Jeffrey Herlings is going to take the premier-class title at the nineteenth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship this weekend. It is not guaranteed, okay, but it would take something catastrophic to stop him. There will be a ton of attention on the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing tent across the weekend, but there are also some interesting stories to follow further down the order.
Brian Bogers will return to racing, which is great news for all involved, but it is not a story at this point. It is most likely that he is going to struggle in his return to the highest level, as he has not spent too much time on his bike in the last ten months. It would almost be disrespectful, following the struggles that he has gone through this season, to place some expectations on his shoulders. Getting through the weekend without a major hiccup would make this a successful outing. The repercussions of his return are more intriguing at this point.
Todd Waters was keeping his seat warm on Team HRC and is now no longer needed, but he was given a bit of a lifeline by the Assomotor outfit. Arminas Jasikonis has effectively dropped off the face of the earth and consequently there is a bike to ride on that team. One would presume that he has not yet given up on that dream of landing another full-time deal, despite the rough ride that he has had, but he really needs to show something. Waters needs to do more than that actually, like pull off some kind of miracle. The competition in the paddock is extremely stiff at this point in time.
It has not been a successful foray in the FIM Motocross World Championship, one could certainly claim, as he has not broken into the top ten at all and spent a majority of his time outside of the top fifteen. Based on his results when he rode for the IceOne outfit three seasons ago, it seemed inevitable that he was going to become a regular inside of the top ten and slot in right around eighth. It just has not worked out though and there have been no flashes of brilliance or potential, so there is nothing to even cling onto at this point.
Could the switch to the Italian-based Assomotor awning help? It would be extremely tough for one to make a case that going from a factory team to a satellite team is advantageous, so it would honestly be surprising to see him post results around eleventh through the remaining rounds. Add in the fact that fifty percent of those motos will be held in the sand and it does not look good. It will just be interesting to see whether he can maintain the same level that he was at with the HRC team, actually, as very few guys have jumped onto the Assomotor team and flourished.
There are others within the paddock who are in a similar position to Todd Waters, except they are more in need of a lifeline. Morgan Lesiardo will make his debut as a full-blown privateer at Assen and must improve. All of the above applies though. It will be tough for him to do that now that he is doing it on his own, sand is not where he is at his best and there have been no signs to indicate that he can make progress. The split from Marchetti KTM has been very ominous and the way that he performs at round nineteen could indicate who was to blame in that break up.
Morgan Lesiardo may have unrealistic expectations on his shoulders. The EMX champion has always moved onto the main stage and had the ability to contend with established stars and, seeing as that applied to his predecessors, most presumed that he could do the same. The support class was not exactly at its strongest last year though and he still did not manage to dominate the division. Lesiardo never made it clear that he was going to be one of the greats, but some continue to believe that based on past accomplishments. It is most likely that he will be on the fringe of the top ten for a majority of his career.
No matter what Todd Waters or Morgan Lesiardo achieve in the sand of Assen this weekend, it will still be most intriguing to see how their recent team changes impact their respective performances. It is only right that both guys should receive attention, as well as the usual race winners, anyway. Everyone has a story.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Honda Racing Corporation