Prado is back on top of the RAM Qualifying Race while it is a first for de Wolf.
The RAM Qualifying Races kickstarted the MXGP of France in an incredible way with Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado clinching his 5th RAM MXGP Qualifying Race while Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Kay de Wolf won his first MX2 RAM Qualifying Race in MX2.
The steep slopes of Villars sous Ecot and the redesigned circuit offered a spectacular racing day in every class as the new demanding layout allowed us to see many overtakes and make riders show their technical prowess.
Alongside the FIM Motocross World Championship races, the WMX and the EMX125 presented by FMF Racing on their first race of the weekend with Big Van World MTX Kawasaki’s Courtney Duncan dominating in WMX while French rider 737 Performers GASGAS’s Mathis Valin made the home crowd go wild as he managed to win his 3rd race of the season.
The RAM Qualifying Races that took place saw the winners of MXGP and MX2 RAM Qualifying Races and Jorge Prado and Kay de Wolf as well as Special Guests Kawasaki Racing Team’s Romain Febvre, De Baets Yamaha MX-Team’s Benoit Paturel, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team’s Thibault Benistant, Mathis Valin and the 2023 Junior e-Motocross French race winner and red plate Timothy Cez.
Another special moment was when the MXoN Team France Manager Gautier Paulin joined the paddock show to unveil the 2023 MXoN French Jersey exclusively to the public of Villars sous Ecot and was received with ‘la Marseillaise’ sang by the whole crowd present.
The MXGP RAM Qualifying Race started with Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team’s Jeremy Seewer taking the fastest start but Prado quickly took the lead after a few turns and displayed an impressive performance as the Red Plate led until the end with a nice cushion to win comfortably. Seewer showed that he is back at his best as the Swiss showed good pace especially as he had to make sure to not get caught by a late charge by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings.
Herlings crossed the first lap in 5th position and started to charge forward and was quick to power through Team HRC’s Rubén Fernández and then capitalised on Ship to Cycle Honda SR Motoblouz’s Valentin Guillod’s fall in lap 2 while he was 3rd. Herlings went 3rd until lap 5 when the talented SM Action Racing Team Yuasa Battery MXGP’s Alberto Forato boldly but deservedly passed Herlings for 3rd. However, Herlings regrouped for a couple of laps and took back the 3rd place to finish the race in 3rd. Forato finished 4th and seemed very comfortable on this track.
After his fall, Guillod picked up his bike in 12th but managed to finish in the points in 8th. Fernandez who found himself 4th on lap 1, got overtaken several times but still finished 6th, scoring important points.
Team Gebben Van Venroy Yamaha Racing’s Calvin Vlaanderen proved that he is not only a sand specialist as he rode an excellent race getting 6th until lap 5 when he overtook Fernandez confidently for 5th. He eventually comfortably finished 5th in the end.
Home hero Romain Febvre had to employ his well-known experience to move up in the leader board. He was 11th when after 1 lap first benefitted from Guillod and Benoit Paturel misfortunes to get to 9th on lap 2. He also capitalised on Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Mattia Guadagnini’s mistake to get to 8th on lap 5 and then following made the perfect move to overtake MRT Racing Team Beta’s Alessandro Lupino for 7th where he finished the race.
After a good display Lupino could not maintain his pace until the end and moved down to 14th.
Paturel also showed his qualities again after a good start but a fall moved him down to 20th. It shows that the Frenchman his on form as he managed the incredible feat to still finish 11th.
Guadagnini kept riding as he finished in Spain and quickly went up to 7th but unfortunately fell on lap 5 to pick it up in 12th. The Italian rider did not let that misstep stop him and kept his rhythm to overtake few times to eventually get to 9th on the last lap as he overtook another good performer JM Honda Racing’s Brent Van doninck. Van doninck made the good operation of the day as he went from 15th to 10th in the end.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team’s Glenn Coldenhoff rode for most of the race within the top 10 but had to settle for 12th in the end.
Jorge Prado: “I had a good start. The track was really challenging so I am super happy to get to the finish line first. That another RAM Qualifying Race win and I feel better every time I go out on this track so we can hopefully have good racing tomorrow.”
MXGP – RAM Qualifying Race – Top 10 Classification: 1. Jorge Prado (ESP, GASGAS), 24:25.434; 2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Yamaha), +0:02.304; 3. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:04.764; 4. Alberto Forato (ITA, KTM), +0:07.960; 5. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, Yamaha), +0:21.911; 6. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, Honda), +0:22.844; 7. Romain Febvre (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:36.072; 8. Valentin Guillod (SUI, Honda), +0:45.015; 9. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, GASGAS), +0:46.327; 10. Brent Van doninck (BEL, Honda), +0:46.388
MXGP – World Championship – Top 10 Classification: 1. Jorge Prado (ESP, GAS), 304 points; 2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 296 p.; 3. Ruben Fernandez (ESP, HON), 229 p.; 4. Romain Febvre (FRA, KAW), 218 p.; 5. Maxime Renaux (FRA, YAM), 202 p.; 6. Calvin Vlaanderen (NED, YAM), 197 p.; 7. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, YAM), 196 p.; 8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, YAM), 190 p.; 9. Mattia Guadagnini (ITA, GAS), 188 p.; 10. Alberto Forato (ITA, KTM), 158 p
In MX2, it was Thibault Benistant who took the best start in front of teammate Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 Team’s Jago Geerts and Kay de Wolf.
