We take a look at some of the title contenders for the EMX250 Championship with the first round of the series taking place this weekend in Redsands.
Heading into the season, Miro Sihvonen is a heavy favourite for the championship. However, the Diga KTM rider hasn’t had the best of winters because he thought he’d fully recovered from his knee injury from last year. However, when he got on the bike after a few weeks he got pain in his knee and he needed to get another operation which means he goes into the first round with very little bike time.
The first round might be tough for Sihvonen but if he can get two top ten finishes that would keep him in contention and there’s no doubt he has the speed to win. The Finn had the red plate after the second round last year but injury ruined his chances. Sihvonen has a bright future if he can stay injury free, he’s a very hard worker.
It’s been a tough very years for the talented Maxime Renaux due to injuries. The French rider has been sat on the sofa injured for the last two seasons but he’s had a strong winter and is looking good in the pre-season races.
Renaux won a few of the International Italian Championship races and also rode MX2 in Valkenswaard where he finished fourteenth and sixteenth in the moto’s to pick up twelve championship points. The way he’s riding he certainly won’t be far from the front in Redsands this weekend and is a championship contender on his SM-Action Yamaha.
There’s no doubt that Tristan Charboneau didn’t get off to the best of starts in Europe but he continued to improve as the season went on and it really clicked for him at the end of the season. At the end of the season he manged to climb to fifth in the championship standings and won the most moto’s out of everyone.
The American has switched from the BUD Kawasaki team to the SDM-Corse Yamaha team and now he knows what to expect so he should challenge for the title from the first round. It remains to be seen if he can be consistent enough to win the title but he shouldn’t be far away as he certainly has the speed.
Also under the SDM-Corse Yamaha awning are Roan van de Moosdijk and Nicholas Lapucci. Van de Moosdijk didn’t have the best rookie season last year due to injury but he showed his potential in Ottobiano were he finished sixth overall and he’s also looking good in pre-season. Don’t underestimate the young Dutch talent as he shouldn’t be far away from the front.
Italian, Lapucci hasn’t yet been able to put a full season together but has shown us glimpses of what he can do. He finished fourth overall in Ottobiano last year just missing the podium, with a good bike under him he should be even better for the season ahead.
Last year was a great season for Italian, Alberto Forato on his Assomotor Honda. Forato ended up fourth in the standings and with the top three moving out of the class he should be challenging for the title.
The question mark with Forato is that he’s a huge guy, starts could be an issue for him and with a deep field it’ll be hard coming through the pack. Forato managed to win a moto last year so knows what it takes to win and will want to win more in 2018.
This time last year, Mathys Boisrame picked up an injury which meant he missed the first three rounds of the series. However, the French rider put in some great riders on his return to racing winning two moto’s and managed to climb up to ninth in the standings.
The Assomotor Honda rider is the real deal and with a full winter preparation behind him he should be even better in 2018. He might just be the dark horse for the championship.
Dropping down from the MX2 World Championship is Dutch rider, Freek van der Vlist as he’s signed a deal with the Carglass Honda team. It’s a big year for the Dutch rider because if he wants to contest the MX2 World Championship again then he needs to impress this year.
During his time in the MX2 World Championship he showed some good speed. His best moto came in Indonesia where he finished tenth in the second moto there. Van der Vlist has raced the EMX250 class before so will know exactly what to expect.
Joining van der Vlist under the Carglass Honda awning will be British rider, Steven Clarke. Clarke knows the EMX250 championship very well as he won title back in 2014 ahead of the likes of Brian Bogers, Adam Sterry, Brent Van Doninck, Ben Watson and Thomas Kjer Olsen to name a few.
Clarke went back to the States in 2017 and showed some good speed in the AMA Nationals. However, he’s back in the GP paddock for the 2018 season and he’s very consistent so you can’t rule him out of the title haunt.
Another rider dropping down from the MX2 World Championship is Giuseppe Tropepe who’s inked a deal with a new team in the GP paddock – the Ghisinelli Racing team.
Tropepe will surely want to be a front runner in the class to get himself a ride in the MX2 class once again. He’ll want to follow in Morgan Lesiardo’s footsteps and be another Italian to win the EMX250 series. He got his season of to a great start by winning the first round of the Italian Championship so will want to carry that form into Redsands this weekend.
Latvian, Karlis Sabulis stays in the EMX250 Championship for another season. He won’t be under the SDM-Corse Yamaha awning but he will contest the full series with his Latvian team, the MX Moduls team and will get backing from Yamaha.
Sabulis picked up an injury last year which meant he missed three rounds but when he was fit he showed good speed. His best moto was a second during the first moto of the year so he has what it takes to run at the front. Sabulis also has some MX2 experience as the Kemea Yamaha team have drafted him in as a replacement rider and he was mainly running just outside the top ten in the world series.
Young Kiwi, Josiah Natzke had an up and down season on his KTM UK last year however he did win a round in Latvia. Unfortunately, he picked up an injury at Desertmartin competing in the British Championship which ruined his season.
Natzke has signed with the Buildbase Honda team and has spent more time in Europe during the off-season this year which should benefit him.
Pic: Alex Piantanida