Christophe Charlier’s first podium result of the season and the second of his career was the highlight from a dramatic weekend of action for the factory Monster Energy Yamaha team at Ernee for the Grand Prix of France. The eighth round of seventeen was run in front of an excited and appreciative 39,000 crowd to welcome the FIM Motocross World Championship back to the region and the traditional and old-school circuit for the first time since 2009.
The difficult and sketchy course was also narrow and slippery and it was in the most challenging of conditions on Saturday that Maxime Desprey and Dean Ferris battled for pole position in the qualification heat, with Ferris eventually earning victory after a thrilling last lap battle. YZ250F technology went 1-2 into the gate for Sunday’s race programme.
The first moto saw a magical start for the Monster Energy Yamaha as Ferris, Pocock and Charlier headed the pack around the opening lap. Sadly a malfunction with the start gate meant that the race had to be red-flagged and re-run. The second start was not so advantageous for the crew and a technical problem would stop Ferris from scoring 7th position halfway through the moto. Pocock would withdraw after a painful right heel (the result of a crash on a jump landing on Saturday) meant that he could not clasp the bike. Charlier worked hard to reach 9th spot – gaining a place on the penultimate lap – but a problem with a pulled groin muscle did not assist his progress. Desprey was buried deep in the pack around the first corner but was diligent with his overtaking to reach 13th.
After the break the second sprint took place and Charlier defied his discomfort to produce an all-action attacking display that must rank as one of his best of the season so far. A mid-top ten start set the base and he passed three riders to move up to third position. The eventual points tally was good enough to put the excited former European Champ on the box. It was Ferris who had earned the holeshot but a couple of mistakes pushed the Australian down to a final slot of sixth. Desprey enacted a similar race to the first and ended the day with 12th while Pocock gritted his teeth to bag a few points in 19th.
The French Grand Prix finished with Charlier 3rd, Desprey 11th, Ferris 13th and Pocock 23rd in the final MX2 listing with all Yamaha machinery nevertheless playing the role of protagonists in the class throughout this vibrant event. Charlier keeps 5th in the MX2 points table head of Ferris with Pocock 11th and Desprey 15th.
On the other side of the continent in Slovenia, FIM Women’s World Champion Kiara Fontanesi comfortably owned both motos on her YRRD-kitted YZ250F to maintain her perfect win record after two rounds and four races of the competitive female series. ‘Fonta’ has another five fixtures in her title defence starting with the Italian Grand Prix next weekend in Maggiora, which will also constitute the ninth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship for Monster Energy Yamaha.
“For sure I am very happy with my first podium of the season. In the first race I couldn’t get a good rhythm. I think it was because of the start. I was quite far back and couldn’t really get smooth and make as many positions as I wanted. In the second I was higher up at the start and that made a bit of a difference. I could push more and I was happy. The track was also a bit easier to handle. Anyway I have to thank my team and everyone who has been behind me and I want another podium at Maggiora!”
“I had a ‘mechanical’ in the first moto and there is not much more I can say about that. In the second moto I holeshotted and finished sixth…normally I can start last and get up to that position so I’m not real happy about the way I rode. I made a couple of crucial mistakes that cost me positions and I couldn’t find the speed to catch back up. I got my first win yesterday so I have mixed emotions about this weekend. I found the track very slick. It is not my favourite surface and I had a couple of big moments. We’ll just move on and hope for better in Italy.”
“I had the holeshot yesterday, led the Heat and finished second, so I was really happy with that. Today was more difficult with the bad starts. I was outside the top twenty both times and pushed to win some positions. I was eleventh overall, so that is not too bad. I’m not sure why I didn’t get the good starts today…I think I wasn’t far enough over the front of the bike and lost some ground when it started to rise. It was a nice experience being here and for sure I can take some confidence from Saturday.”
“In the qualifying race I had a crash and landed on my heel. I don’t know what I have done to it but it seems to be really badly bruised. It’s black and blue and swollen. I had an x-ray and they said it wasn’t broken but the bottom of my foot is so painful. I managed to salvage a couple of points. I need to get it worked on this week and get that blood shifted. The track was hard and with those square-edged bumps I could not grip the bike. It is OK for the first fifteen minutes but after that it was unbearable. It is what it is…don’t crash; it hurts!”