Thursday
Jan042018

Billy Bolt’s best of 2017 got some rockstar moments 

With skills to pay the bills, there’s some cracking lines and tricks pulled in this edit put together by Billy Bolt.

Keep an eye out for the attempted backflip too!

Looking forward to more good stuff over the next 12 months.

 

Wednesday
Jan032018

Magnificent Seven – AMA SX

 

Amazingly, in 25 years, only seven riders have won the biggest prize in American motorcycle racing, the AMA Supercross Championship. Since 1993, when the greatest supercross rider of all time, the GOAT of indoor racing, Jeremy McGrath, won his first AMA Supercross Championship, only McGrath, Jeff Emig, Ricky Carmichael, Ryan Dungey, Chad Reed, James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto have been crowned AMA SX champ.

Not surprisingly, all seven are in the top 11 of all time list. Of course with all but Reed now retired, a new champion will be crowned in 2018 (unless Reed can pull off the impossible). In the first 19 years of the AMA SX championship there were 13 different riders crowned.

The Magnificent Seven

Jeremy McGrath 7 championships
Ricky Carmichael 5 championships
Ryan Dungey 4 championships
Ryan Villopoto 4 championships
Chad Reed 2 championships
James Stewart 2 championships
Jeff Emig 1 championship

AMA SX champions – All Time List

United States Jeremy McGrath 7
United States Ricky Carmichael 5
United States Ryan Villopoto 4
United States Ryan Dungey 4
United States Jeff Stanton 3
United States Bob Hannah 3
Australia Chad Reed 2
United States James Stewart Jr. 2
United States Rick Johnson 2
United States Jeff Ward 2
United States Jeff Emig 1

Monday
Jan012018

AI Future Driving Challenges!

Don’t Collide With an Autonomous Vehicle, Because It Will Be Your Fault

 

Soon we will live in a world where AI-controlled vehicles will be perfect, and any collision between such a vehicle and a human-controlled vehicle (motorcycle or otherwise) will be the fault of the human. Oh, wait … we already live in that world.

According to a report on visordown.com, on December 7 a collision between an autonomous vehicle (AV) and a motorcycle resulted in a finding that the motorcyclist was at fault. If you are interested, you can read all of the details on Visor Down.

Suffice it to say that properly designed, programmed and operating AVs will, essentially, never be found at fault in a collision with a vehicle operated by a human being. The sensors on the AV will record information that can be recalled, and presented, in court, if necessary. That information will prove that the AV was operating in conformance with law, and the human-operated vehicle was not.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Of course, likely ignored will be the fact that AVs could be hacked, have a hardware malfunction, or simply fail to pick up on cues that humans can perceive and machines cannot (such as making eye contact, or even evaluating a facial expression, with another driver/rider).

When Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and others warn about the perils of an AI future, maybe this is how it starts.  What do you think?

Monday
Jan012018

Dissected: 450SX Preview I

A glimpse at what lies ahead

 

Following a painful couple of months, the new season is upon us. Monster Energy Supercross is around the corner! Following the departure of the reigning champion, Ryan Dungey, the door is wide open for recent hashtags to resurface and someone else to claim the number one plate. It is quite clear that an unpredictable season lies ahead, just look at the number of stars featured within part one of this preview!

Ken Roczen

There is no doubt that every single fan at Anaheim 1 will be fixated on Ken Roczen, which is brilliant for the sport. It is now easy for the casual fan to grasp an interesting story and root for a specific rider. Heck, Roczen may even overtake Chad Reed and prompt the loudest cheers in opening ceremonies. Will he feed off of all of this attention or will it prove to be an unwanted distraction as he attempts to make one of the greatest comebacks that the sport has ever seen? Roczen is particularly strong mentally, so that should not be too much of a problem. There is no doubt that the magnitude of the situation would affect certain riders though.

All eyes will be on Ken Roczen when gates drop on Saturday night (Red Bull Content Pool/Garth Milan)

Will Roczen be the same guy that he was at Anaheim 1 a year ago? The way in which he dominated at that event was phenomenal, as he ended sixteen seconds ahead of the eventual champion. Expecting that again may be a little much, as it is rare for someone to be so flawless, so most would be ecstatic just to see him inside of the top five. However, based on the social media posts and other interviews that he has taken part in, there is no doubt that Roczen believes he’ll be stood atop a podium soon enough.

