Samco Sport, the presenting sponsor of this page, are the world leaders in performance silicone hoses. They offer the largest range of both direct replacement hose kits and universal race parts, as well as much more! Is that enough to entice you? Click here for more.
It must be difficult for an elite rider to determine his goals for an off-season race like Geneva. Winning is obviously a priority whenever the gates drop, but teams would be reluctant to let their riders lay it all on the line in a race that is effectively meaningless. A gaggle of elite stars travel across the Atlantic each year, despite that, to refine their skillset ahead of the new season.
In what will be the final dress rehearsal aboard his new steed, Justin Barcia arguably has the most to gain. Three weeks of testing have been and gone since he last rode ‘yellow’ in anger so, with that in mind, one would presume that he is closer to one hundred percent and also has a better idea of what needs to be worked on in a race situation. Anaheim 1 is just over a month away, after all.
Barcia has a brilliant opportunity to capitalise on a lot of track time this weekend, although borrowed machinery that may be sub-par could make things a little uncomfortable. Valuable knowledge could still be gained, however, and nothing would be more encouraging than to see that he has gained ground on Marvin Musquin since they last matched up in France. Momentum can do wonders in this sport, especially for a rider like Barcia who relies on that mental edge.
Marvin Musquin is, of course, the heavy favourite to be named royalty for the second time in a month. The Frenchman was simply superb in his homeland three weeks ago and will again benefit from having a full-factory machine that he has piloted before. Building on the brilliant off-season that he has had thus far will undoubtedly be the goal this weekend and, although this is not a prediction piece, I would honestly not be surprised if he reigns supreme in every single session that is run. The surface, which typically ends up quite slick, will suit his skillset perfectly as well.
Although the two riders mentioned above would be considered the favourites entering Geneva, all eyes will be fixed on Malcolm Stewart as he rolls out onto the floor of the Palexpo. Stewart has been seen aboard a YZ450F in recent weeks and could be leaning towards that as his bike of choice. If that is indeed the case, then the knowledge gained this weekend could be paramount in determining how prepared he is for the Monster Energy Supercross opener. It would also mean that we are one step closer to piecing together the Stewart puzzle.
Mookie has, of course, stated that he intends to turn up to Anaheim 1 as a privateer if no deal presents itself, but he would probably elect to not pin all his hopes on Honda. He has already ridden a bike that resembled his Geico Honda, although what lied beneath was mostly stock, in Arnhem and then another minimalistic CRF450 that was supported by Seven in Lille.
Valentin Guillod and Arnaud Tonus will be looking to impress fans in maiden outings with their new teams. Supercross is obviously not a priority for either rider, but Guillod especially is always eager to prove what he has to offer in situations similar to this. You would think that Tonus would be in the same position and have a chip on his shoulder, after being chewed up and spat out by the American industry, but he has already stated that he simply wants to do this for himself.
Justin Brayton is most likely a name that most will overlook when perusing the entry list, but his prowess in smaller events such as this should not be ignored. Brayton is riding a wave of momentum, just like Musquin, and arrives at the Palexpo bearing an Australian scorecard that is almost perfect. Onlookers may point to Brayton as the most likely challenger and, you know what, that may be not as ludicrous as one would think.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Image: Monster Energy