The Malagrotta circuit near Rome was the scene of the second round of three in the International d’Italia Motocross Championship yesterday, and after a careful ease back into competition the previous week in Sardinia the Monster Energy Yamaha trio of Steven Frossard, Joel Roelants and Christophe Charlier cranked up the gas. Frossard finished second in the Elite category on the factory YZ450FM while Charlier took his prototype YZ250FM to victory and leads the MX2 division.
Sunny climes near the capital welcomed the trio who are using the Italian series as an effective dialling-in period before the first Grand Prix of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Qatar on March 2nd. Frossard experienced slight arm-pump in the first MX1 moto and foraged his own rhythm to fifth position after a mediocre start. The Frenchman, who is coming back to full-race speed and sharpness, overtook Evgeny Bobryshev, David Philippaerts and Ken De Dycker in the second moto to trail Antonio Cairoli to the chequered flag for what was a moto heavily stacked with quality competitors. His runner-up slot represented a second podium in succession after a cautious run to third place seven days beforehand in Sardinia.
Charlier had already set the pace in the MX2 class and the 250cc four-stroke machines earlier in the day with a win and the chequered flag (earning the red plate as championship leader) and his subsequent eighth place in the Elite moto, which combined both classes, meant he was the first of the 250cc riders against the bigger MX1 motorcycles. Joel Roelants was seventh in the same outing and improved his lap-times by almost two seconds compared to the MX1 race.
“Today was pretty good and Steven is making progress after a lay-off in the second half of 2012,” said Team Manager Mino Raspanti. “The track was something different compared to the sand in Sardinia and was a bit easier technically. He came back strong in the second moto to move into second but Cairoli had a gap over everyone. We were happy though and also for the speed that Christophe showed and the work that Joel keeps putting in. Joel is getting together with the bike and will need to make a step-up before Qatar but we still have time and work ahead.”
The team looked at a few suspension settings at Malagrotta and are set for more tests in the coming days. “We examined what we could do with the engine in the off-season and we have experimented with the character and delivery of the power to give more in the bottom end,” added Raspanti. “So far we have been pleased with the results and feedback.”