It is still so disappointing that fans did not get a chance to see Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen square off at one hundred percent last year, but hopefully that duel is coming. The fast-approaching season may go down as one of the greatest in recent memory if that turns out to be the case. The promoters will have Ken Roczen to thank too, as he would have denied all naysayers and achieved what most considered to be impossible. There is no doubt that the sport needs a story such as this to fill the void that Ryan Dungey left.

Cooper Webb

The Monster Energy Knich Yamaha awning is just full of questions marks! Cooper Webb had a substantial amount of hype behind him entering Anaheim 1 a year ago, which is quite different to the current situation. Following a lacklustre season, which was full of sub-par results and small setbacks, most wrote Webb off and cast him to one side. Much like his current teammate, Justin Barcia, the machine was partly blamed for the mediocrity, but the newest YZ450F is supposed to be light years ahead. The fact that Webb actually believes that should ensure that he is in a good spot entering the season opener this weekend.

Cooper Webb will hope to fulfil his potential on the YZ450F (Monster Energy Media/Octopi)

A point that has not been focussed on too much is the fact that whilst most spent the month of October putting in lap after lap at the test track, Webb was sat on the sidelines with a wrist injury. That may not be too much of an issue, seeing as he started riding again in the first week of November, but those first few days were spent on an outdoor track and testing time would have been of paramount importance with the all-new machine from Yamaha. By the time that the gates drop this weekend, he would have spent way more than a month on a supercross track. Will it be enough?

Although his maiden season aboard a bigger bike was uninspiring, there is no doubt that he can win main events this year. The title may be out of reach for the time being, as that would be quite a step up, but the fact that he did land on the box in Oakland last year shows what he is truly capable of. When conditions suit him and his set-up, he can turn it on and challenge the greatest riders that the sport has to offer. Most forget that he actually passed Eli Tomac straight up last year. How many guys can really say that?

Jason Anderson

It seems that most are unsure where to place Jason Anderson in bench-racing discussions. Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin are certainly going to be title contenders and then you have the rest in that second tier. Anderson is either in that elite group or somewhere between that and the rest of the guys, if that is even possible, as he is certainly better and more capable than someone like Blake Baggett. The AUS-X Open proved that he has his teammate handled, as he dominated on the second night after finally making it through the first turn unscathed. However, on the other hand, he was then a tick off of Musquin in Geneva. There are so many elements at play here.

Jason Anderson poses in Los Angeles with the Rockstar Edition FC 450 (Husqvarna Motorcycles/Simon Cudby)

Anderson is a three-time winner in the premier class, but that may not be a true representation of what he has achieved. Two of those victories could be considered gifts. The second occurred in Detroit in 2016, when Ryan Dungey was penalised two spots for jumping on a red-cross flag, and then his latest victory was at the last Monster Energy Supercross round that was run, Las Vegas. Eli Tomac and Ryan Dungey were embroiled in a title fight that left the door wide open for someone to sneak through and take the win.

What does all of this mean? Well, it is just difficult to make an educated guess on where Jason Anderson should slot in. There is no doubt that he will stand on the podium more often than not, as well as win races, but will he be able to put together a championship-winning run? That may be a tall order, although it is worth considering that he was hampered by a foot injury last year. It is unlikely that was too big of an issue, however, as it would have been fixed much sooner than it was.

Marvin Musquin

"It does not matter who wins three months before the season even starts," Ken Roczen wrote on social media. Does that answer all of the questions regarding the amount of wins that Marvin Musquin has acquired this off-season? There is no doubt that victories in Paris and Switzerland do not mean too much in the grand scheme of things, but there are positives to extract. It is quite clear that Musquin is hitting all of his marks and will enter Anaheim 1 ready. Does that mean that he will dismiss challenges from Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen with relative ease? No, but it is safe to assume that he will be in a position to get his title hunt off to a solid start.

Marvin Musquin has been riding a wave of momentum lately (KTM Images/Simon Cudby)

Certain question marks were raised through the off-season races, despite the fact that Musquin achieved everything that he set out to. The indoor event in Paris was intriguing, for example, because he looked particularly vulnerable on sections of the circuit. Competitors like Dean Wilson and Cole Seely tackled the tricky whoops with confidence, whereas Musquin just could not master them. It is not like that is anything new, as he has always struggled to overcome that particular obstacle across the globe, so could it cost him a title? Not exactly, but he may give up vital points at a handful of the rounds.

