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MXGP MAG Chief Editor: Marionna Leiva Photos: Youthstream YOUTHSTREAM Media World Trade Center II Rte de Pré-Bois 29 1215 Geneva 15 Airport Switzerland

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MXGP Mag #66 February 2019 The articles published in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the official position of Youthstream. Then content of this publication is based on the best knowledge and information available at the time the articles were written.

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L A I R O T I D E

DEAR MXGP FRIENDS Giuseppe Luongo President of Youthstream Group

MXGP, AS ALWAYS, WILL BE UNPREDICTABLE AND MANY FACTORS WILL EMPHASIS THIS FACT, BUT ONE THING WE CAN ALL COUNT ON IS THAT 2019 WILL BE A SEASON FULL EXCITEMENT, FULL OF BREATH-TAKING RACING AND A SHOW LIKE NO OTHER Dear MXGP Friends, The start of the MXGP season is nearly upon us, with only one month to go all the riders and teams are in full preparation, and unfortunately Herlings has injured his foot and trying to make a speedy recovery while the other main contender for the title, Cairoli, is fully focused and motivated for a Championship win. And it leaves a question in all of our minds, what should we expected for the 2019 FIM MXGP World Championship? Will we witness Tony taking his 10th title, or will Jeffrey confirm his domination even if he has to miss a couple of Grand Prix events, or will we be seeing Gajser or Febvre back in top, or will it finally be Desalle’s year, or possibly Paulin, or will we see, like in the past, a surprise from a Rookie? The MX2 pre-season racing has shown Prado to be 100% and eager to confirm his MX2 title. MXGP, as always, will be unpredictable and many factors will emphasis this fact, but one thing we can all count on is that 2019 will be a season

full excitement, full of breathtaking racing and a show like no other. I can’t wait for the first gate-drop in Argentina.

“IN ORDER FOR MXGP TO CONTINUE TO GROW IT NEEDS A BOOST AND INFRONT IS THE IDEAL PARTNER FOR THIS” The news of the moment is the acquisition of Youthstream by Infront, and this is very important for MXGP to be able to make the next step in terms of media and marketing. Infront is a world leader in sport media and marketing, and Infront successfully manages the rights of 35 sports, from football to ice hockey to Ironman. We believe Infront is the company with the best knowledge and contacts in the world of sport media and marketing and is what MXGP is

ready for. Under Youthstream’s management MXGP has grown a lot and has brought a lot of excellent and wide TV coverage, it created successful platforms for all the various social media and it’s thanks to this that sponsors have linked themselves to MXGP, but now Youthstream has arrived to its limit and in order for MXGP to continue to grow it needs a boost and Infront is the ideal partner for this, with Infront MXGP will have the possibility to play in a superior league. I want to assure all MXGP fans that there will be no changes to the format, rules or anything that is linked to the sport, the roots and the base of MXGP will be respected, improvements will be seen for TV, social media marketing and presentation. The pyramid with the European Championships at the bottom acting as a trampoline into the professional world and MXGP at the top will continue and most importantly the heart of Motocross will remain strong. I’m looking forward to seeing you all in Argentina!

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So, in no particular order, let’s take an in-depth look and where better to start than with the defending champions in MXGP, MX2 and Manufacturers Standings. RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING (MXGP/MX2)

AS IT’S ALMOST ‘GO’ TIME IN MXGP WE THOUGHT WE’D BRING YOU UP TO SPEED AS TO WHO WILL BE TAKING TO THE GRID IN 2019, WHAT BIKES THEY WILL BE RIDING AND THE TEAMS THEY WILL BE RACING FOR. SO, GRAB A HOT DRINK, SIT BACK AND ENJOY A FEW MOMENTS OF DOWNTIME TO SEE HOW THINGS WILL LOOK FOR THE BRAND NEW SEASON. ONE THING YOU WILL NOTICE IS THAT THIS PAST OFF-SEASON HAS BEEN QUITE BUSY WITH THE GAME OF CHOICE BEING ‘MUSICAL CHAIRS’. 16

This year the MXGP side of the awning has gone on a diet and has trimmed its three-rider line-up down to two with the departure of Glenn Coldenhoff. That means the defending champion Jeffrey Herlings will be the rider to beat and will once again line up alongside his main title rival Antonio Cairoli and yes, they will remain under separate awnings; JH84 will


the class could be something of a dark horse in his rookie season. continue to operate in the ‘Dutch’ side whilst TC222 will remain under the watchful eye of Claudio De Carli on the Italian side. However, a broken foot at the end of January will no doubt hamper the defending champions title defence. As for the MX2 team, Jorge Prado will park his 250SX-F alongside Cairoli’s 450cc for the second consecutive year as he looks to defend the title he clinched at Imola last season. However, for 2019, JP61 will have a brand new teammate in the form of French teenager Tom Vialle who moves up from the EMX250 class. The son of three-time 125cc GP winner Frederic Vialle, who also claimed third overall in the 1997 125cc world championship, will try to tap in to the experience of Jeffrey Herlings and the crew on the Dutch side so it’s possible that the newcomer to

MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI RACING TEAM (MXGP) After clinching third overall last year in MXGP Clement Desalle remains as Kawasaki’s number one hope to take the challenge to the KTM boys as the green corner of Japan looks to claim its first title in the premier class since Sebastien Tortelli (250cc) in 1998. Kawasaki has won titles since then but the last came in 2006 in MX2 so you can be sure these guys will going the extra mile to bring home the bacon. Also staying is Julien Lieber who put in some notable performances last year in his rookie season in MXGP, but he will be looking to stay healthy as he aims for a place inside the top ten. ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING (MXGP/MX2)

Having gone from three riders to two last season, the factory Husky team has had a major clear out this year with both Gautier Paulin and Max Anstie being posted elsewhere. Instead, their places have been taken up by 2017 MX2 world champion Pauls Jonass, who moves up from MX2 as well as from the factory KTM squad where he has been since 2015, and many suspect he might be better suited to the bigger capacity machine. Alongside him will be Arminas Jasikonis; the Lithuanian has seen the third step of the podium before but will hoping to add a few more visits to the box in 2019. Time will tell if the off-season shake-up was worth it. For the factory Husqvarna team in MX2 Thomas Olsen has been third overall for the past two seasons but last year proved to be his most successful season to date, standing on the podium no fewer than ten times and he will no doubt be looking to maintain that same kind of form as he makes a play for Prado’s crown. Joining ‘TKO’ will be the Aussie Jed Beaton who was 17


unlucky to suffer a double leg injury last year at Matterley Basin whilst sitting fifth in the standings. Many see him as a contender, especially as he has moved from a very good satellite Kawasaki team to the full factory Husqvarna outfit. MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA FACTORY MXGP Yamaha is another team that has undergone some changes for this year, not just in the factory squad but elsewhere in its other supported teams as well. 2015 MXGP champ Romain Febvre lines up in blue for the fifth consecutive season and after a couple of seasons where he has been forced on to the side lines through injury, the Frenchman will be hoping to be a main contender for the title once more. Before he got injured RF461 was challenging for third overall. Febvre will also get a new teammate as Jeremy Seewer moves across from Wilvo Yamaha to replace Jeremy Van Horebeek who at the time of going to print, may not feature in this year’s series. With a year’s experience Seewer will be looking to improve on his eight place finish, but will he be a contender for top three?

boosted his confidence no-end. With five podiums in total ‘CV10’ will be hoping to avoid some of the misfortune that prevented from making a run at a possible top three position in the overall standings, notably a double DNF in Bulgaria through no fault of his own. With such a stacked field Vlaanderen will be hoping for a better start to his campaign than he had last year if he is to be taken seriously. BOS GP (MXGP) When BOS GP entered the championship last year it was very much considered as two teams within a team, so to speak, with Jordi Tixier on KTM and Evgeny Bobryshev on Suzuki. Logistically it must have been difficult. Fastforward to this year and the team has a new manager in the form of Jean Jacques Luisetti, who brings with him his trusted Kawasaki machinery. Evgeny Bobryshev remains after no doubt impressing last year and this year the Russian will be joined by Britain’s Tommy Searle who moves across from Bike IT DRT, thus retaining his links with Kawasaki. With better infrastructure in place let’s hope these guys have a fantastic season in MXGP.

