He remains second in the Championship Standings, 22-points off the lead, while Watson has moved up to fifth position. The next round of the FIM Motocross World Championship will take place in two days, on Wednesday 12th August, right here in Kegums, Latvia.
5th MX2 Grand Prix Overall, 31-points
5th MX2 Championship Standings, 79-points
“It is honestly so nice to be here and in this environment again. It has been months! To come back now, it feels so good and I am hoping it can continue. It was quite a strange day, like this is the GP finished now, and usually we would have only done qualifying at this point. The starts let me down a little bit, but I was pretty happy with my riding all day. Overall a solid start and solid first race back so that is definitely something to build on.”
6th MX2 Grand Prix Overall, 30-points
2nd MX2 Championship Standings, 112-points
“It was a tough day. I had a decent time practice, but in the first race I had two big crashes and only finished 16th so that was not really good. In the second heat, I got a good start in third and working my way up to first. So that was a good race and I just hope I can do the next races like that.”