After months of hype and anticipation, the 2013 FIM Motocross World Championship is just around the corner. So, the pre-season internationals have been completed for another year, which means that all preparation is over; in fact most trucks and bike are already on their way to Qatar! I believe that these pre-season races offer an insight into how the fast-approaching MXGP season will play out. So what have we learnt from the results of those races?
Kevin Strijbos is a force to be reckoned with:
Surprisingly, Kevin Strijbos was very fast at the Mantova Starcross; his debut on the Rockstar Energy Suzuki couldn’t have gone any better, not many expected it to go that well! There are a lot of questions surrounding the Belgian heading into the 2013 MXGP season (I created a piece on Strijbos’ situation a few weeks ago). But, following the pre-season races that he has contested I do feel a lot more confident about his speed, and his ability to fight for wins. The Belgian has not been a contender in the World Championship in the last few years, however the way that he is riding at the moment indicates that we might have to start thinking about Kevin as a race winner again. At the Internationals, Strijbos has been able to beat riders like Clement Desalle, Evgeny Bobryshev and Gautier Paulin straight up; this confirms that he is getting closer to his form of 2007.
Max Nagl cannot catch a break:
Well, Max Nagl can catch a break; this is actually the problem. The German needs some luck on his side, which is something that has eluded him for much of his career. In the third moto at the first race of the year (the Mantova Starcross) Max succumbed to his latest injury, two fractured bones in his hand and a painful pulled ligament. It was a disappointing start to the year for the German, and his participation in the opening round of the MXGP series has been called into question. Aside from that though, Nagl was fast; if he can limit the damage in the opening rounds he could be a contender. The latest injury has prompted some to question whether Max can even stay injury-free for an entire year.
Don’t trust the English weather:
There was a collective groan let out by the crew, riders and fans when it was announced that the Hawkstone International was cancelled. The guys behind the race had put in a lot of time to ensure that the 2013 edition of the event would be one of the best. However, the English weather (the one thing that was out of their control) beat them. The decision had a negative impact on some riders also. For Tommy Searle, the ‘Hawk International’ was going to be the only race that he completed before the first GP. But now, he will head to Qatar without any race-time under his belt, which could prove to be costly.
Antonio Cairoli might be unbeatable:
There are a lot of riders in the MX1 World Championship that could potentially grab a win in the series this year. Although reigning champion, Antonio Cairoli has not contested any pre-season internationals; Toni has been getting some race time under his belt by competing in the Italian Championship. In that series he has gone up against riders like Evgeny Bobryshev and Steven Frossard, and Cairoli has looked dominant. Before Qatar, his rivals might need to increase their speed if they are going to have a shot at the title, because Antonio looks very good at the moment.
The MX1 rookies will be good:
Although we have not seen Tommy Searle behind a gate thus far, we have seen both Jeremy Van Horebeek, and Joel Roelants; two riders that will be venturing into the MX1 class for the first time also. Jeremy Van Horebeek has been particularly impressive; I didn’t expect him to be capable of battling with the established contenders. But, Jeremy finished fourth overall in Mantova, which shocked me; immediately I changed my opinion of what type of results he would be capable of this year. Joel Roelants has been racing himself back into shape after a broken femur last year; but he too seems to be able to match the pace of the leaders.
Expect the unexpected:
If the pre-season internationals have taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected; the 2013 season is going to be a crazy one.
Words by Lewis Phillips