The MXGP Festival is one of the most popular events on the schedule – it is one that attracts the most attention, it seems. So it certainly is not surprising that a couple of announcements were made at the facility, all of which will be touched on here. It has been a really busy week in regard to news, so shall we jump in and see what has gone on in the world of motocross?
Injuries, Injuries, Injuries:
It is always unfortunate to see a rider succumb to an injury, but it is even more disappointing when the end of the season is so close! I am sure that everyone would have seen the horrific crash that Josh Waterman had in the Amateur ‘Super Final’ on Friday afternoon at Matterley Basin. Unfortunately, the injuries that Josh sustained were just as bad as the crash, as he has a long list of issues. Waterman has a broken jaw, broken shoulder blade, a cracked skull, and a split chin. Thankfully it seems as though he will make a full recovery, as he is now at home.
Gradie Featherstone was another British casualty at the MXGP Festival, as he did fracture his wrist on the Friday (whilst trying to qualify for the EMX2 class) following a heavy landing. It is a bummer for Gradie, and the Oakleaf Kawasaki team; he would have qualified for the EMX2 main, as he was eighteenth at the time. It seems like the fractured wrist will require surgery, which will obviously keep Featherstone off of the bike for a handful of weeks.
Quietly, the first eleven rounds of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series had been successful for Kyle Cunningham. Unfortunately, all of that positive momentum came to a halt in practice at Lake Elsinore, as Kyle broke his foot. It must be disappointing for him, as it will hinder his off-season testing. It seems as though he will not be with the Star Racing Yamaha squad in 2014 – he will be moving over to the resurgent Valli Yamaha squad, although the deal is not confirmed as of yet. Hopefully his injury will not have an affect on this.
2014 Team Moves Confirmed:
It could be called the worst kept secret in the sport. But, it was only just officially announced that Max Anstie would be heading over to the Monster Energy BikeIt Yamaha squad in 2014. Since turning professional in 2009, Max has switched teams (and manufacturers) every year, which does look bad on him, I believe. However the deal with Yamaha is for two years. So he should be on the bike in 2015, as well as next year, unless something goes horribly wrong. In my opinion, the switch is going to be a good one for him, as Anstie is going to get to build on all of the knowledge gained in 2014, which will be very beneficial. I’m certain that being with a British based team will help him, as well.
Although the team haven’t officially announced the move yet, Tyla Rattray has openly stated that he will be contesting the FIM Motocross World Championship in 2014 on an Ice1 Racing Husqvarna. In some ways it is surprising to see that Tyla is returning to Europe, as he wanted to finish his career in the United States. But his results in recent years haven’t been too great – so I’m sure that he found it hard to find a deal with one of the top-level teams in the USA. I am sure that some of the people reading this are very sceptical about the Husqvarna. But it’s going to be very similar to the KTM, so he should be competitive.
It has also been confirmed that Todd Waters will be the second Ice1 Racing Husqvarna rider, as he will travel over from Australia. Todd has mentioned a couple of times that he wants to race the World Championship – so he will get a chance to live his dream in 2014. I think that Waters could surprise a few people next year, as he is quite fast. It looks like Red Bull will be stepping up and sponsoring the Husqvarna MX1 effort next year, also, which is interesting.
What is Dean Wilson going to do next year? It has been revealed that the Scotsman is going to stay with the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki squad next year. However, he is going to drop down to the 250f full time in 2014, as Mitch Payton is getting rid of his 450f team. It is going to be a good year for Dean, I believe, as he will be able to rebound from his injuries, whilst racing a familiar bike. However, I’m sure that he is not too happy about having to ride on the smaller bike again – but it could be good for him.
The MBO Sport Yamaha team have had a great year with Kristian Whatley. So, it really is not surprising to see that the squad have re-signed Whatley for 2014; they will surely be looking to replicate the results achieved this season. In my mind this is the best place for Whatley to work out of, as the two entities work well together, evidently. In 2014 Kristian will be on the much-improved YZ450f. So it is possible that he could be even more of an unstoppable force – I’m sure that is a scary prospect for his competitors.
Motocross des Nations Teams Announced:
On the Saturday night at Matterley Basin, it was announced that Tommy Searle (MX1), Jake Nicholls (MX2), and Shaun Simpson (Open) would represent Great Britain at the MXdN in a few weeks time. In my opinion, the right team was picked, as all three riders are well suited to their positions. However, there was a bit of debate surrounding the third member of the team, as some felt that Max Anstie should have been given the spot. If you look at all of the results from recent weeks it is quite clear that Shaun Simpson has been on the rise; this makes him the better candidate I think. Can team GB make it up onto the podium? I believe it is a possibility, but a little bit of luck will have to go our way.
There have also been a handful of other teams announced recently, including both Italy and Switzerland. It was quite obvious who would be representing Italy, as Antonio Cairoli (MX1), Alessandro Lupino (MX2) and David Philippaerts (Open) were the obvious candidates. I actually think that this team could end up on the box. Perhaps they could even steal a surprise win? In my opinion, Switzerland have a strong team also, as Arnaud Tonus (MX1), Jeremy Seewer (MX2) and Valentin Guillod (Open) could surprise a few people – the two young guns on the team have been impressive this year.
In recent years the Netherlands has had a strong team, and a shot at finishing on the podium – but the team is looking weaker this year. Mike Kras (MX1), Glenn Coldenhoff (MX2), Herjan Brakke (Open) is the team that has been named, but if Herlings is deemed fit enough to race, you can be sure that they will make room for him – so the Dutch team selection is not over. It has also been revealed that team Spain will consist of Jonathan Barragan (MX1), Jose Butron (MX2), and Alvaro Lozano (Open). Estonia will take Tanel Leok (Open), Erki Kahro (MX2) and Gert Krestinov (MX1) to Teutschenthal; this news emerged this week also.
Switching It Up:
Ryan Morais has enjoyed a lot of success in his first year as a retired rider, as he has acted as the team manager of the MyPlash Star Racing Yamaha team; Morais has guided his three riders to some great results. In fact, I (and some others) would argue that the team has had their most successful season in quite some time. So, it is a bit unfortunate to hear that Morais will move onto pastures new in 2014, as he is going to take over the role as team co-ordinator at Red Bull KTM. Casey Lytle occupied the position previously; but he is moving to another role within the company, which opened up the spot for Morais.
Red Bull Pro Nationals, Round Six – Hawkstone Park:
The British riders will head to the historic facility of Hawkstone Park for the second time this month, as round six of the Red Bull Pro Nationals will be held at the venue. Kristian Whatley is undefeated when it comes to overall victories, and that streak will continue this weekend, I believe. Jason Clermont will be present aboard an LPE Kawasaki; however, he will probably struggle to match the pace of Kristian, in my opinion. Rumours do suggest that Teddy Maier could be on the LPE Kawasaki team, also – he could be really strong. I would consider Teddy the favourite for the win, actually. In MX2 Neville Bradshaw leads the standings by a measly eleven points over Steven Lenoir, which will be a really interesting battle to watch.
Coming Up Elsewhere in the World – Australia:
The Monster Energy MX Nationals, the Australian Motocross Championship, will conclude at Coolum this weekend, following nine rounds of action. Although Luke Styke clinched the title in the MX2 class last weekend, the MX1 title chase is wide open. Matt Moss has a cushion of twenty-five points now – however, it would only take a fall for Todd Waters (second) to take the title. Billy Mackenzie has an outside shot at the title, but that is very unrealistic – the top two would have to have a disastrous day.
Words by Lewis Phillips