Since it is December we thought it would be a good idea at mxvice to look back over the season and pick out a couple of our favourite races of the year and explain the reasons why.
I would like to also give special mention to the British GP, it was another great weekend of racing and Tommy Searle’s performance along with the home crowd’s patriotism was just epic that day!
However, I finally settled on the two races below as my favourite races for 2012.
British Championship Round One
It was the first race of the year for me to attend and you could sense the anticipation with all the new bikes, the new gear and the new hope. At that stage of the season everyone is high on confidence from a winters training, they think this is going to be their year and the fans are excited to finally see some top class motocross action after a long cold winter.
The sky was strangely blue for March, the air was mild and the mood excitedly expectant as one of the best races of the year took place at the first round of the year. Arnaud Tonus and Zach Osborne put on two breathtaking battles out of three motos on an incredibly rough track to start off the season with a bang.
The context made the battle all the more intriguing as the two riders had two completely different preparations coming into the motocross season, Zach had spent it back home in the US racing Supercross and getting a podium to the surprise of his countrymen while Tonus just stuck to his training program in Europe.
The end was result was two team mates bang on form and not willing to give an inch to each other. This was not just a battle to win the race, it seemed to be a battle to prove to each other who was in the best form going into the GP season.
The contrast in styles just added to the battle, Tonus, the tall silky smooth Swiss rider was making it look easy as he floated across the track side by side with the short and stocky American Osborne, who hit every berm and bump with 100% aggression while revving the bike to the moon.
It was man against man in a battle for supremacy and even though they were teammates, the passes were hard and aggressive with Osborne putting Tonus over the berm as early as practice. Both riders appeared to be on the edge and neither was giving an inch in their first race against each other of the season.
The first titanic duel ended with a victory for Tonus after numerous passes, the second was a victory for Osborne after Tonus crashed out and the third was Tonus in another classic. Osborne had caught and passed the Swiss rider, but Tonus followed Osborne for a couple of laps and re-passed the American to take a tight, hard fought victory.
At the end of the race Tonus looked back to see where Osborne was at the end of that final moto, as if to say, “ I beat you”. They didn’t acknowledge each other after the finish line to confirm just how hard they were going at it. This wasn’t a day for friendship, this was two riders on top of their game laying down a marker for the rest of the season, and it was a pleasure to witness.
Unfortunately both riders got injured before the GPs even started and neither really got to show that form again. With Zach back in the USA for 2013 and Tonus on CLS Kawasaki next season, we will not get to see them battle for a while, but for that day in March, those two riders gave everyone a show to remember – it was what motocross is all about.
Motocross of Nations – Lommel
The biggest race in the world turned out be one of those days that will go down in motocross folklore.
The crowd was huge, the atmosphere fantastic and yes the American’s got beat, but that wasn’t what really made the race memorable -it was the sheer speed and style of Jeffrey Herlings and Antonio Cairoli that really made this race unforgettable.
No one else in the world was even close. In the combined final moto, on the roughest the brutal track was all weekend, the two of them put a minute on the third place Justin Barcia, and Herlings came from on the ground in the first turn to do it!
Herlings’ ride that day has be one of the most impressive rides ever seen, he came from dead last to catch the six time world champion with both guys riding better than they have in their careers so far, yes, he couldn’t make the pass at the end, but that was a truly legendary ride from a truly special rider.
Cairoli of course showed his class too as he hopped, skipped and jumped across the track with a grace and poise that was beautiful to watch. You can almost see Cairoli enjoying it, while everyone else struggles and just survives… except Herlings.
Herlings is just so aggressive, he rides on the back wheel and uses his legs to manoeuvre the bikes to wherever he wants it, he can ride the high line, the tight line, hit the bump or miss the bump, going at a speed that no-one else is even close too – except Cairoli.
So to see those two put on a riding clinic at the biggest race in the world, on the toughest track in the world was just brilliant and it was testament to their riding skills and the difficulty of what they were doing that no-one else even saw what way they went.
Herlings showed that he was the fastest sand rider in the world, yet Cairoli, showing his class, still won and finally got to win an overall at the Nations to show the form that has taken him to six fantastic World titles.
The two world champions put on a riding display that day that left the rest of the world in awe, so much so that even Roger DeCoster said their performance was ‘unbelievable’. If there was one word to describe just how fast those two guys are in the sand, and to describe seeing them do it in person, “unbelievable” was precisely the word to use!
I wonder if the great sand king Stefan Everts wished he could have raced those two guys in his prime that day… he is probably the only person that could relate to how they were going round that track at such an impossible speed.
O yes, just to put the icing on the cake, Martin Barr beat Blake Baggett with two laps to go in the first moto to lead Ireland to a fine 13th overall. What a day!
Feel free to join in and tell us your favourite races of the year on twitter @motocrossvice or on our forum or comments section below!
By Jonathan McCready