Two race wins and - for the first time ever - two riders (Geerts 2nd, Watson 3rd) on the podium. Round 13 of the FIM World Championship MX2, in the deep sand of Lommel, was historical for the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team.
The Monster Energy Yamaha Factory team celebrates the double podium. Image by @shotbybavo
The day started good for the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team. Geerts took pole position on the toughest sand circuit in the world, while team mate Watson set the 4th fastest time in qualifying.
Both riders capitalised on their good starting position in the first moto. Watson powered his YZ250FM into second position in the first turn, right between Vialle and his team mate. Unfortunately, Geerts made a mistake in the first lap, lost the front and went down. The Belgian dropped from 3rd to 8th place. Meanwhile, Watson was putting a lot of pressure on Vialle. Four laps later the two leaders were joined again by Geerts. But not for long. One lap later the Belgian crashed, once more after losing the front. While Jago had to fight back again from 7th position, Watson was on fire and took the lead after a nice move on Vialle. Ben kept a good pace, but Vialle refused to give up. The Frenchman approached within 1,5 second, but Watson remained calm and took his first ever race win. Geerts needed some time to regroup and gained some places in the final stage of the race, finishing fourth.
#919 Ben Watson wins race 1. Image by @shotbybavo
Another Race Win
The start of the second race was almost a carbon copy of the opening race, with Vialle ahead of both Monster Energy Yamaha Factory riders. Only difference: the Yamaha's swapped places with Geerts in second and Watson third. However, The Brit made a mistake in the second lap, went over the handle bars and dropped from 3rd to 8th place.
Geerts took the lead on lap 5, after a nicely executed pass on Vialle. The Belgian had to work hard to stay in the lead, as Vialle kept breathing down his neck 'till the end. Geerts kept his cool and managed to win the second race, to finish second overall.
On the podium, Geerts was joined by his teammate Ben Watson. The Brit reacted well after his early crash and managed to pass some great sand riders to finish fifth in race 2 and third overall.
The first of three races in Lommel was one for the history books for the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team. The team, led by Hans Corvers and Marnicq Bervoets, enjoyed their first ever double podium since they entered the FIM World Championship in 2012.
"I'm proud of the boys", says team owner Hans Corvers. "Two race wins and a double podium. The first ever. In Belgium. That makes it even more special for a Belgian team. Only regret: we didn't win the Grand Prix. Maybe Wednesday..."
#193 Jago Geerts wins race 2. Image by CDS
#193 Jago Geerts
"The track was really rough. I didn't feel at ease in the first race and made two small, but costly mistakes. We changed the setup for the bike before the start of the second race. I felt better, but no yet 100 percent. Still, I managed to win that race and finish second overall. I can't be satisfied with that. Luckily, I'll have two more chances, on Wednesday and Sunday, to try to get the overall win. Physically I'm feeling strong and I'm sure we will find the best setup for the next race."
#919 Ben Watson
"To get my first race win in the first moto was massive for me. I've been working so hard to achieve this. I'm a little bit disappointed about the crash in the second race. When you look back now, I could have won the Grand Prix if I didn't make that mistake. But to be honest, I can't complain after taking my first evert race win. You can't go from zero to all in one GP. I'm back on the box. It feels great to be so consistent again. I will never forget this day. I'm really looking forward to race here again on Wednesday and Sunday."
"I have mixed feelings today. On the one hand, I'm proud and happy. Two race wins and our first ever double podium. That's great. On the other hand, we were aiming for the Grand Prix victory. Both Jago and Ben could have won today. They gave everything they had, but both made a small but a costly mistake. And we must be honest: Vialle was strong today. We need to keep working hard. We'll get a new opportunity on Wednesday."
1. BEN WATSON (GBr/Yam)
2. Tom Vialle (Fra/KTM) +0:22.023
3. Maxime Rennaux (Fra/Yam) +0:28.203
4. JAGO GEERTS (Bel/Yam) +0:31.157
5. Thomas Kjer Olsen (Den/Hus) +0:42.546
1. JAGO GEERTS (Bel/Yam)
2. Tom Vialle (Fra/KTM) +0:09.511
3. Roan Van De Moosdijk (Ned/Kaw) +0:27.551
4. Thomas Kjer Olsen (Den/Hus) +0:30.982
5. BEN WATSON (GBr/Yam) +0:32.601
1. Tom Vialle (Fra/KTM) 44
2. JAGO GEERTS (Bel/Yam) 43
3. BEN WATSON (GBr/Yam) 41
4. Maxime Renaux (Fra/Yam) 35
5. Thomas Kjer Olsen (Den/Hus) 34
World championship classification (11/18)
1. Tom Vialle (Fra/KTM) 569
2. JAGO GEERTS (Bel/Yam) 516
3. Maxime Renaux (Fra/Yam) 407
4. Jed Beaton (Aus/Hus) 407
5. Thomas Kjer Olsen (Den/Hus) 381
7. BEN WATSON (GBr/Yam) 355
Next race: October 21, GP14 Lommel 2 (Bel)
Image by @shotbybravo - CDS - @yamahaofficialracing.com