While Liam Everts’ first full-time campaign in MX2 mixed the highs with the lows, it was unquestionably a valuable learning experience for the gifted Belgian.
Words: Edward Stratmann | Lead Image: Ray Archer
Having to deal with the inherent pressure and weight of expectation that comes with his renowned surname that was made famous firstly by his grandfather, Harry, who won four world titles, and then by his 10-time world champion father, Stefan, Liam’s handled this admirably so far.
Stepping up from EMX250, where he claimed seventh in the standings in 2021, to MX2 for the start of the 2022 crusade, things got off to a frustrating start for him, with him breaking his left middle finger in the qualifying race at the season opener at Matterley Basin.
Forced to miss six weeks, which amounted to three rounds, following surgery and unable to ride the bike for the majority of that spell, this certainly wasn’t what he had in mind to start what was supposed to be an exciting debut term in MX2 with the DIGA Procross KTM outfit.
Clearly still not fully fit as he fought to get back to a level resembling his best, Everts returned at the hard, tricky Trentino, where he went 14-13 for 12th overall. “I am very happy to be back on the MXGP grid. The start of the weekend was a bit difficult, but I felt more comfortable from session to session. During the races I noticed that I haven’t been on the bike for a few weeks and accordingly I’m very happy with 14th and 13th place,” he insisted after getting through the weekend unharmed.
Making further positive steps in Latvia, registering his first top 10 moto finish by virtue of his ninth in the opening race offered much encouragement even though he could only muster 15th in the second stanza.
Getting better all the time and clearly feeling more comfortable on the bike, which was the Red Bull KTM Factory machine from the previous year, Everts embarked on an impressive run of form in the next four rounds.
Going 4-13-10-8 in the mud at Maggiora and in the brutal sand of Riola Sardo respectively, he continued to build, with his maiden top five moto score at the former a real highlight.
Although some untimely crashes hindered his results, most notably in the second moto in Sardegna, Everts kept along his upward curve in Spain, where he secured fourth overall in what would turn out to be his best result of the season.
Handling the hard, rutted and demanding surface, he was flying all weekend, which was evidenced by his wicked first moto effort that saw him charge from 23rd to claim sixth and how he battled for a podium place in the second before eventually finishing fourth.
Having also grabbed his first holeshot and led some laps, it was a real statement ride for the starlet, who fell just short of an overall podium by one point.
Next up was Ernee for Everts, with him yet again maintaining his momentum by achieving sixth overall courtesy of his accomplished 6-7 moto finishes. Considering he didn’t feel right on top of his game in the conditions and battled with bike setup, this was another stride in the right direction.
Despite unfortunately having to sit out the motos at his home GP in Germany and the subsequent Indonesian round due to a heavy fall in the qualifying race at Teutschenthal that saw him reinjure his aforementioned finger, it wasn’t long before he was back in the groove.
Immediately back in the top 10 at Loket with a solid pair of rides to go 7-9 for eighth overall, he backed that up nicely at his home round at Lommel with a seventh overall. Having started the weekend strongly with eighth in the qualifying race in the taxing sand, Everts really hit his straps on raceday by notching a brilliant fifth in the opening moto, where he clocked the third fastest lap time, and a polished ninth in the second stanza after an early crash.
“On the one hand I’m happy, but on the other hand I’m a bit disappointed as I brought the mistakes on myself and therefore just missed the podium by two points. My starts were not good all weekend and I had to invest a lot to get to the front. It wasn’t our day today but we’ll keep working hard and focus on the next race,” explained a slightly dejected Everts.
The technically excellent #72 would crucially carry his promising form into the final four rounds as well, with him bagging 10th in Sweden, a pair of fifth overalls in Finland and at St Jean d’Angely and a credible 10th in Turkiye to close out his overwhelmingly positive debut MX2 season with six consecutive top 10 overalls.
Some additional points of note that arose from the above quartet of rounds that warrant mention was his exceptional fourth in moto two at Hyvinkaa and his third in the qualifying race at St Jean, with this further punctuating the fine progress he’d made throughout.
Ultimating finishing 10th in the standings despite only competing in 12 of the 18 rounds on raceday, as his Saturday incidents at Matterley Basin and in Germany prevented him from lining up on Sunday, this was an impressive return for the hotshot.
By the numbers, his 10 top 10 overalls, three top five overalls and four top five moto finishes underlined that he was right at home and held his own in MX2.
Selected to represent Belgium for the second time at the Motocross of Nations alongside Jeremy Van Horebeek and Jago Geerts, Everts produced a proficient performance on the grand stage in the treacherous conditions at RedBud to go 12-14 for fourth overall in the MX2 class behind only elite operators Justin Cooper, Hunter Lawrence and Marvin Musquin.
Although he felt he could’ve done better, especially in terms of his starts, he certainly didn’t harm his burgeoning reputation at the showpiece, as he played his part in helping Team Belgium to fifth in the final classifications.
Clearly showing he belongs at the elite level and that he can mix it with the frontrunners, plus handle any adversity that’s thrown his way, 2022 was undoubtedly full of upside for Everts. Learning plenty in the ultra competitive confines of MX2 and at the MXON, plus gaining vital experience on what it takes to succeed, his rookie crusade will hold him in good stead for the future.
Under the distinguished Red Bull KTM Factory awning for 2023, big things will be expected from the 18-year-old, as he’ll be eager to rise to the challenge and follow in the footsteps of former KTM MX2 champs such as Jeffrey Herlings, Jordi Tixier, Pauls Jonass, Jorge Prado and Tom Vialle.
“Next year will be a new challenge and a big one! It’s a dream of mine that is now coming true and such a cool opportunity to be part of Red Bull KTM. We’ll work hard together and push for the ultimate result. I’m already looking forward to it,” gleamed Everts.
While it’s probably unreasonable to predict him to be a title challenger in the stacked MX2 class next term, that features top contenders like Geerts, Thibault Benistant, Kay de Wolf, Simon Langenfelder, Roan van de Moosdijk, Kevin Horgmo, Mikkel Haarup, Andrea Adamo and the Coenen brothers, who knows what he could achieve if things click from the outset for him.
Wanting to immediately get that first podium under his belt and continue making tangible gains, 2023 looms as another captivating year for Everts in his quest to make a name for himself and truly stamp his mark in the sport that’s synonymous with his revered family name.