The former premier-class champions are getting a lot of airtime in the days prior to the first race of the 2020 FIM Motocross World Championship, which means that those in the second tier are being overlooked for the most part. Who has an opportunity to actually push the elite few and surprise most? If that question was asked in the Grand Prix paddock, these riders would immediately put their hands in the air.
Expectation: Jeremy Seewer expects a lot of himself this year. In short, he wants to be world champion or match what he did last year at the very least. That will be a tall order with everyone healthy, of course, but then he has proven that he is capable on occasion. There is no doubt that most fans do not expect quite as much from him and, in reality, look at him as a fifth or sixth place guy when everyone is healthy. It is difficult to argue against that, yet at the same time it would not be shocking if he far surpasses that. There are a lot of moving parts here.
Reality: There is no way that a fan could sit here and confidently claim that Seewer is going to finish in the top two in the points. Is he good enough to achieve such a result? Sure is. Are there other contenders who are more likely to be that close to the front if health is not an issue? Yep. Seewer is going to sit right around fourth, fifth and sixth most weeks. There is no doubt that he will be the top Yamaha rider most of the time, and all of that is great. Will he win an overall? Well, he needs to sustain the speed he had at the Grand Prix finale last year.
Expectation: It seems that few people have expectations of Clement Desalle, mainly because he has slipped so far beneath the radar that most are overlooking the fact that he will even be sat on the gate. Hey, it has been a while since he lined up at a Grand Prix. Once the fact that he is actually racing has sunk in, what will onlookers expect to see? The common consensus appears to be that a win is a bit of a stretch. After all, he has only won twice in the last four years. That is not exactly the same as the stellar record that he had at the start of the previous decade. Time stands still for no one.
Reality: Desalle should be right where he has been previous years, that being between third and sixth most weeks. Although he tends to struggle with health issues most seasons – he has lined up at every Grand Prix once in the last six years – he is quite reliable when he is able to line up. One could question whether those injuries will eventually catch up to him, as well as being thirty years old, but it is tough to envision this being the year. Desalle is going to be quiet yet effective, just as he has been since moving to Monster Energy KRT four years ago.
Expectation: Remember when Gautier Paulin was a consistent winner and contender for podiums? That is how most remember him and truthfully what most will expect when gates drop on Saturday. Paulin has a certain aura that surrounds him, which leads people to fall into the same trap of labelling him as a real title contender. The deals that he is picking up within the paddock suggest that is still his ceiling as well, so podiums and wins are what everyone is looking for. It makes sense though. Could you imagine a rider with a pedigree like Paulin being happy with a sixth?
Reality: Paulin had six race podiums last season, out of a possible thirty-six, and six the year before that as well, so that is clearly where the benchmark is. Those are facts. Could he match that number in 2020? It is a fairly low bar to hit, so one would think so. It is worth considering just how many injuries there were last year though. Paulin had a majority of his podiums (five of the six) in the first eight races when guys like Cairoli and Desalle were healthy though, so there is that. Truthfully though he may find himself in the lower half of the top ten more often than not.
Expectation: There have been some positive rumblings about Pauls Jonass in recent weeks. It seems some are ready to see him take a step up and really get in that mix at the front. What does that mean? Well, it is unlikely that he is going to be a title contender. Appearing up on the podium more than he did in his rookie year would probably be a good goal to have in mind – that is definitely achievable. Jonass is going to be compared to Seewer, who really blossomed in his second term on the bigger bike, a lot and one would think he has even looked at that rate of progression last year.
Reality: This is tricky. Jonass was actually better than most give him credit for in his rookie season – he was fairly consistent for the most part and chucked flashes of brilliance in there for good measure. It would not be surprising if he does not get the same number of podiums as Seewer did in his sophomore term, because of how deep the field is, but actually performs just as good if not better. It is going to be important to avoid falling into the trap of judging riders off of results, because not everyone can leap inside the top ten. Expect Jonass to be pushing the elite group consistently though.
Expectation: The expectations for Glenn Coldenhoff are just crazy. The Motocross of Nations wave is really still being ridden by both fans and industry alike, but he has never proven that he can repeat that during a full season. The closest that Coldenhoff has ever been to winning a world title was last season – he was still two hundred and forty-seven points down at the end though. Is it realistic to think that he is now going to go on and win a title? That is what some now expect and want to see. Temper expectations, people! Come on. Look at the competition that he has got to go through to get to that point.
Reality: Glenn Coldenhoff is not going to win the world title. Stop it. It just is not going to happen. That is not to say that he will not be a contender for podiums and moto wins on occasion, because he can fight at that level, but for the most part he will be on the cusp of the top five with Jeremy Seewer. Could he win a Grand Prix at some point? Sure, but it will take some injuries to the contenders. It is rather difficult to argue against the fact that Jeffrey Herlings, Antonio Cairoli, Tim Gajser, Romain Febvre and Jorge Prado will have him covered nine times out of ten.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer