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Dissected: An MX2 Preview

Breaking down the MX2 contenders

· 7 minutes read

The deal of the day on 24MX.

Although an overwhelming majority of pundits are looking at Jorge Prado as the heavy favourite to clinch the MX2 title in the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship, the class should actually be interesting to follow. There are countless riders who could potentially rise up and challenge the defending champion. In part one of the MX Vice MX2 preview, the elite contenders are broken down.

Jorge Prado

Jorge Prado is going to be incredibly tough to beat in the MX2 class this year. There is really no doubt about that! It is actually mind-blowing to consider the fact that he started the previous campaign with two weeks on the bike, after sustaining a broken elbow during the off-season, so just imagine the level that he will be at when gates drop this weekend! The way that he is looked at will be similar to Jeffrey Herlings, one could argue, as it will be extremely shocking whenever he loses a race straight up. The fact that he rarely fails to take the holeshot will only strengthen his charge.

(KTM Images/Bavo Swijgers)

It is actually weird to think about just how dominant he could be. Even last season, when he won eleven of the final twenty motos, there was a constant threat from Pauls Jonass and a title battle that kept fans right on the edge of their seats. There is no doubt that the guys listed below will threaten him at points, but who will manage to do it consistently? That is the big question and challenge that leaves those riders with a lot to ponder. Answers will begin to emerge as soon as this weekend, of course, but prepare to see the #61 on the top step a lot. This thing is his to lose.

Thomas Kjer Olsen

When discussing the matter of consistency, Thomas Kjer Olsen is undoubtedly a name that springs to mind. Although the two-time Grand Prix winner has rarely matched the Red Bull KTM duo in recent years, he has used consistency to topple the rest by a significant advantage. There have been other riders who are faster than him, like the now departed Hunter Lawrence and Thomas Covington, but then he seems to always be a way ahead in the standings. A double DNF at the Grand Prix of Great Britain could not even stop him from claiming bronze last year.

The point here is that if something happens to Jorge Prado, Thomas Kjer Olsen will probably be the next in line to pick up the pieces. Although he is the second-winningest rider in the MX2 field, and a title contender, there is arguably another level he can reach. Seeing as he has enjoyed so much success at certain races and in the final standings each season, most seem to be waiting for him to figure out how to do that consistently and be more of a threat. Will this be the year that he steps up and become an actual threat for the title? It is actually fair to compare him to Clement Desalle in the premier division.

(Husqvarna/Bavo Swijgers)

Ben Watson

Ben Watson is one of the most exciting talents in the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship. Why? The improvements that he made in his first term with the Kemea Yamaha squad were mind-blowing, so imagine if he makes a similar jump up in his second term? It may not even be possible for him to improve raw speed, as that was impressive a year ago. Who remembers Pangkal Pinang? Starts were the only thing holding him back at points, but the inclusion of a hydraulic clutch could be a game changer. It would be most interesting to see what he can do if he starts in the top three on a consistent basis.

What would make this term a success for Ben Watson? Well, seeing as he ended fourth a year ago, a medal is the only way to improve. There is no doubt that he will not be willing to settle for less than that anyway. The smart money would be on him to also become the next first-time winner in that category and, hey, it could happen as soon as this weekend. Although some mediocre pre-season races may put some off, those have been marred with issues. It really seems like he is just waiting for round one so that the season can properly begin.

(Monster Energy/Bavo Swijgers)

Calvin Vlaanderen

It is guaranteed that some have forgotten that Calvin Vlaanderen is one of three former Grand Prix winners in the MX2 class, but he has actually gotten that monkey off his back! There is a chance that he will not be at his best at the Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina though, as he hurt his back in the start crash at Mantova a little over two weeks ago. The issue caused him to pull out of the Hawkstone International, but he is going to be on track at Neuquen and there should not be any issues. A significant amount of time has been and gone since that event now.

What would it take for him to claim a medal at the end of the season or even win the title? It actually seems like all of the pieces of the puzzle are there. The only thing that leads to raised eyebrows is that he has had bike issues a handful of times. There was the Grand Prix of Switzerland a year ago, the Motocross of Nations and then it also happened at the first Italian round. There is almost no doubt that those will not follow him into the upcoming term though and, actually, he may be the second-fastest guy in this class. There were a handful of points where that sentiment was supported last year.

(Honda Racing Corporation)

Jed Beaton

It is so easy to forget about riders in this sport, as someone limps onto the sidelines and obviously the show must go on without them. Jed Beaton has been missing since May, for instance, and is therefore going into the new term with very little hype. The reality is that he is probably going to claim his first Grand Prix victory this year though. Will it happen straight away? No. Beaton has not raced at that level in a long time, needed to build himself back up again in the off-season and is also adjusting to new surroundings at Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing. [Ed Note: After publishing this story, it has now been confirmed that he is out with a vertebrae injury.]

This is the odd thing about the structure of the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship schedule. A rider like Jed Beaton can head over to Argentina, get comfortable, blow cobwebs out and salvage points. A three-week break follows the round, so he can then get comfortable in Europe and come out swinging in the UK. Matterley Basin is almost going to act as another first round, where results will be turned upside down and certain riders will make massive gains. Beaton took his first podium of the previous term at round five and, based on his current situation, it would not be surprising to see him turn it up at that point again.

(Husqvarna/Bavo Swijgers)

Darian Sanayei

Darian Sanayei has been missing for longer than Jed Beaton, but remember the last time that he was racing at one hundred percent? Sanayei was undoubtedly the quickest MX2 star at RedSand, the Grand Prix of La Comunitat Valenciana, and it seemed that he was right on the verge of a breakthrough. A torn ACL the next week put a stop to that and he has not competed in any pre-season internationals either: It is likely that it will take a round or two for him to get back to that insane level that he was at in Spain. The fact is that the potential there, which is an exciting prospect. It is just a matter of time.

The bad thing about this is that Darian needs to move out of MX2 at the end of the season, because of that age-restriction rule, so there is not that much time to work with. There is absolutely no doubt that he could be a world champ, if he could get some momentum beneath his belt, but this is a one-shot deal. What is a realistic goal? Winning a Grand Prix is likely. Most forget that he has to clinch his maiden podium finish first though, but that will almost certainly happen before the month of May begins. There will be a point or two where he shocks fans. No doubt about it.

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer

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