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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 MXGP Mag #69 May 2019 The articles published in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the official position of Youthstream.

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L A I R O T I D E

Giuseppe Luongo President of Youthstream Group

Dear MXGP Friends, The 2 MXGP races at the MXGP of Trentino between Gajser and Cairoli were absolutely amazing, the atmosphere for those who were present was extraordinary, this is the best advertising for our sport. For the entire of both races, both riders were very close to each other with many spectacular passes with an incredibly high level of racing. Gajser was a little bit faster than Cairoli and also he almost made no mistakes at all which

“BOTH RIDERS WERE VERY CLOSE TO EACH OTHER WITH MANY SPECTACULAR PASSES WITH AN INCREDIBLY HIGH LEVEL OF RACING”

brought him the victory of both races, and consequently the overall GP victory. I was a little surprised by Tony, who normally thinks more about the overall championship results and when it’s not really necessary he doesn’t take risks and sometimes settles with a 2nd place keeping the championship victory in sight, but in Trentino, maybe because it’s his home GP, he didn’t calculate so much and he was racing very aggressive, taking a lot of risks, but this shows his pride and motivation because even if he is 34 years old he still has the motivation and commitment as if he was 25, he also shows his human aspect and the love for Motocross. Since a long time, together with FIM, we always work to keep our sport for ‘the man’, and therefore the motto, ‘the man and the machine’, not ‘the machine and the man’. The high level of technology and performance which all manufactures have made is unbelievable and today between KTM, Honda, Yamaha,


Kawasaki and Husqvarna, it’s impossible to say who has the best machine, they are all extremely good and performant, and the difference is always made by the rider. Therefore, in 2 races of 30 minutes and 2 laps with a very technically demanding track with many turns and jumps and obstacles to see 2 riders who for each moment were nearly bumping their wheels and were turning practically with the same lap time is absolutely fantastic. As I said above, the machine is important but the man is still, and will remain, the most important. This is shown also by Jeremy Van Horebeek, who, with a standard machine (just with better suspension

and electronics) is fighting for the podium and in the championship classification is in front of many factory machines. The level MXGP riders have reached in the last years is outstanding, when you see the overall classification you will see the top 20 are all very fast riders and the large majority of them have already won a GP, or at least have been on the podium. In the past we had riders who were fast on sand tracks, riders who were fast on hard tracks or riders who were fast on home tracks, riders who were fast in muddy conditions or dry and hot conditions, just a few were consistent on every

type of track and condition. However, today, as the tracks vary a lot, starting from the European Championship level the riders train hard on all types of tracks and prepare themselves for every possible weather condition which bring all the MXGP riders to be the best riders in the world on every type of off-road track and every type of condition. Another demonstration of this concept is again Jeremy Van Horebeek, who participated for the first time in a beach race in Le Touquet and he led it by far for the majority of the race. The next MXGP in Mantova is again a different track where we expect more amazing racing. See you there.


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FOX HOLESHOT UPDATE

The 2019 MXGP and MX2 World Motocross Championship has completed the first four rounds starting in Patagonia Argentina to the most recent MXGP of Trentino with Great Britain and the Netherlands in between. Since our last Fox Racing Holeshot update, the MXGP of Trentino took place and as it is one of the most difficult tracks to pass, the start was more important than ever. With the monstrous Dolomite Mountains as a backdrop the start of Trentino is not only on of the most important ones, but it is also among the most epic visually. The start straight leads

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to an uphill left first turn before hooking back right and dropping down in a run up to the finish jump. The S-Turn start has caught several riders out over the past years including Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli but the Sicilian claimed the MXGP Race 1 holeshot nearly 2-bike lengths ahead of fellow Italians Alessandro Lupino and Ivo Monticelli. The Holeshot gave the early advantage to Cairoli over Team HRC’s Tim Gajser in what resulted in an epic battle for the race win. MXGP Race 2’s start was one of the single biggest moments for Gajser as he took the black plate and had a bike length over Cairoli as the epic battle reignited. The Fox Holeshot advantage Gajser

had in the first turn provided him with enough ammunition to take his first double race and overall victory since 2017. MX2 Race 1’s Fox Holeshot went to Red Bull KTM’s Jorge Prado with BIKE IT DRT Kawasaki’s Darian Sanayei splitting Prado and his Teammate Tom Vialle. Race 2 was another Holeshot for Prado who went on to take the win while Sanayei went down. The updated standings remain dominated by Red Bull KTM in both categories with 5 of the 8 belonging to the team in MXGP and all 8 under their name in MX2. Prado’s pair of holeshots over first Olsen and later F&H Racing Kawasaki’s Henry Jacobi again tied him with Vialle at three a piece but Prado now leads the standings prior to Trentino since the most recent holeshot is used as the tie breaker.

