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RACE REPORT

2024 MXGP Of France | Race Report, Highlights & Results

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2024 MXGP OF FRANCE | COMPLETE COVERAGE

TEXT & VIDEO | MXGP
PHOTOS | Honda & Husqvarna

The classic hillside venue of the Circuit du Puy de Poursay saw a tumultuous Monster Energy MXGP of France play out in front of a packed bank of fans who, like the riders and crews, had to contend with changeable weather conditions at St Jean d’Angely! 

Many of the French fans that created an incredible atmosphere at the south-western circuit near Bordeaux, believed that they had seen one of their own claim victory in MXGP, as it looked like 3-2 finishes were enough for the Kawasaki Racing Team rider, Romain Febvre.

However, penalties from the Race Direction to two riders who jumped a double on waved yellow flags meant that it was Team HRC’s Tim Gajser who was classified as the winner, his 1-6 finishes becoming 1-4 to put him a single point ahead of Febvre on the day. A final lap pass by Jeffrey Herlings to snatch the second race win for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing ultimately proved decisive in the overall reckoning as the Dutchman ended the day in third overall.

In MX2, Lucas Coenen completed a perfect weekend for Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing, his second straight Grand Prix victory which moves him up to third in the Championship standings.


MX2 RACE REPORT & RESULTS

Once more, MX2 was a hectic treat, although the home crowd were missing Thibault Benistant after his crash in Time Practice which saw him ruled out of the GP with a concussion and a small fracture in his vertebra.  Everyone involved with MXGP send him our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Although he confesses to struggling to get the holeshot against lighter riders, Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Championship leader Kay de Wolf had a cunning plan and went for the far outside line off the gate, caught some traction from the side verge and catapulted into the lead to claim his first Fox Holeshot Award of the year! It looked ominous for the pack, but the Dutchman ran wide in the third corner, and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo Sacha Coenen and Liam Everts took the chance to get past, with De Wolf’s teammate Lucas Coenen tucking into fourth spot.  

Halfway around the second full lap, De Wolf closed back in on Everts, but the Belgian lost the front wheel in the still damp mud and tipped over into the red plate holder! Lucas Coenen gratefully accepted the gift of second place and went chasing after his brother.

S.Coenen held on until lap 7, when his brother managed to rail around the outside of an uphill corner and move ahead, ultimately building himself a 10-second gap by the finish to take his third race win of the season!

Sadly for his brother, S.Coenen suffered a fast downhill crash that he was fortunate to  recover from, just after his teammate Andrea Adamo had moved through into second place. The Monster Energy Triumph Racing machine of Mikkel Haarup moved up to third, but he was quickly caught by Simon Laengenfelder, who made a move on lap 14 to put his Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing machine ahead.  Haarup caught his back wheel and briefly went down, costing him fourth to De Wolf.

The Dutchman got past Laengenfelder with three laps to go, a nice result for him against his main Championship challenger, with Adamo’s second place finish moving him ahead of the absent Benistant in the standings. Lucas Coenen collected the maximum points, putting him ahead of Everts into third place in the title chase.

With the first gate pick, Lucas took the same outside gate as De Wolf had in race one, but it wasn’t quite enough to beat his brother Sacha to the Fox Holeshot Award line, the KTM rider claiming his sixth of the year. 

Lucas ran slightly wide in that first corner, and Laengenfelder and Haarup shot past into second and third. That was only a temporary situation! No sooner had Lucas got back into second than he was chasing down his brother, and halfway around the second full lap he blasted through to lead, and nobody saw which way he went from there!

Meanwhile, Haarup tangled with Laengenfelder again, falling from fourth place to what would eventually be sixth. Sacha Coenen was moved steadily backwards by his rivals through the race, then fell to eventually come home in ninth, nowhere near reflecting the speed he has shown this weekend.

De Wolf got past Sacha to claim second on lap five, and held it to the flag, finishing 24 seconds behind his teammate. Laengenfelder’s third limited the points damage, but he leaves France with a 52-point gap to make up as he heads to his home GP after two weeks of rest and treatment on his recently-plated collarbone.

Adamo’s fourth in race two was good enough to claim third on the podium, with Everts fifth, and the two teammates are 11 points apart in the standings with the Belgian in fourth ahead of the Italian.

Lucas Coenen was ecstatic with his perfect weekend, and sits just 7 points behind Laengenfelder as they head to a track he was frighteningly fast at last season.

After a week off, the pack head into another three straight weeks of frantic action for the Liqui Moly MXGPs of Germany, Latvia, and Italy to complete the first half of the campaign by the end of June!

Lucas Coenen: “I’m really happy about my weekend.. two race wins, the RAM Qualifying Race win and then the overall of course! I couldn’t ask more this weekend to be honest so from now we’ll start to build on that for the future and try to get more and more wins. In race 1, I wasn’t so sure about the gate pick but anyway it went good in the race then I thought to pick the gate of Kay (de Wolf) even if it was a bit outside and dryer and it worked really well. I also want to say STAY STRONG to Thibault as he got a really big crash in Time Practice on Saturday, I really hope to see him soon back racing with us.”

