The ever-changing and swirling sand of Valkenswaard presented a difficult and technical challenge for the Grand Prix of the Netherlands and the second round of fifteen in the FIM MX2-GP World Championship. Under day-long sunshine and the glare of 35,000 holiday-making spectators, Bike it Cosworth Wild Wolf Yamahas Arnaud Tonus finished 4th overall while Monster Energy Yamahas Gautier Paulin defied odds to earn an excellent 5th.
Track conditions and an unusually intense climate created an energy-sapping racing environment for the MX2-GP riders. Paulin, steering the prototype fuel-injected YZ250FM, had to take painkillers to erase discomfort of a suspected twisted torso muscle from Saturday. The Frenchman could barely complete the warm-up session but bravely entered the two motos and produced an exceptional set of rides to 5th and 6th; at one stage he battle for third spot in the first race.
While Paulin exceeded expectations Arnaud Tonus was also displaying yet more improved speed and skill in the sand. The Swiss fought back from a so-so start in Moto1 to find his way to fourth and was only two circulations from an overall podium finish deep into Moto2 until fatigue caused a small slip and he was pipped to the line and a trophy – by Tommy Searle.
Monster Energy Yamahas Harri Kullas had a consistent day with two seventh positions and the same overall ranking and was one place higher in the event standings than American Zach Osborne on the YZ250F who had to recover from a poor start in Moto2 to climb to eighth. Kullas team-mate Christophe Charlier was eleventh. The Frenchman, who underwent laser therapy on a broken bone in his right hand crashed exiting the first corner of Moto1 but started brilliantly in Moto2 and ran as high as third before feeling the pace and dropping back to tenth.
Tonus, Paulin and Osborne are fourth, fifth and sixth in the championship table respectively and are within seven points of each other. Kullas is ninth with Charlier eleventh.
The MX2 series will recommence with the U.S. Grand Prix at Glen Helen in southern California on May 15th. The American trip
Gautier Paulin, Monster Energy Yamaha:
The track was tough and very hard physically. I didnt start so well but I got some good points today and did the best job I could. We will see a little bit what has been the problem now and hope to be fully ready to go for America.
It seems like I feel good on the sand now! It was two tough motos but the first one was great and to finish fourth on the sand was really good for me. I pushed really hard to fight back and did the same in the second moto. When I reached third in front of Tommy that was great but I started to feel tired and made a small mistake that led to a crash. Im disappointed that I missed the podium but the results were good.
Harri Kullas, Monster Energy Yamaha:
First race I was able to catch Aubin and then had a really good battle with Roelants to win seventh place. I wasnt so tired and could push hard in the last laps. I had a great start in the second moto and when Herlings crashed on the first lap I was second. I found my rhythm and Tonus and Searle were really fast. I concentrated on my speed and focussed on attacking Paulin in the last laps. I was close but made a mistake with four laps to go and he had a few more seconds on me, so it was really hard to go for sixth. I had a virus after Bulgaria and it took some time to get healthy again, nevertheless this was a consistent race and I hope we can have a good GP at Glen Helen.
It was a pretty good result considering my past history on the sand. It was nothing brilliant but it was a solid day of riding. For me this was the hard one out of the way until we get to Lommel. We can keep on trucking and build some momentum going into America. My fitness is really good and in that second race I must have passed twenty guys. Overall this is something solid to lean on. My sand riding is getting better and I know more about what I need for my set-up on the bike now.