WATCH THE VIDEO

MX2 TABLE Antonio Cairoli

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Julien Lieber

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Tim Gajser

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MXGP TABLE Jorge Prado

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Tom Vialle

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P U G H N ATC I C A C R

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E H T S N R U T M Y I N T O R T E N G I O T LES TAB 19


WOW! WHAT A WEEKEND IN ITALY! AS THE FINAL ROUND OF THREE-IN-A-ROW, THE MXGP OF TRENTINO HAD ALL THE MAKINGS OF AN EPIC ENCOUNTER WHERE FANS ALL OVER THE WORLD WITNESSED A ‘TOP OF THE TABLE’ CLASSIC THAT WILL NO DOUBT HAVE US TALKING ABOUT FOR YEARS TO COME. TONY AND TIM STOLE THE SHOW BUT IT WAS GAJSER WHO CAME AWAY WITH THE UPPER HAND; MORE OF THAT IN A MOMENT THOUGH AS WE EXPLORE THE REGION OF TRENTINO AT A MORE LEISURELY PACE.

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One of the best things about working within the MXGP community, apart from watching the best sport in the world, is the chance to travel to destinations far and wide; from Argentina to central Europe, to Russia and Asia, some of the sights we are privileged to witness along the way are breath taking! And after many years on the road, we have seen some amazing things, but none are quite as spectacular as when we visit Trentino. If we are to define this region then you can sum it up in three words: lakes and mountains! Lake Garda, or Lago di Garda as it is known locally, is the


to Trentino for the water sport’s alone! largest lake in Italy and from the southern tip of the lake (just off the A22 Autostrada) to the north shores of Riva del Garda, spans an incredible 51.6km and if you are on any of the roads that head north, you will not be disappointed. Around every turn there is a different view of the lake and as you head north towards Riva del Garda you eventually see the Dolomite Mountain range. This year, the mountains were more snow-capped than in previous years and the views were truly spectacular. At Riva del Garda, which is around 20km from the Pietramurata circuit, there is never a shortage of things to see or do, especially if you are of a sporting nature, and with its two harbours, windsurfing and sailing are top of the list; it’s worth going

Anyway, let’s get back on track, literally. The ‘Crossodrome Ciclamino’ has hosted MXGP every year since 2013 and though the track might be a touch on the tight and twisty side, it never disappoints. However, the first GP held here was back in 1987, which was won by Italian Massimo Contini, riding an Italian Cagiva in the 125cc class. His 1-2 would ensure he remained an Italian icon for years afterwards. As wins go, it does not get any better than that! Donny Schmit rode his 125cc Suzuki to the a 2-1 to win the opening round of the 1991 campaign and three years later his fellow American, Billy Liles took the 500cc class honours with a 3-3 on his Honda.

In 2013, the winners were Jeffrey Herlings and Tony Cairoli in

MX2 and MX1 (as it was known back then), whilst 2014 saw an all-Belgium podium as Clement Desalle (2-1) edged out Jeremy Van Horebeek (3-2) and Kevin Strijbos (5-3) on what was a memorable day for Belgian motocross. In 2015 we witnessed an epic battle in MX2 between Herlings and Tim Gajser where Gajser took his first ever GP win in front of his army of Slovenian fans, and who can forget what happened in 2017 when Cairoli mastered one specific corner on the track to make pass after pass to secure the overall victory on the final lap which will always be a Pietramurata talking point for years to come. And that brings us nicely up to date and another MXGP epic. In MX2 there was only ever going to be one winner and that was Jorge Prado. The Red Bull KTM rider led all 38 laps to bring home the full fifty points he needed to 21


close the gap on championship leader Thomas Olsen. At the start of the weekend the deficit was 36 points from TKO (1st) to Prado (4th) but by the time we left, the gap was down to twenty after Olsen could only manage a 4-5. Perhaps the most impressive performance of the weekend came from Jago Geerts; the Belgian Monster Energy Kemea Yamaha rider worked his way from 10th in Race One to 2nd, and followed up in Race Two with an equally impressive performance for another 2nd place, which landed him on the second step of the podium. Not bad for a sand rider. Rounding out the podium in third was Tom Vialle; the Frenchman secured his second visit to the podium in his rookie season with a 3-6 after Ben Watson passed TKO on the final lap of Race Two to snatch two vital points for himself but crucially, took two points from Olsen who also missed the podium as a result. The hard luck award had to go to Team HRC’s Calvin Vlaanderen; the Dutchman arrived in Trentino 3rd in the championship and after setting the fastest lap in Time Practice, we all thought he was ready to mount a challenge for the championship lead. However, what we didn’t know was that during his fast lap, he twisted his leg in a rut, which caused him a great deal of discomfort. Bravely, he lined up behind the gate for the Qualifying Race, but after a couple of turns, he knew something was not right, and an X-Ray later revealed a broken fibula bone – the smaller of the two bones in the lower leg – which resulted in him not lining up for duty on Sunday.

