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Romain Febvre one point off the series lead with three GPs to go

Romain Febvre of the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team moved to within one point of the FIM World MXGP Motocross Championship series lead with a moto win and fastest lap in both races today.

Another tight race was already on the cards for the second of three races at Pietramurata when the top five in qualifying were separated by less than a second, and the French Kawasaki ace could make a tactical choice of gate, starting inside the more-favoured centre of the grid to avoid the bar-banging which had been seen at the venue on Sunday. And the move worked admirably as Febvre coolly avoided the carnage when the points-leader fell at turn one; fourth first-time through the timekeepers’ beam Romain moved through to second within two laps and was soon hauling in the leader. A mistake as he prepared to build his first challenge for the lead cost four seconds but the Kawasaki was clearly the fastest bike on-track and, setting the four fastest laps of the race, Febvre was soon locked into a duel for the win. Setting a ferocious pace the two leaders exchanged the lead a couple of times through the last five laps before the Kawasaki man made the decisive pass stick as they entered the final lap to sprint clear, winning by just over a second; the victory moved the Frenchman into the virtual series points lead for the first time this season. The clever gate-choice had not gone unnoticed and he was joined on the inside for race two with the inevitable consequences. Leaned on by both of his neighbours out of the gate the Frenchman was initially buried in twelfth with a mountain to climb but, again setting the fastest lap of the race, he was in inspired form to move into the top six within ten minutes. Engaged in an enthralling duel with his immediate title rival during the second half of the moto he even pulled alongside at one stage but could not quite make the pass stick as they advanced together further up the leaderboard. Fifth at the chequered flag secured the overall podium for the Kawasaki star and ensured that he heads to the final three rounds of the series just one point from the series points lead.
 Romain Febvre: “That was a really good first race; in the middle of the race I made a mistake and lost three or four seconds but I knew I was the fastest at some places of the track and I could catch Tim again. The last five laps were really challenging; we passed each other a few times and I was really happy to make the final pass going into the last lap. I didn’t know it was for the championship lead, but it was good to win that one. I didn’t take a good start - which is crucial here - in the second race and had to dig deep. I passed Jeffrey once but he passed me back. I’m a little disappointed – one good moto and one not-quite-so-good again. It’s a long time since I did two really solid motos so I will try to put that straight in each of the last three GPs. Now the championship starts again with the top three within three points and I will do my best to be first at the end!“
Mathys Boisrame followed up his top-six debut in the MXGP series on Sunday with eighth-fastest time in Qualifying; the KRT newcomer was confidently looking forward to another great GP but unfortunately his bike was damaged when he was dragged to the ground in a collision at the start of race one. He quickly moved forward into the top ten in race two from fifteenth at the start but, fatigued by a bout of sickness, crashed back to nineteenth on the final lap.
Mathys Boisrame: “I was happy with eighth position in the timed practice period, and I was confident for the race even though I felt a little sick this morning. At the first start I was involved in a pile-up in the first corner and unfortunately the tank was damaged so I had to retire early. Then in the second race my start was average but I was having a lot of fun on the bike and gave my all; I came back to tenth but I was feeling tired at the end due to my illness and had a big crash on the last lap. Now I will concentrate on recovering for the weekend."