There is so much that goes on in the second half of the season. The exciting action keeps rolling on, of course, and then contracts are being discussed behind the scenes. In order to stay on top of the latter, this column is going to feature all of the decisions that have been made. There will be no rumours in here, as this is solely for the facts. Speculation will be in additional columns on MX Vice.
Natanael Bres spent the year with LRT KTM in the EMX250 division, but that team has closed its doors and he has now moved onto the JK Yamaha outfit. Bres was fifty-fourth in the EMX250 class this year, with a season-best finish of sixteenth in the first moto at Orlyonok. Bres will be on the hunt for more points when he steps into the MX2 class full-time when the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship begins.
Jere Haavisto will form a portion of the new rider line-up beneath the JK Yamaha awning next year and tackle the full FIM Motocross World Championship in the MX2 class. Haavisto is mostly known for what he achieved in the now defunct EMX150 division, but this should give him a platform to step up and make a name for himself at the highest level. Simply gaining points will be the priority.
Anton Gole could have spent a few more seasons in the MX2 division. Instead, however, he has opted to step into the premier class with the JWR Yamaha Racing squad. Gole is also in for every European round on the calendar, so will be on the starting line at fifteen of the twenty fixtures. Gole struggled in MX2 this season, as he faced back-to-back injuries, and will be hoping to hit the reset button now.
Petar Petrov has been fairly quiet lately, as he has just focussed on doing something different and finishing beach races in Europe. It turns out that was a great move; he consequently met the North Europe KTM team and therefore agreed on a deal to contest the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship. Petrov will make it to every European round, so begin his campaign at Matterley Basin towards the end of March.
Vsevolod Brylyakov has been forgotten about by some; he last raced at the Grand Prix of Russia in May. There has been a lot of good news for Brylyakov lately, however, as he is getting closer to one hundred percent and has secured a deal for the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship! Brylyakov will sit alongside Kevin Strijbos underneath the JWR Yamaha Racing tent and make it to all of the European fixtures.
Kevin Strijbos will enter the FIM Motocross World Championship once again, now that he has agreed terms with JWR Yamaha Racing. The deal, which is just for one season, will ensure that he makes it to every single European round on the calendar. The JWR outfit are expecting to make it to the Chinese fixtures as well, it has been confirmed, as one of their biggest sponsors will be Just1.
Samuele Bernardini is ready to jump into the premier class next year, as he has agreed on a deal with Ghidinelli Yamaha. That contract will not include the flyaway events, unsurprisingly, but he will be present at all of the European rounds and contest the Italian series too. Bernardini was pushed out of the MX2 class after Imola; he officially became too old for the class and started hunting for a suitable 450F to race.
Tom Koch will stay with the Sarholz KTM squad next year and therefore sit alongside Max Nagl. In a surprising move, however, he will exit the MX2 division early and race in the premier class. Koch will have just turned twenty-one when the new term fires into life, so could have had a couple more years in MX2, but will instead do the European rounds of MXGP, then all of the ADAC MX Masters events too.
Simone Furlotti signed with GBO Motorsports to do the EMX250 series next year, but then got ejected from that class when it was announced that an age-restriction rule was being enforced. The GBO team are sticking by him and, instead of doing EMX, Furlotti will now turn his attention to the premier class and the European rounds of that series. The Italian Championship is still going to be a priority for him and the team too.
Stephen Rubini was adamant that he wanted a contract in the MX2 class in the FIM Motocross World Championship. Rubini is not going to be in that division next year though, as he has agreed on a deal with Assomotor Honda to line up in EMX250. One would presume that Rubini, who had a season-best finish of fifth in an MX2 moto this year, will enter that class as the favourite when the series begins in Great Britain in March.
Kim Savaste is still considering a promising young talent by some and will dip his toe into a handful of MX2 rounds next year. It remains to be seen just how many he will be able to travel to, but he is locked in with the Steels Dr. Jack KTM team for the new season. The Italian Championship is going to be a priority for Savaste and the team, it seems, and understandably so. It is quite realistic for them to finish in the top five there.
Max Nagl was left in a very tricky position when TM Factory Racing confirmed that they would not have a team in the FIM Motocross World Championship next year. Thankfully, however, he has now signed a deal with the Sarholz KTM squad that will allow him to compete in the European rounds of the series. Although some feel that he deserves to race at all twenty rounds, it is actually quite remarkable that he found such a good deal at this late stage.
Tom Vialle has now officially been announced as the rider who’ll replace Pauls Jonass at the Red Bull KTM team and therefore sit alongside Jeffrey Herlings. The move caught a few people by surprise, seeing as Vialle only won a single moto in the EMX250 category and ended the series in eighth, but those in positions of power at the Austrian manufacturer clearly see something in him. The new season will mark his first in the MX2 class.