As for MXGP, if anyone thought that the absence of the defending champ meant an easy ride to a potential tenth title for Cairoli, it seems that they had ruled out the very real threat that is Tim Gajser. After a huge crash whilst leading

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Race One at Matterley Basin two weeks earlier, GT243 bounced back with an impressive win in the following outing, and actually the warning signs that day should have already been paid close attention to. As for Trentino, this GP couldn’t have come soon enough for the Slovenian who had experienced a fair amount of success here over the years; in 2015 he stole the show in MX2, in 2016 he was 3rd in MXGP and in 2017 he followed that up with 2nd. After topping the sheets in Time Practice Gajser went on to win the Qualifying Race from the favourite TC222. What happened next was nothing short of sensational. After stalking Cairoli for the first 15 laps of Race One, Gajser sensed his opportunity and took it with both hands on lap fifteen with a move around the outside at Turn three and despite Cairoli’s efforts there was no way through and it was the ‘243’ that crossed the line 1.081 clear of the Sicilian. However, Race Two was a real dog-fight and a real game of chess. Gajser grabbed his first Fox holeshot of the season and led Cairoli for the first 8 laps. The Sicilian forced the issue in the left-hander before Pit Lane, made the pass and out-dragged the HRC rider before the end of lap 8 to get his KTM in front for the first time. His lead was short-lived and six laps later, on the same part of the track where TC222 passed Gajser, the 243 was back in front. The atmosphere was electric. Three laps later and miraculously the same piece of track witnessed another pass for the lead, this time Cairoli was back in front once again and just before the 2-Lap board went out. As the race looked to be headed for a final lap showdown, Cairoli, as he had done on so many occasions during the race, bobbled again in Turn 3, allowing Gajser to strike in the next corner. As TC tried to attack, his front wheel ran too high up the bank in turn 5 causing him to lose control of his machine which resulted in a


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crash. Whilst Cairoli limped home in 2nd, Gajser went on to nail down a 1-1, his first double race win since Mexico 2017 and his first MXGP win since Sweden in the same year which was round sixteen of twenty that year. Joining Tim and Tony on the podium was a consistent Gautier Paulin, the Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha rider celebrating his second podium appearance of the season. His teammate Arnaud Tonus was 4th overall, highlighting a fantastic weekend for the Dutch team. It was a tough weekend for Clement Desalle though; the Monster Energy Kawasaki ace suffered a knee injury at Valkenswaard which he and the team kept quiet at the time and despite his 2nd overall in The Netherlands, it was a damagelimitation weekend to try and pick up as many points as possible to keep his championship alive. The best he could manage was 12th in Race One. The surprise package came from an emotionally charged Italian by the name of Ivo Monticelli. That’s right, you heard correctly. The Standing Construct KTM rider put together his best ever performance in any class to take home 5th overall with a 5-6 result on the day to move from 16th to 12th in the standings. With the next race not scheduled until 12th May at Mantova, the extended Easter break signalled the start of some much needed time-out for many, especially those nursing injuries. The fiveweek hiatus would allow some healing time for some of our star performers, but beware; if they are not ready to go by the time MXGP returns to Italy for the Monster Energy MXGP of Lombardia, then it’s going to be a tough fight to get back on terms as we take on another SIX rounds in SEVEN weeks.

See you at Mantova.

WATCH THE VIDEO 27


FIM MOTOCROSS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

STANDINGS MXGP CHAMP. STANDINGS 1. A. Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 2. T. Gajser (SLO, HON), 3. G. Paulin (FRA, YAM) , 4. A. Jasikonis (LTU, HUS), 5. J. Van Horebeek (BEL, HON), 6. C. Desalle (BEL, KAW) , 7. J. Seewer (SUI, YAM), 8. S. Simpson (GBR, KTM), 9. J. Lieber (BEL, KAW), 10. A. Tonus (SUI, HUS),

MX2 CHAMP. STANDINGS 191 p. 175 p. 142 p. 120 p. 113 p. 112 p. 98 p. 88 p. 79 p. 71 p.

1. T. Olsen (DEN, HUS) 2. J. Prado (ESP, KTM) 3. H. Jacobi (GER, KAW) 4. B. Watson (GBR, YAM) 5. J. Geerts (BEL, YAM) 6. T. Vialle (FRA, KTM) 7. C. Vlaanderen (NED, HON) 8. M. Evans (AUS, HON) 9. A. Sterry (GBR, KAW) 10. D. Pootjes (NED, HUS)

MXGP MANUFACTURERS

MX2 MANUFACTURERS

1. KTM 2. Honda 3. Yamaha 4. Kawasaki 5. Husqvarna

1. KTM 2. Husqvarna 3. Kawasaki 4. Yamaha 5. Honda

191 p. 177 p. 153 p. 131 p. 120 p. 

