Clement Desalle and Kevin Strijbos boast quite a few years of Grand Prix experience between them but not one of the Belgians have ever tasted the feeling of an FIM Motocross World Championship event at the mythical Maggiora circuit, north of the Italian city of Milan.
The ninth round of 17 in the FIM series this weekend heads back to the renovated and expanded facility that has not entertained GP racing this century.
While the factory RM-Z450 runners will be looking for more podium honours and to work on their positions from third and fifth respectively in the MX1 standings, the hillside inclines of Maggiora will be a new discovery for them.
Perhaps Desalle (23) and Strijbos (28) can ask Team Manager and former multi-world champion Eric Geboers for some advice.
“I can always remember Maggiora as one of those special tracks,” commented the original Triple Crown holder of 125, 250 and 500 world titles. “It was a place we practiced at as much as we raced and it was always looked after and maintained by a solid little club. The heat was usually a factor there but the best thing was the high technical level of the track. Those big and long uphills and a layout that was very challenging. It felt like a pleasure to be there and I hope I will have the same emotion this time to go back.
“There were quite a few races but the Motocross of Nations in 1986 sticks out,” he continues. “I was riding a 250cc bike at the time when the 125, 250 and 500s were mixed and I thought I was pretty handy on that factory machine. We had actually been preparing and thinking about that race for quite a while but one of my strongest memories from that weekend was being totally smoked by Johnny O’Mara on a 125! I can still see him now passing Dave Thorpe (on his 500) on the uphill; it was something very cool.”
A big crowd is expected for the Grand Prix of Italy from a region passionate for the sport. “We always knew it was a circuit where you had to wake up at 6am in the hotel in order to arrive in time or you were stuck outside in a two hour queue!” says Geboers.
Maggiora will precede a break for the FIM Motocross World Championship before a triple-header in northern Europe with rounds in Sweden, Latvia and Finland running back-to-back. The weather forecast for the weekend predicts sunshine, high temperatures and the chance of some showers.