News 26 Feb 2015

Qatar set for 2015 MXGP season-opener this weekend

Cairoli vs Villopoto battle takes centre stage at Losail.

Source: MXGP.

Source: MXGP.

The gates of the FIM Motocross World Championship will drop this weekend as the onset to what is expected to be the greatest ever season of motocross, MXGP 2015.

Qatar always provides something special, which is why MXGP has returned to open the championship for the third consecutive year.

At first glance the track looks more or less the same, the only difference is some new soil has been added and a few alterations have been made to some of the corners. Learning from previous years, some of the lights have also been shifted to provide optimal vision for the riders who will be racing their one and only night event this season.

MXGP this year has without a doubt the deepest field of talent we have ever seen. Starting at the top with the man to beat, the eight-time FIM Motocross World Champion, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Antonio Cairoli. Tony is a smart rider, he knows championships are not won at the first round and is sure to ride calm and collective.

Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team’s Ryan Villopoto on the other hand could be a different story. Judging from his recent videos on social media and via other media sources, the guy looks to be on the gas! It is said that Villopoto won’t settle for anything less than a win, which we’re sure he is capable of but what we’re also sure of is that it won’t be easy.

One rider that could make life difficult for the reigning champions is last year’s round one winner, Gautier Paulin. The last time we saw Paulin let it rip was at the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations in Latvia where he was on fire and cleaned up the field. Now he has switched from Kawasaki to Honda’s factory squad, Team HRC, and is looking to keep that momentum going.

Meanwhile the vice world champion, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jeremy Van Horebeek won’t be overlooked this year. With 12 podiums last year, 11 of which were consecutive, a trophy from MXGP of Qatar is one of five that doesn’t sit on his shelf. That could be a little added motivation for the 24-year-old Belgian.

Another Belgian to watch out for is Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Kevin Strijbos who qualified on pole here last year. Strijbos has upped his intensity over the winter and is looking stronger than ever, while his fellow teammate and countryman Clement Desalle is also capable of throwing red plates straight on his bike just as he did at MXGP of Qatar back in 2013.

While the guys listed above are some of the most popular bets to uncork the first three bottles of champagne this season, there is an abundance of others.

Some names that quickly spring to mind are the rookies, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Romain Febvre who has been showing great form in the pre-season races, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe’s Glenn Coldenhoff, Team Assomotor Honda’s Alessandro Lupino and Marchetti Racing Team KTM’s Jose Butron.

And then there are the likes of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s duo of seasoned riders, Tommy Searle and Ken De Dycker, Team HRC’s Evgeny Bobryshev, TM Racing Factory Team’s Davide Guarneri and also the ultra fast privateers DP19 Racing Yamaha’s David Philippaerts, Hitachi Construction Machinery Revo KTM’s Shaun Simpson, Wilvo Forkrent KTM’s Steven Frossard and MX Racing Team’s Rui Gonçalves.

Australia will have a pair of factory Husqvarna-mounted riders on the line in Todd Waters (Red Bull IceOne Racing Husqvarna) and Dean Ferris (Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing), both eager to show their ability early in the season.

FIM MX2 World Champion Jordi Tixier has got the target on his back this season and is already looking at home on his Monster Energy Kawasaki. Meanwhile, how Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings will perform is probably the hottest topic since he has only been on the bike a few weeks since recovering from the complications of his broken femur.

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s other young gun Dylan Ferrandis is another rider we can expect to see footing it at the pointy end of the field along with the likes of Wilvo Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Aleksandr Tonkov and Honda Gariboldi’s Tim Gajser. Standing Construct Yamaha’s Valentin Guillod could also raise some eyebrows as could his teammate Julien Lieber.

What about Monster Energy DRT Kawasaki’s Max Anstie? His performance here last year was unforgettable. If he rides like that again this year, he could take victory, although judging from the pre-season events Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pauls Jonass could be the cat among the pigeons.

Also adding to the insane buzz surrounding the event in Losail, the 2015 FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship will also kick off. The three-time FIM WMX World Champion Kiara Fontanesi is not going to hand the gold plate over without a fight, while most eyes will be on Aussie Monster Energy Kawasaki Bud Racing’s Meghan Rutledge, who absolutely dominated Qatar last year.