The ‘MXGP Festival’ held at the superb facility of Matterley Basin is a unique race; it really is one of a kind. However we should not take that for granted, as all of the classes that took to the track provided us with great action, despite the difficult conditions on Sunday morning. I have already offered opinions on MX1 and MX2; so here is a brief look at the youth classes.
In my opinion, the EMX250 class was the most popular EMX class at the weekend, as most of the fans were enthused by the prospect of Thomas Covington battling it out over here with a few of Europe’s best. If you are not familiar with the name – let me enlighten you. Covington is an American amateur that will more than likely go professional at the start of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series next year, with the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki team. Thomas is clearly a capable rider if Mitch Payton is putting his faith in him! At Loretta Lynns a handful of weeks ago, Covington finished fourth (after some crashes) in the A class. It was always going to be interesting to see where Thomas fits in, in the EMX250 class.
Both Jeremy Seewer and Thomas Covington provided us with some great on-track action, as the action witnessed in the EMX250 class was some of the best that we saw all weekend. I’ll be honest, I expected Thomas to run away with the race going into the weekend, despite all of the factors going against the American. But, I do believe that Seewer was the faster rider, despite losing out to Thomas in the second semi-final on the Friday. In my opinion that semi final on the Friday was one of (if not) the best races of the event – the two riders went at it!
In the end, Jeremy Seewer took the ‘EMX250 Super Final’ victory, and deservedly so. Thomas Covington did fall whilst chasing Seewer. However I doubt that he would have caught Jeremy if he had stayed upright, as the Swiss rider proved to be quicker. Honestly I was disappointed with the ride that Valentin Guillod put in. Valentin has been dominant so far – so, I was quite interested to see just how fast he is. However, Guillod wasn’t on pace with the leaders at the British GP for whatever reason, as he ended third. The KTM rider still has a twelve-point lead going into the final round though, so he is looking good for the title.
Thankfully there were a couple of British riders that really shined in the ‘EMX250 Super Final’ on Sunday, as Steven Clarke ended up on the podium in second in a brilliant ride. Intriguingly this was only the second time that Clarke has been in the EMX250 final. So, his ride came out of nowhere, honestly, but it was great to see. In my opinion, Steven did not look out of place up front. Lewis Trickett was the biggest surprise for me – he pushed through his glass ceiling, and ran in the top five for much of the moto before dropping out. If Trickett had managed to finish, he would have ended in the top six at least, which would have been great.
In the EMX85 class Conrad Mewse delighted the fans with a double race win – a feat that he did not achieve one year ago. It was obvious to every single person present that Mewse was the better rider, as he rode to an unchallenged pair of wins. It [the win] completed a perfect year for him – he has won everything that he wanted to. Conrad did not make it to the post-race press conference, as he was feeling sick, which makes his ride even more impressive.
Apart from Conrad Mewse, Gianluca Facchetti was the other EMX85 pilot that really grabbed my attention. Have you seen the video of an Italian rider on a 65 going crazy on the start? He is that guy! Anyway, I digress. Facchetti showed a lot of passion out there, and he made a lot of really great passes, when moving up through the pack. Interestingly, the Italian seemed to turn with his back wheel, similar to a guy like Ryan Villopoto. It was just an observation that I made, and one that I thought was interesting.
Despite finishing fifth at the race last year, Raivo Dankers returned and dominated the EMX65 class this past weekend, as he was unstoppable – there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to win both motos. Heck, Raivo left the competition behind on the sighting laps! It was clear that it was an easy win for Dankers, as he was jumping the most jumps out there. In the first moto, Raivo won by twelve seconds. The Dutchman won moto two by one-minute and one-second at the end, which is just astonishing. It is worth noting that the second moto was very wet; it was impressive to see Dankers remain composed and tackle the slick surface with ease.
Albie Wilkie was another guy that was victorious at his home round, as he took his first (and only) win in the EMX150 division. Now this was the first time that I was able to see this class in person, and I was shocked at how big all of the kids in it were! Wilkie is one of the smaller guys out there – but most of his competitors are hitting their knees on the handlebars going into the corners, it was pretty ridiculous. I noticed that Albie was one of the best jumpers in the group, which was one of his greatest strengths. At the end of the day, Filippo Grigoletto secured the EMX150 title, and a ride with the Gariboldi Honda outfit for next year. I feel like the Italian won the title because of consistency, mainly, as he was the only rider to finish on the podium at all three rounds.
I felt like the EMX125 title lacked a little something this year, for whatever reason. Perhaps it was because the EMX250 class was the focus point for most? Paul Jonass won the title at the end of the day, unsurprisingly – he has been dominant this season. In fact, the KTM rider has won every race, except for one. Jonass’ win was a part of the successful day for the whole of the JM Nestaan KTM team. The EMX125 guys actually have one round remaining still; they have to tackle the sands of Lierop in less than two weeks time. Michael Eccles was the top British rider in the EMX125 division, as he finished fifth in the final. Eccles has actually been pretty solid on the 125 this year – he has caught my eye a few times.
So, there you have it – a little look at some of the other classes that entertained the thousands of fans at Matterley Basin this past weekend. It will be interesting when these riders return to the venue next year, as most of them will have switched bikes and classes (Raivo Dankers is going up to an 85 at the end of the year) by then.
Words by Lewis Phillips