That’s a wrap! After six months of grueling travel, the 2012 FIM Motocross World Championship has drawn to a close following the final GP of the year held in Teutschenthal, Germany. The GP of Germany acted as a ‘warm up’ for the promoters, as they experimented with changes and alterations to the circuit ahead of the 2013 Motocross of Nations.
As a whole I thought the track was good; perhaps the best we have seen it in years. Although there were some complaints about it being one-lined – the racing was good and there was some soil variation. Some sections of the track had a little more topsoil than others; whilst some parts were slick, others provided a lot more traction. One thing is certain; it was technical. For instance, there were a few different options on some of the jumps, which is where most of the passes occurred.
Normally the GP of Germany at Teutschenthal takes place in the middle of the year; however for 2012 it was pushed to the end of the schedule. If you’re wondering why, it was to allow Ken Roczen the chance to compete in front of his home crowd. Of course, a rider of Roczen’s caliber is a huge draw for the crowd. Rather than mix it up with his rivals of yesteryear in the MX2 class, Roczen decided to jump up to the MX1 class for this weekend only (despite riding the 250 all year and next weekend also at the MXoN). Although there isn’t much precedent for a successful mid-season change of class – it has been done in the past. For example Antonio Cairoli (coincidentally) jumping up to the MX1 class for one race only at Donington Park in 2007, and taking the overall victory.
Whilst Roczen’s wildcard appearance wasn’t as successful as that, the German certainly gave his home crowd something to cheer about. Although prior to the event there wasn’t much to judge Roczen’s speed on a 450; he did win a round of the ADAC MX Masters (German National Championship) earlier in the year aboard a 450, beating Nagl. Therefore, to expect Roczen to win in Teutschenthal was perfectly acceptable. Immediately Roczen impressed with some of the fastest lap times in Saturday’s practice sessions; however in the races the six-time world champ, Cairoli, always seemed to have the upper hand.
Perhaps Roczen could of won moto one; he certainly appeared to have the speed to match Toni. The fact that he managed to pass Cairoli just one lap into the race indicates he was more than capable of beating the champ, however just two laps later he stalled the KTM 450 and lost quite a bit of time to the Sicilian. If not for a fall midway through moto one he more than likely would have bounced back to the runner up spot. However the crash coupled with stalling his bike left the German with too big a gap to make up on eventual runner up Desalle. But, his lap times in the middle of the moto were the fastest of the race.
Roczen’s performance in moto one really indicated that he was capable of winning; however in moto two Cairoli was once again the better rider. Interestingly, in the middle of the race Ken’s lap times were once again faster than Toni’s and he did close in a little bit; however not enough to really challenge the Sicilian. Overall having Roczen back in the GP’s was nothing but good for the series; as undoubtedly a number of fans tuned in solely to see the German superstar tackle the unbeatable MX1 champ. Ken’s 3-2 for second overall certainly didn’t disappoint. For most, it was a solid indication of the speed difference between the World Championship and the USA also.
Teutschenthal really capped off what has been a perfect year for Antonio Cairoli, perhaps the best of his career. Aside from the disaster in Sweden, 2012 has been nothing short of phenomenal for the Sicilian. His Teutschenthal win (following a double moto victory) was his seventh GP victory in succession, and his twelfth moto win in a row. Supposedly, 2012 was the deepest talent pool MX1 has seen in quite some time. However, no-one really was capable of challenging Toni for an entire year. You can see in his style that his confidence is at an all time high, for instance the way he whipped the bike shortly after he passed Max Nagl in moto one was a sign that he wasn’t afraid the German would fight back. Even with an injured finger (sustained on the Saturday) no one could beat Toni! It will be exciting to see what he can do against the Americans in Lommel this coming weekend.
Although the results may say differently, Max Nagl was the third best rider on the day behind Cairoli and Roczen. First off however, the announcement was made over the weekend that Max would be heading to the Honda World Motocross team next year, alongside Evgeny Bobryshev. This move has been apparent for a while and should be a good fit for both rider and team. I’m sure he would have liked to end his KTM career by beating his teammate, however in the end a first moto crash would destroy his chances of even climbing onto the overall podium. The crash was certainly in a weird place, I don’t think I have ever seen someone overshoot that corner and end up in the fence. Maybe it happened because he was so desperately trying to stay with Cairoli?
