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MX Vice Predictions: 2014 MXGP Series

The 2014 FIM Motocross World Championship is upon us! Practice will begin in just a couple of hours, so the excitement level is at an all time high! Now seemed like a great time to put our many predictions out there, so here they are. If you agree, or disagree, just leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Lewis Phillips:

MXGP Qatari GP Winner: Antonio Cairoli

Final Championship Standings:
1st Antonio Cairoli
2nd Clement Desalle
3rd Gautier Paulin

MXGP Wildcard: Steven Frossard

Honestly, I just cannot see anyone beating Antonio Cairoli this year. Now, I feel like I have said that a lot over the last few years, but it has turned out that way more often than not. Why would this year be any different? In the pre-season races, he has proven to be just as fast as he was last year, as he was unbeatable (for the most part) in the Italian Championship. Of course, he did injure his ankle at the final round a couple of weeks ago. However, I do not think that it will  be an issue; I believe that he will come out and assert his dominance immediately on Saturday night.

Although there are a lot of riders that will fill the three spots on the podium throughout the year, I think that the experience that Clement Desalle and Gautier Paulin have will prevail, and see them finish second and third at the end of the year. I chose to put Desalle ahead of Paulin, because the Frenchman always seems to have a dip in form mid-season each year. But, it would not be surprising at all if he is faster than Clement at most rounds.

I am sure that a lot of you are wondering why Tommy Searle is not in my top three, right? Well, allow me to explain. I can see Searle doing exactly what he did last year, and finishing just behind those three riders more often than not. Although I was very impressed with how he rode  at the Motocross des Nations, I was slightly underwhelmed with his performance at Hawkstone Park. At the beginning of the off-season, he had some injury issues too, which hindered his preparation. But, I am sure that he will make a few trips to the overall podium at different points throughout the year, which he failed to do in 2013.

Steven Frossard is my wildcard pick for the MXGP class – I feel like a lot of people have written him off completely. Do you remember 2011? Steven was the second best guy in the class, and had the speed to match Cairoli more often that not. Now, I do not think that he will do that this year, but I expect him to make a few appearances up on the podium. Judging by his speed pre-season, it could be a great year for him. I also predict that  Todd Waters and Jeremy Van Horebeek will surprise people this year, and exceed expectations.

MX2 Qatari GP Winner: Jeffrey Herlings

Final Championship Standings:
1st Jeffrey Herlings
2nd Jordi Tixier
3rd Christophe Charlier

MX2 Wildcard: Dylan Ferrandis

Okay, we will get this out of the way straight away; Jeffrey Herlings will win this year (barring a disaster), and will only lose the odd moto. I think we can all agree on that, right? Before the Hawkstone International, I thought that Herlings might have a bit of a challenge at the first couple of rounds, because of the injuries that he sustained in the off-season. However, on Sunday he seemed fast, fit and confident, which will surely make him unbeatable.

Although the battle for the lead may be a bit of a snoozer, the fight for second should be exhilarating more often than not. But, who do I think is going to rise above the rest and steal second in the series? Well, I would have to go with Jordi Tixier. The Frenchman has experience finishing in the position, which will be a massive advantage in this inexperienced MX2 class.

I have put Christophe Charlier in third for a similar reason, as he too has a couple of years under his belt in the MX2 class. I actually think that Charlier has been overlooked for the most part going into the new season; I feel like he has a lot more to give, and I would not be surprised if he is the rider that is closest to Herlings at most of the rounds. Obviously, time will tell, but it could be a great year for the Yamaha Factory Racing rider.

In my mind, there are a ton of wildcards in the MX2 class this year, so it was tough to pick just one. But, I am very excited to see what Dylan Ferrandis can do. The Frenchman clearly has the speed to be competitive – he showed that a few times last year. Now that he has another year in the class, I expect him to be much more consistent this year, which should result in a stronger position in the standings.

Jonathan McCready:

MXGP Qatari GP Winner: Gautier Paulin

Final Championship Standings:
1st Antonio Cairoli
2nd Gautier Paulin
3rd Clement Desalle

MXGP Wildcard: Steven Frossard

It is of course hard to look past Cairoli for the championship. It’s not because he can’t be beaten in races because he can, but no-one has figured out a way to match his consistency. Until they do you have to give the seven time world champion the favourite status every time.

Gautier Paulin however looks very good in pre-season. He is riding with an aggression and a will to win that he will need to have at every GP this season. Paulin seems on form and he is my pick to win the first round of the season.

There are a number of riders such as Tommy Searle, Jeremy Van Horebeek, Max Nagl, Ken De Dycker, Kevin Strijbos and Tyla Rattray to name a few that are all capable of a top three overall but it is hard to look past Cairoli, Paulin and Desalle. But Paulin and Desalle have to be running out of patience in their attempts to beat Cairoli to a title and with Herlings moving up next year, it isn’t going to get easier. They will be really motivated to beat Cairoli this year, both know that second isn’t good enough anymore. They have been there and done that, it’s world champion or nothing for 2014.

My wildcard is Steven Frossard. This guy has the speed and he has shown he can run with Paulin in pre-season but the question is can he stay off the ground and remain healthy. If he does he should be in the mix to win races all year.

MX2 Qatari GP Winner: Jeffrey Herlings

Final Championship Standings:

1st Jeffrey Herlings
2nd Arnaud Tonus
3rd Jordi Tixier

MX2 Wildcard: Max Anstie

Jeffrey Herlings is simply a phenomenon. Only Herlings can beat Herlings in this championship unless someone can magically find a way to step up to a level that not many riders have ever ridden at before. If Herlings is going to lose it could be at Qatar but the Dutchman should be too motivated despite only having one pre-season (sand) race behind him.

But if you are Arnaud Tonus, Jordi Tixier, Christophe Charlier, Max Anstie or any of the other top tier riders, Qatar is the time to attack Herlings and show him you have the stuff to win. Tonus is my pick for second in the series based purely on his riding talent. Tonus is an amazing rider but just needs to stay healthy and have some Herlings and Roczen self-belief to really show his full potential. This could be the year.

Jordi Tixier has a good team behind him should be in the top three at the end of the year. Riding with Herlings has to make you faster and another years experiance should give Tixier more speed. But does he have the talent to run with a fully fit Tonus and Herlings? That remains to be seen.

There are so many young riders ready to step up this year including Tim Gasjer and Dylan Ferrandis that it will make MX2 epic viewing. But my wildcard is Max Anstie. The Dixon Yamaha rider has had no pre-season races but he has the bike the get the job done. Anstie has talent but has never put it together. Now he has his chance, this is time to show what he has. Anstie should be battling for podiums all year and he believes he even has a shot at Herlings.

Words: Lewis Phillips and Jonathan McCready

Image: KTM Images/S.Taglioni

MX Vice Editor || 25

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