170 p. 150 p. 147 p. 129 p. 125 p. 121 p. 107 p. 89 p. 89 p. 76 p.

188 p. 170 p. 147 p. 146 p. 138 p.

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The Dutch based team is run by the Fasé family of Harry and Nathalie Fasé with MX2 riders Henry Jacobi and Adam Sterry along with Roan van de Moosdijk, who represents the team in FIM Europe’s EMX250 championship. Jacobi is a 22-year-old native of Bad Sulza, Germany and made the transition to the team this year as he enters his last season in the MX2 category of the FIM Motocross World Championship. WITH THE RECENT DOMINANCE OF THE RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING TEAMS IN BOTH THE MXGP AND MX2 CATEGORIES IT IS EASY TO MISS OTHER TEAMS IN THE PADDOCK. HOWEVER, THIS YEAR THE MEAN GREEN MACHINES OF F&H KAWASAKI RACING ARE FLYING FASTER THAN EVER AND HAVING FUN DOING IT.

“It has changed a lot because last year I was racing Husqvarna with a good team but when compared to F&H it is not the same level. F&H is the best Kawasaki team in the MX2 class, so now with the new team I have my own trainer, I have an 41


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apartment in Holland and I live on my own, so a lot has changed. We worked a lot on my speed and had a really professional off-season program,” Henry Jacobi explained. Henry’s new trainer is former GP winner and Dutchman Marc de Reuver. Since his retirement in 2015 de Reuver has remained in the paddock and is now the full-time team trainer and riding coach at F&H. Working with all 3 of the riders de Reuver knows how to get the best out each mixing a fun environment with serious work and high aspirations. “It’s fun with Marc,” Jacobi says, “it is always a good mix of fun and serious work. We learn a lot from him, also in life decisions, he knows a lot, like really a lot.” Adam Sterry also commented about training with Marc and Henry, “It’s fun to practice with the guys, Henry has a lot different style, he hangs it out a lot more and rides really loose and I try to be really smooth. It is nice to practice and train together we push each other. Marc keeps it fun and I think when you enjoy something, it makes you want to train, it is hard work but feels easier because of the fun we have.” The results so far this season show that Jacobi and de Reuver are up to the challenge of the MX2 category. Starting from the season opening round in Patagonia Argentina Jacobi has battled with the championship’s best riders all while adding his name to the list of title contenders. Jacobi has only missed the top 5 at one of the first 4 rounds this season with a second place in Great Britain after battling the current points leader, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Kjer Olsen. In the first 4 races Jacobi has already had better results than any other season prior.

While Jacobi was new to the team in 2019 British rider Adam Sterry returned to the squad in what is also his final MX2 season. 43


issue holding back Sterry has been the starts, which he along with Marc de Reuver believe are the key to fighting at the front: Although Sterry was on the team in 2018, a knee injury early in the year stopped him from racing the majority of the season. Sterry now healed is back and ready to make the most out of last 250cc season: “I always felt I had the speed but we just need to work on eliminating the mistakes, which we have towards. I have been a lot more consistent at the start of this year, but I still want more. The beginning of the season is going well, it’s been solid.” Sterry’s 2019 season has started out on a positive as well with 3 top ten performances aside from an unfortunate weekend at his home GP in Matterly Basin where he finished 12th. One 44

“I feel like my riding has been good but we have just changed some things on the bike for the start which we ran at the Dutch Championship for the first time and we took a holeshot showing it was a positive change. I believe if I start out front, I can stay there and get on the podium which has been my goal for the last 2 years.” Jacobi and Sterry’s EMX250 teammate, Roan van de Moosdijk, was also adopted into the F&H family atmosphere after riding for Yamaha in 2018. Now training with de Reuver and the others Roan is working towards not only the 2019 EMX250 title but also towards potentially taking over one of the vacant

MX2 positions in 2020. With a podium at the EMX250 season opener and a ninth-place finish at round 2 finding consistency will be key for the Dutchman. The F&H Racing team has also made big steps as an organization over the past years taking over the role as the premier Kawasaki MX2 team with CLS closing shop in 2017. Aside from the impressive set of riders, dedicated trainer and impressive race set up, the squad has also opening up a new shop and headquarters in the Netherlands while still resembling a family effort. The atmosphere within the team is unique one with a top level of professionalism maintained while still having fun, cracking jokes, and not only racing but truly competing at the highest level of motocross with some of the biggest factory teams in the world.


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E H T : S S E C C P U G S X R M O F F O T N SE O I S N E P S U S


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SUSPENSION IN THE WORLD OF MOTOCROSS IS ONE OF, IF NOT THE, MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT TO A BIKE. WHILE THE AVERAGE RIDER MAY BUY BOLT ON PARTS OR ENGINE COMPONENTS, MOST OF THESE ITEMS HAVE NOWHERE NEAR THE POSITIVE EFFECT OF WHAT WELL-TUNED SUSPENSION WOULD. WHETHER A NOVICE OR AN MXGP PRO PROPER SUSPENSION SETUP IS THE KEY TO UNLOCKING POTENTIAL AND FINDING SUCCESS.