TEAM HRC (MXGP/MX2) To say Honda had a difficult season last year would be a major understatement but somehow the team dug deep and managed to salvage fourth place in the final standings. Tim Gajser went from strength to strength as he overcame his pre-season injuries to challenge for third at the final round of the series, in what was a real show of strength and character from the former two-time champ and he has to be considered a favourite before the first gate drop of the season in Argentina. The team remains unchanged with Brian Bogers as his wingman, but the Dutchman will be keen to put his injury woes behind him as looks to assert himself on the toughest stage of all. For HRC in MX2 all eyes will be on Calvin Vlaanderen who last year realised one of his ambitions of standing on the top step of the podium in Indonesia, a result that 18

MONSTER ENERGY WILVO YAMAHA OFFICIAL MXGP TEAM Another team that’s gone on a diet for 2019 is Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha who have stripped back its rider line-up from three to two with Shaun Simpson moving away from the squad. With Jeremy Seewer moving across to the factory team as mentioned earlier, Arnaud Tonus remains after sitting out last season due to a shoulder injury that needed fixing. Joining him in what will no doubt be one of, if not the most stylish pairings on the track will be Gautier Paulin who has made the switch from Husqvarna to Yamaha, a brand he last raced for back in 2011 and you can bet that the the five-time Motocross of Nations winner will be in no mood for hanging around. STANDING CONSTRUCT KTM (MXGP)


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After re-entering MXGP last year following a one-year hiatus, Standing Construct KTM’s return wasn’t as explosive as we or they had hoped for with injuries hitting the team quite early on. For 2019, neither Kevin Strijbos or Valentin Guillod remain and in their places the team has grown to three riders with last year’s outright MXoN winner Glenn Coldenhoff spearheading the all-new line up. Joining Glenn will be Max Anstie and Ivo Monticelli, and with factory support coming from KTM this team will be a force to be reckoned with. F&H RACING TEAM (MX2) 2018 saw F&H Racing Team enter the MX2 class full time and at one stage they were running fifth overall with Jed Beaton before he picked up an injury. With Beaton moving out F&H have brought in Henry Jacobi, who had a break-out season last year, picking up a handful of top five race finishes with a highest place of second in Trentino which gave him his first career podium. Adam Sterry remains and after missing several rounds through injury, the Welshman will be looking to challenge the front-runners as he gets his title aspirations back on track. HONDA 114 MOTORSPORTS (MX2) After picking a podium as a new team at the first time of asking Livi Lancelot’s team looked set to challenge for the title last year, but a run of bad luck soon afterwards meant those aspirations had to be put on hold. There were still some fantastic results though and no doubt the team has taken on board all the knowledge and experience gained from that first season. Hunter Lawrence has been replaced with another Australian in the form of Mitch Evans, who finished runner up in last year’s Australian MX1 national championship but he clearly has his sights set a lot higher in 2019. Alongside him will be Zach Pichon whose first full season was a little up and down but with his father and former two-time world champion Mickael in his corner

and with that first season out of the way, hopefully Zach can settle in and blossom into a solid top ten finisher. MONSTER ENERGY KEMEA YAMAHA MX2 After Ben Watson and Jago Geerts collected podiums last year, Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha will be shooting for the title. Despite challenging for the top three last season, Watson eventually had to settle for fourth but after an impressive MXoN performance in the USA, the Brit’s confidence will be sky-high as he takes to the gate in Argentina. His teammate Jago Geerts also impressed in his rookie season as his second overall in Latvia suggests; his seventh overall whilst still in school, was pretty remarkable and if both riders stay healthy there is a real possibility we could see both Yamaha’s gracing the podium on a regular basis in 2019. RFX KTM RACING (MXGP) RFX KTM is a new team to MXGP and will operate with just one rider, Shaun Simpson. The four-time GP winner has had a tough couple of seasons at Yamaha but now he is back with KTM, a bike he won three national titles with in the past and maybe that kind of familiarity will be what’s needed to pull the likeable Scot back inside the top ten. The more technical circuits suit ‘Simmo’ down to the ground and who knows? If he finds his groove early on we might see the ‘24’ operating at the sharp end once again. TEAM GEBBEN VAN VENROOY KAWASAKI RACING (MXGP/MX2) One of the standout performances of the year last year came from Alessandro Lupino at the MXoN where his second overall in the ‘Open’ category helped Team Italy on to the second step of the podium. He clearly loves being back on the Kawasaki and he and the team seem to have a good rapport and this shows in his riding. Last year he placed eleventh overall after a few setbacks, but if this kid rides the way he did last October then he 21


AS IT’S ALMOST ‘GO’ TIME IN MXGP WE THOUGHT WE’D BRING YOU UP TO SPEED AS TO WHO WILL BE TAKING TO THE GRID IN 2019, WHAT BIKES THEY WILL BE RIDING AND THE TEAMS THEY WILL BE RACING FOR. SO, GRAB A HOT DRINK, SIT BACK AND ENJOY A FEW 22

will be mixing it with big guns for sure. Alongside Alessandro will be Benoit Paturel who last year only completed a handful of races in what was a troubled season for the former MX2 world number three and GP winner; hopefully this year turns out better than last, but with a confident Lupino and a buoyant team in his corner ‘Benny’ might just re-gain some of his magic. We hope so anyway. There’s also an MX2 rider, Marcel Conijn who moves up from EMX250. REVO HUSQVARNA UK (MX2) Stepping up from EMX250 into MX2 is Revo Husqvarna UK who

might have picked up the ‘shrewd business’ award having signed Dylan Walsh and Alvin Ostlund to the team. For Walsh it will be his first full season in MX2 but on the one occasion that he raced as a wildcard in Germany last year, the Kiwi showed he’s a potential top ten rider. As for Ostlund, he’s shown in the past that he can challenge for top five’s so anything is possible with this duo. If the REVO Husky’s are as quick as last year’s bikes then these guys have all the tools necessary to go to work. TEAM HONDA REDMOTO ASSOMOTOR (MX2) After securing the EMX250 title last year in the capable hands of


A1M HUSQVARNA (MXGP/MX2)

Mathys Boisrame, Honda Redmoto Assomotor have decided to make the transition to MX2. As a reward for the title, the team has kept Boisrame and in his wildcard appearance in Germany last year the Frenchman took a ninth place in Race One. He will be hoping for more top ten’s in his rookie season no doubt. Pairing up with him is Brent Van doninck following a switch from Husky last year. The Belgian has found the podium before in MX2 so if he starts the season strongly, it might just get him fired up for the season. HITACHI KTM FUELLED BY MILWAUKEE (MXGP/MX2) After a tough season that ended in injury at Imola, Graeme Irwin will be back for another go at MXGP as he continues in his quest to break the top fifteen in the world rankings. Whilst he might be the

only MXGP rider in the team, he will be joined by a couple of MX2 hopefuls in the form of Conrad Mewse and Bas Vaessen. Both riders have experienced life inside the top ten so they will he hoping to push on for the top five, top six in the championship, all being well. BIKE IT DRT KAWASAKI (MX2) With Tommy Searle joining BOS GP this year, Bike It DRT are focussing all of their efforts on just one MX2 rider as the team strives to win the world title in 2019. Darian Sanayei was on fire in the early part of the last year before having to ditch the campaign following a knee injury that required surgery. But he is back, stronger than ever and ready to give it his all and if he and Kawasaki can pull this off it will be a massive coup for the British-based team. Of course, it will not be easy but if rides like he did before he went out then these guys will be in for a great season.

