Looking at the results of last week’s MX2 race in Brazil shows how just how the tide is turning in the World Championship.
To put it bluntly, if you want to be a GP rider in this day and age you need to be riding the European championships. Three of last year’s contenders in EMX2 made the top ten in MX2 GP with Tim Gasjer getting fifth, Valentin Guillod sixth with Jeremy Seewer in ninth.
The series’ are a breeding ground for young talent and it is a very smart move by Youthstream. They have clearly recognised how hard it was to become a GP rider with no real experience and especially under the new guidelines with no qualifying etc.
Now instead of getting into a GP team too early and struggling and losing confidence, or on the other end of the scale not being able to afford a GP ride, young riders can show their speed in the 125 series or the EMX250 class at a much lower cost. It is high quality racing on GP tracks in front of all the top teams, if you are fast enough you will get noticed.
Tim Gasjer has went through the steps perfectly from 125 EMX champ through the EMX250 and selected GPs to now a factory Honda ride in his first full GP season and just 17.
The exposure is incredible for young riders and the teams are taking notice. Riders like Hsu, Mewse and Pootjes were all top 80 riders last year and the year before with support from GP teams and their performances have got them all factory rides in this year’s EMX125 championship.
This means they are getting a glimpse into how it feels to be a factory rider, what the tracks are like and what the pressures are that come with professional racing. The Americans have had a variant of this kind of system for a long time.
Over there, teams like Geico Honda and Pro Circuit teams help the young riders from they are on 80s or moving onto the bigger bikes. While they might not get to race the US Nationals on the same day the factory teams all have someone watching their young hopefuls at Lorretta Lynns or more recently the Monster Cup. The riders also get used to the team, the environment and expectation so by the time they go pro the learning curve is less steep. Eli Tomac, Justin Barcia and most recently Adam Cianciarulo have come through this exact system.
Now the GP teams have caught up thanks to Youthstream’s idea of bringing together the European championships with the GP races. It gives the European championships more value and the riders more opportunity as well as making it easier for GP teams to spot young talent by bringing that talent to the GPs.
From a 60cc these riders can feel what GPs are like and what is required. Raivo Dankers blew everyone away at Matterley Basin last year with his speed on a 60 and you can bet the top teams took notice. They sometimes already have their guys hand-picked by the time they are on 85s with Jorge Prado, Brian Hsu, Davy Pootjes all on 85s two years ago at Matterley.
Last year Pootjes and Hsu had their learning year in the 125 class where another young talent Pauls Jonass dominated.
Now Mewse, who won the EMX85cc championship last year, is moving up to join Hsu, Pootjes and company while Jonass will move into the EMX2 division and contest selected GPs.
It is a brilliant system that is really helping young riders come through to the top in full view of the world’s media and fans on some of the toughest tracks on the world against tough competition.
Ferrandis, Febvre and Tonkov also came through the EMX system and even our own Mel Pocock won the championship which gave him the confidence that he could make it to GP level after a couple of tough years.
It is also encouraging to see young British talent like Adam Sterry and Ben Watson using the European races to gain experience because that and not the British championship is where you are really going to learn the ropes of GP racing.
Youthstream have also created the EMX150 championship alongside Honda which sees young aspiring riders racing stock 150 Hondas over five rounds (in 2014) with the winner getting a Gariboldi Honda ride the following year!
Having these races also makes the GP weekend an even more enjoyable weekend for the fans who get to see more top level racing than ever before.
When you watch the first round of the EMX125 championship In Italy next weekend you are really watching some of the stars of the future as they climb the motocross ladder! In just a couple of years time the guys in EMX125 could also be top ten or better in MX2 GPs just like graduates Ferrandis, Gasjer, Seewer, Febvre, Tonkov, Guillod did in Brazil last weekend.
Article: Jonathan McCready
Picture: Elliot Spencer