Arminas Jasikonis signing for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing was one of the worst kept secrets in the MXGP pits, but it has now officially been announced. The deal that he signed, which will ensure that he is sat alongside Pauls Jonass at all twenty of the Grand Prix rounds, will run for just one year, so there will be some pressure on his shoulders. Jasikonis is already riding and testing with his new team.
Jed Beaton is now officially a Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider. The contract that Beaton has with the Austrian manufacturer was announced earlier this week and will run over the next two seasons. Beaton will now remain in Europe during the off-season and begin preparing for his maiden term in white. Following the serious injuries that he sustained in May, he has now started riding again.
Alvin Ostlund has been confirmed as the second rider that REVO Husqvarna will run in the MX2 class in the FIM Motocross World Championship. Ostlund is no stranger to the series and will now benefit from the additional support that the British-based team will receive from the Austrian manufacturer. The squad will now be known as a factory-supported satellite team. The support will extend to the first signing, Dylan Walsh, as well.
Max Anstie confirmed his plans for the upcoming year at the start of November. It was announced that he would join Standing Construct KTM and therefore sit alongside Glenn Coldenhoff and Ivo Monticelli, who had previously signed for the team. Anstie will receive some help from KTM through the team, which is a massive attraction, so should still be fighting for podiums, plus race wins on occasion. The deal is for one year.
Pauls Jonass will step up to the premier class with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing next year. In a move that shocked some, Jonass hopped off of a Red Bull KTM and moved across to the white awning in order to escape being the third wheel behind Jeffrey Herlings and Antonio Cairoli. The ACL surgery that Jonass had a month ago will stop him from jumping onto an FC 450 until January.
Shaun Simpson has been a hot topic in the paddock this season and most were intrigued to see where he would land. Simpson has now confirmed that he will ride for RFX KTM though, a new team in the paddock, and contest all twenty rounds of the FIM Motocross World Championship. The RFX team were previously based in Britain only and have no significant experience in EMX even, so this will be quite the jump.
Dylan Walsh will step out of the support class next year and join the FIM Motocross World Championship with REVO Husqvarna. REVO will enter the MX2 division with him and potentially one other rider, although nothing else has been confirmed at this point. Walsh was sixth in EMX250 this season and acquired two moto wins across the eleven rounds, which was a big improvement over the previous season.
Conrad Mewse actually had some other options in the paddock for the new season, but has now agreed terms with Hitachi ASA KTM UK. It is not too surprising that he will stick with his current surroundings, as it has worked quite well for him over the last six months, but it was a bit of a shock to learn that he has signed a two-year extension. A handful of factory seats will open up at the end of next year.
Jordi Tixier was in a dangerous spot when negotiations for the upcoming FIM Motocross World Championship begun. Tixier, a former world champion, has had no noteworthy results nor has he even really raced over the last twenty-four months. However, despite those struggles, he has acquired a deal with the VHR KTM squad that will ensure that he can compete in all twenty rounds in the premier class.
Gautier Paulin is on the move! Paulin, who has not won a Grand Prix thus far this season, has signed a deal with Wilvo Yamaha MXGP for next year. The contract is undoubtedly a smart move and one that could serve him well in the future. Paulin is just twenty-eight and has a lot more to give in the premier division, hence why both Wilvo and Yamaha believe they can help him return to the front.
Davy Pootjes will race for his fourth team in as many years when the new season begins, as he has signed a one-year deal with the Diga Procross Husqvarna squad. It is going to be a big year for Pootjes, which is going to be something interesting to pay close attention to, because his contract with the factory will expire at the end of it. There is simply no doubt that he must perform with the relatively-new team.
Benoit Paturel struggled to get a respectable contract in the premier division at the end of last year. Paturel eventually wormed his way back into the paddock and, even though he has not posted any jaw-dropping results, has already acquired a deal for next year. The Gebben Van Venrooy Kawasaki squad have signed him to sit alongside Alessandro Lupino beneath the awning at all of the rounds, including the overseas events.
Henry Jacobi will take a step up in the Grand Prix paddock next season, as the F&H Racing Kawasaki squad have signed him to a one-year deal. The year will be his last in the MX2 division, hence the short-term deal, so there will a certain amount of pressure for him to fulfil some of his personal goals. Jacobi is excited about the prospect of being a full-time rider for the year though and feels as though that will be a significant help.
