MX2 Preview: The front runners
Yes we know it should be the Jeffrey Herlings show, but with his recovery from his broken leg taking longer than expected it might be more competitive than we thought, especially in the first few rounds.
Herlings will only have 2 weeks on the bike before Qatar and even he isn’t expecting to win there, but once he gets back to speed he should be the man to beat. However, he has claimed he has got a new perspective on life and it isn’t just about motocross anymore, so will Herlings perhaps be a bit slower and not ride on the edge? Will his smarter thought process allow his ever improving competition a greater shot at race victories?
His competition are definitely getting more confident and faster all the time. World Champion Jordi Tixier is flying in pre-season and looks fantastic on the Kawasaki. He is also still not happy that KTM didn’t re-sign him and all of that extra confidence plus a chip on the shoulder seems to be making Jordi faster than ever. He has always struggled in Qatar so if he can finally do well there, it could set the tone for the season.
Tim Gajser was on fire at the end of last season and winning races in Herlings’ absence. Maybe the most talented rider in the class not called Herlings, Gajser is still only 18 and according to Roger Harvey is more mature this season and has an even better bike at his disposal. HRC aren’t messing around and they expect Tim to be top three in the championship, if anyone has the talent to step up to Herlings’ level or as close as you can get, it might just be Gajser.
Dylan Ferrandis is motivated. The 2014 MXDN champion wants to race AMA supercross and if he wins the World title this year he will get to go in 2016 – otherwise he has to wait until 2017! Ferrandis fears no-one and probably thinks he can beat Herlings straight up on his day. But the Frenchman needs to cut out the mistakes that cost him at times last season. But he did beat Herlings in the first moto at Qatar last season and you can bet he is motivated to win again.
Pauls Jonass has been killing it in pre-season on the factory KTM. The Latvian youngster was held back in his rookie season last year by illness and never really showed his potential. But don’t forget how dominant he was in EMX125 the year before, the kid has serious talent. Now it looks like we could finally see the best of Jonass on a 250f this season and he could be a real dark horse for top three in the championship and certainly the top five.
It was only a few months ago that Alex Tonkov was beating Ryan Dungey in Latvia, so it would foolish to think that the Russian won’t be taking that confidence and momentum into the 2015 season. Tonkov took a while to adjust to the factory Husky team, but in his second year he should be up for the podium battles. Tonkov, like Ferrandis, just needs to stay calm and cut out the mistakes. He showed his potential now he needs to deliver week in, week out.
It was a case of what could have been for Max Anstie last season on the unpredictable Yamaha but now his Dixon team have changed to Kawasaki, so could that be the missing link? Anstie has the talent, he has the self-belief and he has won a GP. He has all the pieces of the puzzle and if the bike is fast enough, and holds together, Anstie could vault himself straight into potential race winner every weekend. Don’t be surprised to see Anstie on fire again this weekend in Qatar!
The Standing Construct team have factory Yamaha backing this season and based on the form of Valentin Guillod and Julien Lieber at the end of last season they should be fighting for the top five and podiums from the start in 2015. Guillod in particular has the talent to get the job done and apparently loves the new Yamaha, Lieber proved last year that he too has the stuff when he has a bike he is comfortable on. So, if they get the Yamaha to his liking the fast starting Belgian might become a regular at the sharp end of the pack.
Suzuki only have Jeremy Seewer this season but he has been pretty impressive in pre-season. The Swiss kid is still in education but is making gradual steps every year he races as a pro. Now in his second season, I expect Seewer to step up another level and try and run with Tixier, Ferrandis and company. But it will be interesting to see how he copes with the pressure of being Suzuki’s main man.
It’s a big year for Thomas Covington, the American has Ferrandis and Tixier to learn from and he is also friendly with Villopoto. He knows the tracks and will be more adjusted to living away from home. This should be the year we see what Covington really has, and he should do well. He showed glimpses of talent and speed last season and will be hoping to be at least a regular top ten contender this season.
Add in the rookies like Ben Watson, Benoit Paturel , Brian Bogers, Calvin Vlnderen, (Zaragoza when he’s fit). Then Jens Getteman stepping back from MXGP, Petrov on the Hitachi KTM UK machine, Mel Pocock back on a Japanese bike (Dixon Kawasaki), Monticelli, a healthy Damon Graulus and J-Tech’s Vsevolod Brylyakov, the quality throughout the field is pretty impressive.
It’s going to be pretty hard fought racing and exciting action throughout the field!
Article: Jonathan McCready
Pic: KTM Images