Amid the career landmark celebrations for Tony Cairoli and Romain Febvre in Brazil last weekend, one toasting championship success and the other a first GP win, there were other congratulatory scenes in the small Trindade paddock.
Jeremy Van Horebeek confirmed his status as the 2014 runner-up in MXGP this year – thus pushing Yamaha back to the front of the class after two horrendous seasons with injuries – thanks to his bravery in securing 13th place in the first moto.
The Belgian initially feared a broken ankle after a crash that he could only describe as “so stupid” on Saturday in the qualification heat race. The pain in his right limb was eventually diagnosed as damaged ligaments on Sunday night and long after JVH had elected to bear the discomfort and collect the points necessary to make sure of the ‘number two’ plate for 2015 during the opening sprint.
“Lommel was a tough one [Van Horebeek cut his eye] but this was way tougher,” he said afterwards. “Everything you do in this sport is with your legs; the jumps, the corners… everything. Every time I jumped and landed it was like I had a knife in the ankle. If you are not fit on track like this then you better stay home.”
The YZ450F rider has taken 12 podiums from 16 rounds this year including a first MXGP triumph in the Czech Republic. Ironically he lost any small chance of beating Tony Cairoli after the classification in Trindade saw the pair separated by 89 points; Van Horebeek’s race number.
Finishing 13th was still enough to create an unbridgeable difference over countryman Kevin Strijbos in the standings and complete Van Horebeek’s best campaign at Grand Prix level in what is his second MXGP term and first with Yamaha.
“At the moment it still feels strange to think I am vice world champion but, you know, it has been a great season,” he said. “We’ve had many podiums and have been so consistent. There have been a few rookie mistakes and I’m still learning in this class. I’ve ‘grown’ a lot this year and I think I will be ready in 2015 to chase that world title. Overall 2014 has been awesome with more ‘ups’ than ‘downs’, like that great win in Czech Republic.”
Yamaha’s star racer will quickly make a decision this week on whether he will contest the Grand Prix of Mexico. Van Horebeek still has important events ahead, like the 68th Motocross of Nations where he will represent Belgium as defending champions.
“The plan is to get the x-rays and the scans and if it is nothing serious then we will sit down with the team and work out whether we go to Mexico or not,” he said in Brazil and after deciding to sit out the second moto. “If it’s bad then we’ll probably go back to Belgium. I still have the championship there to win! I’m gonna finish the season maybe with a lot of pain but I will see it out.”