Around a month before an eagerly anticipated 2015 FIM Motocross World Championship launches in Qatar, Youthstream President Giuseppe Luongo has commented on the recently released entry list for the opening round at Losail, containing 28 riders in the premier MXGP class in a year when the start gate has been expanded to 40.
At the annual organisers meeting for MXGP – this year taking place in Geneva – the Italian highlighted the list but pointed towards the depth of names and talent rather than the quantity of racers entered for the first GP that is likely to generate huge interest as Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team Ryan Villopoto’s world championship debut.
“If we look at the entry list in Qatar, we have 28 riders,” were his words issued in a press release today and partly referring to comments on the worrying sight of some MXGP start gates in 2014 that barely contained 20 participants.
“Don’t focus on the number, because in Europe we expect to see a lot more, but focus on the quality of riders. We have at least 26 big names. This has never happened before in the FIM Motocross World Championship, so you will see the biggest fight for the championship you’ve ever seen.”
There are six factory teams on the OAT (officially approved teams) list and from the 28 MXGP racers an amazing total of 18 have previous experience of winning a Grand Prix. Only six have not stood on a GP podium, Villopoto included.
Qatar is immediately followed by the third-ever Thai Grand Prix (and at new venue west of Bangkok) and then a long trip to the second ever Grand Prix of Argentina at Neuquen in March. The MXGP calendar has the same number of races as MotoGP and just one less flyaway as the series widens in global scope.
Youthstream hope to open the Grand Prix classes to more riders – hence the expansion to 40 entrants on the start line – and smooth the transition from the burgeoning European Championship classes which the promoters have successfully grown into a competitive, legitimate and entirely worthwhile part of the structure of the sport for aspiring professionals.
How teams and athletes respond to the prospect of racing in MXGP will be judged this year through the reaction to having extra space and slots to compete in the championship. MXGP is undoubtedly inflating in terms of prestige and attention with the hope that commercial rewards can follow and teams can make their budgets work.