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Preview: 2024 EMX125 season to get underway at Riola – lots of emerging young talent

Preview: 2024 EMX125 season to get underway at Riola – lots of emerging young talent

Ahead of the 2024 EMX125 season getting underway this weekend we’ll take a look at some of the riders to keep an eye on during the course of the season.

There’s no better place to start than the very talented, Gyan Doensen who was a rookie in the class last season. He ended up being the best rookie as he finished the series up in ninth position – he started the season very strong but had a little dip mid season before ending the season strong again which is normal for a rookie. After being with WZ KTM, the Racestore KTM team have secured official KTM backing for 2024 and decided to snap up Doensen who will go in as the championship favourite.

Image: Danny Relouw

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Alongside Doensen under the Racestore KTM awning will be young Italian talent, Nicolò Alvisi who will be one to keep an eye on. Alvisi won the EMX85 title last year in Romania so clearly has talent and will be working closely with Thomas Traversini which should be a good fit.

Heading into his third year racing the EMX125 class is the young and talented, Cole McCullough. We must remember that before he burst onto the EMX125 scene in 2022, McCullough had no experience of racing in Europe – only in the UK and Ireland. Racing in Europe has really helped McCullough improve and this year he’ll come into the season with higher expectations. He looks really good in the off-season and just got a third overall at the latest Dutch Masters round. This year he has decided to move to Fantic machinery with Corrado Maddii building his bike. This could be the game changer. 

Image: Niek Kamper

Fantic are one of the best teams in the EMX125 paddock and this year SDM-Corse will run the setup this year after many years focusing on MXGP. Noel Zanocz has been signed by the team and looked great during the International Italian championship. It’s not easy to come from Hungary and make a name for yourself but Zanocz is trying to do that and with the official Fantic setup behind him, it could be the year it all falls into place for him.

Last year, Simone Mancini had a strong season and Fantic took notice. He ended got himself on the podium at the final round of the series at Matterley Basin finishing second overall. Mancini is very strong in hard pack so he’ll be at the front in those conditions but sand is the area he needs to improve – hopefully he’s been doing plenty of sand riding over the winter.

The third member on the Fantic team is Belgian rider, Douwe Van Mechgelen who was a rookie in the class last year and was part of his own team. Now with Fantic behind him and a year of experience in the class he’ll be hoping to stronger in 2024.

The MJC Yamaha team are very impressive and always look to young talent. They are defending champions after Janis Reisulis won the talent last year but for 2024 they will have three very young riders under the awning including two rookies. Young Italian talent, Mano Faure was a rookie last with the Beddini KTM team but he was so small – you could see by his riding he has talent and is lovely to watch. Sand is the area he’ll need to improve but he looks in good form during the off-season so he’s one not to be underestimated.

Image: Mediacross

The Dutch have another young talent to keep an eye on with Dani Heitink after he won the 85cc Junior World Championship last year. Winning that title there’s no surprise he attracted interest and MJC Yamaha have signed him up for his rookie season.

There’s another Bervoets in the paddock as Jarne Bervoets attempts to follow in his fathers (Marnicq) footsteps. Marnicq had a team management role with the Factory Yamaha MX2 team in the GP paddock but stepped down at the end of the 2021 season to work closer with his son and guide him the best he can. With MJC Yamaha snapping up Bervoets he’ll look to learn as much as possible in his rookie season.

Bervoets isn’t the only familar name taking on the EMX125 class this year as Kenneth Gundersen’s son, Pelle Gundersen is gearing up for his first full season in the class. He contested selected events last year but will go for them all this year and looks good in pre season. Another big name to keep an eye on.

One rider that will be motivated to battle for the title is Finnish talent, Kasimir Hindersson who won a moto at Lommel last year which produced some superb racing. Starts aren’t his strong suit being so heavy and that makes things tricky on the hard pack for him so that’s the area to improve but in sand he should be right up at the sharp end.

Image: Crossrace.eu

Joining Hindersson under the Motovation Motosport KTM team will be Swedish British rider, Freddie Bartlett who was the youngest rider in the class last year. He started the season with Kosak KTM being ended the season as a privateer but despite being so young had some good rides as a rookie. He’ll be better in 2024.

Injury wasn’t kind to Tom Brunet last year as he only returned to race the final three rounds of the series, it’s not easy to return to make a return at Lommel, the toughest race of the year! This year he has had a full off-season behind him and he’ll be hoping to run at the front – he’ll be staying with the Jezyk KTM team so he’ll have familiarity.

The RFME GasGas team do a great job for the Spanish talents and this year should be no different. This year they have Salvador Perez and Carlos Salvador under the awning and both riders will be looking to repay the trust of their Spanish federation. Perez has showed flashes of what he can do in the past and even had a short spell with MJC Yamaha as a fill in rider but now he has the backing of a good team behind him will be looking to push on.

TM will be present again the EMX125 category and have signed up young Italian, Brando Rispoli who hasn’t really fulfilled his true potential since moving up to the 125cc – he was EMX65 champion in 2018! However, now he has the backing of a team behind him, he’ll be hoping it’s the game changer for his career.

The F4E GasGas team are back with an unchanged line up for the 2024 EMX125 campaign. Max Ernecker on paper is the number one rider on the team and the Austrian will be hoping this is the year he can be a consistent top five rider in the class. Joining him under the awning will be Ian Ampoorter and Harry Seel, both will entering their second season contesting the class so should be stronger for it.

Latvian talent, Markuss Ozolins will be one to keep an eye on this year. He only contested a couple of wildcard events last year but this year he is going for the full series which is good to see. Ozolins just finished the latest round of the EMX125 series second overall so is in good form heading into the EMX125 season.

Heading into his rookie season, Dean Gregoire looks good on the 125cc despite being so small. He could have easily stayed on the 85cc for another season but has decided to move up to the 125cc in what will be a learning year. With his #28 KTM machine he looks like a young Tom Vialle – he’s a rider that could have a bright future.

Image: Danny Relouw

Young British talent, Josh Vail will be a rookie in the EMX125 class this year and will be looking to learn as much as possible but he looked good at Hawkstone International. Ashley Wilde who runs the RMJ Academy Moto X Coaching works with Vail which is a good fit and they’ll continue to keep pushing.

Áron Katona is another rider from Hungary who is trying to make a name for himself and he’s really fast. He didn’t have the luck in the EMX85 and the Junior World Championships last year but has decided to move up to the 125cc anyway and will be one to keep an eye on in his development.

There’s another Kooiker in the paddock this year as Dex Kooiker follows in his Brother, Dave’s footsteps. Kooiker has signed with the de Beats Yamaha team so has the backing of a good team behind him and will be hoping to learn as much as possible in what is his rookie season in a very competitive championship.

Last year, Nicky Mannini was with Fantic but only contested selected EMX125 event as a wildcard in what was a learning year to adapt to the 125cc machine. This year he has signed with the Insubria Yamaha team which will be his first full season in the class. Unfortunately, the Italian kid picked up injury so is out for round one and isn’t expected to be back on the bike for another one but he’ll be eager to impress when he returns for the second part of the season.

Another rider that is injured that will miss the start of the season is Vitezslav Marek who finished fourth in the championship last year. He’d have been one of the favourites for the title this year so it’s a real shame but hopefully he can return in the second half the season and remind everyone of his talents.

Article: Andy McKinstry