Consistency is not much of an issue for Musquin though, as he lands on the podium more often than not, but intensity may be where he struggles to match his fellow heavyweights. Good starts could counteract that though and that is one of his greatest strengths. The fact that he pilots the most competitive bike in the class only helps him in that area too. Would it be a shock to see Musquin lift a number one plate above his head in May? Not at all. It would, however, be surprising if he beats Tomac and Roczen straight up to get to that point.

Eli Tomac

When the Monster Energy Supercross series concluded in May, there was no doubt that Eli Tomac would be the heavy favourite to claim the title the following year. A turbulent time in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross caused most to forget just how strong he was indoors, however, and now the focus is on how many cracks there are in his armour. One would argue that Tomac struggles when things are not going his way and point to East Rutherford as an example of that, but was that just an isolated incident?

Eli Tomac is arguably the favourite to claim the 450SX crown (Monster Energy Media/Octopi)

It was fairly similar to what happened in Salt Lake City four years ago, when Eli Tomac was battling with Ken Roczen for the 250SX West title. Tomac was in a great position that night and simply needed to seal the deal, but fell apart in a dramatic fashion and watched the title slip away. Does that sound familiar? It is not like one can just presume that he is going to struggle to put the pieces of the puzzle together again though, as he was perfect at nine of the seventeen rounds last year. The statistics really tell the full story.

One hundred and eighty laps were led by Tomac, whereas the eventual champion led ninety-seven. Tomac claimed wins at nine of the seventeen rounds, more than double the amount of victories that anyone else had, and then he also had the best average-starting position in the premier class. Those facts really make it seem as though he is going to be tough to beat across seventeen rounds, but that does not mean that you should expect him to set the world alight this weekend. It will be tough not to jump to conclusions after the season opener, there is no denying that, but it is worth noting that Tomac has never even stood on the 450SX podium at round one.

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Simon Cudby

Monday
Jan012018

A Look Inside Baker's Factory—Florida's Supercross Training Facility 

By Brett Smith

“Is that your Coke over there?” Aldon Baker asks a mechanics, pointing to the 12 ounces of evidence. Baker, 48, has the wrinkles of someone who has never stopped smiling and the leathery, tan skin of someone who’s spent his entire life working hard out in the sun. He never sits and he never stands in one spot too long, but he always exudes patience and calmness. Except when he spots an open can of soda left on the floor. Baker’s a persnickety South African, and his facility is neat and orderly to the point of obsessiveness. Someone points out to me that the shelves all have matching plastic containers because Baker didn’t want cardboard boxes, which look messy. He doesn’t even like his riders pulling tear-offs on the practice track. “If you have to do it, can you at least do it on the same part of the track?” he asks them, jokingly.

Aldon Baker

Aldon Baker has the track record with his athletes.

Rob Koy

The primary building on the Center Hill, Florida, property is 5,000 square feet broken into three walled-off sections: storage, race shop, and gym/office. The shop is spacious with a well-planned layout. On one side, in front of matching cabinets and toolboxes, are his riders’ motorcycles. The opposite wall has lockers (with each rider’s front number plate above, of course), a data center, kitchen, and a full bathroom. An abundance of open space allows Aldon to host guests without feeling cramped. On this particular day, heavy equipment company JCB has nearly two dozen representatives on hand for a presentation. It’s inexplicable how the floor of a supercross/motocross training center stays so clean when the surrounding soil is 50 shades of sand and clay. “It’s not easy,” Baker quips.

Aldon Baker training facility

Baker cleared the land to create his facility.

From an open garage door overlooking the 92-acre property, KTM’s Technical Director Ian Harrison sweeps his hand back and forth. “This was a forest out there,” he says. Large oak trees covered in Spanish moss are still peppered throughout, but three years ago the land was filled with trees, cattle, and manure. “When Aldon was telling me his grand plans, I thought, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that one before.’"

To hear Baker’s journey partially explains why he’s so particular; in June 2014, for the first time since he moved to the United States full time in the summer of 2000, the land, the equipment, the courses, the buildings, the infrastructure became 100 percent his responsibility. Before his only concern was the mental and physical fitness of his motocross racing clients, a handful of the sport’s best riders, who trusted in him for guidance. For the distant observer, Baker’s success has seemed almost automatic. His clients have won 13 of the last 17 Monster Energy Supercross titles and 12 of 18 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championships in the premier 450 division. In three of the seasons he missed winning the supercross title (2004, 2007, 2008, 2010), the sole client he had at the time was out with injury and, in 2007, was on a part-time farewell tour (Ricky Carmichael).