The rider that will be joining Nagl under the Honda World Motocross tent next year, Evgeny Bobryshev, had a much better day than his results indicate. Although a pair of sixths doesn’t seem like much on paper (especially for a rider that went 1-1 at this very track in 2011), the Russian injured his thumb on the Saturday. The injury was sustained on the same thumb he injured at the opening round, because of this Evgeny struggled to hold on as it was extremely swollen. All things considered sixth overall isn’t terrible, and I’m sure Evgeny and the entire team is already thinking about 2013, following what can only be described as a poor year for the them. In case you’re wondering, Rui Goncalves didn’t even attempt to race Teutschenthal due to a fractured shoulder blade suffered in Faenza two weeks ago.
Clement Desalle hasn’t been as good in recent weeks, ever since his 1-1 in Sweden he seems to have fallen further from Cairoli’s speed every week. I’m sure just two GP wins isn’t what Clement or the Rockstar Energy Suzuki team had in mind at the beginning of the year, but 2012 was still the best of Desalle’s career. Clement has never really challenged for a title over the course of an entire season. So now he knows what to expect, maybe he will come into 2013 more prepared for the challenge of dethroning Cairoli? To be fair though, he’s had a lot of niggling injuries all year and has never really been able to get on a run. A 2-4 on the day was his best result in quite a while, although a second in moto one was inherited due to problems to both German KTM riders; it was still a good day for the Belgian. At least he will be carrying some kind of momentum into Lommel for the MXoN.
Xavier Boog collected two good results after two GP’s of finishing outside of the top ten. It seems as though Boog will not be under the Factory Kawasaki tent next year (unless they open up a third spot for him, which I can’t see them doing) as it was announced on Thursday that Jeremy Van Horebeek would be taking the second spot on the team alongside Paulin. Speaking of Van Horebeek, he sat out Teutschenthal after he twisted his knee in Faenza, in an effort to save himself for the MXoN. Back to Boog, he is a solid ‘second guy’ on a team, he will always show up and post solid results in and around the top ten. Although he may not break onto the podium, he is more than capable (his results in 2011 proved that) – 9-7 was a solid way to end the season for the Frenchman.
Josh Coppins ended his GP career with a consistent eleventh overall and in doing so beat the man that will more than likely be British Champion at the end of the year, Kevin Strijbos. To be completely honest, I thought Coppins would do a little bit better in his comeback to the GP series. But to jump in mid season is extremely hard, especially after he has been riding the shorter Aussie moto’s. Still, over there (where the race length and format is mixed) Josh always seems to thrive in the thirty-minute moto’s. So his fitness is clearly not an issue. I believe there is just one more race (the MXoN) for Coppins and then he will officially be hanging up his boots.
It just wasn’t Shaun Simpson’s weekend, was it? His crash in the first turn in moto one was a sign of how his two races would go, he is certainly better than his 15-14 moto scores show. Of course, the fifteenth was following a first turn fall; but in the second moto he never seemed to really get going. In my opinion, Shaun certainly made good use of his time aboard the Monster Energy Yamaha and proved to be capable of finishing top five, even when everyone is present. In the end, Shaun fell just short of top ten in the series, finishing four points down on the absent Rui Goncalves.
He might not have got the title he so desperately sought after, but Tommy Searle ended his MX2 career the best way possible, by completely dominating the German GP. Undoubtedly, Searle was the fastest man on track in both moto’s. If you need proof of this fact, look no further than the lap times. In moto two, Searle’s fastest lap time was a whole second quicker than Herlings’. Moto one was a similar scenario; Tommy was one second quicker than second place, Zach Osborne despite admittedly tightening up. In fact, Tommy was the only MX2 rider to drop below the two-minute mark in either of the MX2 moto’s. A feat that only four MX1 riders could match; if Searle can translate that speed to the 450 class he will be a contender for the podium as soon as the first gate drops on 2013.
