Talk for 2017 increased in temperature at Matterley Basin around the Rockstar Energy IceOne Husqvarna team and the riders of the factory FC450s for next season.
Briton Max Anstie already has a contract in place to jump into the Kimi Raikkonen-owned squad for his maiden season in the premier class and it remains to be seen whether he will be joined by current representative Max Nagl or the hotly tipped Gautier Paulin will take the German’s saddle.
Both Nagl and Paulin finished on the podium in Britain and round 11 of the series and gave no indication of their leanings. “It is still an open situation,” Nagl commented. “We are talking of course but nothing is decided yet.”
Paulin was also non-committal but it is now almost certain that he will not partner Evgeny Bobryshev (the Russian expected to renew terms with HRC very soon for a seventh term on the works bikes) on the CRF450RWs. “Everything is possible,” the Frenchman remarked after his second podium finish from the last three events. “Right now, like Max said, it is just ‘open’. My contract is over with HRC but rumours are going faster than papers!”
IceOne presently field Nagl and Christophe Charlier on the distinctive FCs and Team Manager Antti Pyrhonen hinted that the team could return to a three-rider effort in 2017 after running Nagl, Todd Waters and Nathan Watson in 2015 (“it is possible that we do it again in the future but for 2016 we are working with only two MXGP riders,” he said at the time of the Grand Prix of Europe at Valkenswaard). On this assumption Paulin could fit alongside Nagl and Anstie – giving the Husqvarna MXGP wing a very strong edge.