For the first time in more than a decade, the schedule of the races is really tight with the first three Grand Prix in consecutive weeks. With the return to the two motos format, there’s no real time for testing, recovering from little injuries or trying to solve some technical problems, especially between Spain and Portugal as most of the teams didn’t travel back to their bases. For everyone the goal will be to secure this weekend as many points as possible, and then go back home and utilise the two week break before the fifth (Valkenswaard) and sixth (Teutschenthal) events of the season. It will be really interesting to check if both in MX1 and MX2 the new faces and early leaders continue to disrupt the hierarchy.
Despite some physical troubles (rib, back and thumb damaged) Stefan Everts is the new leader of the MX1 Championship, replacing his younger team-mate Cedric Melotte. The Belgium star gained his first GP victory of the season in Spain, winning both races after good starts on a slippery track. Stefan has already a good advantage on his usual rivals, Joel Smets and Mickael Pichon who are currently sixth and ninth in the championship; Smets didn’t have so much time to prepare the season due to a damaged knee, and still needs to get used to the new 450 Suzuki, while Pichon returned to racing only one month ago after his six months injury absence. The season is longer than usual with sixteen races and thirty-two motos, but both need to reduce the gap if they want to contend the title with Everts…and some fast newcomers! Both impressive for their first appearance in the class at Zolder, Cedric Melotte and Steve Ramon were less lucky in Spain where they had some troubles with the racing conditions. Although they are consistent and will for sure get other podiums this season. In the MX1 class, only Joshua Coppins was able to climb on the podium in Zolder and Bellpuig; stronger than ever, Josh is currently second in the championship and never started a season so well. Brian Jorgensen, the talented Kevin Strijbos (who finished only two races but twice on the podium), the surprising Tanel Leok on a 250 two stroke and Javier Garcia Vico are some of the main contenders in this class. In the last 250cc Grand Prix organized in Agueda, Mickael Pichon won both heats on his factory Suzuki.
The situation is closer in the MX2 class, with three riders within three points! Neither Stephen Sword or Andrew McFarlane have won a race up until now, but they are leading followed by the orange squad composed of Townley, Leok, De Reuver and Rattray. With four 250 four strokes in the top six the situation is more difficult than ever for the 125cc two stroke machinery, even if Rattray proved in Spain that a two stroke can still win a GP. Consistent at the first two rounds, Sword (on the new Kawasaki four stroke) and McFarlane (for his first season in this class, after he raced the 500 and then 250 classes in the past) proved their ability in difficult race conditions but will have a tough job to defend their position. In Zolder and Bellpuig, both Ben Townley and Marc De Reuver on the 250 KTM were the fastest guys on the track; but a couple of crashes and a technical problem for Marc in Spain forced them to retire in one moto, giving a chance to Aigar Leok and Tyla Rattray to ‘interfere’ in the championship. Veterans Maschio (winner of the last race in Bellpuig), Dobb or Bartolini are further away, and must fight with the new wave of upcoming talents: Antonio Cairoli, Jonathan Barragan, Anthony Boissière, Sébastien Pourcel or Rui Gonçalves, the local hero this weekend.
The action will start Saturday at 10 am with the first free practice session, and qualifying will take place from 3 to 6pm. Sunday the MX2 races are scheduled at 12.05 and 15.05, and the MX1 at 13.05 and 16.05.
For more info and results check the official web site of the Motocross World Championships: www.motocrossMX1.com