As soon as I saw Elliott Banks Browne’s bike leaned up against the trackside fencing, just seconds after he was running third in the first MX2 moto; my heart dropped. I cannot believe how much bad luck and adversity EBB has had to overcome thus far this year. It looked as though all of that would be made up for, as he seemed more than capable of making the podium. Unfortunately, his KTM wasn’t quite up to the task. With a reliable bike beneath him; I would not hesitate to suggest Banks Browne would be on the GP podium at least a couple of times in 2013. As if the first moto wasn’t painful enough; a ninth in the second moto was prompted by a broken clutch lever, with twenty minutes remaining in the race. On the surface, it looks as though Elliott didn’t perform in 2012. However, if you dig past the results you will see he actually had a very good year and opened some eyes, unfortunately the results don’t reflect that.
Another Brit, Jake Nicholls, was also extremely unlucky to not climb up onto the overall podium for the first time in his career. For the most part, Jake has been on the verge of breaking through and onto the podium thus far this year. In Teutschenthal, it looked as though he was finally going to get up onto the box, except he fell short once again – finishing just one point behind Arnaud Tonus in third overall. Still, as Jake himself mentioned, the goal was to bring home fourth in the championship, which he did so from that point of view – the weekend was a successful one.
For the Monster Energy Bike It Yamaha riders, the German GP might have been the best of the year. After the team was completely wiped out with injuries prior to the first round, their two main riders, Zach Osborne and Arnaud Tonus both climbed onto the podium alongside each other for the first time all year. Since his return, Osborne has been on the podium a number of times; however for Tonus it hasn’t been that easy. Gradually, the Swiss rider has gotten better and better with each round that passes and on a track that undoubtedly suited his style and technique – he put it up onto the podium following a sixth and third.
I was glad to see Zach up on the podium in what might have been his last GP ever. After a very strong four and a half years over here, in which he has established a very strong fan base, it was good to see the American up on the box! Although, it was a successful weekend for the riders, team manager Steve Dixon was rushed into hospital on Saturday following three slipped discs in his back. An operation is required, and it sounds as though Dixon will be in hospital for over a week, hopefully he will make a quick and full recovery!
Jeffrey Herlings had a very quiet weekend in Teutschenthal. Surprisingly, his Factory KTM had to be pushed back to the pits for the second time this year, which is almost unheard of under the orange tent. The DNF occurred on lap three of moto one, when the Dutchman was running fifth. If he had completed the first moto, I highly doubt he would have had an impact on the moto win; as in the second moto Searle simply left him. Despite starting ahead of his rival, Herlings didn’t really seem to give Tommy much of a challenge when he went past early in moto two. Perhaps with the title already locked up Jeffrey’s focus has already shifted to Lommel and his chance to show the world he really is the fastest sand rider? I know for most riders this is the case; as most were out practicing and testing in the deep sand last week in order to be prepared for the biggest race of the year.
Alexander Tonkov has quietly had a very successful season. Prior to this year the Russian had never really been a threat to the top ten. Although, like his teammate (Max Anstie) he has had his fair share of mechanical problems, he has always been in, or close to the top ten which is no easy feat at world championship level! It is my understanding that the Russian will return to the Gariboldi team next year. If they can get some better equipment perhaps he could claim some top five finishes next year? Teutschenthal was Tonkov’s second best GP this year, behind only Sevlievo so obviously the Russian favors the slick tracks with elevation. I’m sure a 9-11, which he garnered this past weekend, is exactly what the team expected from their second rider.
Speaking of the Gariboldi Honda team, Teutschenthal basically summed up the entire year for their number one rider, Max Anstie. Hopes were high coming into the year that Max would take the Honda 250f back to the forefront of the MX2 World Championship. Six DNF’s across the year definitely didn’t help him to achieve a result he is capable of. However, I find it weird that for the first seven GP’s, Max and the team seemed to be on track to achieve some success, but from Bastogne onwards it has been nothing short of disastrous; with just Lierop to look back on fondly. 17-15 is definitely not what you would expect from the man Herlings believes will be his toughest competition next year. However, one positive from the weekend was that it was announced Max is heading to the Rockstar Suzuki Europe team next year. That will be the fifth manufacturer he had ridden for in five years; but the bike is undoubtedly competitive and capable of helping Max get the results he deserves.
Well, the 2012 FIM Motocross World Championship has drawn to a close; it has provided us with plenty of action and controversy in the last six months. However, before we can close the book on the international Motocross season we still have the Motocross des Nations to be completed. Undoubtedly the highlight of the season; the entire Motocross world will shift their attention to Lommel, this weekend.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Photos courtesy of Youthstream