Courtesy of Yamaha Racing
MJC Yamaha Official EMX125’s exceptionally talented Frenchman Thibault Benistant achieved a pair of career milestones at round three of the EMX125 Championship in Kegums, Latvia, where he won his first ever EMX125 race and stood on the podium for the first time in his career. He has now moved up into second place in the EMX125 Championship Standings.
Coinciding with the MXGP of Latvia, the third round of the 2018 EMX125 and fourth round of the EMX250 Championships travelled to Kegums – a tiny village located 50 kilometers South East of the countries capital, Riga. Kegums is a familiar circuit on the world-stage. It has hosted nine rounds of the Motocross Grand Prix since 2009, and eight rounds of the European Motocross Championship since 2005.
This year, the layout of the Kegums circuit had been reversed, which was a welcomed change for more than 100 of the world’s fastest young riders. In addition, the usually soft and sandy surface had not been ripped and watered heavily, which made the surface a lot firmer than it was in previous years. Despite the changes, the track remained fast, rough and technically challenging for the riders, as they had to ride with their eyes wide open to avoid being caught out by the sketchy square edged bumps.
In the opening EMX125 race, Thibault Benistant rocketed out of the gate and out-powered all 39 of the other 125cc riders onboard his GYTR kitted YZ125 to lead the way around turn one but missed his line at turn two, drifted a little bit wide, which allowed two riders to fly up the inside.
After an intense battle for the lead, Benistant wore down the rider in second place and was able to capitalize on a mistake of the leader to take charge of the race with 10-minutes to go. After a gripping duel with the former EMX85 Champion Raivo Dankers, Benistant prevailed to take claim of a stunning first-ever race win.
As for his teammate, the winner of the YZ125 bLU cRU Cup Jörgen-Matthias Talviku came out of his shell this weekend. The young Estonian thoroughly enjoyed the new layout to the Kegums circuit and was more confident than ever on the Latvian sand. Having grown up across the border, approximately 2 hours from the track, Talviku felt at home and it showed. He topped the charts in Free Practice and finished fourth-place in Timed Practice to qualify for the main event for the first time this season.
Qualifying for the first time was already a gratifying moment for the youngster, who rallied from outside of the top-10 for an absolutely incredible fifth place finish in the opening race.
After a monumental day on Saturday, the MJC Yamaha Official EMX125 Team lined up in high spirits on Sunday morning. The EMX125 class was first up, and the riders were the first to turn some wheels on the heavily watered circuit.
With more water on the track for Race Two, the importance of a good start heightened. When the gates fell, Benistant got a fantastic jump but was boxed-in at turn-one, which left him buried outside of the top-20.
After pulling off a serious amount of tear-offs to clear his vision of the wet sand that had sprayed up and onto his lens, Benistant made a series of brilliant passes as he rallied forward and up into sixth place. That was enough of an effort for him to mount the third step of the podium.
An eventful first lap left and a crash left Talviku playing catch up for the entire race. The Estonian battled hard and almost scored more points, but fell short by one position when he crossed the line in twenty-first-place. The lack of fortune in Race Two saw him concede a number of positions for the round overall. He was dropped down to thirteenth, which is still a fantastic result for the determined young rookie.
The MJC Yamaha Official EMX125 Team is already on their way to Teutschenthal, Germany, where the next round of the EMX125 Championship will take place next weekend, May 19th and 20th.
Joining the MXGP, MX2 and EMX125 classes this weekend, the ASTES4-TESAR Yamaha Official EMX250 duo of Roan van de Moosdijk and Nicholas Lapucci were luckless in the opening race of the weekend on Saturday where they both crashed out of contention on the first lap.
Van de Moosdijk bounced back with a vengeance in Race Two as he stormed to an emphatic third-pace finish, while his teammate and winner of the previous round of the EMX250 Championship, in Russia, Lapucci pulled out despite his best efforts to battle through the pain barrier of a wrist injury.
The next race for the ASTES4-TESAR Yamaha Official EMX250 Team will take place in three-weeks time, at Matterley Basin, Winchester, England, on the weekend of June 3rd.