The 2012 MX2 world championship motocross season has certainly produced its share of controversy, bitter rivalry and fireworks, most of this at the front of the championship run. The bright spotlights of attention naturally focus on this a lot, and to a certain extent, this masks the honest and relentless efforts of riders just a little bit down the stream who are working as hard to make their way. The yearning is as big, the passion and intensity the same. A porpoise hunts for food as keenly as a great white shark.
Reigning European champion Romain Febvre came into the series with his objectives mapped out. He wanted to find his feet in amongst the big men, edge into the points and then, as his confidence grew, aim for top 10 results. His first top 10 race finish came at the Portuguese Grand Prix, and, bolstered by the confidence of that achievement, he came knocking at the door of a top 10 overall result. The knocking was tentative at first, with a soft knuckle, but for the Latvian GP, Romain brought along the sledgehammer.
The track of Kegums is not far from the Latvian capital Riga, and the Latvians always go the full hog to get the organization spot-on. There was precious little they could do about the weather, though, and the event was plagued by on-again, off-again rain, which made the already technical track even more challenging. Romain posted the tenth fastest qualifying time and followed this up by finishing 11th in the qualifying race, thereby giving clear intention that he was in the zone.
The Frenchman’s retiring personality and slender physique have never kept him from being right in the mix when the starter calls the riders to order, and so it proved to be again. He built himself a very solid platform on his Bodo Schmidt KTM by launching into 8th position. Despite the attentions of a group of riders, his nerve held, and eight laps into the race, he gained a spot. He now focused on negotiating the track’s obstacles without major disaster, and crossed the line in seventh, for his best ever GP race result.
With the scene firmly set for his first overall top ten GP result, Romain was keen for the second race to roll along. His hopes were almost immediately dashed, as a massive first lap crash left him with severely compromised goggles, forcing him to pit for a replacement pair. By the time he exited the pits, he was pretty much the last hair on the tail of the dog. This is where the determination and confidence started to shine through, though. He made up a handful of positions per lap, and by the third rounding of the track, he was already in the points zone. His relentless march forwarded continued, and although his ride went largely unnoticed and unheralded, it definitely was one of the performances of the day. He finally made it wall the way to eleventh, a great performance after a duff start.
Romain’s heroic second race outing gave him the points that he needed to achieve yet another landmark – his first top ten overall result in a world championship race. He was credited with ninth, and the 24 point addition to his overall tally has hoisted him to 16th in the world standings. With his tail now firmly up, he will look to continue with his progress at the Russian GP coming up next.
Reporting by Tinus Nel