"No bank wanted to give me a loan"

None of this was ever part of his plan. In 2000, Baker qualified for the Sydney Summer Olympics in mountain biking. Two months before departure he was told that the South African National Olympic Committee decided to put more efforts toward athletics (track and field) and he was out. Baker was disappointed. He had spent four years racing and earning enough points to compete in the Olympics. Before that he spent four years in London where he was a personal trainer in a gym. He didn’t want to return to London, but fitness and athletics were in his blood. His father was a top marathon runner. His cousin was a motorcycle roadracer, which was also what Aldon did at the club level before the army called him up.



He started to line up a job in Australia with Oakley, one of his racing sponsors. That’s when Ricky Carmichael called. They had met a couple of times through mutual friend Johnny O’Mara while training and racing in the States. After a six-month tryout, Aldon got the job as the trainer to the sport’s most successful racer.

Baker’s training program evolved to include more than just one client and by 2014 he had two 450 contenders in Ryan Villopoto and Ken Roczen as well as a few 250 riders. Villopoto withdrew from the motocross season in early May and started the process of winding down his pro racing career completely. One of the major steps meant selling his home, property, and training facility in Florida, which also served as Baker’s base. When Villopoto was offered $250,000 more than the value of the property, Baker knew he had to scramble for a long-term solution. He would have use of the Villopoto property for a short time, and a public motocross track could fill in for the summer practice sessions for Roczen and Adam Cianciarulo, but it would never work for supercross training in the fall. Aldon had only four to five months to build a facility and he sweated through some seriously sleepless nights.

“I was called crazy for putting Villopoto and Roczen together”

In what seemed like a miracle, the perfect piece of property popped up within a month: 92 acres at $325,000 from a motivated seller seeking quick cash. The land was only the first of many major costs however. At the very least, Baker needed a building, heavy equipment, and at minimum one supercross track to start, which costs $30,000 to build (not including the huge expense of sourcing, extracting, and moving 600 truckloads of dirt).

“No bank wanted to give me a loan,” he said of his new venture. Villopoto bridged him the money to get started, and after surviving the arduous permitting process, Baker was operational in time for the supercross training season that fall. To hear him tell it, the process went smoothly but it was stressful. “It got to the point where I felt like I was breathing through a straw,” he said.

Aldon Baker

Baker was headed to the Olympics for mountain biking before budget cuts ended those plans.

Standing amid Baker’s spread today, which now features a second facility for developing 250 class riders—complete with a 5,600-square-foot building, a motocross and a supercross track—it feels like an empire of motorcycle athlete development. Baker’s time is focused exclusively on his four elite riders, who, in 2018 are Marvin Musquin, Zach Osborne, Broc Tickle, and Jason Anderson. “I was called crazy for putting Villopoto and Roczen together,” Baker said of having­ two elite riders training and riding together during the week. Now everyone is trying to put good guys together. No one was doing that back then.”

Marvin Musquin

Musquin returns with Aldon as his trainer and has had a very promising pre-season.

Zach Osborne signature

Zach Osborne won two titles in 2017 with Baker as his trainer.

In May 2016, KTM announced that Baker would work exclusively with Husqvarna and KTM riders, a five-year deal where Baker is paid directly from the OEM. Without such a commitment, Baker said he never would have built the second facility, which is still exclusive to Husky/KTM riders and overseen by one of his former clients and fellow South African Tyla Rattray. Those riders pay Baker a lease fee for use of the garage, property, and tracks and Rattray a training fee. Baker feels like he has a good balance now, and a business with a built-in pipeline.

“The benefit to me is that I can bring a rider into my program earlier when I have an opening,” Baker said. His ultimate goal is to get to the point where he is training and overseeing trainers. “Tyla is kind of a test model. He has his own style but I can kind of back him up.”

supercross winners

Aldon’s clients have won 13 of the last 17 Supercross titles.