Tanel Leok is a beast. He is not normal ‌ in a good way of course. On June 1st he will turn 34 yearsold, yet the Estonian continues to defy the odds and will line up behind the gate for what will be his 18th year as a professional racer and he is still going strong. Okay, not as strong as the days where he featured regularly inside the top ten but his will and his desire to continue in the toughest sport in the world, sets a great example to those just starting out or looking to prolong their own careers as well. His MX2 teammate is Roland Edelbacher; the young, three-time Austrian MX2 Champion raced as a wildcard in Czech Republic and posted a 15-13 for fifteenth overall, however, he will only compete in the European rounds of MX2, starting in Great Britain. BUD RACING KAWASAKI (MX2) A young team of two riders, who between them have little MX2 experience, will line up for BUD Racing Kawasaki this year. For the past two seasons, Brian Moreau

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has started to rise to prominence by winning the EMX125 title in 2017 followed by seventh overall in EMX250 last year, where he secured a race win in Bulgaria. This will no doubt be a learning year for the French teenager but he might just spring a few surprises as well. His only MX2 experience came at Imola last year where he scored points in both races (13-15) for sixteenth overall. His teammate is Brian Hsu, who has suffered a couple of years of misery with shoulder issues, but the former EMX125 champion from 2014 will be hoping to make amends in a desperate bid to re-boot his racing career. Hsu’s previous MX2 experience came in 2015 as a wildcard in Italy, Mexico and The USA, picking up an eighth in Race One in Italy and a sixteenth in Mexico.

MARCHETTI RACING TEAM KTM (MX2) After years of racing in MXGP with Jose Butron, Marchetti Racing Team KTM will only focus on MX2 this year. Iker Larranaga will be the main man as he seeks to put his double shoulder injury, sustained in Indonesia last year, behind him. He proved that he has both the speed and the determination to succeed and will be keen to get off to the best possible start for his new Italian team. Joining him is a young Italian, Andrea Zanotti whose previous results include 10th overall in EMX125 in 2016, and 15th overall in 2017. TEAM VHR KTM (MXGP) After being left without a ride towards the end of last season, Jordi Tixier wasn’t due to announce his 2019 plans until sometime during the winter. However, that all changed when he was selected to represent Team France at the MXoN at Red Bud and as it turned out, it was the perfect debut as his performance helped his nation retain the Chamberlain Trophy. It also meant that Tixier was able to add another gold medal to the one he won in MX2 in 2014. So far, it looks like he is enjoying being the 24

lone rider in this team and only time will tell to see if he can still mix it with the podium and top five regulars. YAMAHA SM ACTION – M.C. MIGLIORI (MX2) Michele Cervellin has made steady progress over the past couple of years and last year was his best ever in MX2, picking up seventh overall in the series. In 2018 he sniffed the podium on two occasions, in Russia and Imola, coming home fourth on both occasions and he will be hoping to make the box-step very soon. His Yamaha SM Action – M.C. Migliori Teammate will be the 2015 FIM Junior 125 World Champion, Maxime Renaux who, since winning that title, has spent a fair amount of time during the past three seasons on the side lines due to injury. Hopefully he is now back to full fitness and ready to show us what he is capable of. KTM SARHOLZ RACING TEAM (MXGP) KTM Sarholz Racing Team has been in and around the motocross paddock for more than fortyyears and it’s great to see them still running a team in the FIM Motocross World Championship. With the announcement that TM were pulling out of the series for the time being, Max Nagl has decided to go back to his roots to where it all began for him in the 85cc class and will re-acquaint with the original founders of the team, Burkhard and Edith Sarholz. Nagl will race all the GP’s as it stands right now and his teammate will be a young German by the name of Tom Koch, who raced selected rounds of MX2 last year in the hope of gaining vital world championship experience. Koch’s best race came in Bulgaria where he went 13-8 for ninth overall but for 2019 he will contest just the European rounds of the world championship. JD GUNNEX KTM RACING TEAM (MXGP/MX2) JD Gunnex KTM is a relatively new team to the FIM Motocross World Championship in the past couple


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of years or so and for 2019 the team has decided to operate with Jose Butron, who moves across from Marchetti who are now focussing on MX2. Since placing third in MX2 in 2013, the Spaniard has struggled to replicate that same kind of consistency and even his epic starts of that time are hard to come by. The former Fox Holeshot winner will be hoping to get those starts back on track to give himself the best opportunity to score on a regular basis. His MX2 teammate’s this year will be Richard Sikyna, who placed twenty-sixth overall last year but he seemed to finish off strongly, scoring points in ten of the last fourteen races, included tenth in the final race of the season at Imola. Petr Polak moves up from EMX125 where he finished 5th last year, including a second overall in Latvia. It’s a big leap from EMX125 to MX2 so for him, 2019 will be something of a learning year. JWR YAMAHA RACING (MXGP/ MX2) After competing in just four rounds of MXGP last year as a new team with the aim of gaining some insight into what is required to race the series, JWR Yamaha will contest the European rounds with Kevin Strijbos and Vsevolod Brylyakov in MXGP and Anton Gole in MX2. Having said that, with support from Just1 Helmets there is a possibility that we could see the team head to China as well, depending on results and how the season is panning out up to that point. Strijbos, like Tanel Leok, will turn 34 in August but will bring with him a wealth of knowledge and experience for this team to benefit from, and both ‘Seva’ and Anton will be hoping to tap into that memory bank to fasttrack their own careers. We wish them all the very best. HUTTEN METAAL YAMAHA RACING (MXGP) A new team to MXGP, Hutten Metaal Yamaha will field two riders; Sven van der Mierden and Micha Boy de Waal, where the latter moves up from MX2 and switches brands from Honda. His best result came in Bulgaria where was 12th overall.

As for van der Mierden, the past couple of years he has competed in just a handful of selected rounds but hopefully this year we will see him out there on a much more regular basis. E2T RACING TEAM (MX2) This two-rider team will consist of Enzo Toriani and Hampus Kahrle. Last year Toriani scored an 18th in Lombardia whilst this will be a whole new experience for Hampus Kahrle. There are also quite a few onerider teams taking to the line in 2019, and with some pretty decent riders as well. Team DIGAProcross Husqvarna will support Davy Pootjes in MX2 where the Dutchman needs to be consistently inside the top ten if he is to realise the kind of potential that took him to the EMX85 title in 2012. Injury setbacks have hampered his progress in recent years but he is still young enough to get back on track to challenge for titles once again. KTM Racestore MX2 Max Bart is run and operated by, as the name suggests, Max Bartolini. The former 125cc GP winner has been seen around the paddock on a regular basis over the past couple of seasons and truly believes he can help with putting the 2017 EMX250 Champion Morgan Lesiardo back on the championship trail. Last year proved difficult for the Italian but hopefully he can turn in some head-turning performances to get himself back on the radar of the more prolific teams in the paddock. Team GBO is a new team to MXGP and will assist Simone Furlotti in his rookie MXGP season. The Italian came close to cracking the top ten in MX2 last year with three, twelfth overall finishes but has now ‘agedout’ of the class. Who knows? The move to the bigger bike might suit him and if it does then hopefully he will have a good year. Scandinavian Racing Sports will take care of Jonathan Bengtsson as he looks to impress in the European rounds of MXGP. 27


collected a couple of top twentyfive overalls in the selected rounds that he contested. He will be aiming to break the top twenty this year if he can. STC Racing iXS had a phenomenal season last year where Henry Jacobi put the team on the radar on a weekly basis, even getting them on the podium as well. With Jacobi moving on to F&H, STC will focus on Switzerland’s Loris Freidig in MX2 contested three MX2 rounds last year but will hope to score his first points this year. NR83 Team will once again look to Nathan Renkens who last year 28

SIXTYTWO Motorsport Husqvarana is another private team, run and operated by former MX3 world champ Klemen Gercar. The Slovenian has found it tough in MXGP and injuries have not helped but he still has the passion to do well in MXGP. His focus will be to score more regularly, which in this class is never easy.

