Every year someone comes from out of the pack and surprises you.
Last year it was Romain Febvre who had a cracking start to the season before he broke his leg. Alex Tonkov and perhaps even Dean Ferris also got results above what people initially expected.
In MX1 Shaun Simpson was the underdog hero at the end of the season after his win at the Dutch GP on a privateer Yamaha that also got him into the top ten in the standings for the first time in his career.
We are take a look at a rider in both classes who may take his riding up another level in 2014 or bounce back from adversity against everyone’s expectation.
MX2 -Tim Gasjer
I firmly believe this kid is pretty special. I was surprised he didn’t get a call up to one of the bigger factory teams for 2014.
Slovenia’s Tim Gasjer has landed on Factory Honda which might not be the smoothest of adaptions as it is the teams first foray into MX2 and Tim’s first year on a factory team. But if both gel and Gasjer shows the form he had at the end of last season, the 17 year old could be in the top five and maybe even on the podium before the year is out.
Gasjer rides very similar to Kevin Windham with low elbows and a smooth, fluid style. he has been quietly posting good MX2 GP results inbetween his European exploits and posted a sixth and seventh place in the first moto of the Belgian and British GPs.
Let’s not forget his battle with Matiss Karro in the B final at the Nations that left top ten 450 AMA Nationals runner Phil Nicoletti a full thirty seconds behind.
If Gasjer finds his flow and gets the starts he will be one to watch in 2014.
Other riders to keep an eye on are youngster Pauls Jonass, the EMX125 champ who will ride selected GPs, and EMX2 champ Valentin Guillod.
MX1 – Jeremy Van Horebeek
Jeremy Van Horebeek has been in the second tier of factory riders for a while now. The Jake Weimer of GPs if you will.
People don’t talk about Van Horebeek in the same breath as Tommy Searle or Clement Desalle, they don’t see him as a guy that can win, he is the support rider. But that might be about to change in 2014.
Van Horebeek in the only 450 Yamaha rider in the Rinaldi team and therefore has to play second fiddle to no-one. The team are counting on him to get results and this switch in mentality by the team might also switch the expectations in the Belgian’s head.
Van Horebeek showed some impressive speed last year but often seemed to slow down and let his teammate Paulin passed when under pressure. There will be none of that this year because Van Horebeek will be the main man.
His performance at the MXDN was also startling. dropping down to MX2 Van Horebeek went down in race two and came from last to seventh, it was arguably the ride that won Belgium the Nations and it showed that Van horebeek, when he has to can take the pressure and responsibilty, can do it no problem.
Van Horebeek just needs to believe he can win and this might be the season he finally believes he is as good as anyone on the line. The 450 suits him, he has the talent and 2014 could be the time for Van Horebeek to challenge for race wins and podiums.
Two more Belgians could also surprise this year, Jens Getteman has silently posted some good results but an injury wrecked the momentum he was gaining last season but this guy is good.
Joel Roelants had an awful season last year as he came back from a dislocated hip. he is on a privateer Honda this year and Roelants is fighting for his career but he has the talent and he could put in some inspired performances.
Words: Jonathan McCready
Image: Yamaha Racing