Buoyed by their success in Loket, Both Monster Energy Yamaha Factory teams are looking forward to their ‘home’ Grand Prix with the sixth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship taking place in Lommel, Belgium, on August 1.
Their success of the final race at the previous Grand Prix where all three Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 riders finished inside the top-three, and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Jeremy Seewer returned to the podium, have the teams itching to go at Lommel.
Situated just 13 kilometres from the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP teams’ workshop in Bergeijk, The Netherlands, and 33 kilometres from the MX2 team headquarters in Genk, Belgium, the notorious Lommel circuit hardly needs introducing. It is one of the most physically and mentally demanding circuits globally and is a venue that all four riders have done plenty of laps at.
During the season, all six riders reside in Belgium or the Netherlands, no more than an hour’s drive from the Lommel circuit. After making a welcomed return to the podium in the Czech Republic three days ago, Seewer is feeling confident. Although the treacherous sand circuit is in complete contrast to the rock-hard clay of Loket, Czech Republic, Seewer lives in Lommel and is very familiar with the circuit. The super-Swiss entered the top-five in the championship points last Sunday. He is currently 43-points from the championship lead.
Jeremy Seewer: “I am looking forward to being in the sand. Lommel is close to where I live here in Belgium, so I have spent a lot of hours there. It’s not too difficult to go there because we actually spend a lot of time training in the sand, especially in the winter, we are always in the sand. Lommel is always really tough, and the weather plays a big part. For example, it’s a lot more physical if it’s really hot, compared to if it was only 20 degrees or colder. I feel strong at the moment; I will be able to handle it. I am more than ready to bounce in Lommel.”
11-points further adrift, in seventh position, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP’s Flying Dutchman Glenn Coldenhoff is also a keen sand rider. The #259 has already proven his potential to challenge race wins on two occasions this season. Once was a near race-win at the Italian Grand Prix in Maggiora, and the other was two weeks ago at his home Grand Prix in Oss. As one of the strongest sand riders on the gate, ‘The Hoff’ is determined to carry the same speed he had in the opening race in Oss, into Lommel where he hopes to celebrate on the podium.
Glenn Coldenhoff: “I was really disappointed after the last Sand GP in Oss, so I am hungry for a good result in Lommel. As for the sand, I don’t find it difficult as I live in the Netherlands, we often train in the sand, so we already spent quite some hours in the sand. I took it easier last week after Oss, so I will do some intense bike training and follow my usual training routine this week. Of course, towards the end of the week I will take my rest to be fully ready for a tough day in the sand, but other than that, everything goes ahead as per usual and we will be ready.”
Lommel has been the site of Ben Watson’s most memorable performances. It was at the venue that the 24-year-old Brit celebrated his first-ever Grand Prix win – it was in MX2 in 2020. The #919 career is a story of continuous evolution. He gradually improved throughout his MX2 career to end the 2020 season as a consistent podium threat and a Grand Prix winner and is looking to do more of the same inside the premiere class.
Watson achieved a career-best top-five finish in the sand of the Netherlands 10-days ago and has since moved up into 10th position in the MXGP championship standings. As the best-placed rookie in 2021, the tall and humble YZ450FM rider is taking each race as it comes with the sole goal of growth and progress.
Ben Watson: “I’ve got some incredible memories that I’ll never forget from Lommel. I’m excited to go back there and do some racing in the sand. It’s always an incredibly tough GP so it will be interesting as usual. Going from hard pack to sand isn’t as bad as you might think, we are always riding different surfaces, for me it’s more difficult to go from sand to hardpack. Last season I didn’t ride during the week before the race, but it was a tripleheader. This year we only have one race there, so I’ll ride a little bit today and just make sure I am fully recovered for race day on Sunday.”
An exciting Grand Prix beckons for the Belgium-based Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 team. Carrying the red plate as the championship leaders, and with three solid sand riders, there is a possibility that the team could lock out the podium. While that would be a dream scenario for Yamaha Motor Europe and the team, the spark was ignited when all three riders finished inside the top-three in the final race in the Czech Republic three days ago.
Belgium is renowned for its passionate motocross fans, and this weekend 5,000 lucky onlookers will be permitted to enter the venue. After racing the Belgian Grand Prix behind closed doors last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this weekend will be extra special for the Belgium-based Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2 team as they continue to lead the MX2 World Championship with Maxime Renaux.
For Renaux, the champagne sprayed after celebrating his third podium finish has barely had time to dry as he shifts his focus to retaining the championship lead. The 20-year-old has been distinguished throughout his budding career by his incredible ability and technique in the sand. This weekend he will race with every intention of putting his YZ250FM back on the box and keeping hold of the red plate.
Maxime Renaux: “I really like the track in Lommel, so I am ready to go there. To race the world championship, you have to be ready to go from rock hard tracks to deep sand in one week. I am quite used to this and it’s not a problem for me. All we will do is touch the suspension to make the settings for sand and that’s it. As everyone knows, Lommel is the hardest GP of the year. I really look forward to it. I am ready physically, and I think this is one of my strongest points so we will try to get the best I can at this race.”
Renaux’s goal will not go unchallenged, as his teammate Jago Geerts wants nothing more than to win his home Grand Prix. The 21-year-old Belgian grew up less than 13 kilometres from the track and still currently lives nearby in Balen. He is now fifth in the championship, 33-points down on Renaux but only three points from Mathijs Boisrame in fourth.
Jago Geerts: “Lommel is a special place for me. It’s close to my home so there will be a lot of fans and friends. This week I will train on sand tracks, so I have the feeling on sand again before the weekend. I don’t think I will make any changes to the bike. The suspension setup is a bit different in sand than on hardpack but these are just minor changes, so we are ready.”
Only days after uncorking a bottle of champagne on the MX2 podium for the first time in his career, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MX2’s Thibault Benistant hopes to celebrate his 19th birthday this weekend with another milestone achievement. He is currently seventh in the championship chase, only six points shy of Geerts in fifth.
Thibault Benistant: “I’m looking forward to being back in the sand this weekend, I really like racing in Lommel. I think we are used to riding in the sand, as we train in it all the time. I will need to make some small changes to the suspension, other than that, because Lommel is one of the heaviest GP we will train a little bit less than what we do for the other races.”
This weekend, Lommel will also stage the second rounds of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship and the EMX250 Championship. Hutten Metaal Yamaha Official EMX250’s Andrea Bonacorsi hopes to build on his third position in the European Championship as teammates Dave Kooiker and Bailey Malkiewicz look to finish inside the top-10.
Fresh off the podium, Yamaha Germany’s Larissa Papenmeier and fellow YZ250F mounted starlet Nancy van de Ven are hoping to improve on their third and fourth positions in the WMX Championship Standings.