GT243 is a team that is backed by double world champion Tim Gajser as he looks to support the young Slovenian racer, Maks Mausser in MX2. Last year Mausser ran graphics in what was a discreet set-up where he was trained and coached by Tim’s dad ‘Bogo’ in the EMX250 championship. Varmo Racing Team has been around a while in various forms but this year they will run Hakan Halmi from Bulgaria in MX2. AG Racing will run Artem Guryev in MXGP. All that’s left for us to do now is sit back and enjoy the what the latest instalment of MXGP has to offer. See you at the finish line. Photos: Honda, RFX, YS


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THE LEVEL OF THE MXGP AND MX2 WORLD MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH WHERE THE SMALLEST MISTAKES CAN TAKE A RIDER FROM FIGHTING FOR THE PODIUM TRYING TO CRACK THE TOP TEN. EACH ASPECT OF RACING HAS TO BE PERFECT TO BE COMPETITIVE WHETHER IT’S THE RIDER’S DIET, TRAINING, FITNESS, COMFORT, BREATHING, TIMING, AND CONFIDENCE OR BIKE SET UP FROM SUSPENSION TO TIRE CHOICE.

The sport of motocross has thousands of variables and in the World Championship doing everything on your own just doesn’t cut it. For this reason, riders have race mechanics, trainers, engine techs, suspension techs, tire experts, and even goggle guys. The truth is that while it all may come down to the riders’ determination on track, the story doesn’t end there. Tires have a massive role in the championship with Mitas as an official partner while Maxxis will join Dunlop and Pirelli as the Official Tire suppliers of MXGP for 2019. We decided talk with brands of Dunlop and Pirelli, who supplied and serviced their tires at each of the past seasons, to see how they are helping their riders and teams “get grip” during the MXGP season. Dunlop was started with the desire to win when John Boyd Dunlop first created an invention to help his son in a tricycle race. That was 130 years ago, and that spirit and ambition of winning is still at the heart of the Dunlop team. Dunlop tires are used by race on both 2 and 4 wheels with more Le Mans 24hour car wins, more Isle of Man TT wins, and more endurance World Championships than any other tire company. Meanwhile Pirelli’s roots are in Milan, Italy, from 1872 but today it stands as a global brand known for its cuttingedge technology, high-end production excellence, and its passion for innovation. Pirelli also has a long history with motorsports and brings the innovations developed within racing to its products. In the last 5 years there’s been at least one Dunlop victory in the top class of the World Championships every season with some of MXGP’s current and former top riders such as Shaun Simpson, Clement Desalle, Gautier Paulin, and Ryan Villopoto taking outright

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victory on Dunlop tires along with five of Kiara Fontanesi’s WMX titles. For Pirelli 70 world titles have been achieved with the MX SCORPION tires. In the classes of MXGP and MX2 Pirelli tires are some of the most common with both private teams and official factory riders taking top spots on the podium. Pirelli’s history in the sport is written by in the numerous titles achieved most noticeably 7 World Championships with Belgian legend Stefan Everts, 6 with the Italian Antonio Cairoli, 9 (3 each) with the Belgian riders André Malherbe, Eric Geboers, and Joel Smets, plus 3 more with British rider David Thorpe. The most recent were conquered by the “Bullet” Jeffrey Herlings (three) and two others with the Slovenian Tim Gajser. Aside from the riders, the collaborations that Pirelli has with race teams speak for themselves earning 20 world titles with KTM, 16 with Yamaha, another 16 with Honda, and many more. Since 2008 alone Pirelli has taken 16 World Titles with KTM, six consecutive titles with Antonio Cairoli in MX1 and three with Jeffrey Herlings in MX2, besides the ones with Ken Roczen, Marvin Musquin, Jordi Tixier and Pauls Jonass.

Energy Kawasaki Racing Team, Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing and Standing Construct KTM. This in turn means over 600 tires are brought to each race handled by 4 technicians all of which is managed by former World Supermoto Champion Eddy Seel. Both Seel and each of the crew must know the benefits and versatility of each compound and tread pattern so they can guide the riders and teams.

“PREDICTING AND REACTING TO THE CHANGING CONDITIONS IS ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING PARTS OF THE JOB” Pirelli on the other hand brings nearly the same number of tires but has a staff of 7-8 technicians dedicated to the MXGP effort. An average weekend for Pirelli sees anywhere from 200-250 tire changes. Aside from the soil being different from one venue to

another or the conditions one session to another each rider also prefers a different feel and while some riders are more conservative with tire choice, other like to take more risks making the advice of the specialist from Dunlop or Pirelli priceless. All of these aspects are accounted for by both brands as early as logistically planning and packing tires begins to as late as in between track sessions on race day. While to some it may seem overwhelming both brands said that predicting and reacting to the changing conditions is one of the most interesting parts of the job, especially when their riders depend on it and in result of the advice feel comfortable pushing for wins. Each partner of MXGP, the brands use the World Championship to not only market their products but to continue to test and develop under the most demanding and varied conditions. Taking the experiences learned at the races direct from the sport’s top athletes Pirelli and Dunlop tires then find their way into dealer’s showrooms giving the local riders the same advantage and grip as the stars of MXGP!

Both Dunlop and Pirelli send a racing service crew to each of the races on the MXGP so what is it that they do one might ask? Even though the racing doesn’t start until Saturday the crews typically arrive and set up by the Thursday. One of the first items on Pirelli’s to do list on site involve checking not only the soil conditions but also the track layout and weather forecasts to determine which tires will provide the best performance. In 2019 Dunlop will have 4 top tier teams running their tires in MXGP alone with Monster 37


L A I C O S P G X M Countdown to the 2019 FIM Motocross World Championship has started and we are now less than a month to go! See you in Argentina on March the 3rd, but in the meantime watch our latest teaser! â?¤ 7,9552 @turkeymxgp 6-7-8 September 2019 the MXGP World Motocross Championship and Afyon Motofest are waiting for you! #Motofest #motocross #mx #motorcycle

â?¤ 7,9552 @infrontsports Infront is moving into motocross with its acquisition of @mxgp television, marketing and global promotional rights holder Youthstream #AllAboutSports #AllAboutMotocross

â?¤ 7,9552 @getteholemans: #tbt MXGP Valkenswaard with these 2 gangsters @stevesels84 and @ roygijsel #partnersincrime #party #friends #frutbierenhamburgers #mxgpvalkenswaard

â?¤ 7,9552 @bobryshev777 Was good to see my friend tonight @fujigas at @ xtriallive good luck for the season đ&#x;¤ž 38

@wisecopistoninc Wiseco is proud to announce we have partnered with @mxgp for the 2019 season! Racing is in our DNA, and we’re beyond excited to have the opportunity to support the sport worldwide! #Wiseco #MXGP #Motocross #FIM #WorldChampionship #4RacersbyRacers

@DunlopMoto #FastForward #Preview2019 > April > Trentino > one of the most beautiful locations for #MXGP


The 2019 MXGP Video Edit Contest winner has been chosen, Daniel TuÄ?ek from the Czech Republic! This is his winning edit showcasing the atmosphere, adrenaline, and high speed of MXGP!

â?¤ 7,9552 @rachelgenot To sunny race days instead of rainy track days as the one yesterday in Lommel lol #tb Miss you @july_cgs @mxjuly đ&#x;˜˜

â?¤ 7,9552 @romi.usai “every time, a unique emotionâ€? đ&#x;’Żđ&#x;”Ľđ&#x;“Œ #innamoratapersadivoi #cross #happyplace

@kevinstrijbos Happy to announce I will ride for the Yamaha JWR team in 2019. Thanks to everyone involved to make it happen. Looking forward to a good year.

@hinsonracing The @TEAMHONDAGARI @HondaRacingCorp boys are looking good for the 2019 season #hinsondomination #hinsonclutch #hinsonhookup #hinsonperformance #hrc #honda #mxgp #moto #motocross #honda

Congratulations Daniel enjoy the prize of 2 VIP Gold Skybox Passes to a 2019 MXGP event of your choice, an MXGP-TV season pass, and a download of the newest MXGP The Official Motocross Videogame, MXGP Pro! #MXGP #Motocross #MX #Video #Contest #Winner #Winning

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@allardkalff Best news today is that @ JHerlings84 has been nominated for sportsperson of the year. So well deserved #bullet @mxgp

P G X M # D OF ORL W HE IN T

@WilvoYamahaMXGP: Is it time to go racing yet? 89 days to go until the gates drop in Argentina!

