Works Yamaha YZ450F and YZ250F technology owned the top steps of podiums in Italy and the United Kingdom today with Monster Energy Yamaha’s Steven Frossard and Arnaud Tonus beating a ream of Grand Prix rivals on the hardpack of Montevarchi for the opening round of the Italian Championship and across the dark sand of Hawkstone Park for the renowned English International meeting.
Reigning Italian number one Frossard was emphatic in bright conditions at Montevarchi to beat MX1 World Champion Tony Cairoli in both motos despite suffering with illness that left the Frenchman dealing with high temperatures and a bout of fever across the weekend. The 2011 MX1 vice-champ managed beat team-mate David Philippaerts, also steering the works 2012 YZ450FM. The Italian – in only his second race in seven months – continued his comeback trail to full race fitness by taking the bottom step of the podium. The two riders took part in an exciting four-way battle in the second race that was owned at the chequered flag by Frossard with only bike lengths between him and Cairoli.
“Of course I’m happy to win today, especially because I have been a bit sick and didn’t feel 100%,” said Frossard. “I rode two smart races and the second one was good fun to be a part off. The conditions were good for racing and this is mainly why we are in Italy at this time of year. We have three more rounds to go and I hope I’ll feel a lot better for Arco di Trento.”
The third member of the Rinaldi-entered trio of Monster Energy Yamaha, Christophe Charlier, unfortunately had to withdraw from the event due to sickness but is hoping to be in contention for the second round of the four-race series next weekend at Arco di Trento, north of Lake Garda.
In England Arnaud Tonus made it ‘two in a row’ after his success in Valence, France last week. The Swiss was irrepressible through the rough Hawkstone sand on his YZ250F and even managed to claim the scalp of anticipated 2012 MX1 title candidate Clement Desalle in the final moto. Tonus, the 2011 British Champion, further endeared himself to the local crowd with his impressive speed and delectable style by winning all three sprints; the last of which against the more powerful 450 machines.
“Wow, a great day. I’m really happy,” commented Tonus, who along with Desalle, hit lap-times in the 2min 20 bracket almost three seconds faster than anyone else. “I had a good feeling with the track but I have to say my bike was incredible today. I had three holeshots and I think that was more than all of last season put together! The power I had helped keep a good rhythm in the sand and that was important on this terrain. To be able to set that pace and beat Clement in the last moto felt really great. I’ll head back to Switzerland now for some more riding and then be in the UK again for some tests with Michelin before the first British Championship.”
Team-mate Shaun Simpson grabbed a decent third place in the first MX1 race on his YZ450F but slipped off while trying to adjust his clutch in the second and classified ninth. The Scot was happy with his overall speed but was struggling a little with his sore ankle sustained in an incident at Valence. The former British Champion sustained some bike damage after clipping the fallen Gautier Paulin in the final moto, the superfinal, which caused his chain to derail and force a DNF.
The Dixon-splinter of Monster Energy Yamaha will have a free week before preparing for the opening round of eight in the Maxxis British Championship at the Fatcat circuit in Doncaster on March 11th.