There was a poll on MX Vice last week that listed some of the biggest transfers that have occurred within the MXGP paddock. Although there has not been too much upheaval, as a majority of established stars are working their way through multi-year deals, a handful of guys have made strides forward. A lot of voters went in different directions though and the results were rather intriguing, because of that.
Ben Watson has moved from Hitachi KTM UK to Kemea Yamaha ahead of the new season, which most would consider a step in the right direction. It is worth noting that the Hitachi-backed outfit have taken a step forward themselves though and will receive additional support from the factory when the new season begins. Anyway, there are many bonuses that Watson will now enjoy and it seems that those are universally recognised. There are some experienced professionals at his disposal, such as Marnicq Bervoets and Jacky Vimond, plus he is now based in Belgium and will reap the benefits of that move through the winter.
There is no denying the fact that Watson will be in a position to succeed when his first term as a Yamaha rider begins, especially after the promising signs that he showed this year, but despite that he picked up just fourteen percent of the votes. Although that is a fairly low number, he did narrowly edge Julien Lieber out for third. Lieber has also made the step up to a factory effort, following a year beneath a privateer awning, hence why it is surprising that he too did not grab more attention in the poll.
Eyebrows were raised when it was first announced that Lieber, who never won a moto in the MX2 class, is going to be the second rider on Monster Energy KRT. Jordi Tixier did not achieve too much during his two years in that seat, but most presume that the glass ceiling that Lieber has is not much higher. There is no denying the fact that he was fortunate to pick up such a prestigious ride and that he could not have hoped for much more when negotiations started. However, just like Watson, he was buried down the order in the poll and pulled in just twelve percent of the votes.
Who actually won the poll in the end? Brian Bogers, who is actually in exactly the same position as Julien Lieber. That is why it was peculiar to see such a gulf between the two riders in the results. Bogers acquired less podiums than Lieber through his MX2 career, as he made just three trips to the overall podium in three years, and finished in the top five in six of the thirty-eight motos that were run this season. HRC still pulled him from the MX2 ranks though, although most believe that the new deal with HSF Logistics had a lot to do with that. Perhaps that element of luck is why he claimed thirty-two percent of the votes?
Hunter Lawrence actually led the way for a long time, despite the fact that he is entering the unknown with the new 114 Motorsports Honda outfit. There is no doubt that he had the tools to succeed at Suzuki World MX2, although there were whispers about the bike being a tad behind some of its competitors. However, at the same time, it remains to be seen what kind of technical support he’ll have with the CRF250R. GEICO Honda will be involved, but to what extent? One would presume that he would not have signed a deal without having confidence in the machinery.
There is obviously a greater plan here, as his deal with Honda spans across four years and involves a move to the United States. If you take that into consideration, rather than just solely focus on his 114 Motorsports deal, it is obvious that he picked up the most lucrative contract this off-season. After all, multi-year deals like that are rare nowadays. Honda will benefit from having the likeable Australian beneath their wing too, as he’ll draw a lot of fans to the awning and undoubtedly deliver countless moto wins when the FIM Motocross World Championship kicks off in Argentina. Is he ready to challenge for a title across twenty rounds though?
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Suzuki Racing