Moto Media
James Stewart

Yamaha victorious in French and Italian MX season openers

  David Philippaerts

The first bout of action for the 2011 FIM World Championship Yamaha line-up was a very positive one with Monster Energy Yamaha’s David Philippaerts and Gautier Paulin winning the MX1 and MX2 classes on their YZ450FM and YZ250FMs at the sandy circuit just north of Bologna while new team-mate Steven Frossard won the Superfinal in France and was runner-up overall in MX1 in his first ride on the factory motorcycle. Bike it Cosworth Wild Wolf Yamaha’s Arnaud Tonus – another debutant on YZ machinery – claimed the MX2 division just south of Lyon for an all-round impressive list of results.

"My starts were not so good but my lap-times were fast and I was able to pass riders and come to the front,” said Philippaerts who won all three races through drizzle at Mantova. "It is a little bit hard to judge my level at the moment as we did not have so many GP riders here but I felt good and the bike was working very well. This was a good test and for sure it always feels nice to win. We will test some more on the Yamaha now in the coming races and I’m looking forward to Ponte e Egola next week.”

   Steven Frossard

While Philippaerts was leading the way in Italy Steven Frossard was fighting a larger quota of world championship peers with at least nine grand prix teams present at Valence. Rain lashed down Saturday night and through Sunday morning and although a persistent wind dried the muddy terrain in the afternoon the layout was greasy and one-line. Frossard – making his MX1-GP debut in 2011 – went 8-2-1 in the three sprints, finishing the day with the chequered flag and second overall to Clement Desalle.

"I hit the gate in the first heat so I had a really bad start,” he recounts. "It was hard to come back because the track was so slippery and dangerous. I was better in the second moto and when Pourcel crashed I moved into second but Desalle already had too much of a gap ahead; I also had a bit of arm-pump. I found it very easy to ride quickly in the last moto and this is a good start for me with Yamaha.”

   Mantova podium

The third member of the Monster Energy Yamaha MX1-GP crew, Anthony Boissiere, took third place in the final MX1 ranking at Mantova. Gautier Paulin shone against the bigger 450 bikes in Italy to record 4-3-3 and capture the winner’s spoils in the MX2 division. Harri Kullas was also on the podium with third position while Christophe Charlier was sixth.

"It was a pretty easy day and being the first race I did not want to take any big risks so I just rode within myself and got a feel for the bike in the conditions,” said 2010 Grand Prix of Benelux victor Paulin. "I did not push myself so it was satisfying to finish the day as MX2 winner.”

   Gautier Paulin

At Valence Swiss Tonus gave the British Bike it Cosworth Wild Wolf Yamaha team a triumphant start to 2011 by setting a mean pace through the French ooze. The nineteen year old hit 1-3-4 results for a noteworthy start to his career as a Yamaha pilot. His fourth spot in the Superfinal was creditworthy considering it was against a split field of MX1 and MX2 machines and Tonus ripped the uphill start on his YZ250F.

"My start was amazing in the last moto and I got a lot of traction,” he said. "I was almost in front of the 450s so that was pretty cool. The track was really slick so my aim was just to stay on two wheels and there were people crashing around me. I fell twice in the second moto and was pushing a bit too much so I didn’t want any more mistakes. Overall this is a great way to start and the bike was strong; which gives me confidence for the coming races.”

Monster Energy Yamaha will see all six of their riders competing at Ponte e Egola, close to Florence, for the first Italian Championship round (of four) next weekend. Tonus is committed to the opening races of the British Championship, which begins in two weeks and will also see the first European outing of reigning champion Zach Osborne who returns from training in his native USA.

Copy and photos courtesy of Yamaha Motor Europe N.V