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R E S T L S R I N G MO

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R E S T L S R I N G MO

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H T N O M A M E E T F TH O

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W E P N G E S H O T B 45


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BOS GP is all new in MXGP for 2019 which will be only their second year as a World Championship team. The effort is led by BOS CEO Olivier Bossard whose suspension company has been involved in racing of all types for two decades. BOS Suspension and BOS GP are both based near Toulouse in the South of France and though they are one of the newer names in motocross they’re already competing with some of the biggest companies in the industry. WITH THE 2019 SEASON JUST AHEAD AND THE 2018 SEASON IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR TEAMS ARE PREPARING FOR ANOTHER YEAR OF EPIC RACING AROUND THE WORLD. RIDERS ARE MOVING FROM ONE TEAM TO ANOTHER IN MXGP, SPONSORS ARE CHANGING, MANUFACTURERS ARE WORKING ON NEW EQUIPMENT, AND CREW IS CHANGING THROUGHOUT THE PADDOCK. WHILE MOST ALL TEAMS HAVE AT LEAST ONE OF THESE CHANGES THE CREW AT BOS GP HAS THEM ALL.

The 2018 season was a challenge for the new team as they went against some of the most experienced teams in the paddock during the longest MXGP season in history made of 20 different rounds. The team originally signed on former the Kawasaki 47


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Racing Team rider and MX2 World Champion Jordi Tixier along with another Frenchman Benoit Paturel for his rookie MXGP season but prior to the 2018 season opener the team and Paturel split ways.

“IT HAS BEEN REALLY GOOD AND AN EASY TRANSITION FOR ME BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN ON KAWASAKI FOR A LONG TIME AND THE NEW BIKE IS GREAT”

With the team down to one rider BOS looked to Russian rider Evgeny Bobryshev after his contract was up with team HRC but not before the #777 had already inked a deal with Neil Prince’s Suzuki team in the UK. However, Bossard and Bobryshev remained determined to line up for the MXGP season which led to a unique deal between BOS (a KTM team), Bobryshev and his Suzuki UK deal as Evgeny explains: “First I had the deal with Suzuki in the UK but then later the offer came for MXGP with BOS and Olivier Bossard. We sat at the table and looked at all the possibilities to make it happen. Olivier was really wanting to work with me and sign, so he made it happen, he already agreed with a lot of what was already signed in the UK, but together we had to work on a couple of things with the sponsors,

contract and suspension. From both sides, Neil Prince in the UK and Olivier at BOS, there was no conflict or problems, it was a new situation for me with everything happening so late but we all made it happen.” It was a busy and thrilling inaugural season for both BOS GP, who had countless tasks along with two riders on different bikes, and Bobryshev racing in the UK for Suzuki in addition to the rounds of MXGP for BOS. “It was a busy year but in the end it was good. I definitely wanted to be back in MXGP and I was a little sad thinking that I wasn’t going to make all the GP’s at first but it worked out. It was also difficult with the team being new and starting everything from scratch, but we had some good results and even some top tens,” Bobryshev says. Tixier meanwhile struggled with injury throughout the season and just before reaching Switzerland the decision was made by BOS 49


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and Tixier to end their partnership. However, Bobryshev continued his fight in the championship and inked his 2019 contract at the Swiss GP to solidify both his future and that of the BOS GP team. Olivier Bossard then decided to reach out to a familiar French face in the MXGP paddock, Jean Jacques “JJ” Luisetti. With a long history in motocross including owning the largest Kawasaki dealership in Europe plus the former Monster Energy CLS Kawasaki Team, which became simply the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing MX2 Team up until 2017 when KRT decided to focus on the MXGP team exclusively. Luisetti has worked with some of the best riders throughout his career with Steven Frossard, Joel Roelants, Jeremy Van Horebeek, Max Anstie, Christophe Pourcel, Maxime Desprey, Dylan Ferrandis, Arnaud Tonus, Petar Petrov, Alessandro Lupino, Jordi Tixier, Morgan Lesiardo, and Tommy Searle all riding for his team. When Bossard started the team in January of 2018 time was short to fill the needs required and by August, Luisetti accepted the offer to manage the BOS GP program for the foreseeable future. Luisetti then worked to find another rider to line up alongside Bobryshev for the 2019 season and manufacturer support. Before long the news was announced that BOS GP would take on the following year with Luisetti’s former rider Tommy Searle and the new 2019 Kawasaki KX450F! The team has since been working week after week with Searle, Bobryshev and the new bike to be stronger and faster than ever in 2019. J.J. Luisetti about the upcoming year and his choice to return to the paddock, “Our team will enter the 2019 season with a strong team and with many goals; results, products, development, and of course publicity for our sponsors. It didn’t last long, when Olivier Bossard called me I accepted to come back in the MXGP paddock! This atmosphere is unique, and

after so many years fighting for podiums, nothing can surpass that feeling. When I entered the French structure, I had two goals; working with people I appreciate and being able to fight for top 5s. With this in mind, I directly called Tommy Searle and you cannot imagine how happy I am, to regroup with this charismatic, fast UK rider, and the Russian rider Evgeny. On top of that we have signed a deal with Kawasaki Motor Europe to be an official Kawasaki Team.” Both Bobryshev and Searle are excited for the new season to start with the reworked team on the new equipment. Bobryshev’s training started early in the off season but a crash in January has slowed his testing. “I started my prep really early in October,” Bobryshev explains, “I went to Spain to do some riding and training on the new bike, I was happy with the way they developed it and felt pretty comfortable. In January I went for a proper training and to put time on the bike. Unfortunately, on the third day of testing, the 12th of January, I crashed and damaged my wrist. Since then I have been recovering and not riding just physical training and physio. January didn’t go like I wanted but it is ok, the good thing is that it’s nothing serious with the wrist and I will start riding again next week. I am positive I will put in the hard time before Argentina and be as ready as we can.” Meanwhile, Tommy Searle has also been in Spain and stepped up his riding and bike time after switching to the new team, bike and suspension. “It has been really good and an easy transition for me because I have been on Kawasaki for a long time and the new bike is great, the 2019 bike is a huge step forward from the 2018. I had my first suspension test last week with the BOS equipment which I have never used before, so I didn’t know what to expect but I was immediately comfortable. In the past few days of testing with Olivier I think it is the best suspension I have ever ridden, at least in a very 51


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long time. The team has been good and given me everything I need to be down here in Spain testing with a new program and a new trainer.” Searle has had long time working relationship with Luisetti and is even friends with JJ’s sons which has helped to make the transition easier. Aside from the traditional desire to win Searle’s assurance that he can count on JJ and the team is even further motivation for the new year. “It is great to have JJ back,” Searle admits, “I worked with him for 4 years and those were some of the best years of my career. JJ has been a big part of my career and I think he has a lot to do with him why

I am on the team, I know when he came on as team manager he pushed a lot to get me on it.” Aside from the personnel changes at BOS the new bike is one of the main focuses of the crew and while it is a positive change, it still leaves a lot of work to be done with testing as both Bobryshev and Searle hinted at. “With the mechanics and team working on the same bike for both riders and all the same parts it makes it much easier to test and develop things,” Bobryshev explains. “From this point we just need to do more testing and I need more time riding because I have 53


missed like a month. For Kawasaki it is a new bike but they have done a great job even the standard one is really good, the important thing is that the chassis is balanced and it is easy to set up our suspension, I’m really satisfied with the new frame and Tommy is impressed, too.” “Everything is different on it, there isn’t one part from the past that fit the new bike. It’s hard to test everything early on with the new bike because all of the aftermarket parts manufactures haven’t had time to build and test products,” Searle explains. “There are things I have never tried testing before but with Olivier and the BOS guys they have a different outlook with the chassis, it is what they do, they make suspension, they build it. The way Olivier looks at stuff is really 54

clever and he is really intelligent in the things he gives me to try. We started going through the bike and after two days already so much more comfortable. I tried the race bike the other day at RedSand and it was a big jump forward. As far as one year to another the bikes are completely different but it’s a lot better.” One thing that’s clear from the entire team whether it is Oliver Bossard, J.J. Luisetti, Evgeny Bobryshev, Tommy Searle, or the mechanics is that the preparation is in full swing and everyone is working hard to be ready for Argentina. Both Bobryshev and Searle not only have the goal to be in the top five for 2019 and even with the level of competition neither see a reason why they shouldn’t be. Bobryshev said: “The goal is definitely to be among the top

five if all goes well with the development and the bike, I will do everything to be there, I miss the feeling of battling at the front. Last year I was battling for top tens and I was happy with that, but I know I am capable of more. To be honest the past few years the top ten is so strong it is unbelievable the competition, the start is so important, you have to be concentrated 110 percent, everyone is going for it, and if you don’t get a good start, it is almost impossible to move up because you could be battling with someone who was on the podium just a few rounds ago.” 2019 is now less than a month away and BOS GP is not only all new and full of changes, but it also appears ready for the challenge starting in Patagonia-Argentina. We have seen Searle, we have seen Bobryshev and we have seen BOS GP in the past but what we haven’t seen is what they accomplish together in 2019 and at MXGP we think the best is still yet to come. Photos: Raphael Sauze


