In the eyes of most, the Maxxis British Championship is the most prestigious domestic series in Europe. Of course, there are a variety of factors that make it great. But, the fact there are always a handful of top foreign riders fighting for either title undoubtedly boosts the series’ credibility.
I do believe that it makes it much more interesting when foreign riders such as Josh Coppins, Evgeny Bobryshev and Kevin Strijbos take part in our eight-round domestic series. It also benefits British Motocross a lot, in my opinion. But, some fans think that a ride on a British squad should go to a British rider, which is understandable. After all, we all want to see our homegrown talent succeed at the highest level.
However, you have to remember that the teams are looking at this as a business. Sure, they too want to see our British riders achieve their dreams. But, if they can garner better results and more exposure by signing a foreign talent, then that is what they have to do to ensure that their squad can thrive, and continue to prosper. In certain circumstances, a foreign rider can open many more doors for a team, and their sponsors, which is often what makes them so appealing.
I mean, the thought of an unknown foreigner taking on the Maxxis British Championship makes for a much more interesting story, which ultimately causes more fans to visit that team’s truck. For instance, no one knows how Priit Ratsep is going to fare on an Oakleaf Kawasaki in 2014. But, I am keen to find out; it really is an intriguing sub-plot. When it was announced that Priit and Oakleaf Kawasaki had come to an agreement for the 2014 season, a handful of people suggested that the official Kawasaki UK team should have given the ride to an established British rider, rather than a relatively unknown Estonian.
Although on some level this may be true, there are not many British riders out there without a deal that have the same potential as Ratsep, or any of the other foreign riders that look set to contest the Maxxis British Championship in 2014. Honestly, Dorren Coutts is probably the only free agent out there that could beat those guys consistently. You have to remember that Ratsep has enjoyed some success in the FIM Motocross World Championship, which ultimately makes him a hot commodity for most of the British based teams.
In the past, many riders that have achieved lacklustre results in the FIM Motocross World Championship have been snapped up by British teams, and immediately started to impress; some riders are much more comfortable being a big fish in a small pond. Gert Krestinov, for example, has made a good name for himself since entering the Maxxis British Championship. Whereas if he had stayed in the FIM Motocross World Championship, you have to think that he would be struggling to find a deal whilst battling around fifteenth.
Overall, you have to think that it makes more sense for a rider like Pritt or Gert to contest the various championships that Britain has to offer, rather than travel the world for very little reward. In recent years, more riders have elected to follow this career path, as the many domestic series worldwide continue to thrive, whilst the MXGP series struggles.
So, although there may be a few foreign names popping up that you are not familiar with in 2014, remember that there is a reason why the British teams have signed them. It was not too long ago that Matiss Karro was an unknown quantity. Now, the British fans adore him! With both Priit Ratsep (Oakleaf Kawasaki) and Yentel Martens (Talon Kawasaki) contesting the Maxxis British Championship next year, along with riders like Karro and Krestinov, there will be an interesting dynamic in the MX1 class – it will certainly be intriguing to watch.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Suzy Bailey