Dylan Ferrandis has really flourished and come into his own this season, although most pundits have overlooked his marked improvement. It is hardly surprising; he was expected to make that next step up in his first season beneath the CLS Kawasaki tent.
The young Frenchman opened his 2014 campaign with a well-deserved moto win beneath the lights in Qatar and, once everyone got over the initial shock, it perhaps made his top five results that followed seem lacklustre in comparison. However, they were in fact better than where he was one year earlier.
Ferrandis’ season was rife with inconsistency; at times he proved to the rider that possessed the most outright speed (with the exception of Jeffrey Herlings, of course), although crashes and other minor issues hindered him. He did fall into the lower half of the top ten at different points, because of this, which was where he resided in the previous season. However, in the end, despite not claiming another moto win, he was one of the few riders that had a shot at the world championship in the dying stages.
The Frenchman finished at the back of that lead pack in fourth once the season had concluded, although a run of podium finishes again left most excited about his potential and what he can achieve in the future. Of course a triumph at the Motocross of Nations was the icing on the cake and may have been the most impressive we have seen him, despite the fact that he only garnered third overall in the MX2 classification.
Dylan was put on the outside gate in his two motos, which is somewhat unusual for the MX2 rider, as his position on the start line and his lack of power left him with an uphill climb, which may have been too much for some. However, he hung back and swept across the back of the field to the inside each time and then charged forwards for the duration of each, which was something that most riders struggled to do, because of how close together the two motos were.
With his two teammates having brilliant days, he did exactly what was required of him and proved that he can cope with the pressure of racing on the biggest stage, which is always a question when a rider that is new to the event is selected. When you add all of this together, it does seem that Dylan could come out in 2015 and again make big strides forward. Although it would be unrealistic to expect him to challenge for the title, it would not be surprising to see him add to that one moto win and perhaps topple his new teammate and the MX2 world champion, Jordi Tixier.
2015 will be his last chance to capture that maiden GP win and achieve other goals that he has within the MXGP series, as he has made his intentions to fly the nest and head to the USA clear. He recently signed a long-term deal with Kawasaki, which will see him head to the USA in 2016. It is hardly surprising, as Ferrandis’ dynamic style would seemingly suit supercross, which is often the lure for a lot of riders.
Dylan will get his first taste of the bright lights of the USA this weekend, as he will compete in the Monster Energy Cup against a lot of the heavy hitters. Although this race is marketed as having a ‘hybrid’ track, for the most part it is a supercross track with some anomalies, like the Amsoil Arch and the Joker Lane. Obviously we cannot take a lot from his performance at this race, but most onlookers will quickly come to a conclusion as to whether he has the potential to succeed in the discipline.
Honestly, I am quite excited to see how he does. The American style of racing, which has been prompted by how dominant supercross is in the industry, has slowly trickled over to Europe. Now, riders like Ferrandis (and those before him, like Marvin Musquin) have grown up knowing how to scrub and sprint in the opening stages (this may also be the reason for the parity at the Motocross of Nations, but that is an article for another day), so he will fit in perfectly.
This is also one of the first times that a top European has travelled over to compete at the Monster Energy Cup, which was the original goal for the event. It was introduced to the public as a ‘hybrid’ track that would attract the top American and European riders. Obviously it didn’t pan out that way, but props to Ferrandis for leaving his comfort zone at a time when he could be relaxing following a gruelling season.
Words: Lewis Phillips
Image: Kawasaki Racing