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MICKAËL ‘MICKEY’ MASCHIO AND FINALLY HIS TENTH ATTEMPT WAS THE GOOD ONE! DOING HIS FIRST EVER GP IN 1993, MICHAEL MASCHIO HAD A LONG CAREER AND NEVER GAVE UP TO FINALLY OBTAIN THE 125CC WORLD TITLE IN 2002 WHEN HE WAS TWENTY-NINE YEARS OLD! HE STARTED HIS CAREER IN THE 125CC CLASS BEFORE MOVING TO THE 250CC, BUT HE MADE A SUCCESSFUL COME BACK IN THE SMALL CLASS WITH JAN DE GROOT AND KAWASAKI.

Born on 19th May 1973, Michael was only ten years old when he started playing on two wheels; his toy was not a motorcycle but a bicycle and he was so good at it that he claimed a BMX French junior title in 1984 and the following year he won the European Cup before jumping on a Motocross bike in 1987. It took him several seasons to finish on the podium, but after a first season in the 125cc European championship he revealed his potential in 1992 by winning the first round of the European Championship in Italy. After two rounds he became a title contender but he was forced to miss the rest of the season due to injuries. Maschio moved to the GP class and he finished in a promising tenth position during his first ever GP in Italy, but he had to wait until 1994 to enter the full series. That year he had a consistent season being a

fourth position in Italy his best result, but he scored points in seventeen heats to finish twelfth of the championship. The French rider went back to Honda the following season and he continued to impress winning his first GP in Spain and finishing fifth at the end of the year. Before the 1996 season started Maschio was considered a title contender and he confirmed his potential with four podiums during the first five heats of the season. However, Michael was forced to miss the last four rounds due to an injury after the British GP and finished twelfth overall. In 1997 he managed to finish fifth before moving to the 250cc class on a Yamaha. Eighth in his rookie season, he won his first 250cc heat one year later during the French GP, finish seven heats in the top three and then signed with Jan de Groot to join the Kawasaki Racing Team in 2000. Alongside the Dutch charismatic manager

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he started the championship on a high note with top five results in the first races, but then missed four rounds due to injuries. Maschio ended the season with a heat win during the final GP in Switzerland and again he struggled with injuries in 2001 when he missed eight rounds.

1990 3rd in the 125 French Junior Championship (Honda)

Back in the 125cc class with his jockey jib (1,73m, 65 kilos) he had his best ever season in 2002, a period when the GP’s were run with a single race format. Winning four GP’s and being very consistent that season, he arrived to the final round in Russia leading the series ten and eleven points ahead of Belgians Patrick Caps and Steve Ramon. The race was incredibly exciting with a long fight between Ramon, Townley, Seguy and Michael, who secured his title with a fourth position and joined fellow countryman Mickael Pichon on the FIM standings as both were crowned that year. Winning heats and GP’s during the following seasons, Michael was never again a title contender, scoring a 4th, a 6th and a 12th position in his favourite class.

1991

29th in the 125 Motocross European

Championship (Honda)

1992

11th in the 125 Motocross European Championship

Maschio got injured again in 2006 and he finally decided to retire that season to join his older brother in a family business. He worked in real estate and later went back to the tracks on a pit bike. Once again his ability helped him to collect some more trophies!

1999 6th in the 250 Motocross World Championship (Yamaha)

Text and Photos: Pascal Haudiquert

(Suzuki) 1993 27th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Suzuki) 1994 12th in the 125 Motocross World Championship Championship (Yamaha)

3rd at the MX of Nations with Team France

125 French Supercross Champion

1995

5th in the 125 Motocross World Championship

Championship (Honda). Winner of 1GP

1996

12th in the 125 Motocross World Championship

Championship (Honda)

1997

5th in the 125 Motocross World Championship

Championship (Honda)

250 French Supercross Champion

1998

8th in the 250 Motocross World Championship

(Yamaha)

2000

9th in the 250 Motocross World Championship

(Kawasaki) 2001

15th in the 250 Motocross World Championship

(Kawasaki) 2002

125 Motocross World Champion (Kawasaki).

Winner of 4GP

125 French Elite Champion

2003

4th in the 125 Motocross World Championship

(Kawasaki). Winner of 2GP

125 French Elite Champion

2004

6th in the MX2 Motocross World Championship

(Kawasaki). Winner of 1GP

2005 12th in the MX2 Motocross World Championship (Yamaha)

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Evgeny Bobryshev embracing the cold and hitting the slopes with his daughter!

2 Vsevolod Brylyakov getting in shape for his rookie season in MXGP. 3 2017 MX2 World Champion Pauls Jonass is back riding and on the new FC450! 4 Alessandro Lupino looking like a kid in the candy shop during his visit to SIDI! 5 Gautier Paulin looking good on stage and in black just like his Yamaha! 6 Tommy Searle testing with the new bike with BOS GP. 7 Shaun Simpson trying out as a European model? 8 Marc De Reuver and his riders during the preseason trainings! 9 The MXGP of China was presented last month to the National media.

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S ’ O Y R L O A T I MME A I F 63


ITALY IS ONE OF THE TOP MOTOCROSS NATIONS IN THE WORLD WHETHER IT BE THE MASSIVE FAN TURN OUT AT THE ITALIAN ROUNDS OF MXGP TO THE 9-TIME FIM WORLD MOTOCROSS CHAMPION ANTONIO CAIROLI HIMSELF, THE NATION AND ITS PEOPLE ARE FILLED WITH VIBRANT PASSION AND ENTHUSIASM FOR RACING.

WATCH THE VIDEO

For Italians motorsports are a part of their heritage may it be Cairoli in motocross, Rossi in Moto GP, or within the iconic automotive brands of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Fiat. The country, its citizens and its government are heavily invested not only producing the best racers in the world but also some of the best athletes. One example of the investment and dedication to producing athletes is Italy’s “Fiamme Oro”. The words “Fiamme Oro” translate to gold flames but represents much more as the country’s special sports division of state police. The sports group was started in 1954 by the Italian Ministry of the Interior and CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee). The Fiamme Oro’s purpose is to maintain and promote, even among youth, competitive sports and the sporting heritage of Italy. Since its creation in 1954 Fiamme Oro has worked with high profile Italian athletes and is now in 41 different sports disciplines. Within the group’s 9 different national centers athletes train and prepare for upcoming competitions from Moena in Trentino to Naples with Milan, Padova, Ladispoli, Ponte Galeria, Nettundo, Rome, and Sabaudia in between. Upwards of 300 athletes are part of the Fiamme Oro working alongside over 100 trainers around the country. Athletes of the Fiamme Oro are some of the most respected in Italy taking on the added role as not only ambassadors for Italian athletics but also the role of state police. While motocross is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world its athletes are often overlooked by many from more traditional sports but this is far from the case in Italy’s motorsport rich culture. Italy’s Fiamme Oro has recognized motocross’ role in athletics and Italian heritage with 4 riders currently supported

