The British scene has really come alive in 2012. Mel Pocock won the prestigious EMX2 series and just lost a titanic battle British MX2 title with Elliot –Banks Browne who took his maiden British Championship.
Jake Nicholls had his best year of his career with fourth in MX2 GPs while Shaun Simpson just missed out on top ten in the MX1 series at the last round and came second in the British Championship.
It has been a long time since the UK riders looked so promising, and when you take in Dean Wilson just missing out on the AMA Lites SX title and MacKenzie, Anderson and Clarke flying the flag well over in Australia it really shows just how strong the British riders are around the world.
There is one man however that for me deserves the accolade of British rider of the year 2012, and that is Tommy Searle.
The bitter rivalry with Herlings made the MX2 must see TV all season. Searle refused to believe his title hopes were over even after the bad luck of mechanical DNFs just as he was within striking distance of grabbing the series lead.
Tommy fought on to the end and produced a magical day at the British GP under bright blue skies taking two wins from the front and holding Herlings off both times to the delighted roar of a bumper British crowd.
Tommy’s mental toughness has always been one of his main strengths and it was in evidence that day as he lead from the front with his title rival on his back wheel the whole race and never wavered once. He eventually lost the championship but would win both motos at the final round of the year and his MX2 career, to go out in style.
Searle has set the standard all British riders look up to work towards, he works hard, never gives up and he has the mental strength to battle the best in the world.
There have been some great performances this season in the World and AMA championships from Ryan Villopoto defending his Supercross championship to Ryan Dungey winning the first 450 title for KTM in motocross.
Justin Barcia won his second 250f supercross title while Eli Tomac won his first. Blake Baggett took a nail biting US 250 Motocross championship, as Herlings took his maiden World title with some truly mesmerising performances at Leirop and at the Motocross of Nations in Belgium.
However, it was Tony Cairoli who, for me at least, was the international rider of the year in 2012.
Cairoli was in control of the MX1 World Championship until Sweden when two DNFs left him second in the championship. From there Cairoli showed everyone his A game and won every moto bar one en route to the title.
He even beat the 2011 World MX2 Champ Ken Roczen in Germany in the final round before finally showing the Americans just why he is a six time World Champ by blitzing the Motocross of Nations in Lommel and winning both motos and his class, beating Jeffrey Herlings in the process.
When Ricky Carmichael sends you a tweet saying you are the best rider in the world in 2012 you know you have done something right!
Cairoli is the total package. He knows he can win and more importantly he knows how to win. He knows how to manage his training during the season and he can win on any surface – he is the most versatile motocross rider in the world.
His race management is just brilliant, he does just enough to win or limit the damage, then, when he really needs to win, he steps it up and is virtually unbeatable.
It is also notable that Cairoli has equalled Joel Robert’s six world title and now only Stefan Everts has more in the history of the sport, that is a quite phenomenal achievement and Tony isn’t finished yet, he will go for number seven in 2013!
We should all enjoy seeing one of the greatest ever in his prime while we can, they don’t come around very often in sport and we are lucky to have someone of the calibre of Cairoli straight on the heels of Stefan Everts in World Motocross.
Let us know your thoughts on who should be the British and International rider of the year on twitter @motocrossvice and in the comments sections below!
Article and pictures by Jonathan McCready