Pocock shines with best GP finish yet
Mel Pocock stepped into the injury breach for Monster Energy Yamaha once more and demonstrated again why he is becoming one of the best young, sought-after prospects in the Grand Prix spotlight. The fastest rider in the Maxxis British Championship and undisputed leader of the European EMX250 series the nineteen year old left a rough and difficult Agueda circuit and the GP of Portugal with another small milestone thanks to his best ever FIM Motocross World Championship result in seventh overall.
Michael Leib missed the Grand Prix and his weakened condition was identified with the initial stages of Epstein Barr virus. The American was undergoing further tests in the UK and has been ordered to rest with no firm idea yet of a return to action on the YZ250F. Into the frame stepped Pocock who raced to 11th and 7th positions in front of 18,000 spectators in what was a contrasting day of weather conditions.
Pocock was involved in a moment of controversy towards the end of the second race when leader Jeffrey Herlings was unable to pass the youngster and made a mistake that allowed Tommy Searle to claim the chequered flag. Pocock and Team Manager Steve Dixon talked with the FIM over the incident but to all witnesses it was clear that the rider was obeying the blue flags by holding his line and slowing his pace to allow the front-runners more options to overtake. ‘119’ should be present in the paddock once more for round eight next weekend.
On the other side of the awning the seventh round of sixteen in the GP campaign was a tough one for Tonus in only his second Grand Prix appearance this season. The Swiss pulled through from a mid-pack start to reach 7th in the first moto but was tangled in a multi rider pile-up in the second race and lost a valuable time stuck under his bike. Once he was able to get going ‘7’ reach 18th for a few points at least.
In the MX1 class Shaun Simpson revealed a marked improvement over his form in France last week. The Scot was left lamenting his starts – and a selection of the last gate pick for the first moto was gamble that didn’t quite pay off – but his speed and form on the YZ450F was eye-catching and he rode to 10th in the first moto and was as high as 7th in the second before his exertions earlier in the day caused him to lose some speed and he crossed the line in 12th for the same ranking overall.
Monster Energy Yamaha now get back on the road and head north with the inauguration of the Bastogne circuit for the Grand Prix of Belgium on June 17th next on the schedule.
“Best set of results I’ve had at a GP and it felt so good to be running up there with the top boys. With regards to the Herlings incident I was just riding my own race and he is a good enough rider to be able to take a different line and pass me. I held my line and slowed down and it was just a racing incident. I really ‘got on’ with the track and this place is one of my favourites. I like the elevation changes and the dirt. The season is going very well so far and I really hope it will get me a full-time GP ride next year! I am working hard and I train hard so it is nice to get the reward. A big thanks to Steve, Ben and everyone for their help.”
“It has not been a good day. I almost crashed and then lost time in the first corner of the first moto. I was mid-pack and it was hard to come back through. I still need race time and I was a bit lost between all those guys in the first few laps. I was a bit tight and to get seventh in the end was not too bad but there is a lot of work ahead. I went down at the start in the second moto and was stuck under the bike and lost a minute. I rode back to fifteenth but made some mistakes and couldn’t hold on anymore. It was hard physically out there but hopefully it will get easier with more laps and different track conditions.”
“We are at GP seven and we’re still trying to get out of the gate. I feel that if I had got away near the front in the first one then I would have had the pace to be between fifth and seventh. It didn’t really happen and I take some of the blame for trying the outside gate but all year I’ve been packed in and squashed around the first turn so I thought I’d at least try something different. I managed to charge up to tenth in the first moto and I was happy with my riding and went all the way to the end but you could see in the second one that it cost me. From about half way I lost the tow to Rui in sixth. We need to make a few changes to get better starts because you cannot give these guys a head-start every week. I feel a bit disappointed to imagine what could have been here and hopefully we’ll try some things before Bastogne.”
“Mel stepped in at the last hour to help the team and thanks to him for that because he did a fantastic job. Qualifying is not his strong point but he is a racer and showed that with seventh overall and we’ll go to Belgium now where he’ll race again. Arnaud struggled in the middle of the pack and through being ‘taken out’ at the start of the second moto. We will keep on building up the rest of the season with him. Shaun battled through well and it was a good, strong showing from him. He is frustrated with his starts but we have a good bike and I think he luck will change soon. I heard some rumours that Mel was on some premeditated action to affect Jeffrey Herlings on the track but I find that amusing. Mel was doing his own race out there in his best ever race position. He did what he was supposed to do under the blue flag; stick to your lines. In my view Jeffrey was too worried about Tommy and Mel did not take him out, it was his own mistake. There was a lot of controversy about it. We don’t have a problem. I have been in this sport a long time and this happens now and again. We just want to see good, safe racing. The sport is passionate and there is always going to be some tempers and reactions.”