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by the group. Among these Italian state police and sports representatives are MXGP’s Alessandro Lupino, MX2’s Michele Cervellin, multi-time Women’s Motocross World Champion Kiara Fontanesi and WMX rider Francesca Nocera. Each of the riders have been selected for their roles and are among a long list of Italian champions. To become part of the Fiamme Oro athletes must be at the top of their sport in Italy’s national championships before passing entrance exams. Representing the Fiamme Oro is the goal of many young Italians including Kiara Fontanesi, “I am happy to be a part of it, it was a goal of mine since I was a kid and it is nice to represent the police around the world and in Italy.” MXGP rider Alessandro Lupino also takes the role very seriously and proudly wears the required Fiamme Oro police jersey while racing in Italy since the athletes are considered police on duty during competition. “For me it is really nice and when racing in Italy like Imola were I wear the police jersey. It is especially important for more because my dad was in the Army and it makes my family proud, it was a dream when I was a little kid to be a part of the police.” – Alessandro Lupino Fiamme Oro’s Christian Ravaglia is responsible for the motocross athletes and works closely to help them train and prepare for the demands of the sport. “I have a big group with motocross, trial, enduro and MotoGP. My work during the week is to support the riders training and this year (2018) I worked a lot with Lupino because he is on a Dutch team and I am his support in Italy.” Fiamme Oro athletes have a long history in Italian athletics scoring over 90 medals at the various Olympic Games with over 275 World and European Championships along with


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more than 4,000 national championships. Aside from the responsibility of racing the members also represent the Fiamme Oro throughout the year at various events in Italy to show the public another side of the police. The opportunity to be a part of Fiamme Oro also produces amazing memories for the athletes and possibilities for the future when they retire from racing. Michele Cervellin explained: “It is a good opportunity for young riders because not everybody is as successful as Cairoli or Herlings and Fiamme gives a job for the future, it helps you in life in general. One of my best memories is at the Police school with Lupino in Rome for 6 months we learned to shoot and it was my first time with a gun!” Success and winning for the riders is always special but the added bonus of winning as a member of Fiamme Oro and for their nation makes it even more memorable, “I was so happy to be the first ever to win a world championship for them in motocross!” – Kiara Fontanesi. Alessandro Lupino also recalls the pride felt by bringing the national championship to Fiamme Oro. “4 years in a row we won in the Italian championship and it was the first time in a very long time that it had been done in Fiamme Oro especially in motocross. We brought the police back to the top with the Italian colors and I am proud to be the man who did it.” Fiamme Oro Police Officer Kiara Fontanesi claimed her 6th world title in 2018 while Officer Cervellin scored the national MX2 title to add to the previous success of Lupino earning their ranks and making Italy’s investment in Fiamme Oro motocross a clear success for riders, fans, and the future of the sport.

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ANDREA BARTOLINI’S 1999 YAMAHA YZM400F 68


Bartolini’s win – the fifth 4-stroke victory in seven years after Jacky Martens (1993 Husqvarna and Joel Smets ’95, ’97, ’98 all on Husaberg) – was the first from all of the Japanese manufacturer’s and something that had a major influence over the sport of motocross as we know it today.

WHEN ANDREA BARTOLINI WON THE 500CC FIM MOTOCROSS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IN 1999 HE BECAME ONLY THE FOURTH ITALIAN TO DO SO AFTER A SHORT LIST THAT COMPRISED OF MICHELE RINALDI (1984) ALESSANDRO PUZAR (1990 / ’95) AND ALESSIO CHIODI (1997, ‘98’, ’99) AND IN AN EVOLVING PADDOCK THAT STARTED TO SEE THE EMERGENCE OF THE 4-STROKE REVOLUTION

Bartolini’s title was also Yamaha’s first ever 4-stroke world championship win in any class and the first of the modern-era 4-strokes to do so and yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s his 1999 YZM400F that we will feature in this issue of MXGP Magazine. Background noise The first motocross championship of any worth was created back in 1952 and was known as the 500cc European Championship and it ran as a series until 1956. In 1957, the European Championship

was promoted to world championship status and alongside it, a 250cc European championship was created and all bikes in both categories were 4-strokes. By 1962, both classes were now being run as a world championship and three manufacturer’s had taken over to the point where Husqvarna, CZ and BSA could be found in the top three places consistently from 1962 – 1969 inclusively. However, that all changed in 1970 when Belgium’s Joel Robert won the 250cc world championship on a Suzuki. This win was historic in that it was the first ever world title won by a Japanese manufacturer, but even bigger than that was that it was the first ever 2-stroke win as well. To rub salt into the wounds of the 4-stroke brigade, Robert’s teammate, Sylvain Geboers came home second overall, and the following year 1971, Suzuki also claimed the 500cc title in the hands of Roger De Coster and the 2-stroke revolution had well and truly begun. 69


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Yamaha joined the party soon afterwards and was rewarded with its first title in 1973 under the guidance of Hakan Andersson (250cc) before Heikki Mikkola did the double in the 500cc class with back-to-back wins in 1977/’78. Yamaha would not win the title again in the premier class (500cc) until Hakan Carlqvist in 1983 and the wait would go on for another sixteen years before they would win it after that.

2-strokes did around twenty-two years earlier which eventually led to the demise of the 4-strokes. All of a sudden, the ‘boomer’ was back and ‘thumpers’ were back in fashion. Joel Smets took three titles in 1995, 1997 and 1998 riding a 600cc Husaberg, but for all of their power and glory, the thumpers were still seen as heavy and cumbersome and needed a different style of rider to get the best out of them.

Hold this for me, will you?

Game changer

Aaaaah! The FIM Motocross World Championship. Such bliss! Since 1975 when the 125cc class was added, there were then three categories where riders had the opportunity to win a world title but the 500cc class had always been considered the premier class, followed by the 250cc and 125cc categories, and everything was going along swimmingly, just perfect even. However, after 1990, teams, team owners and manufacturer’s started to see a shift in the sands and it was becoming apparent that the 250cc class was starting to take over. All of a sudden there was uncertainty over the 500cc class and as a result we started to see some experimenting with the rules.

Whilst the European brands were once again enjoying some of the limelight of years gone by, Yamaha was quietly working away in the background in complete secrecy and in similar fashion to the YZM500 some ten years earlier, except this time there would be more of an end goal where they could create an opportunity for a production bike at the very least. Keen to make its mark on the championship, Yamaha’s interpretation of a 4-stroke needed to be very much in the same guise as a 2-stroke, in that the bike needed to be light, powerful, manoeuvrable and easy to ride. And what Yamaha actually created was as jaw-dropping, if not more so than what it did with the YZM500 a decade earlier.

When Jacky Martens took to the line in 1992 aboard a 498cc Husqvarna 4-stroke the motocross fraternity laughed out loud, almost as loud as the bellowing noise produced from the back of the bike’s ‘silencer’ and after a difficult campaign where he failed to score points as often as he scored them, Martens placed eleventh overall. When he won the championship the following year in 1993 it was nothing short of sensational, but it also coincided with an FIM rule change that allowed the 4-stroke to run at a higher displacement to the 2-stroke 500’s, and even though Martens could run up to 650cc his Husky was actually a 633cc. With the bigger displacement ruling the 4-sroke movement was gaining momentum in the same way that

Yamaha’s ‘400’ project came to fruition in 1997 after months of speculation and when it finally broke cover it looked like the trickiest bike out there. An aluminium frame set the tone, the exhaust was a work of art and there was not one standard part on the YZM400F, and for a 4-stroke it broke the mould as well as all the rules of design. The original design concept came from a Yamaha engineer by the name of Yoshiharu Nakayama who took advantage of Yamaha’s YZF 4-stoke road bike technology, and modified it suit the off-road sector. Andrea Bartolini was The Chosen One and from the moment he took it to the track at the French International at Beaucaire in February of 1997, one thing was


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in Holland (Halle) and Belgium (Namur). But it was clear there was still work to be done.

clear, that bike was fast, it was light, it was powerful and unlike the ‘Berg or the Husky where the noise they produced was regarded as ‘tractor-like’, the YZM400F had a raspy sound to it. Yes, it was still loud, but no matter where Bart’ was on the track, the eyes of the fans followed him every step of the way.

THE BIKE ALSO CAME WITH A 5-SPEED GEARBOX AND FACTORY CLUTCH, WITH THE CLUTCH COVER BEING MADE FROM MAGNESIUM.

