It is fair to state that most fans were heading to the Grand Prix of Great Britain expecting to see Jorge Prado dominate the MX2 division, which is understandable. Prado is the reigning champion and dominated round one in Argentina, as most are aware, so why would he not win yet again? Things have been shaken up now though, as he will skip Matterley Basin with a haematoma on his shoulder.
This scenario is extremely similar to what occurred at the Grand Prix of Great Britain, also held at Matterley Basin, in 2013. Jeffrey Herlings was the series leader in the MX2 class at the time and fractured his shoulder blade in the days prior to the British stop, so was forced to miss the event and consequently the door was swung wide open for a new victor to emerge. There was a sense of uncertainty in the air at that point, just like there is this weekend, and the craziness that ensued lived up to what most expected to see. Many guys rose to the occasion believing that was their shot at success.
It is likely that will occur this weekend too, as there are just two former Grand Prix winners in the MX2 class currently. Thomas Kjer Olsen has won twice (Latvia in 2017 and again in 2018) and Calvin Vlaanderen (won in Indonesia in 2018) has one triumph to his name. Ben Watson, Jago Geerts, Conrad Mewse, Adam Sterry, Henry Jacobi, Mitchell Evans and Jed Beaton are hunting for the elusive win and could realistically get it. It is likely that all of those riders will win eventually, as they are on that elite level, but could one rider remove the monkey from their back as soon as this weekend?
Thomas Kjer Olsen will arguably be the toughest competitor to go through to get to that point, as he is very consistent and won the qualifying race at the Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina three weeks ago. However, on the other end of the scale, he has not enjoyed much success at Matterley Basin and this circuit does not play to his strengths like Kegums would. Olsen gained zero points here last season, because of mechanical issues, but was not exactly the best of the rest before those struck. Calvin Vlaanderen was quicker on the day, plus he has additional experience now. Perhaps he should be considered the favourite?
Ben Watson was fourth overall a year ago, which some may forget as he did not have as much of a presence at the front. There was a reason for that though. Watson battled forwards after horrific starts and was the fastest on track at certain points. If he can get out of the gate, which has been less of an issue lately, should he be considered the favourite? If he does not win, he should come close, which is similar to that round in 2013 as well. Jake Nicholls was the British hopeful who strived to capture his first Grand Prix victory on that day, but he came up just short. Will history repeat itself?
There are so many question marks hovering around now. Tom Vialle will undoubtedly clinch a holeshot on race day, but could he potentially hold on for an extended period and even come close to a maiden victory? It does seem far-fetched, sure, but not completely unrealistic. Could Henry Jacobi do the same thing? What about Adam Sterry? Which Conrad Mewse is going to show up? There are so many questions and storylines that have suddenly been thrust into the limelight.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX