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Preview: 2024 EMX250 Championship – The contenders

Preview: 2024 EMX250 Championship – The contenders

With the EMX250 series kicking off in Spain this weekend, we’ll take a look at the contenders heading into the season.

EMX250 – Rookies

EMX250 – Dark horses

EMX250 contenders

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There’s no better place to start than Cas Valk who was an EMX250 rookie last year finishing third in the championship with the Fantic team but he was racing a two-stroke. This year he has moved teams with the SS24 Gabriel KTM team who themselves are bursting onto the MXGP scene. The deal will see him work with former GP winner, Shaun Simpson as his team manager and having former world champion, Joel Smets as his coach. The Dutch talent won’t be far away from the championship battle and will go in as many peoples favourite.

Simpson offered his thoughts on Valk after he impressed at Hawkstone International. “Without a doubt. Cas is only 18 but it’s great to see that he’s got such a strong head on the shoulders. He is very dedicated and does all his training and everything that is asked of him. Working with Joel, he is loving that because he has been out riding with Andrea Adamo most of the days. Riding together with him has brought him on as well. He is a good kid, has a nice style and doesn’t hang off it too much. He is very smooth and you don’t sort of have to close your eyes when watching him. Very smooth and calculated which is great”, Simpson told GateDrop.com. 

Image: Ray Archer

Another big contender for the EMX250 championship will be Valerio Lata. The young Italian talent already has an EMX125 title to his name and if it wasn’t for an injury last he could have ended up finishing better than fifth in the championship. For 2024, Lata will receive official backing from GasGas but stays with his same team so the familiarly will be good plus better machinery. Watch out for Lata.

One rider that still hasn’t showed his true potential is French rider, Maxime Grau but this might just be the year it all clicks for the talented rider. Grau was with the BT Husqvarna team in 2023 but after the team closed their doors was on the look out for a new rider – he eventually signed with VHR GasGas. One area he’ll probably have to improve to be a serious title contender will be his sand riding but there’s no doubt in hard pack he’ll be at the sharp end.

The Yamaha EMX250 setup has had a change as French based team, VRT who ran KTM machinery in 2024 with Zanchi and Rossi will now be running Yamaha in 2024. They will have Karlis Reisulis under the awning who will go into his second year in the EMX250 series. In his rookie season he was eighth in the championship despite a small injury meaning he missed two rounds. In 2024 there’s no doubt he’ll be stronger and will hope to be a regular podium visitor.

Joining Reisulis under the awning will be Dutch rider, Ivano van Erp who is very fast and you’ll be at your edge of your seating watching him. Van Erp isn’t scared to send it and is very fast. Unfortunately, he took a big crash at Arnhem last year resulting in a pretty big injury so he might start the season slowly but he’ll be looking to build as the season progresses. A 100% Ivano van Erp can definitely win races though!

At the end of the 2022 season it was announced that Chilean, Benjamin Garib had signed a deal with BUD Kawasaki but unfortunately an injury at the start of 2023 meant he missed a lot of racing. He did return for the final four rounds though and showed some good speed. With a full off-season behind him going into 2024 he should be much stronger so he’s one to keep an eye on.

Last year, Alexis Fueri also rode a two-stroke so just like Valk will transition to the four-stroke for the 2024 season. Fueri will stay with Fantic with the SM-Action team now running that effort but they’re a great team that tend to get the best out of their young riders so Fueri will be hoping for the same fate as so many before him.

Words: Andy McKinstry