The decline of results by Bike it Yamaha Cosworth Max Anstie has been one of the curiosities of the MX2 class this season. The 21-year-old led both motos at the opening event in Qatar and grabbed podium finishes in rounds two and three at Thailand and Brazil.
Since then the Brit has posted a best result of sixth in the first moto in Holland. What has gone wrong?
There are two factors involved. Firstly Anstie lost his grandfather, whom he was very close (as his immediate family were based in California), just before round four at Arco in Italy.
The second has been rate of development work carried out by his team. Anstie used the same 2013 YZ250F taken to a GP win and Motocross of Nations holeshots by Dean Ferris last year for those initial overseas trips.
Riders like Mel Pocock have made public remarks along the lines that Steve Dixon’s YZ was ‘one of the fastest 250s ever built’. In Italy Anstie tried to compete with the new 2014 YZ250F but the team are behind in terms of optimum set-up for Grand Prix racing.
Dixon [Team Principal] insists that Yamaha’s new model will be even faster – almost turning five horsepower more – and Anstie (who has been training and riding in the winter with a stock ’14 YZ) claims it turns and handles better.
The team have been rushing against the clock in conjunction with renowned engineering company Cosworth but have also had to cope with hiccups like complaints over their race fuel (Dixon claims innocence concerning the grade they were using but they have now formulated a new mix) and the departure of chief technician Ben Popperwell who had accumulated over a decade and a half under Dixon’s wing.
In Spain Anstie’s woes continued with a first moto crash and 19th position overall and after the GP he said: “I guess from the outside looking in it might not look like much but I do feel like we are making steps in the right direction,” he offered. “Where we started the year and where we are now means we had to sacrifice a few points in these European rounds but I believe that things are going in the right direction.
“Obviously a lot of testing and development is to be done in the next couple of weeks but we will get there and hopefully with the new rocket ship.”
When asked what he could do to stop the slide and get Yamaha back into the mix for Grand Prix podiums he said: “Steve just needs to get that bike built! The gameplan has always been the same and that’s to go out there and race my laps and whether I’m in first or 15th I will still ride the same. We have struggled in the last few weeks with little bits and pieces and having a tough time with the setting for these types of tracks [sand in Holland and hard-pack in Spain].”
The team will have had the chance during the free week to make further progress on the 2014 YZ250F in order to put the ’13 in mothballs. “Matterley is a fresh start and I am looking at it like a new beginning because we have time to work. I expect us to be back on track shortly,” added Anstie, who is currently 12th in the standings.