Unfortunately, Geerts crashed on the opening lap and fractured his left wrist. He suffered severe pain and the medical team was quick to respond he was brought directly to the onsite medical centre for closer assessment where the fractured was confirmed.
Geerts will now return to Belgium to see a specialist. Updates on his treatment plan and a potential return to action will be shared in due time.
The race continued with de Wolf getting the best out of Benistant and took the lead on the opening lap. De Wolf kept a high tempo while Benistant managed to reduce the gap and make a charge on the last lap but de Wolf held his ground and won his first RAM Qualifying Race. Benistant settled for a promising 2nd place.
A sensational four-way battle ensued behind the front two withRed Bull KTM Factory Racing’s teammates Liam Everts and Andrea Adamo and Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s teammates Roan Van de Moosdijk and Lucas Coenen. Between lap 3 and 8 the 4 riders went on to ride to the limit to fight for the 3rd place.
Van De Moosdijk first got the advantage but following an exciting give and take between him, Everts, Adamo had to give up his spot to Adamo on lap 5. Everts also overtook Van De Moosdijk for 4th a lap later. Adamo started to get pressured by Everts and finally made a mistake to let Everts go 3rd on lap 9. Everts finished 3rd while Adamo settled for 4th.
Van De Moosdijk 5th on lap 6 got overtaken again, but this time by the excellent L.Coenen, However L.Coenen would go down on lap 9 and pick his bike up in 10th to finish 8th in the end. Van De Moosdijk was 5th until two laps to go when he was passed by the talented French young rider Team VRT KTM Factory Juniors’ Marc-Antoine Rossi. Van De Moosdijk settled for 6th while the astonishing EMX250 rider Rossi finished 4th in the end after showing so much quality.
WZ RACING TEAM’s Mikkel Haarup kept a good rhythm the whole race and never got passed as he went from 10th on lap 1 to a promising 7th place. The other EMX250 rider present in Villars sous Ecot to compete in MX2 wasVRT KTM Factory Juniors’ Ferruccio Zanchi. The Italian rider didn’t disappoint as he showed great speed although he didn’t start very well. He found himself 16th on lap 1 and quickly went up to 11th on lap 2 and kept going to finally finished at an excellent 9th place.
Finishing in 10th was F&H Kawasaki Racing Team’s Kevin Horgmo who rode solidly all along to stay within the top 10 and show good consistency.
It was not the best day for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Sacha Coenen, TEM JP253 KTM Racing Team’s Jan Pancar and Fantic Factory Team Maddii’s Tom Guyon who all retired from the race and will want to make sure to bounce back tomorrow.
Kay de Wolf: “I’m pretty speechless after this win. This weekend I feel so good as we put a lot of hours training on hard pack. This one feels amazing and it shows that if you work hard you can make everything happen”
MX2 – RAM Qualifying Race – Top 10 Classification: 1. Kay de Wolf (NED, Husqvarna), 24:42.419; 2. Thibault Benistant (FRA, Yamaha), +0:01.006; 3. Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), +0:27.919; 4. Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), +0:34.973; 5. Marc-Antoine Rossi (FRA, KTM), +0:41.206; 6. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, Husqvarna), +0:44.667; 7. Mikkel Haarup (DEN, KTM), +0:50.809; 8. Lucas Coenen (BEL, Husqvarna), +0:55.374; 9. Ferruccio Zanchi (ITA, KTM), +0:59.559; 10. Kevin Horgmo (NOR, Kawasaki), +1:02.646
MX2 – World Championship – Top 10 Classification: 1. Jago Geerts (BEL, YAM), 319 points; 2. Andrea Adamo (ITA, KTM), 278 p.; 3. Kay de Wolf (NED, HUS), 273 p.; 4. Simon Laengenfelder (GER, GAS), 259 p.; 5. Thibault Benistant (FRA, YAM), 256 p.; 6. Roan Van De Moosdijk (NED, HUS), 224 p.; 7. Liam Everts (BEL, KTM), 195 p.; 8. Kevin Horgmo (NOR, KAW), 174 p.; 9. Lucas Coenen (BEL, HUS), 157 p.; 10. Jan Pancar (SLO, KTM), 134 p