2023 MX2 World Championship Preview: Title contenders

This weekend sees World Championship action start up for yet another season and we’ll take a look at some of the riders that will be hoping to challenge for the MX2 world title.

What an agonising way it was for Jago Geerts to lose the title last year in Turkey after colliding with Tom Vialle when the Factory KTM rider crashed, Geerts couldn’t avoid him. After such a good season in terms of speed and results it was a tough way for Geerts to lose the title but in 2023 he’ll be hoping to put things right and finally win his first world title. Going into the 2023 season, Geerts is heavy favourite with many for the title which is unknown territory for him as before he’s just been one of the favourites – will he be able to handle the pressure?

It’s also last chance saloon for Geerts as he’ll move up to the MXGP World Championship in 2024 so it puts even more pressure on his shoulders. However, if the Belgian can ride to his true ability and just take it race by race without thinking too much about the title, he’ll be hard to beat. He shocked the American fans at the MXoN at RedBud last year when he had no issues running Eli Tomac’s high pace despite it being his first race on the 450cc – he’s an elite talent.

This time last year, Thibault Benistant didn’t even have a pre-season due a knee injury but made his return to racing at round four of the series. It didn’t take him long at all to run at the front on a regular basis which isn’t an easy thing to do without a full off-season but he’s another elite talent in the sport.

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Image: OffRoadProRacing

Benistant isn’t under as much pressure as Geerts as he has time on his side but as a former winner of the EMX125 and EMX250 championships, he knows what it takes to win and heading into 2023 better prepared, he could be the man to rival Geerts for the championship. Things could get tense under the Factory Yamaha awning!

Last year was one to remember for Simon Laengenfelder on his De Carli GasGas machine – it was his dream start to the season going 1-1 at the opening round at Matterley Basin. The young German was super consistent to end up third in the championship standings. For 2023, the championship will be on his mind and having won a GP in the past he knows how to win but will he be able to do it regularly to challenge for the title? It will certainly be one to keep an eye on but he has a great future ahead of him.

Despite a mid-season injury for Kay de Wolf that wasn’t even his fault after a cycling incident when he got hit by a car, 2022 was a solid season for the young Dutch talent. For the season ahead, de Wolf will be eager to get even better and has been working with Ruben Tureluren who had been with Jeffrey Herlings for a number of years, Tureluren will be hoping he can have a similar impact on de Wolf.

Whilst you can’t question de Wolf’s speed as he has that in abundance, his starts are perhaps his weak area so he’ll be hoping he can get out of the gate better in 2023. The Nestaan Husqvarna team have a very strong rider line up in 2023 so de Wolf will want to assert his authority early in the season to make it clear to his teammates that he’s the #1 rider under the awning.

It’s going to be a big year for a former EMX250 champion, Roan van de Moosdijk who has plenty of speed and has a great technique – he’s technically gifted and is great to watch but injuries seem to follow him around. It’s important for van de Moosdijk to stay fit for the entire season so the right approach might be to start the season not at 100% and build as the season progresses. In 2024, he will be looking for an MXGP ride so it’s important for him to show he can be reliable for a full season. When it all clicks with van de Moosdijk he’ll have the speed to win races, there’s no doubt about that.

The Factory KTM team have a very young rider line up and for a change not a main championship contender going into the season as they start to build for the future but both Andrea Adamo and Liam Everts will want to repay the faith the factory brand have showed by signing them. Last year, Adamo landed his first MX2 podium in Mantova in what is the highlight of his career so far and he also showed a lot of consistency throughout the season to end up eighth in the championship. Still only 19 years old, Adamo is very young and having the likes of Smets and Cairoli in his corner the entire off-season he should be even better. Tom Vialle also did a good job developing the new KTM bike last year so it looks much better going into 2023 and Adamo looked brilliant in the International Italian MX2 races.

Image: KTM Images/S.Taglioni

For his rookie year in the MX2 World Championship, injuries weren’t kind to Everts but despite having injury issues he still showed glimpses of what he could do. The young Belgian still managed to finish tenth in the championship standings despite missing six rounds and had the best moto result of fourth in what was a stacked class. Everts tends to excels on the rougher tracks which is a great trait to have as well!

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After a difficult 2021 season, last year was a big one for Mikkel Haarup to remind us of his talents and he did just that. With the DRT Kawasaki, Haarup was back to somewhere near his best last year. Particularly in Portugal, Arco di Trento and Teutschenthal as he was right at the front. Towards the end of the season he had a couple of cost DNF’s out of his control which halted his championship position but with some MX2 podiums to his name already he’ll be looking to stand on the top step in 2023 and he could be a real dark horse in 2023.

2022 was a fantastic season for Norwegian talent, Kevin Horgmo as he had signed with the F&H Kawasaki Racing team and started to work with Marc de Reuver who has clearly helped him reach his potential. Horgmo finished an impressive fourth overall in the MX2 World Championships last year and will be hoping to maintain those kind of results and will look to secure a win as well. It’s going to be his last season racing the MX2 World Championship so hopefully he can just enjoy his season and do enough to secure an MXGP ride for the 2024 season.

Article: Andy McKinstry

Main Image: Danny Relouw

Podcast: Jonathan McCready and Andy McKinstry look ahead to the 2023 MXGP series – does Herlings win his sixth world title after a year off?

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