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In defence of the MXGP WORLD Championship (and MX2)…

In defence of the MXGP WORLD Championship (and MX2)…
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Last week some prominent USA media (but thankfully not all) questioned whether the MXGP world championship was a real world championship.

Yes, some admitted the MXGP series was a higher level compared to the US motocross series, however, the always entertaining but sometimes controversial, Steve Matthes, argued it wasn’t higher than the US Nationals and excluded, amazingly, Jorge Prado and Antonio Cairoli from the top six in the world in 2021 with the top three in Nationals; Ferrandis, Tomac and Roczen getting in ahead of the duo who have 11 world titles between them – even though both Prado and Cairoli were in world title contention until injuries ended their hopes. They also intriguingly argued the 250 US Nationals were superior to the MX2 world championship. There may have been some patriotic protectionism involved!

So, here is the case of the defense for the MXGP series (and the quality of MX2)…

First of all, the MXGP world championship goes to more than one country and whether that is within Europe or beyond, that is significant. It means riders are having to get out of their comfort zone and deal with different cultures as well languages and time zones. Racing in one country is not a great measuring stick because it favours the rider of that nation.

Lommel Image: InFront Moto Racing

Secondly, the GP tracks have more variety, again, due to different countries and the different terrains. From the deep sand of Lommel, Belgium to the hard pack of Russia and everything that is man-made or natural in between, you have to be good everywhere and it is also an 18-20 round championship compared to the 12 of the USA. You have to show more versatility to win a world championship than a US National series and adapting to countries and tracks over a long championship that is usually two days aside from Covid, takes a lot.

Thirdly, there was also a fairly weak argument that F1 and MotoGP were real world championships but MXGP wasn’t because of the level and quality in the USA but that doesn’t make sense either. Nascar and Indycar are huge in the US too with good drivers but F1 is still the world championship for car racing just like MXGP is still the pinnacle for motocross globally.

Supercross of course is huge in the USA but it’s a US sport like NASCAR whereas motocross is the global sport that everyone can relate to around the world. The MXGP world championship is also the riders main priority whereas in the USA supercross is king and the AMA outdoors are the second series. Every GP rider that goes there goes for supercross but they also have the skills to run up front in motocross too from the MXGP roots. That also underlines their versatility but primarily the supercross series and those skills are what riders get rides for and that is, understandably, the factory teams and riders’ main goal every year. In contrast, motocross is centre stage for riders racing the world championship and the riders who want to be the best in the world at motocross choose MXGP.

Regarding MX2, it’s a very strange comment to say the 250 class in the USA is stronger even though that is also a great class with great talent. One wonders if it’s the negativity of the age rule creating a false narrative despite the fact the top three in the 250 class in the USA this year are (I think) U23 and two came from Europe (EMX2 and MX2) via Australia in Jett and Hunter Lawrence! In fact, another former MX2 rider won the 450 class in the states, Dylan Ferrandis, with Ken Roczen a former MX2 world champ and former 450 National champ third (and Marvin Musquin, also a former MX2 world champ also hasn’t done too badly indoors and out in the states!).

Image: InFront Moto Racing

Added to that, five of the top six in MXGP in 2021 all became world champion in MX2 before going to the premier class, with nearly all of the MXGP field coming from MX2.

As you can see, it is in fact, the MX2 class that is the breeding ground for MXGP and US champions right now, and with Renaux, Vialle, Geerts, Hofer, De Wolf, Guadagnini and Benistant all coming through currently, it looks like the system (along with EMX) will continue to produce elite level riders. MX2 is in no way inferior to the 250 class in the USA.

The decision then of course for young riders is do they choose supercross or motocross but if you come through MX2, history suggests it sets you up for either option. Supercross is of course the most glamourous off-road series and fantastically entertaining over the winter with it’s precision, technicality and intensity and, anyone who has been there, knows how cool it is to experience it in person from the stands – it’s a totally unique and brilliant product. But for me MXGP is the toughest series in the world in terms of how grueling the outdoors are, especially travelling countries and continents, it’s the one everyone can relate to across the globe, it’s the real sport in that way. Both are fantastic options for riders and both are most certainly the pinnacle of the sport when it comes to dirt bikes – however they are very different and should be treated the same in terms of prestige and respect.

It’s a question of whether your preference is supercross or motocross (both is an option) but either way the pinnacle of each sport are those two series. US Motocross is of course a very high level too and provides great racing on nice, legendary US tracks but it’s not the priority for most riders outside of the title contenders and, if you want to show you are the best motocross rider in the world you have to prove it by winning MXGP and show your versatility across different countries and tracks against riders who all have the MXGP series as their number one goal, because MXGP is the MotoGP and F1 of motocross and there shouldn’t be a debate about it, it shouldn’t be US v them.

Article: Jonathan McCready

Herlings image: Ray Archer

Get the patriotic US argument and view below:

Listen to more debate at 2h 17 minutes below:

Gatedrop Podcast! Jonathan McCready and Andy McKinstry review what just might be the greatest MXGP season of all time! 

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