Kay de Wolf: “The weekend was not as we expected but finally I’m happy with my riding, I’ve been consistent even in Race 2 when it started to rain so I rode safe and thought about the championship. Finally I’m happy to be on the podium again and I hope to keep this momentum and of course also to be back to winning ways”

Andrea Adamo: “Race 1 was good I managed to have a good start and I finished second but Race 2 was more complicated as I had Sacha (Coenen) in front of me and of course being so fast didn’t make my life easy. Once I passed him I’ve tried to keep a good rhythm but it was not so easy and I couldn’t find it especially in the last 15 minutes so I couldn’t catch Simon (Laengenfelder) in front of me and I thought about the points. I’m also happy because is my second podium back-to-back and looking forward to be there also in Germany.”


MXGP RACE REPORT & RESULTS

After Febvre won the RAM Qualifying Race in Saturday’s muddy conditions, the first race on Sunday was on a much drier track, which probably didn’t help the Frenchman, who was struggling with a thumb injury picked up in Free Practice on Saturday.  He made the best possible start, however, taking a clear Fox Holeshot Award, his first of the year, with incoming red plate holder Jorge Prado giving chase for Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing! 

Gajser surged forward past a fast-starting Mattia Guadagnini on his Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing machine, while Herlings was deep in the pack and had to fight through, eventually only getting back to sixth at the finish after being passed by the Standing Construct Honda of Pauls Jonass, who claimed fifth.

Just after the finish line jump, Prado hit some braking bumps raggedly and Gajser pounced to take second. On a mission, the Slovenian dug into Febvre’s lead, and took it by squeezing the Frenchman towards the edge of the circuit on the biggest uphill section of the track! 

Febvre’s teammate Jeremy Seewer, fastest in Time Practice yesterday, held a solid fourth for the entire race, initially tailed by Fantic Factory Racing’s Brian Bogers and Glenn Coldenhoff, although a great charge by Pauls Jonass put the Standing Construct Honda man into fifth by the close, just holding off Herlings in a dash to the flag!

In the closing minutes of the race, Prado started to catch Febvre, and passed the Kawasaki with a clean move as the Frenchman was clearly struggling with his injury.  Gajser was also suffering, in this case from arm pump, and Prado narrowed the gap to just 6.5 seconds by the flag, but the Slovenian held on for the win and a three-point Championship advantage heading into race two!

The heavens opened as the MXGP riders went to the line for their second race, and pools of water were collecting around the circuit as Febvre grabbed his second Fox Holeshot Award of the day and splashed his way to what looked like an insurmountable lead. Seewer and Jonass were initially second and third, but Herlings moved past them both as they started the first full lap, and was swiftly joined by Gajser.

The two five-time World Champions again battled in the rain, almost like they did in Portugal, except that it was impossible for the Slovenian to get close enough to make a move. After ten laps of being locked together at an incredible pace for the conditions, it was the Honda man that suffered a high-speed fall that sent him sliding down the hill on his backside! He picked it back up to salvage sixth at the line, behind another brilliant performance from Jonass in third, Seewer in fourth, and Team Ship To Cycle Honda Motoblouz SR rookie Kevin Horgmo, having the best race of his MXGP career in fifth.

Gajser’s fall let the pressure off for Herlings, and suddenly he was closing on Febvre, who had been covered by a huge mud splash from a lapped rider that messed up his goggles! Despite the roar of the local crowd, Febvre could not keep back ‘The Bullet’ who fired down the big hill to break their hearts on the very final lap of the day!

Febvre thought that the move had cost him the overall win, but at the time the crowd were telling him that it hadn’t.  After such an incredible effort through the pain, his results were amazing. Unfortunately, Seewer and Horgmo had both been spotted jumping an uphill double while yellow flags were waving. After a similar penalty was enforced on Liam Everts yesterday, there was only one decision, and unfortunately for Febvre and his supporters, that decision left Gajser as the overall winner.

Prado had crossed the line in seventh position, but was promoted to fifth with the penalties. This means that the red plate passes back to the other red bike of Gajser, who takes a five-point lead into the one-week break with the Liqui Moly MXGP of Germany up next!

Tim Gajser: “First race was pretty nice under the sun with conditions almost perfect then for the second race, the rain came before we started and I unfortunately made a mistake to get around 6th. Then with the mud and the roosts I run out of rollers and had to take the goggles off and I got a crash after but in the end I’m super happy to get the Red Plate back on my bike and big thank you to all my team”

Romain Febvre: “For sure it’s bad news for me*, but I did everything I could on the track with my sore thumb as I rode with a lot of pain already on Saturday but very happy how it went. Then today in the first race I did a very good job to finish 3rd as I showed somehow good speed and was really happy with that. The rain started to drop for the second race which I was really happy about and I took a good start to race my own race and managed the gap with Jeffrey (Herlings) until he passed me in the last lap which I was disappointed about as I really wanted to win this race at home!” 

* Not winning the GP due to penalties sustained by other riders in race 2 which influenced the final overall.

Jeffrey Herlings: “It was a tough one but I luckily made it happened in the end with the race win. I feel like I’m in the corner of a boxing ring with few counting against me but I keep pulling along and keep coming back. It’s not over until it’s over and I need to work a bit on some things but I got the speed and the fitness and I need to make everything to click together. I’m looking forward to race in Germany in two weeks’ time.” 

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Michael Antonovich

Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.

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