The EMX125 championship gets underway at Valkenswaard this weekend with the young guns in action and eager to impress. In part one of our preview we will take a look at who to keep an eye on during the course of the season.
There’s no better place to start than with the talented, Rene Hofer who was the best rookie in the class during the 2017 season. The Austrian impressed so much that he’s signed a fresh factory KTM deal – he earned it. With the four riders that finished ahead of him last year moving up to the 250cc, that would put Hofer as favourite for the title. We are about to find out if he can handle the pressure of being odds on favourite for the title. One thing he needs to improve on from last year are his starts as they let him down badly last year. If he improves on them he could be hard to stop.
Last year the talented French rider, Tom Guyon was on a TM and only contested one of the EMX125 rounds – his home round in France. However, he didn’t half impress as he just missed out on the podium finishing in an impressive fourth overall, not bad for his first round of the series.
The talented French youngster has inked a deal with the team VRT 3AS and will be on KTM machinery. He will certainly be up at the front but having raced his entire career so far in France his speed in the sand going into the season is a question mark. If he’s got top five speed in the sand then he might just challenge for the title.
It will be Emilio Scuteri’s third season in the class and towards the end last year something seemed to click with the young Italian. The Portuguese round was his strongest round last year as he ended up fifth overall but after that he showed good speed too, he just couldn’t seem to put two good moto’s together.
The Italian looked good in the International Italian Championship series heading into the 2018 season and looks to have stepped it up again. If he can put two good moto’s together and improve his consistency he might just be a dark horse and certainly one to look out for.
The winter of the International Italian series was Mattia Guadagnini who has switched to Husqvarna machinery for the season ahead. Guadagnini was on a TM last year and ended up a solid fourteenth in the series. The highlight for him was in Switzerland as he got himself on the box in third overall.
The Maddii Racing team decided to ink a deal with the young Italian and already he looks at home on the Husqvarna. The team helped with Gianluca Facchetti development and he ended up winning the 125cc world title. There’s no doubt the team hope to have the same impact on Guadagnini.
It’s a big year for Raivo Dankers, the Dutch rider was a super talent on the 65cc and the 85cc machines winning the world championship in both those classifications. However, since moving up to the 125cc things haven’t gone exactly to plan for him.
Dankers has showed good speed at times but will have expected better from his time in the EMX125 class. Last year he ended up nineteenth in the championship which he will have been disappointed with, in his rookie year he ended up fifteenth so he would have wanted to improve on that last year. With the HSF Logistics team no longer in the paddock, Dankers will ride within his own team so perhaps that will come with less pressure and help him challenge for the title, he certainly has the talent!
Another rider who finds himself in a similar position to Dankers is Raf Meuwissen who will ride for his own team for the season ahead. The team will be called EightyOne – BCS Racing and again he might benefit due to less pressure of being within another team.
Meuwissen looks pretty good during the pre-season as he’s already won a few ONK Dutch races beating the likes of Dankers. Things in the EMX125 series haven’t went to plan for the Dutch rider as he ended up outside the top twenty last year but he will want to set the record straight in 2018 that he still has plenty to offer.
One of the dark horses heading into the 2018 EMX125 season has to be the young French rider, Thibault Benistant. Benistant was a rookie in the series last year and ended up twelfth in the series – a solid result as a rookie. Now with his rookie year behind him he should be even better in 2018.
There’s no reason why the MJC Yamaha rider can’t be a regular visitor to the podium as he has the speed. For a young French rider he’s pretty good in the sand too which is encouraging, that can be a tough thing for French riders to deal with but it doesn’t seem to faze him. Under the same awning are Rick Elzinga but unfortunately, he broke both of his wrists during winter so will miss a few rounds of the series. Jorgen-Matthias Talviku won the YZ Cup so as a result won the ride to be the third rider in the awning for 2018, he will hope to learn as much as possible.
British fans have an exciting prospect on their hands as Eddie Wade won the 85cc World Championship last year and has secured a ride in the EMX125 class with the Spanish based, Jezyk KTM team. Even better news is that Wade will get factory engines from KTM after impressing last year.
Obviously, it’s a rookie year for the young Brit so the goal will be to improve and gain as much experience as possible. If he can end up in the top ten in the championship at the end of the season then it will have been a good rookie season and then he can think about going for the title this time next year. Also with the Jezyk KTM team is young Spanish talent, Oriol Oliver who ended up second in the EMX85 championship in 2016. Oliver switched to 125cc machinery last year but only contested one round of the series so he will be a rookie for the year ahead too.
With Kevin Horgmo moving up to the EMX250 series, the Creymert KTM team have picked up David Braceras as his replacement in the EMX125 series. The Spaniard has been riding plenty with Kevin Horgmo throughout the off season so will have learnt a lot from his team mate.
Braceras is stepping up from the 85cc so he’s another rider that will be a rookie in the class but with a good team behind him he might just surprise.
At the end of the 2017 season, young Czech rider, Petr Polak was thinking about moving up to the EMX250 series but in the end, he decided he wants to do another year in the EMX125 series. I think that’s the best decision too.
The JD 191 KTM rider has a lovely style and is great to watch! He should go into Valkenswaard with good confidence too as he finished second overall at the first round of the Dutch Masters Championship.
Young Swede, Filip Olsson has showed us glimpses of what he can do and especially during his home round of the series last year when he finished sixth overall. If Olsson can improve on putting two good moto’s together and his consistency then he could surprise.
Olsson is also working with ex GP and AMA rider, Filip Thuresson so he will be hoping to get the best out of him during the 2018 season.
Article: Andy McKinstry
Pics: John Oostvogels & Alex Piantanida