Pole position, two holeshots, a maiden race win for Benistant, Renaux (second) and Geerts (third) on the box and within two points of the championship lead. Round 3 of the FIM World Championship, in Maggiora, was pretty successful for the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team.
After a six-year hiatus the FIM World Championship returned to Maggiora Park, the iconic circuit in the north of Italy. An old school hillside track, loved by many riders. Also, by Maxime Renaux. The winner of the Grand Prix in Matterley Basin was the fastest in time practice. His first pole position of the season. Thibault Benistant was fifth in qualifying, Jago Geerts tenth.
Oddly enough, not pole sitter Renaux but teammate Benistant got off to a sensational start in the first race. 'Titi' took his first holeshot in MX2, while Geerts was not far behind him in third place. And Renaux? He was only 13th in the first turn but made some great passes in the opening lap and moved up to 8th place. While Renaux had to work hard, the 18-year-old Benistant was in full control in the lead. From start to finish. Impressive, if you know that the French rookie had never ridden in Maggiora before. An astonishing maiden race win. Geerts stayed in third place for almost the entire race. With only three laps to go the Belgian - who struggled with arm pump - got passed by championship leader Fernandez. Jago finished fourth, just in front of Beaton and teammate Renaux. Maxime came back to fifth place after his poor start but tipped over on lap 6 and had to fight back again from ninth place.
The hard work of the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team in the last weeks to improve the starts really paid off in Maggiora. In the second race Jago Geerts steered his YZ250FM to the holeshot and Renaux had a much better start, in fifth place. Unfortunately, Benistant was taken out by another rider on the exit of the first turn. The Frenchman faced a tough catch-up race from last position. On a damaged bike and with a painful arm.
Geerts couldn't enjoy his lead for a long time. He was first passed by Guadagnini and one lap later by Renaux. The Frenchman tried to close the gap on the Italian, but struggled with stomach problems, didn't want to take unnecessary risks and settled for second in race 2 and overall. Geerts, who was riding in third place, came under a lot of pressure by Beaton, Hofer and Van De Moosdijk. The vice world champion showed some great defensive riding but couldn't hold on until the end and finished fifth. Just enough to get on the box. Meanwhile, Benistant had to work hard to come through the field: from 36 to 14 and 5th overall. A great recovery.
Team owner Hans Corvers was proud of his riders. "Two riders on the box, and the third one in fifth place. Plus, a race win and two holeshots. I can't complain about this Grand Prix. I'm already looking forward to the Grand Prix in Oss in two weeks’ time."
#93 Jago Geerts3rd overall
"Back on the podium. Finally. It feels good to be back on the box after two tough rounds, because of the knee injury. My knee is feeling a lot better and wasn't bothering me at all today. That's a mental boost. In the first race I struggled a bit with arm pump, but still finished fourth. It was great to take the holeshot in the second race. I could keep a good pace until the end, but still miss some aggressiveness to hold on to third place. I'm looking forward to the GP in Oss, in the sand. I will have two weeks now to work on the speed and the rhythm."
#198 Thibault Benistant5th overall
"I have mixed feelings after this Grand Prix. On one hand, I'm really happy with my first race win ever in MX2. It was the perfect race. Holeshot, making a gap and controlling the race. I was pushing, but not over pushing. My pace was good and so was my physical condition. On the other hand, I'm disappointed about my second race. After that first race win, I wanted to fight for the overall podium. But my chances were gone after I was hit by another rider and had a really big crash. Despite a damaged bike and a painful arm I managed to come back to 14."
#959 Maxime Renaux2nd overall
"A tough day. Especially the first race. I couldn't convert my pole position into a great start. I had to fight back from 13th position. Not easy, as I was suffering from stomach problems. I really had to fight against the pain and also had to deal with a crash in the middle of the race. My second moto was a lot better, thanks to a good start. I moved into second place really quickly but was feeling bad and decided not to push for the red plate. I didn't want to take risks and was thinking about the bigger picture."