Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe might be facing the sixth round of 17 in the FIM Motocross World Championship with one of their Grand Prix riders on the sidelines but Max Anstie will be firmly pursuing his first silverware of the campaign on the factory RM-Z250 in Portugal this weekend.
The undulating Agueda circuit south of Porto sees the GP paddock come together again after a short respite in the wake of the Grand Prix of Bulgaria and Anstie used the free weekend to take a superb runner-up position at Drehna in Germany for the first round of the ADAC MX Masters.
As one of the most popular national series in Europe the MX Masters attracted almost 10,000 spectators to the sandy layout and Anstie made a decent showing against the 450cc motorcycles to finish second overall to Max Nagl.
“Jens [Johansson, Technical Co-ordinator] had done some good work on the engine and I could make a lap in qualifying to take pole position, which I was quite impressed with,” Anstie explains. “I had two good starts and was right at the front against the 450s so I was really pleased with that. In the first Heat, by the time I got into second place Max was just gone, but in the second I was ahead of him into the first corner. I had the lead on the first lap and held it almost until the end when Nagl caught me and we hit some slower traffic. Anyway, it was good to keep close to him in the sand and the results were decent with those bigger bikes.
“I’ve only ever raced Supercross or the Grands Prix this year so it was good to try another event that still had some fast riders there but without that pressure,” he added. “I think it will be beneficial for us this weekend and the tweaks we did to the bike will also stand us in good stead.”
Anstie will be on his own in the MX2 GP class with team-mate Julien Lieber likely to miss the rest of the season after knee ligament surgery earlier this week. “I’m really sorry for Julien because he was riding well,” said the Brit. “We seemed to be together each GP. We’d both start well or start terribly like in Italy and it was interesting to talk with him and compare what we were doing.”
Portugal will see the start of the eight-round 2013 European EMX250 Championship – the feeder series to MX2 Grand Prix – and the team will have Jeremy Seewer competing as one of the favourites for the title on his RM-Z250 and buoyed after a top-10 finish overall at the fourth-round Grand Prix of Trentino that he entered as a wild-card.
In other news, German national champion Marcus Schiffer joined Anstie on the overall podium at Drehna for a steady start to his domestic ambitions for 2013 on the RM-Z450; the 2012 Motocross of Nations team winner celebrating third position. And at Castiglione Del Lago in Italy, Gianluca Facchetti finished second on his RM85 in the European 85cc Championship.