2020 EMX125 Championship Preview: The Contenders
With the top six riders from the 2019 EMX125 series moving up to the 250cc in 2020, it leaves Liam Everts as the best placed rider from last year who’s still racing the class in 2020. Last year was Everts rookie season in the EMX125 class and showed a lot of promise and consistent results. Over the winter he’s grew and looks a lot stronger, technically he looks great on the bike. The pre-season races have went pretty well for Everts as well winning at Hawkstone and Lacapelle Marival.
The Belgian talent goes into the season as one of the favourites for the title but he’s not putting too much pressure on himself and wants to have fun on the bike. “Every time I go out win but I just try and have fun and ride like I ride during the week, that’s my goal for the rest of the season, just to try and have fun”, Everts told us. When the EMX250 races don’t collide with EMX125, Everts will also race them which is pretty cool – it’ll help him get a taster of that class in the future.
Last season was a break out season for Spanish talent, Guillem Farres as he came into the season as an unknown and ended up ninth in the championship with some very promising results. Farres impressed so much he’ll be on a GasGas in 2020. After a strong season last year he should also believe he has what it takes to run at the front so he shouldn’t be far away. His team mate, David Braceras also improved a lot last year. In 2018, qualifying was an achievement for the Spaniard but last year he posted some top ten results. With another strong winter behind him he’ll be looking to take another step. Braceras also works with Joel Roelants which should be a good influence on his riding and training.
One of the more experienced riders in the EMX125 class this year will be Andrea Bonacorsi and he’s made a switch of teams leaving the Celestini KTM team to join up with the Fantic Racing team who are back in the paddock. In the pre season races in the International Italian Championship, Bonacorsi looks good on the bike but he’s one of the bigger riders on the 125cc so starts look to be an issue. You can expect him to come flying through the pack though as he’s been doing it in preseason but to win the title his starts might have to be better. It’s going to be Bonacorsi’s last season in the class and the Italian should be looking forward to moving up to the 250cc as he’s the right build for that bike.
One rider that showed really good pace in the EMX125 class last year was British talent, Joel Rizzi despite being one of the youngest riders in the class. At times luck wasn’t on his side and a few issues cost him a better championship finish but when it came to raw speed he certainly had what it took to run with the top five. For 2020, Rizzi’s team (RFX by PAR Homes) have made the switch to Husqvarna and the Brit will go into the season as one of the favourites for the title. There’s no doubt Rizzi is one of the best Brits currently coming through at the moment.
Another talented Brit to look out for is Eddie Jay Wade who’s signed with the Hitachi KTM fuelled by Milwaukee team for the 2020 season. Injuries haven’t been kind to him the past few years and because of that he’s missed bike timing coming into the season but when he’s got his full speed and fitness back there’s no reason why he can’t challenge right at the front. Wade certainly has the speed and talent to run at the front in the EMX125 class, there’s no question about that but it’s going to be important to stay healthy in 2020.
Last season didn’t really go to plan for Dutch talent, Kjell Verbruggen as he came into 2019 as one of the underdogs to challenge for the title. In the end Verbruggen ended up eleventh in the championship but did have a few too many DNF’s which hurt him. In the Netherlands, Verbruggen battled with Kay de Wolf for the Dutch title and just missed out on it but he showed some really good speed in his home country. If he can translate the speed he has in the Nethelands to the EMX125 series he should definitely challenge at the front.
Last year was a rookie season for Italian rider, Andrea Roncoli and he went quietly about his business scoring points here and there. Over the winter, Roncoli looks to have made a real step up in his riding and even won some races in the International Italian series but just lost out on the title to Pietro Razzini. Roncoli will now look to take the same speed to the EMX125 series and if he gets good starts he’s capable of surprising.
The BT Racing team have a good rider line up for the EMX125 series in 2020. Last year both Scott Smulders and Camden Mc Lellan were rookies in the EMX125 series and should be much stronger in 2020 with that years experience behind them. Both know what it takes to win EMX titles as Smulders won the EMX65 title in 2015 and looked really good at Hawkstone International battling with Rizzi in the second race so he has speed. Mc Lellan won the EMX85 title in 2018 beating the very talented Kay de Wolf to the title so he clearly has talent. After a disappointing rookie season he’ll be looking much more in 2020.
The MJC Yamaha have a good line up to contest the EMX125 series which they’re fully focused on. Mairis Pumpurs from Latvia was the 2019 winner of the YZ125 bLU cRU which meant he was the lucky rider to earn a ride with the team. The Latvian looked pretty good at Lacapelle Marival and will be looking to learn as much as he can during the course of the season. It promised to be a good season for Kay Karssemakers who had his rookie year last season but unfortunately he’s broken his wrist which rules him out of at least round one of the series. When he makes a return to racing he’ll be one to watch out for as he should be much stronger in 2020.
Young French talent, Florian Miot didn’t have the season he’d have wanted last year but injuries didn’t help his case. For the season ahead he’s back on a KTM after being on the MJC Yamaha last year. Miot has a lot of talent and has had plenty of top ten results in the past, he needs to be more consistent over the entire season though and that’s what he’ll want to improve this year.
Last season was a break out season for young Swede, Max Palsson after finishing fourteenth in the championship. Riders want to improve each and every year so Palsson will be looking for plenty of top ten results in 2020 and there’s no reason why he can’t achieve that.
One of the more experienced riders in the class is WZ KTM’s, Rasmus Pederson. The Dane rider has a lovely style and is really good to watch but perhaps needs to ride more aggressive to really mount a challenge at the front. If he can work on that then he has the potential to surprise in 2020, the pre season was solid for him as he finished third overall in the 125cc International Italian Championship.
Young Estonian, Meico Vettik has been at the sharp end of the EMX125 series in the past but decided to make the jump up to the EMX250 class last year. Things didn’t go to plan and he decided to drop down to the EMX125 series again. The jump up looking back perhaps came too early, hindsight is a wonderful thing! Vettik will be looking to put that behind him though and focus on being a front runner in EMX125 to grow as a rider and be more prepared the next time he jumps up to the 250cc.
Last year was a rookie season for Saad Soulimani and there’s no doubt he learnt a lot last year. At his home round of the series in France he was at his best finishing a tenth overall. The next challenge for Soulimani is to show that kind of pace outside his home country. The VRT KTM team have stayed local to him for the season ahead so trust in the rider which is always a good sign.
Young Swiss rider, Kevin Brumann has a lovely style and showed some good speed in his rookie season. One thing he couldn’t seem to do was show his full speed over the course of the whole race but he should be much stronger in 2020 which can only help him. Brumann stays with the STC Yamaha team for 2020.
Joel Rizzi and Eddie Jay Wade aren’t the only Brits who will contest the EMX125 series as Ethan Lane, Jack Grayshon, Harvey Cashmore, Jude Morris, Charlie Palmer, Williams Preston, Luke Hall, Bobby Bruce and Louis Kessell have also put entries in for Matterley Basin. It remains to be seen how many of them will do the full series but hopefully the majority of them do as the experience they can learn in the EMX125 class is very valuable.
Article: Andy McKinstry