While perhaps overlooked at the local tracks by weekend warriors, the suspension of the MXGP and MX2 world championship riders are precision crafted and countlessly tested works of art. MXGP’s 3 main suspension partners and racing service providers KYB, SHOWA, and WP are continually working to perfect their products and dial in the bikes of world champions like Antonio Cairoli, Jeffrey Herlings, Tim Gajser, Romain Febvre and more. With a season full of challenging circuits around the world each with different conditions we checked in with each of the industry leaders to learn more about what their MXGP role is from testing to race days and everything in between. KYB’s MXGP story starts with Technical Touch, the only European Importer of KYB Suspension, founded in 1991 by Jan Berthels, Sylvain Geboers and Eric Geboers in Mol, Belgium. Jan Berthels’ owes his experience with KYB to the 10 years spent as mechanic for Stefan Everts including 8 of the world titles on their suspension. In addition to Everts Berthels has worked with many other top riders such as Yves Demaria, Marniq Bervoets and Sebastian Tortelli. KYB is well represented in MXGP as both a series partner and as the equipment of choice for Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP, Monster Energy Wilvo Yamaha Official MXGP, Honda SR Motoblouz to name a few. Showa meanwhile originally established as “Showa Aircraft Precision Works Ltd.” in 1938, changed its name to “Showa Manufacturing Co., Ltd.” in 1945 and in 1993, Showa was renamed to “Showa Corporation Ltd” as it remains today. After World War Ⅱ, Showa shifted from the

aviation industry and started to manufacturer specialized shock absorbers globally and with the know-how obtained through its involvement with international motocross races, it has since grown to a major player. Showa Suspension is used by some of the best teams in the MXGP Paddock including the Factory squads of Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing and Team HRC. On the other hand, WP has been in the business since 1977 and riders like MX legend Gerrit Wolsink, also known as “the flying dentist,” Heinz Kinigadner, Dave Strijbos and John van den Berk have all trusted their products. It was in 1999 that WP Suspension became a part of KTM Motorcycle Group in Austria. WP is also well known as a result of its great success with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing and of course its high quality suspension performance in general. Each of these three companies work for months during the offseason to prepare the base settings of their athletes for the upcoming racing and test new technology before it makes its way into the market. “In the run-up to the new GP season, we perform a lot of testing in November through January. Following this testing period, starting from January until the end of February we accompany the teams to some preseason races to already work on finding the right adjustments for each different track style and each surface.” - KYB “We also think that more prepared in advance we are, doing testing, the more chance of positive results at the races. The race day has so many things, everybody is under pressure, so it’s better to come to the race with most of the work already done.” – WP 49


WHILE PERHAPS OVERLOOKED AT THE LOCAL TRACKS BY WEEKEND WARRIORS, THE SUSPENSION OF THE MXGP AND MX2 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RIDERS ARE PRECISION CRAFTED AND COUNTLESSLY TESTED WORKS OF ART.

“Showa has tests for tuning changes quite a few times per year. The frequency is usually based on manufacturers’ request and we’re always happy to support.” - Showa These preseason testing sessions and countless hours of work are the back bone to the grueling 18+ rounds of MXGP every year. Once the teams and manufacturers complete the preseason sessions they head to the races. “If we do our homework thoroughly, normally we won’t have to perform many changes to the settings. In the beginning of the season we sometimes do a revalving during the weekend for our riders, but as the season progresses, we hardly ever do it. Let’s say on only about 5 out of 20 GP’s we do a revalving for each rider.” - KYB What does change however as the season is underway is everything from the balance of the bike (triple clamp adjustment), clicker changes and sag, to spring rates. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of having the best suspension set up for the riders is the consistent feel and predictability regardless of conditions. “At the race weekend the most important thing is how fast the rider get confident with the track, this is the first thing, and we need to help him on that. After that there are many factors such as how the track develops during the weekend. For us the suspension is like a dress for the rider, it should fit perfectly every time with the needs of the rider in that specific moment and event of the season.” - WP “The most interesting part for our technicians is finding the best possible setting and adjustments in the shortest amount of time. Because of

