Viewpoint: New generation entering the MXGP class

Antonio Cairoli, Kevin Strijbos, Gautier Paulin, Clement Desalle, Tanel Leok and Shaun Simpson are some of the names we’ve lost in the MXGP paddock over the last season or two. We will at least see Cairoli race some GP’s in 2022 which will be cool to see as he’s still got what it takes to run at the front as he showed this year.

With some of the older guard in MXGP deciding to step away from the sport it gives an opportunity to the younger riders to step up to the plate in the toughest championship on the planet. This year we saw Thomas Kjer Olsen and Ben Watson have their rookie seasons in the class respectively finish ninth and eleventh in the championship. Now they have a years experience in the class they will want to improve in 2022. Both riders were front runners and had good moments in the MX2 World Championship and will be wants to achieve something similar in MXGP.

Olsen has made the move to the DIGA-Procross KTM team in 2022 but will still have factory backing whereas Ben Watson has officially signed with Factory Kawasaki and after losing his Factory Yamaha rider after a year he’ll be determined to keep his hands on this ride beyond 2022.

Pic: Shot by Bavo

Entering the MXGP class for the 2022 season will be even more young talents. After winning the MX2 World Championship in superb fashion, Maxime Renaux could have easily stayed down in the class another year but has decided he’s ready to ride against the very best in MXGP.

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Due to the age rule, Jed Beaton was forced to move up to MXGP and inked a deal with the F&H Racing team – a team he’s been with in the past. The Aussie should suit the bigger bike but it won’t be easy against the factory machinery. Another rider who was forced to move up due to the age rule was Mathys Boisrame but at this stage it’s not certain how many MXGP races he’ll contest but he’ll be looking at grabbing an MXGP ride in the paddock in the future and might even be a potential fill in rider.

Another rider preparing for a season in MXGP is EMX250 champion, Nicholas Lapucci and it’ll see Fantic – a new manufacturer taking on the most prestigious Motocross championship in the world. It’ll be nice to see a new brand in the class and Lapucci has a lot of potential. The Italian will be back on a four-stroke after racing a two-stroke this year but hopefully he can adapt quickly as he’ll be hoping to surprise in 2022.

Pic: Infront Moto Racing/MXGP

If we go back to 2014, Davy Pootjes was a big talent in the GP paddock winning plenty of races in the EMX125 class but his career hasn’t gone as many would have expected. Injuries after injuries certainly haven’t helped his case but he’s making a return to racing in 2022 after probably his biggest injury to date nearly losing his arm. The Dutch rider hasn’t raced a GP in over two years so we can’t expect miracles but hopefully this can be a start to him rebuilding his career with the JWR Honda team.

Rumours suggest (Infront have confirmed this in their OAT list) that Ruben Fernandez will be making the move up to MXGP next year as well. Despite having another year in MX2 if he wants it after he impressed at the final two rounds of the series on the HRC Honda he’ll be looking to impress in the class as a rookie. It’s thought the Spaniard will stay with 114 Motorsports Honda but will have factory backing.

Another young rider worth keeping an eye on is Mitch Evans who’s MXGP career started off superbly last year but injury cut his season short. If he can get back to the level he was at during the start of the 2020 season look out for him.

There’s a few riders in MXGP who are still very fast such as Alessandro Lupino and Jeremy Van Horebeek but they are coming to the end of their careers whilst MX2 continues to offer bright young talents. It’s already been confirmed that Tom Vialle will be an MXGP rider in 2023 and there’s no doubting his talent and it won’t be long until Jago Geerts makes the jump up either as he has a maximum of two years left in the MX2 class.

As the older guard start to bow out of MXGP it’s still an exciting time as the younger generation are stepping up to fill the void. The likes of Jeffrey Herlings Jorge Prado, Tim Gajser, Jeremy Seewer and Romain Febvre still have plenty to offer and they’ll be right in the thick of the action.

Article: Andy McKinstry

Pic: Ray Archer