­Coming into the 2018 Supercross season, it’s debatable as to whether or not Baker’s squad includes the favorite for the title. The last time a client of his didn’t win the championship was in 2010, and while the white noise brigade will debate for weeks about how fast Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, or Cooper Webb will be on January 6, 2018, it’s Aldon’s job to assure his riders that what they are doing is enough. He has 17 years of data and experience on which to base his judgments. Everyone wants Baker’s secret. There isn’t one. The simplest way of describing his method is that he builds a plan, executes it, and sticks with it. Professional athletes are fragile beings so when they stray, Baker knows how and when to get them back.

“The hardest thing for me is keeping them on the program with all the different scenarios (distractions) where they get pulled here and there. I can use my methods to bring them back on track quicker than if they were on their own.”

Aldon Baker training facility

Baker is training the KTM and Husky riders for 2018.

It’s been a long time since Baker didn’t have at least one former or current 450 supercross champion in his program. This doesn’t concern him. What started out as a six-month tryout nearly 18 years ago has evolved into an empire where worth isn’t measured in acres, or square feet, or truckloads. It’s measured in plastic #1 number plates.

 

Photos - Rob Koy

Monday
Jan012018

Super Hunky Looks Back!

Rick Sieman: USA Land Use from a European Perspective


Why do OHV enthusiasts continue to fight for land use? Rick “Super Hunky” Sieman gives us a perspective from his experience with motocross legend Adolf Weil

 

While I was the editor of Dirt Bike magazine, I had the opportunity to go running with a bunch of European motocross stars. Guys like Adolph Weil and Ake Jonnson used to land at LAX, stop by the offices regularly and also join us in motorcycle testing. This was a great time my life as I got to meet and ride with some of the all-time legends.

One of the things that all of them wanted to do, was go riding in the American desert. They had all heard so much about it, but rarely if ever did they have the opportunity to go riding in it. One ride in particular stands out in my mind. I got to be good friends with the great Adolph Weil and spent numerous days with him testing and riding various bikes.

landAdolf Weil enjoys a hamburger in Rick SIeman’s office, circa 1978. PHOTO: RICK SIEMAN ARCHIVES.

Once, after a day of testing and riding, he asked me if we could just take some time off and go riding in the desert. He didn’t know anything about it except what he had heard and was eager to experience it. I told him about the various places that we raced and rode and thought we would really enjoy the Ponderosa.

At the Ponderosa, they held races about twice a month, and you didn’t need any special cards or memberships to go out and race. You just showed up with your bike and had a good time. There were two classes: the trail bike class that covered bikes under 100cc, and the Open class that covered just about anything else. The course was all sandy desert located about 20 miles east of Palmdale on Highway J. The course varied from race to race, but not too much. A typical race lasted about 45 minutes to an hour, and three laps were covered. Each lap was anywhere from 10 to 12 miles in duration. Some 90 percent of the course was whoops, with two dry lakebeds thrown in.

The start area was mostly flat desert for a few hundred yards, then the deep whoops started appearing. About two miles later, the first of the dry lakes were in front of the riders. Here, the racers who were smart enough to gear way up took advantage of the situation. If your bike could pull a hundred miles an hour, here was a place to do it. Most people only showed up with one or two more teeth on a counter shaft and thought that was the way to go.

land
Weil, who raced in the FIM Motocross World Championship, was stunned at the vast amount of public land available for OHV recreation in America. PHOTO: RICK SIEMAN ARCHIVES.

After the first dry lakebed, there were miles of whoop-de-dos that demanded the absolute most from your suspension. Then, at about three fourths of the way through, you ran into another smaller lakebed. The last few miles of each loop were seemingly bottomless whoops … and you had three loops of this to go through.

Adolph and I got our gear on and warmed up the bikes. I told him that we should take an easy loop at first and see what was facing him. We took that first loop at about 75% of our riding speed, then came in to the pits to clean our goggles and wipe a little bit of sweat off.

Then we went out and hit the throttles. I made sure that I was on one of my ultra-trick Maicos and Adolph was on it pretty much stock KX250 test bike. He was amazingly quick considering this was all new to him. We came in after three loops and took a break, then did three more.

It was now officially beer and burger time. While we had a few cold brews, I asked Adolph what he had thought about the desert. He absolutely loved it and told me there was nothing even close to that in Europe. He said there was nothing in the way of open land in Europe. Everything was owned by somebody. You just couldn’t hop on a bike and go to an open bit of land unless you knew the owner and had permission to ride there. Or if you had access to some sort of existing track.