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this the rider can focus on the track, his lines, his speed and he doesn’t need to worry about the behavior of his bike. At the highest level it comes down to one click and even 1 millimeter.” – KYB “We set up base specification theoretically but there might be some troubles such as abrasion and breakage of parts with GP riders since they are riding at a high level. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the small details in order stay ahead of any problems.” Showa While the sponsors, suspension manufactures and teams all rely on their riders to perform, the same can be said for the riders depending on their equipment to work. WP Factory Racing support for example services approximately 60 riders in the series of MXGP, MX2 and EMX. The demand and dedication required for the suspension technicians, regardless of whether they represent KYB, WP or Showa, is massive as KYB explains below. “Usually the suspension gets prepared in the week prior to the GP’s. Our KYB Service truck gets a thorough inspection, to check whether all necessary spare parts and wearing parts are present in the right amount. Most of the time we leave on the Wednesday prior to the GP’s and we arrive on Thursdays in the late morning at the track, where we set-up which is our easiest part of job. Afterwards we check in with our teams and prepare our work for the next day. Friday is Service Day, we consult with the Chief Mechanic of each team about the suspension, fork or shock, but somethings we work with the riders directly if they have any questions regarding their current (or wanted) set-up. After consulting everyone, we check every bike very thorough, we change all needed settings, so that everything is ready for

Saturday morning starting with their free practices.” “During their practices we are present in the pit lane so that small adjustments can be altered according to the wishes of the rider or the current state of the track itself. After every practice, we then visit every team once more. We have meetings with the race mechanics, chief mechanics and rider(s) of every team and if necessary we make adjustments before the riders go out for their qualifying race. We follow the races and after the qualifying race, we again meet up with all the teams and have a more extended meeting with the same persons to determine the final set-up of the suspension for race day then we check all the materials for possible damage, oil leaks and function.” On Sunday morning we get up early for the last free practices, a final consult with the riders and last check up before Race 1 and then we hurry ourselves for Race 2. After the races we have another debrief with the teams to discuss the results of all races and note all possible remarks to improve the settings we take into the next races. This way we keep on improving on even the tiniest

details. Then we finally pack, clean up our service truck and start our journey back to the workshop. Normally we’re back on Monday, at the latest on Tuesday, to unload some materials in the workshop. And then head home to try and rest before doing it all over again at the next round.” - KYB This dedication to the progression of suspension performance allows to riders not only push the limits of what would otherwise be impossible but also eventually results in enhancements to production models on the showroom floors as the Showa experts explain: “riders’ requests and performance required for MXGP help a lot for our research and development by using our suspensions in high-level races. Supporting factory team contributes to deepen our relationship with manufacturers and it leads to raise our branding image as well as to perform our marketing activities.” While fans know many of the riders as the best in the world digging a little deeper into the MXGP paddock shows us many of the best professionals are also behind the scenes setting up the success seen on track.


L L A H

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E M A F F O


STEVE ‘SMOOTH’ RAMON BELGIAN STEVE RAMON HAS BEEN ONE OF THE SMARTEST RIDERS OF THE LAST DECADE, WINNING MOTOS NEARLY EVERY YEAR AND CLAIMING TWO WORLD TITLES AND TWO MOTOCROSS OF NATIONS TROPHIES WITH THE BELGIAN TEAM. AFTER RETIRING FROM THE MXGP SCENE, HE STILL GOT SOME MORE VICTORIES AT THE BEACH RACES.

Born on the 29th of December 1979 in Bruges, Belgium, Steve Ramon got his first bike when he was only four years old, but even if his first appearance on a GP came just when he was eighteen, many had already seen his potential. Hard pack tracks are not really the favourites for Belgian riders, but thanks to Ramon’s smooth riding style it was at the fast Crossodromo Baldasserona at Borgo Maggiore, San Marino, where he scored his first points with a sixth overall in the 125cc class. Later in the season he scored a few more points in Austria and he ended 26th in his first appearance in the FIM standings in 1998. Even if Steve started pretty late racing GP, he had a lot of experience behind him when he entered the full series in 1999. In fact, he immediately showed his potential with a heat win in Mill during the Dutch round with a final sixth position. Although he claimed his first Belgian title in 1999, he could not reaffirm his talent in the 2000 GP campaign due to several injuries, but he received the support of Jan de Groot and he rebounded in 2001 when he became vice world champion on his 125cc Kawasaki. In 2002 Steve Ramon moved to KTM and he was very close to claim the title. The Belgian had a long and intense battle with Mickael Maschio and he obtained three GP wins and a total of seven podiums – five of them in the last five rounds of the championship. In the end Ramon missed the title just by four points!

fourth round in Cingoli Stefan Everts joined the group and won all the rounds of the series except Bulgaria to finish runner up behind Steve! Ramon had been very consistent all the season with seven podiums; that year he did not only clinch his first World Title, but he also won the Motocross of Nations with team Belgium. After such successful season, Steve Ramon decided to move to the MX1 class the following year. Everts, Pichon, Coppins and Strijbos were some of his new rivals, and Steve made a sensational first appearance in the ‘major class’ when he scored a second overall at the opening MX1 GP in Zolder! He ended his rookie season fourth overall, scoring another podium in the final round in South Africa and he added another trophy when he won the Motocross of Nations with the Belgian team. In 2005 Steve Ramon finished again fourth of the MX1 series and he signed with Suzuki for 2006 to ride the 450 RMZ developed by Joel Smets. He felt very comfortable, scoring eight GP podiums to be back on the final box after fifteen GP’s with a third position behind countrymen Everts and Strijbos. When 2007 series leader Joshua Coppins got injured in Czech Republic, Kevin and Steve became the two contenders for the world title. Kevin had won more races than Steve but he hadn’t been as consistent through the season,

