In recent years Steven Frossard has not enjoyed much success; despite the potential that he has shown since jumping up into the MX1 class. Personally I believe that he should be at the front of the field battling for podiums, and race wins. Despite this, Frossard has been absent from the winners’ circle for more than a year now; a string of injuries has meant that Steven has spent more time in a hospital bed than he has done on-track.
When Steven Frossard stepped up onto a full factory Monster Energy Yamaha in 2011, it was evident immediately that he possessed the type of speed and talent needed to challenge the established stars in the premier division. Admittedly, Steven did not enjoy a massive amount of success when he contested the MX2 class. Perhaps this was because of his taller frame? It is not usual to see a rider make such a large improvement as soon as they get on a 450f. But, Steven did just that back in 2011. It was that breakthrough year that made most believe that he could be a contender, as he won more GPs than he ever has done in a single season.
In fact, Steven Frossard won the first MX1 GP of his career at the Sevlievo circuit in Bulgaria. In that race he not only beat Toni Cairoli straight up, he handled the entire field also. Steven was expected to perform in that way from that point onwards, which was a huge shift in the pressure that was on his shoulders. Frossard ended up finishing as the runner-up to Antonio that year. It was a great start to his 450f career and left him in a position to capitalise on the knowledge gained in the following season. But we haven’t really seen him healthy since that year, unfortunately.
Steven Frossard actually succumbed to injury at the conclusion of the 2011 series in Gaildorf at the penultimate outing. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider sustained a chest injury, which prevented him from claiming points in the final two rounds. In 2012, he went into round one one-hundred-percent healthy, and he showed a lot of raw speed yet again. However, Steven bowed out with a torn ACL at round two, which sidelined him for the remainder of that year.
Of course that injury was quite serious. But, we have seen plenty of riders return to the level that they were at before the setback. Although the time that Frossard missed would have an impact, I expected to see him back at the front of the pack immediately this season. But alas, it just has not panned out that way thus far.
Although Steven Frossard has been out with an injury since the third round, he was far from impressive at the opening two rounds. What injury is Steven currently dealing with? Prior to Valkenswaard he fractured the metatarsal in his left foot after a collision with a backmarker. It has now been more than a month since he sustained this injury; he is scheduled to make a return at Ernee on June 9th. Since his Gaildorf injury (in 2011) he has missed twenty-two GPs and he has lined up at just three rounds. When these statistics are isolated, you realise what Frossard has to overcome when he returns. In that time his competitors would have made a lot of gains in both their training and testing.
It is too early to question whether Steven Frossard will be able to get back to the speed that he showcased early on in his rookie season. But, I am slightly concerned that he is following in the footsteps of David Philippaerts. David is a former world champion (so he is just as fast as the rest of the field on track obviously) but now he is rarely inside of the top ten. It seems as though he is lacking some intensity. What I am getting at here is that it was I felt Frossard lacked in rounds one and two this year; whether Frossard can uncover that fire remains to be seen.
In order for Steven Frossard to move back into the lead pack, he will need to avoid any more injuries in the coming weeks. Perhaps part of the reason that we have not seen him up front yet is because has not had a chance to build on any momentum garnered. If he had not have sustained that foot injury earlier this year, maybe he would have progressed into the top five by now? Instead Steven will have to build a base to work off of at the GP of France, so he can improve on both his fitness and settings in the following weeks.
It will be intriguing to see how Steven Frossard performs in the remainder of this season; he will surely be looking to 2014 already, as the season where he can live up to his potential. But first he needs to see the sort of pace that guys like Antonio Cairoli are running at the head of the field; to do that he will need to perform to the best of his ability at the final ten rounds.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of Yamaha