He simply could not believe that free and open land actually existed. Only in America.

Sunday
Dec312017

Hard Enduro Rider Of The Year: Graham Jarvis

The rider to beat wherever he lines up to race, Graham Jarvis is our hard enduro rider of the year for 2017.

For yet another year running Graham Jarvis was once again the most dominant force in hard enduro. 

Just when you think his rivals have finally got the measure of him, the 42-year-old ramps things up another notch. 

Coming into the 2017 season swinging, Jarvis won five races on the bounce. Most notably, two of those wins came at the Ales Treme in France and the Hell’s Gate classic in Italy. 

He then went to Brazil and won a shortened Red Bull Minas Riders. Unfortunately Erzberg was the one that got away from him — the one he wanted most. 

But he more than made up for that with victory at Red Bull Romaniacs, an incredible come-from-behind win at Red Bull Sea to Sky and then victory against all odds at Hixpania in Spain. 

In fact he only missed the podium once this season with a fourth place finish at Megawatt. Incredible.

 

Sunday
Dec312017

Cody Cooper Wins Title

New Zealand motocross champion Cody Cooper (Mt Maunganui) claimed his third consecutive Bay of Plenty Summercross title and paid tribute to a mate on Saturday.

Battling a summertime flu, Cooper rode to victory in the MX1 series at Awakaponga carrying a 515 number plate on the front of his Honda.

It was a tribute to former team-mate David Fisher, who drowned recently in an accident at Lake Wanaka.

Originally from Tauranga, Fisher raced motocross through his teens and on Saturday fellow BOP riders Rhys Carter and Roydon White also carried Fisher's race number.

"We got the number plates made up as tribute to him," Cooper said.

"It's an honour to win today carrying Davey's number."

Cooper said he been "full of the 'flu" during the week leading up to Saturday's race and knew he would be short of energy. The unique race format, with four sprint races followed by a longer final moto, worked in his favour.

"I had to win the shorter races to get an advantage. I knew it would be hard in the longer race and at the end I was mucking up and not riding well. I pulled it back a bit to make sure I'd finish," said Cooper.

With four wins already on the scorecard, Cooper's third place behind Yamaha's Kayne Lamont (Mangakino) and Carter (Mount Maunganui) in the final moto gave him a clear overall win.

Carter was second overall and happy with his first race on his Kawasaki since breaking his thumb and collar bone in May.

"It was my first time back at the starting gate for about six months. It's good to know my speed is okay and I can still race," said Carter.

Cooper was the MX1 overall winner with 266 points over the five-race format from Carter on 246 and Rotorua's John Phillips (Honda) on 214.

Lamont was in podium contention after a 3-3-2 sequence in the first three races but crashed at the start of the fourth moto before climbing back to fifth overall with his final race win.

MX2 honours went to Taupo's Wyatt Chase (KTM) in a duel with Mangakino's Maximus Purvis (Yamaha).

Chase took three wins and Purvis two but a fall in race three left Purvis with a ninth place on his scorecard and trailing Chase by 18 points.

The closest Summercross fight came in the Youth MX (15-21 years) class where Taranaki's Ryan Gwynn (Husqvarna), Wairoa's Thomas Watts (Husqvarna) and Taupo's Jake Tomblin (Honda) each rode to a moto win. Gwynn edged Watts by five points for the overall win.

In his first start in the veterans ranks Tauranga's Peter Broxholme (Honda) cleaned up the 35-40 years age group and Hamilton's Darryll King (Husqvarna) was unbeaten in the over-40 category.

A 29-strong field contested the women's MX races with Letitia Alabaster (Eketahuna) in command with an unbeaten performance on her KTM to take the Summercross honours ahead of Te Awamutu's Rachael Archer (Husqvarna) and Rotorua's Melissa Patterson (KTM).

Wednesday
Dec272017

MXGP Champions

French World Champions

 

Heading into this weekend MXGP of France, set for the undulating circuit of Villas sous Ecot, it isn’t hard to look back at the history of the French motocross riders and feel they have done their share in making the FIM Motocross World Championship a better championship.

Eight Frenchman have tasted victory at the end of a GP season and been crowned FIM Motocross World Champion. The French have picked up 13 titles in total as many of their world champs scored more than one championship in their careers.