Moving to the factory KTM team in 2003 Steve saw himself again fighting with Maschio, Marc de Reuver and Andrea Bartolini during the first rounds, winning the second GP in Valkenswaard. During the

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even if he won the last three rounds of the championship. The fifteenth and final round of the series took place in Lierop, the Netherlands, and Steve could celebrate his second World Title with Sylvain Geboers and the Suzuki team already after the first heat. Ramon defended his title in 2008 against David Philippaerts and Ken De Dycker, winning one GP and two heats to finish runner up only fourteen points behind his Italian rival. His 2009 season was ruined by a neck injury in Valkenswaard, and after a fifth overall in 2010 his career was stopped in August 2011 in Lommel after a dramatic crash losing feeling in his legs after breaking vertebras. Steve entered a tough and long battle to recover and to be able to comeback racing. His GP career was over, but not his racing career as he entered Beach races and won several ones in France including le Touquet, Berck and Loon. Still racing these series last winter, he remains involved in the GP’s as coach of promising talent Jago Geerts, who is also renowned for his smooth riding style. Text: Pascal Haudiquert Photos: P. Haudiquert & Suzuki

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1998 26th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Kawasaki) 1999: 6th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Kawasaki) 2000: 11th in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Kawasaki) 2001: 2nd in the 125 Motocross World Championship (Kawasaki) 2002:

2nd in the 125 Motocross World Championship (KTM). Winner of 3 GP

2003:

125 Motocross World Champion (KTM). Winner of 1 GP

Winner at the MX of Nations with Team Belgium

2004:

4th in the MX1 Motocross World Championship Championship (KTM)

Winner at the MX of Nations with Team Belgium

2005:

4th in the MX1 Motocross World Championship Championship (KTM)

2006:

3rd in the MX1 Motocross World Championship Championship (Suzuki)

2007:

MX1 Motocross World Champion (Suzuki). Winner of 5 GP

2008:

2nd in the MX1 Motocross World Championship Championship (Suzuki)

2009:

10th in the MX1 Motocross World Championship Championship (Suzuki)

2010:

5th in the MX1 Motocross World Championship Championship (Suzuki)

2011:

14th in the MX1 Motocross World Championship Championship (Suzuki)


S K L A T K C O D PAD 3

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1

The 2019 MXGP of China was promoted in the Paddock of the recent F1 event in Shanghai!

2 The Lupino family and their newest edition looking adorable! 3 Vice President of Offroad Motorsports at KTM Robert Jonas and family with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing bike of Pauls Jonass 4 Team HRC and Vertex Pistons crew join the beautiful bike of Tim Gajser. 5 Former Enduro World Champion Alex Salvini visited the paddock of Trentino. 6 The new Husqvarna electric mountain bike looks epic! E-XBike anyone? 7 Husqvarna hosted a media event in a beautiful lakeside castle during the MXGP of Trentino! 8 MXGP and the riders supported the white card campaign to promote peace! 9 It was great to see Stefan Everts back at the races! 10 Beautiful girls, autographs, and Gaerne Boots, what more can you ask for? 11 An awesome classic, the #72 YZF was on display in the paddock of Trentino with Riders4Riders!

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E L R A U I T C A E E SP F

AKIRA WATANABE’S 125CC SUZUKI RA78


That all changed when he caught the attention of Suzuki’s top brass and was offered the chance to race in the newly created FIM 125cc Motocross World Championship in 1975. Three years later, Watanabe won the title and it’s his Suzuki RA78 that we will feature in this issue of MXGP Magazine. AKIRA WATANABE WAS THE FIRST JAPANESE RIDER TO WIN A MOTOCROSS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BACK IN 1978 AND FORTY-ONE YEARS ON, HE REMAINS AS THE ONLY JAPANESE WORLD CHAMPION. HE STARTED WORKING FOR SUZUKI AS A DEVELOPMENT TEST RIDER IN 1974 BUT DESPITE WINNING AT LOCAL AND NATIONAL LEVEL, WATANABE WENT RACING BY HIMSELF AT HIS OWN EXPENSE.

