Gating in tandem with the pole-setter to his inside at the start of race one at the magnificent facility on the equatorial island of Sumbawa the Frenchman was boxed-in slightly at turn one to emerge sixth. The tricky surface, an unusual mix of hard-edged ruts with a loose top soil of volcanic ash, demanded respect by anyone going off the main line in search of a passing move but by lap three the Kawasaki ace had advanced to fifth and set his sights on fourth. Pacing himself in the hot and humid conditions he maintained the pressure throughout the thirty-minute-plus-two-lap race, his final effort to pass on the very last lap being resisted as the rider ahead “closed the door“. A superb start in race two saw the Frenchman race top-three all moto with the leader in his sights to the chequered flag. The GP podium was within reach if he could have found a way around the rider in second but again a well-planned last-lap effort came up inches short. Nevertheless it was a superb effort to add fourth overall to the fifth place he secured two weeks ago on his return to action after a six-month enforced absence from racing.
Romain Febvre: “It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth to miss the podium by just two points! I had a good feeling with the bike all weekend and I really liked the track; already on Saturday I had good lap times and a good Qualifying race. Today it was the first race that spoilt my day; I started well but Tim moved towards me in the first corner so that I had to brake and I was passed on the outside. I was fifth and I had to stay there for several laps; it was difficult to follow each other closely, and to carry out an attack your opponent had to make a mistake, especially as half of the track was made up of heavy dirt. In the second race I saved my challenge for the end of the race. I pushed with two laps to go to try to overtake Prado; I drew alongside him when he made a mistake on an uphill but I couldn’t quite make the pass stick. Maybe I should have started my challenge a lap earlier. I’m disappointed to miss the podium but this weekend has confirmed that the results are pretty good since my return and everyone in the team is happy. “
KRT’s Ben Watson made several decisive moves through the early laps of race one as he moved forward to thirteenth after hitting the start-gate before surrendering one position again mid-moto to finish fourteenth. Thirteenth in race two resulted in the same result overall and he remains twelfth in the series points chase.
Ben Watson: “I felt really positive when we arrived here and saw the track. It’s really special; they did a really good job and it was worth the long journey but I just didn’t feel physically strong enough all weekend. I don’t think it was the heat but I felt heavy from the start and struggled with the intensity. I saw some form of movement in the gate at the start of the first race and hit it. There were a couple of us who moved so I don’t think I imagined it; it was just one of those things. I tried to re-group between races and rode better in race two to make a couple of passes; I just wish I could ride more aggressively at the moment. “
F&H Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jed Beaton showed good pace during the first half of race one as he advanced from eighth to sixth but the Australian ran out of energy in the heat during the final fifteen minutes to be pushed back to tenth at the chequered flag. The second moto was difficult from the word go but he persevered to finish fourteenth for twelfth overall. He remains seventeenth in the championship standings.
Jed Beaton: “The layout of the track looked really nice when we arrived even though it’s rocky underneath. I ran up front for twenty minutes in the first moto – that was really positive - but then the heat got to me so I went into the second race on the back foot as I’m still not back to 100%. “