Ivo Monticelli has snatched the second seat beneath the Standing Construct KTM awning, one that a lot of riders were chasing, in a surprising move. The team commented that they think that they can help him push for a position in the top ten when their partnership begins, which would be quite an improvement. Monticelli currently runs twenty-third in the championship standings and has only missed two rounds.
Tommy Searle will move on from the Bike It DRT Kawasaki outfit next year, following three seasons with the team, and join the relatively-new BOS GP squad. BOS had no support from a manufacturer this year but will receive some backing from Kawasaki when their second term in the FIM Motocross World Championship fires into life. It was also revealed that Jean Jacques Lusietti, who has spent a lot of time with Searle in the last ten years, will act as the team manager.
Evgeny Bobryshev put a lot of faith into the BOS GP team when he joined them before the start of the current term and it was clearly a positive move. Bobryshev has already signed an extension for next season and will receive support from a manufacturer, as he too will jump on a Kawasaki. There is still a chance that Bobryshev could finish eleventh in the standings this year, as he is nine points down on the rider who currently occupies that position.
Jeremy Seewer took a chance when he joined Wilvo Yamaha MXGP in the off-season and it has paid off in a big way. Seewer will join the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing next year and sit alongside Romain Febvre, so take the seat that Jeremy Van Horebeek will evacuate. Seewer has enjoyed a successful maiden term in the premier division, despite the fact that he has not spent much time in the top five, and this move will only help him charge forward.
Arnaud Tonus was expecting to achieve a lot with the Wilvo Yamaha MXGP squad this year, but a shoulder injury ruled him out for the entire term. The two parties are still committed to those goals, hence why an extension for next year has been signed. It will mark the third consecutive season that he has spent with the relatively-new squad, who will continue to make strides in the coming years. A new rider will join the team and sit alongside Tonus next year.
Michele Cervellin did not have too much time to adapt to the SM Action Yamaha team when he first made the move, as it occurred mid-season and days before the Grand Prix of Great Britain. It has still been a success, despite those issues, so the pair will be looking to build on that when the new season fires into life. An extension was confirmed in August that will ensure that he spends another twelve months beneath the awning.
Julien Lieber was an unknown quantity when he entered the premier class with Monster Energy KRT at the start of the year, but he has actually been a pleasant surprise. The last two months have been rough, as he has suffered from some knocks and therefore his results have not been quite as noteworthy, but he already made it quite clear that he has potential when the term fired into life. It is not yet known when his new contract will expire.
Maxime Renaux was the first rider who SM Action Yamaha signed for next season and that is hardly surprising. It has also been confirmed that he is set to move up to the MX2 class on a full-time basis. Renaux has actually already completed some wildcard outings in the division and enjoyed some success, hence why the team locked up his services rather early on. It is unclear who his teammates will be at the time of writing.
Darian Sanayei was hot property earlier in the season, as he was one of the few contenders who needed a new contract for next year. Steve Dixon eventually stepped up and re-signed Sanayei for what will be his final term in MX2. The contract with DRT actually ensures that Sanayei will have a ride in the premier division the year after as well, but he can opt out if an opportunity in the USA arises. Sanayei is currently recovering from a torn ACL in his homeland.
Alessandro Lupino, the lead rider on the Gebben Van Venrooy Kawasaki team, became hot property earlier this year, as he strung together some impressive results in the premier division. The finishes prompted the Dutch squad to present him with another deal and caused some other guys who were lined up to take the spot to look elsewhere. Lupino will have a new teammate next season, but that announcement has not been made yet.
Maxime Desprey has been out with an injury in recent weeks but broke through before that with some noteworthy results. It is tough to secure a ride in the premier division nowadays though and, bearing that in mind, he opted to take a deal in France. The Honda SR squad will take him on to contest both supercross and motocross next season. It is likely that he only contest one or two international events though, seeing as the French schedule is rather busy. Desprey is just twenty-four-years-old.
Glenn Coldenhoff eventually stole the primary seat underneath the Standing Construct KTM awning that a handful of different riders desperately wanted. Coldenhoff was informed by the factory outfit that his services would no longer be required, hence why he is moving to a satellite team. The contract with Standing Construct will run for two years, so he will have some security when transfer season begins again in twelve months. There will be a number of high-profile names vying for a deal at that point.
Antonio Cairoli signed an extension with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing before the year had even begun. The deal will ensure that the nine-time champion continues to lead the Claudio De Carli side of the awning into action for two more seasons at the very least. There were some who speculated that he would consider pulling out early, after a difficult season, but he told MX Vice exclusively at the recent Grand Prix of Turkey that he is raring to get another season underway.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Monster Energy Media/Ray Archer