Of course, a bike like this does not come without its problems and after an eighth in Race One at the 1997 season opener at Lommel in Belgium, he followed that up with a DNF in Race Two. By the second round on home soil though at Castiglione del Lago, Bartolini made a piece of history when he went 1-2 to win the Italian GP. Over the course of the season Bart’ and Yamaha claimed four race wins for an eventual fifth overall in the championship. The season high points were his win in Italy and two third overall’s

1998 saw Bartolini place fifth overall again, this time taking five podiums, three of those were overall wins in Mantova, Italy, (1-4), and Osuna, Spain, (1-2) with the icing on the cake being Sverepec, Slovakia, where he raced to a double-moto win, the first for this ever-evolving bike. Had he not broken his leg after France with three rounds remaining he might have finished top three in the final standings. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic Yamaha’s progress continued and the marque made history when Doug Henry became the first 4-stroke rider to win a championship when guided his YZ400F to the AMA 250cc Outdoor title as well as a supercross win in Las Vegas at the final round to become the first ever 4-stroke to win a supercross race in the USA, thus more than proving it’s potential. All the pieces of the puzzle If ’98 was seen as an improvement, what happened next was what Andrea and the whole of the Rinaldi Yamaha team were working towards 73


from Day One and it could not have gone any better; but more on that in a moment. The bike in ’98 was not so much of a prototype as the year before in ’97 but it was still a factory machine, and in Europe the bike was now already in productionform and sold as a YZ400F. However, in the USA, production was one year behind and so when Doug Henry rolled out on his for the outdoor nationals, he did so with a modified production version in order to satisfy the homologation rules to allow the production bike to go on sale for competition in 1999. When testing began for the ’99 world championship season, it was Henry’s US spec bike that was the starting point, with Alex Puzar the lead test rider whilst Bartolini recovered from his broken leg. Aldo ‘Aldini’ oversaw the tests and recalls that particular period in time: ‘In ’98, Bartolini and Peter Johansson rode with the complete factory bike and in the USA Doug Henry rode with a modified production bike and at the end of the year we received the bike from him and we used it all winter in Italy to develop and change it a little bit, and this was the bike we raced with Bartolini and Puzar in ’99. It was complete production but modified. Actually, Puzar did a really good job with the winter testing. We started the test with Puzar at the last race of the Italian Championship at Odolo in October ’98 but the problem was the noise. We raced and we won but we were disqualified from both moto’s because the exhaust was too loud.’ ‘The frame was production and so too was the motor. The cylinder head was completely different inside, the bore was a little bit bigger and the stroke was a little bit longer and we also changed the valves. The piston was also a little bit bigger because the 2000 production was going to be 426cc and our bike was almost 440cc. We removed the double-pump; 74

usually on that production bike the oil goes directly into the frame, but on our bike we had the oil only in the motor. The crankshaft was different, made by me. Many parts were different but it was mainly complete production. It had to be because they used this bike for the supercross in the US where they have the production bike rule.’ Originally the frame was supposed to be aluminium as it was on the prototype in ’97, but there were some reliability issues as Aldo remembers: ‘We started with the aluminium frame but then in Beaucaire we broke it so we went back to the steel frame, a production one; but also the cost was too expensive. We also used many carbon fibre parts, which were made in the USA; the skid-plate, filter box. The silencer was Titanium made in the USA, but we broke the pipe almost every race. Actually, the pipe was special because we also used a valve in the exhaust pipe; it came from the Yamaha FZR road bike known as the EXUP. Basically this was a 4-stroke power valve designed to give more power at around 8,000 rpm. It was very trick.’ In the early nineties the Rinaldi Yamaha’s were suspended by conventional Ohlins forks and shocks but the ’99 YZM400F benefitted from factory 48mm KYB upside down units at the front and KYB factory rear shock. The bottom clamps were in Magnesium and the top clamp was aluminium and also came directly from Yamaha. Various types of linkage were also depending on the track, and came direct from the factory. As for the brakes, Aldo recalls that ‘on the front we ran a special type of Brembo brake with a 260mm front disc with a special calliper, and a pump that was made from a special material; I remember the cost was unbelievably high. The rear brake was production, including the size of the disc.


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‘The swingarm was factory and was a little bit longer than production for better stability. We modified this ourselves. We also used Excel rims and the hubs were magnesium direct from the Yamaha factory.’ The bike also came with a 5-speed gearbox and factory clutch, with the clutch cover being made from Magnesium. It also had bigger radiators, again direct from Japan. The engine cases were aluminium. The ignition was factory but one of the biggest gains came from the carburettor, which was a Keihin FCR unit, a real revolution at that time. Despite all of this technology, power and trickery, there was still one thing that was difficult to overcome though and that was the riders inability to start the bike once it was hot or after it had been on its side. From its inception, Yamaha decided 76

to equip the 400F with a decompressor, which was a fingerpull lever on the handlebar, but even this wasn’t fool proof and took some getting used to, especially in the heat of the battle when all a rider wanted to do was get the bike fired up as quickly as possible; that was the old way, the 2-stroke way, but it would not work on the 4-stroke. However, there was a solution but you still had to air on the side of caution, according to Aldo: ‘We tried in the middle of the season to run with a batteryassisted electric start but we could only start it, maybe three or four times maximum. It was not so good. But we could use it just in case of a crash, you know because that bike was almost impossible to start after you stopped or made a crash.’ With eight podiums in the season – more than any other rider – Bartolini won four GP’s, including seven race

wins, three-second places and one third overall position and ‘clinched’ the title with two rounds to go in Sweden. He eventually won the title by seventy-three points. The YZM400F had achieved what it been designed to do, to win at the highest level. Yamaha had made another piece of history by not only creating such a beautiful bike but they took it to victory as well to become the first new-generation 4-stroke to win a world championship. Whether you want to refer the YZ400F as a factory bike or as a production bike, it was way ahead of its time for where dirt bike racing was at the particular moment. This Yamaha win in the 500cc class was also the first since Hakan Carlqvist in 1993, but it would not be the last as Yamaha enjoyed a run of six consecutive titles in the following millennium in the hands of Stefan Everts. But that, as they say, is a different story altogether.


S N R O O I T T I S E ED E U QO TH T ❝

Hi MXGP, is it possible to purchase the only MXGP of Patagonia Argentina video pass? Thanks, Alejandro 

Hi MXGP, I’ve bought a camping ticket for Matterley Basin, do I need to buy a separate ticket for the race? Thanks, Josh  

Hi Alejandro, Thank you for your question to MXGP-TV. The single event video passes are available following this link: https:// tickets.mxgp-tv.com/ en/2396-mxgp-tv/?ref= Regards MXGP

Hi MXGP, Can you let me know what the archive package contains? Thanks, Pascal 

Hi Pascal, The MXGP-TV archive package contains all the videos of Motocross World Championship and Motocross of Nations starting from 2010. Please take note we are also uploading a folder on Supermoto’s footage that can be interesting for you with no additional price. Regards MXGP

Dear MXGP, When will the tickets for Matterley Basin to access the paddock be available? Thanks, Rikardo  

Dear Rikardo, The tickets to attend the MXGP of Great Britain are already available on mxgp.com and once you are onsite you will be able to buy the paddock tickets. Best Regards MXGP

Hi MXGP, If I buy a weekend ticket and on Saturday I cannot attend the event, can I access the event on Sunday with the same weekend ticket? Thanks, Michael 

Hi Michael Yes, no problem, you can access the venue with your weekend ticket even if you are only attending the event on Sunday. Thanks MXGP

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Hi Josh Thanks for the message, yes admission tickets to the race are separate from the camping tickets and need to be purchased as well. Thanks MXGP


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MXGP #66 February 2019  

Youthstream is proud to announce that the sixty-sixth issue of MXGP Mag is online now and in an all new design! The new issue of MXGP Mag fe...

MXGP #66 February 2019  

Youthstream is proud to announce that the sixty-sixth issue of MXGP Mag is online now and in an all new design! The new issue of MXGP Mag fe...

Profile for mxgpmag