Back in 1986 Jacky Vimond became the first ever French rider to win a FIM Motocross World Championship. He did so in the 250cc class, and while Vimond was the pioneer of success for French riders it was Jean Michele Bayle who won 125cc and 250cc titles in 1988 and 1989 and started a frenzy of interest and success for the tri-colors riders.

Bayle who moved to America soon after his GP success in 1988 did still compete in Europe in the winter at the annual Bercy Supercross. Beating the big name American riders, and making a long list of young French kids in attendance wish they could be like the good looking and very marketable Bayle.

It didn’t come straight away though, and while names like David Vuillemin, Stephane Roncada and Mickael Pichon looked to become the next J.M.Bayle it wasn’t until the summer of 1996 that another amazingly talented Frenchman stole the hearts of the motocross world.

When a 16 year old Sebastien Tortelli picked up the 125cc world championship ahead of British rider Paul Malin a new era in French motocross was born. Tortelli added the 250 title in 1998 after a season long battle with Stefan Everts and this opened the flood-gates for French success.

Soon to follow came world titles for Frederic Bolley in the 250cc class in 1999 and 2000, Mickael Pichon also in the 250cc class in 2001 and 2002, Mickael Maschio in MX2 in 2002, and Marvin Musquin and Jordi Tixier in the MX2 class in 2009 and 2010 and 2014.

The French have also won the Motocross of Nations on two occasions, in 2001 at the famous Namur circuit and again at Kegums MXoN in 2014.

Now in 2015 the French have several riders capable of winning GP’s races and taking overall victories. Gautier Paulin, Romain Febvre, Dylan Ferrandis, Jordi Tixier, Steven Frossard, Christophe Charlier, Xavier Boog and Benoit Paturel have all scored well in recent years and all hold a special place in the hearts of the French public.

You can be sure when the Grand Prix of France fires up on Saturday morning the always large crowd will be standing as close as possible to the circuit to cheer on their local heroes, and you can be sure names like Paulin, Tixier and Febvre will be wanting more than anything to repay their countrymen with victory come Sunday night.

 
Geoff Meyer
Wednesday
Dec272017

German MX Legends

The legend of German motocross stars

 

Germany has a great history with the FIM World Motocross Championships. Riders such as Paul Friedrichs, Adolf Weil, Pit Beirer, Max Nagl and Ken Roczen have made Germany one of the proudest nations in our sport.

Way back in 1957 a guy named Fritz Betzelbacher won the European 250cc championship, unfortunately for Betzelbacher the 250 class was not classified as a world championship until 1962, but that European Championship victory was the first signs of things to come from the German riders.

In 1965 East German rider Paul Friedrichs finished second to British legend Jeff Smith in the 500cc World Championship and many were looking at the young German as the next rider to challenge the might of the Swedish and British riders.

Sure enough a year later in 1966 Friedrichs would win his first world title, adding titles in 1967 and 1968. Friedrichs was a very consistent performer and finished top three in 1969 (third), and 1972 (second).

Just as Friedrichs was losing his power in the 500cc class two other young German riders started making waves. Adolf Weil and Willy Bauer finish second in the 250cc and 500cc World Championships in 1973 and when Weil moved to the 500cc class in 1974 he added a third place in that very same season, and then also finished third in 1976. Hans Maisch added a third place in the 250cc class in 1978.

Germany had to wait nearly 20 years when in 1997 Pit Beirer scored third place in the 250cc championship. Beirer backed that third place spot with another top three finish (third) again in 1998, then scored a close second in 1999. Beirer had looked likely to win the 1999 title and only bad luck and problems at the GP of Germany saw him lose a grip on the points lead held by Frenchman Frederic Bolley. Beirer who was a tough and determined racer also scored third places in 2000 and 2002.

With the new era arriving Max Nagl scored second place in the 2009 MX1 class and Ken Roczen followed that up with his own second place in the 2010 MX2 class. Roczen would be crowned MX2 World Champion in 2011 and become the first German Motocross World Champion since Friedrichs way back in 1968.

With four motocross world championship titles (three to East Germany’s Friedrichs and one to Roczen) Germany is among the most successful nations in the sport of Motocross.

They also won the 2013 Motocross of Nations at the Lommel circuit and their former MX2 world champion Roczen is currently leading the American Motocross Championships.

Now onto the Grand Prix of Germany this weekend where Max Nagl will make his return from injury and try and continue the strong presence of this proud nation.

Geoff Meyer
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