The 15th and final round of the FIM Motocross World Championship will take place this weekend at the beautiful steep hillside setting of Fermo for the Grand Prix of Italy – and for Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 it will be the final appointment of a hectic and dramatic season.
Kevin Strijbos and Cody Cooper will need to learn the best lines and nature of the Fermo hard-pack terrain in the initial practice sessions on their works RM-Z450s as both riders will visit the venue for the first time. The circuit was the site of the 2010 season-closer and again draws a curtain across the world championship this weekend with both MX1 and MX2 categories already decided.
Clement Desalle has missed the last two grands prix of the year and will finish the campaign with a top-six position at the very least in what has been a difficult term with highs – victories in Bulgaria, USA, Portugal and Czech Republic, seven moto triumphs and six red plates as MX1 leader – and lows of two shoulder problems.
Strijbos is currently 12th in the standings and has an excellent chance to breach the top 10 on Sunday, trailing Tanel Leok by two points with Ken De Dycker injured.
“I’ve never ridden at Fermo but I watched the race on the TV last year and it looks a lot of fun – a lot of hills and some cool jumps,” says the Belgian. “I think I have the speed to make the top five. It is all about making those starts and if I can get away with the front guys then I’m sure I can make it happen. My knee was a bit stiff after Gaildorf but otherwise I have not been bothered by it at all. It is the last GP of the year and you always want to finish the season in a good way.”
New Zealander Cody Cooper had a tough baptism to MX1 GP racing last week in Germany where he failed to notch a point but the Australian National series regular is now wiser to the physical and technical demands of the scene. Cooper was drafted into the team to replace Desalle for the rounds at Gaildorf and Fermo and was always set to face an uphill task after flying to Europe from his holiday in the wake of the 2011 Australian series.
“The plan for the week is to try and ride some hard-pack and do some big motos! I’m not going to get race fit in one week. I pushed hard in the last three weeks but before that I was on a break,” he said after the European GP last Sunday.