The FIM Motocross World Championship paddock will swell and fill the compact confines of the Arco di Trento circuit this weekend where the Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP and Europe teams will again be protagonists for this fourth round of 18 on the 2014 schedule.
The Grand Prix of Trentino in northern Italy will start a five month spell of the calendar that will travel to the four corners of Europe and up until September when the series heads to South America once more for the final two fixtures.
Two pole positions and two podium results in the premier MXGP class with the works RM-Z450 have been obtained by both Clement Desalle and Kevin Strijbos in the three Grands Prix so far.
Strijbos used his free weekend after the trip to Brazil a fortnight ago to grab a rostrum finish at Mons for the opening round of the MX Master Belgian Championship. Desalle hit the mountain bike trails, did some training on his RM-Z450; and has been trying to shed a small cold this week.
“We’ve done some riding, not really any testing and I’ll be out again this week before going to Italy,” recounted Desalle yesterday. “I like the track at Arco. It’s a nice place, and also the setting there with the mountains. It is a decent place to ride and I hope a couple of changes have been made to help with overtaking; it seems that GP tracks have been harder for passing in the last couple of years.”
As in 2013 Trentino represents the fourth stop on the MXGP itinerary and the same scenic, narrow and undulating hard-pack layout will lie in store for the MXGP and MX2 racers – joined this weekend by the opening gambit in the EMX125 European Championship and the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship (second round of 2014).
Desalle and Strijbos grabbed two top five positions in the inaugural event 12 months ago at Arco but are both now building-up to form and fitness to be able to front the MXGP pack.
“It is good to win anywhere but it would be nice to do it this weekend for the first GP we will have in Europe and also in Italy,” added Desalle. “For sure it is what I am thinking about and I’m focussing on for the weekend.”
The Belgian is currently fourth in the standings and 31 points behind leader and World Champion Antonio Cairoli. Strijbos is sixth.
Over in MX2 and Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe’s Glenn Coldenhoff has also placed the ‘yellow colours’ on the box in two of the three MX2 Grands Prix to-date.
The Dutchman has been a consistent presence in the leading group on the works RM-Z250 and seized pole position last time out in Beto Carrero, not to mention second place overall and victory in the second moto in Brazil.
While Coldenhoff has taken his (deserved) fair share of the plaudits – and is second in the MX2 standings, just two points away from the red plate – his two team-mates have also been pushing to the maximum in the opening phases of the season.
Julien Lieber is searching for the extra edge of confidence to be a top-10 regular and then push on to be counted in the battle for podium slots. Rookie Jeremy Seewer shone two weeks ago in Brazil with excellent 10th and sixth positions in the two races for his best scorecard yet in just his third Grand Prix since moving into the MX2 category full-time for 2014.
The Swiss is relishing the first European-set meeting of the year this weekend and the beginning of a trail that will encompass almost all of the tracks at which he secured six podium finishes from eight rounds of the European EMX250 competition in 2013. “It is like starting again,” he enthused. “The travelling, different countries and different racing conditions mean that those first GPs are a real adventure but now we go back to something we know a bit more; some familiar tracks and that routine of being able to be based in the motorhome.”
“For 2014 I have been able to raise my fitness and my preparation has been better than ever,” the youngster assessed. “I feel that I can get close to that top five and that has to be the goal in my first full season.”
Seewer is still not yet a full professional. The #91 is completing his mechanical studies and is due to finish this summer. In the meantime he has to balance the timetable of the classroom with the demands of being a Grand Prix athlete. “It’s true that I’m busy!” he says. “It seems that every day is accounted for and with the training and practicing and the studying, my weeks are full. In June I will graduate and become a full professional.”
Despite his hectic days Seewer has impressed on the track through his tenacity and active riding style. Diminutive but strong, Seewer is clearly one of the top runners for the future of MX2. After finishing runner-up in the 2013 EMX250 Championship (the 2014 edition of which starts the following week as part of the support programme for the Grand Prix of Bulgaria) it would have been easy for Seewer to stay in the feeder series and go for a European title, but this wasn’t part of his plan.
“It was a close fight last year for the title and maybe I could have gone for it again this year but I wanted to move on,” he explains. “I think the European Championship is something that people talk about for maybe two years afterwards, but compared to the world championship…well, Grand Prix is clearly the best place to learn and to improve your speed. You can see straightaway where and on what you need to improve.”
One person looking up to Seewer’s progress with be Brian Hsu who comes to Arco di Trento with the RM125 and with designs on success in the first round of eight in the EMX125 championship on the two-stroke.
Contrary to the unstable forecast that caused some consternation at the Grand Prix of Brazil the predictions for the climate this coming weekend are positive with summery skies and temperatures of 20 degrees predicted for the idyllic location among the Dolomite mountain range.
MXGP World Championship Standings (after 3 of 18 rounds): 1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 142 points; 2. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 112 p.; 3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 112 p.; 4. Clement Desalle (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki), 111 p.; 5. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 110 p.; 6. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki), 73 p.; 7. Steven Frossard (FRA, KAW), 68 p.; 8. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 68 p.; 9. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 67 p.; 10. Joel Roelants (BEL, HON), 61 p.
MX2 World Championship Standings (after 3 of 18 rounds): 1. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 112 points; 2. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Rockstar Energy Suzuki), 110 p.; 3. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 107 p.; 4. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 97 p.; 5. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 96 p.; 6. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 87 p.; 7. Max Anstie (GBR, YAM), 77 p.; 8. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 77 p.; 9. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 74 p.; 10. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 63 p.; 13. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Rockstar Energy Suzuki), 47 p.; 17. Julien Lieber (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki), 32 p.