WMX Season Review
A stunning return to the top ranks of MXGP
Accidents derail the renewed challenge of MX2
Van Horebeek ranks 2nd in MXGP
Riding for the Yamaha Factory Racing team in the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship for the 2014 season was the Belgian rider Jeremy Van Horebeek, who had ranked 7th in his 2013 rookie season in the MXGP (former MX1) class. In his first race ever on the YZ450FM factory machine at the 2014 season opener in Qatar, Van Horebeek finished 5th in both heats. In the second round in Thailand, he improved on that performance by finishing 3rd in both motos, getting the season off to a good start.
At that point, Van Horebeek commented, “I think we have done a great job getting this bike working for me.” True to those words and the confidence they reflected, Van Horebeek finished 3rd overall again at round 3 in Brazil. From there, he went on an incredible streak, mounting the podium eleven consecutive times (six times in 2nd place and five times in 3rd place) by the 12th round in Sweden. His speed shone brilliantly especially in round 9 in France, where he battled for the lead through a fierce race against Antonio Cairoli and Clement Desalle in the second moto. This impressive race showed the fans that it would not be long before he stood on the top step of the podium.
It was at round 13 in Finland that Van Horebeek’s podium streak came to an end. Although he had finished 2nd in the first heat, a crash in the second heat sent him back to the pit for machine repairs. He would then battle back brilliantly from 18th position to finish the heat in 10th place, but this left him in 4th place overall, just one point shy of a spot on the podium.
However, his chance to redeem himself came quickly. In the first heat of round 14, the GP of the Czech Republic, he finished in 2nd. In the second heat, he held tightly on to the tail of defending champion, Cairoli. “In the second, I was second right away with Tony. I had to fight the whole moto and we were both sliding around and losing control. We were on the limit. With two laps to go I knew I had a great chance,” he commented after coolly grabbing that chance and taking the checkers in front of his rival to win his first overall victory in the MXGP class.
But good things are just as often followed by misfortune in racing, and that is exactly what happened to Van Horebeek next at his home GP in Belgium. While battling for 3rd place in the first moto, he landed heavily from the quad jump and the impact of hitting the bars caused his goggles to cut his left eye and knocked his head. He continued on bravely until the end of the race, reaching the flag in 7th position. Running carefully in the second moto, he came in 9th, giving him an unfortunate 8th place finish overall that day.
Misfortune continued in round 16 in Brazil, where he injured his right ankle in a qualifying heat. Racing through the pain, he managed to finish 13th in the first moto, which secured him 2nd place in the season ranking. Not wanting to risk further trouble, he withdrew from the competition at that point, foregoing the second moto. Then, a week later, at the final round in Mexico, Van Horebeek ran courageously while avoiding use of his injured ankle to finish the day in 5th place overall, just as he had at the season opener. When the racing and the season was over, he commented: “Overall it has been a wonderful season. I’m still young and I made some mistakes. If I want to be world champion then I need to cut those out; it is something I will work on for next year. I want to say a big thanks to the team and everyone around me for helping [me] get to this second place.”
Also, among the riders on the YZ450F this year, David Philippaerts of the DP19 Racing Yamaha team ranked 10th for the season with a 5th overall at his home GP in Italy and a 9th at round 16 in Brazil. Rui Gonçalves of the Bike it Yamaha Cosworth team ranked 11th for the season with results like 6th place overall at round 3 in Brazil, while Milko Potisek of the Yamaha 2B team finished the 2014 season ranked 19th. These results helped Yamaha finish 3rd in the Constructors ranking.
Charlier and the YZ250FM rank 15th in MX2
Yamaha returned to MX2 class competition as a factory in 2014 for the first time since 2009. However, with the new YZ250FM factory machine entrusted to rider Christophe Charlier (Yamaha Factory Racing), the 2014 season was one of continued hardship right from the opening round. Charlier took a fall in the first heat of the season opener and then a flying stone broke his goggles and injured his nose in the second heat. That round in Qatar left him with an unfortunate 10th-place start for the season. Another fall in the second moto of round 2 left him with an injured right ankle that forced him to withdraw from competition from round 3. In contrast, Max Anstie, riding for the Bike it Yamaha Cosworth team on the YZ250F, got off to a good early start in the season with consecutive podium finishes in rounds 2 and 3.
It was in round 7, the GP of Spain, that Charlier made his comeback to the series with a top-10 finish. But, another fall in the second heat of round 8, the GP of Great Britain, left him with a left knee injury that kept him out of competition again. Returning to action in round 11, the GP of Germany, he finished 9th overall, and in the 14th round, the GP of the Czech Republic, Charlier finally got his long-awaited first moto win and a podium finish with 3rd place overall.
In the remaining three rounds of the season, however, he was unable to make any significant advances in the season standings and finished the 2014 season ranked 15th. Meanwhile, Anstie scored his first overall win of the season by finishing in 1st and 2nd at round 15 in Belgium. This put him ahead of another YZ250F rider, Petar Petrov, to take 12th place in the ranking and helped Yamaha take 6th place in the Constructors ranking in its comeback year in MX2 after a 4-year hiatus.