When the 125cc European Championship was upgraded to world championship status in 1975 nobody really knew what to expect, but when all was said and done, it was Gaston Rahier who emerged as the clear winner, picking up fourteen race wins; he also won nine of the twelve GP’s on board his factory Suzuki RA75. It’s worth pointing out here that in 1973 and 1974, there were less than a handful of Suzuki’s that lined up behind the gate in what

was previously known as the European championship, and they were also denoted as TM125. The RA75 was Suzuki’s factory bike in 1975 but its production version was known as the all-new RM125. Anyway, in that inaugural year, Akira Watanabe was the teammate to Rahier who went on to win the first ever 125cc world championship, so from that perspective he was in good company. Watanabe placed 4th overall, winning his first GP at the penultimate round at Montgai in Spain with a 1-1. Usually he would have been considered a favourite for the ’76 title the following year but the president of Suzuki told him that because he had no ProClass experience in Japan, he would have to spend the season racing at home instead. When Watanabe returned in 1977, he would only last two rounds. After tying for the overall win at the opening round in France with Rahier, 61


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the season, once again tying his teammate Rahier for the win. He won again in Poland and Spain before wrapping up the title at the final round in Czechoslovakia with a third place finish in the first race. Four in a row Watanabe won the second round in Italy one week later, but at round three he broke his knee in three places and was ruled out of the series.

THE ONLY DIFFERENCE WAS THEY WOULD RUN ONE PARTICULAR CHASSIS FOR HARD PACKED TRACKS AND ANOTHER FOR WHEN THEY RACED IN THE SAND.

By the time the 1978 season came around and after a prolonged winter period testing the latest factory bike, his teammate Gaston Rahier was then a three-time world champion and the only rider to have won a 125cc world championship, but it was clear to everyone that the Suzuki was the bike to beat. During the season, Watanabe never placed outside of the top three positions but it wasn’t until the seventh round in Germany at Laubus-Eschbach that the Japanese rider was able to claim his first overall victory of

The RA78 that took him to the title was a full factory 125cc as they had been right from the get-go in 1975. The handbuilt factory frames were usually built to each rider’s own specification but here the frame was the same for both Watanabe and Rahier. The only difference was they would run one particular chassis for hard packed tracks and another for when they raced in the sand. Whilst a production RM125 kicked out around 23bhp, the factory bike was considerably more powerful although there are no official records of this, but the difference would have been significant to say the least. Watanabe preferred something harder hitting off the bottom end, which was 63


good for starts and for getting out of the slower, tighter turns. The swingarm dimensions were the same as standard, but the factory version was a combination of aluminium and iron. The engine was made from a ‘different material’ to standard but could utilise a standard piston, and it also came equipped with magnesium cases. Magnesium was also used for the hubs. Rims were Takasago with the 64

front measuring 1.25 x 21” and the rear 1.85 x 18”. Sprockets were standard and chains were from D.I.D. The exhaust pipe was built in-house in Japan by SMC, the ignition was Nippon Denso and the carburettor varied between 30mm and 32mm. As for suspension it was Kayaba who supplied the conventional forks at the front and the twin shocks at the rear. Watanabe’s world championship win was significant for a number of reasons: he was the

first and remains the only Japanese rider to win a world championship. It was also the fourth straight title win for Suzuki in the 125cc class but the days were numbered in terms of this particular bike. Whilst Watanabe and his new teammate Harry Everts would start the 1979 season with an air-cooled twin shock motorcycle, they would end it with the new Full-Floater, single suspension system as well as switch from aircooled to water-cooled at the same time, so this 1978 victory would be Suzuki’s last air-cooled and twin shock win in the 125cc class before evolution took over.


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

Hi, what languages can I listen to the MXGP races in? Jeremy  

Hi MXGP, Hi, where can I get more details on the FIM E-X Bike World Cup? Thanks, Marco  

Hi Jeremy, thanks for the message. Commentary is available in English on MXGP-TV.com while our TV Broadcasters provide commentary in additional languages. Regards MXGP

Hello, do you have a link for live timing please? Michael 

Hi Michael, thanks for the message Michael live timing is available on our website MXGP.com HERE is the direct link https://results.mxgp. com/mxgp/livestandings.aspx Regards MXGP

Hi guys, I want to come to the MXGP race in Italy but I am in a wheelchair, is it possible? Tommy  

Dear Tommy, We try to have accessible viewing at all of the events and if you can email our booking department we’ll send some more details about the access available and special passes. Best Regards MXGP

Hi MXGP, How do we find out how to enter the races of the FIM E-X Bike World Cup? Leon 

Hi Leon we are glad to inform a registration page has been created and can be found here below: https://results.mxgp. com/exbikeregistration.aspx Thanks MXGP

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Hi Marco please follow the Facebook and Instagram page to be updated with all the latest news on the one-day event: https://www. facebook.com/EXBikeWorldCup Thanks MXGP


Profile for MXGP MAG

MXGP #69 May 2019  

Youthstream is proud to announce that MXGP Mag issue number sixty-nine is online as we get set to head to the Monster Energy MXGP of Lombard...

MXGP #69 May 2019  

Youthstream is proud to announce that MXGP Mag issue number sixty-nine is online as we get set to head to the Monster Energy MXGP of Lombard...

Profile for mxgpmag