—  Losail MX Track ready to host a historical MXGP

This weekend starts the 2013 FIM Motocross World Championship season at Losail’s Motocross track in Qatar during the 1st and 2nd March. Many expectations have been generated around this event, not only because it will be the first race of the 2013 season, but also because it will be a reference in the History of the sport for being the first ever MXGP in the Middle East, the first MXGP celebrated at night under the floodlights and with the new Super Final format.

Losail Motocross Track is the first Motocross track in Qatar and for the first time they will host an International event. However, the facilities of Losail are well known worldwide since many years, as they regularly host one round of the MotoGP Championship. The cooperation between Youthstream and QMMF has been outstanding and together with Musco Lighting System, the same company that illuminates the Losail International Circuit for MotoGP, they will write their names in the History of the sport for having celebrated the first ever Grand Prix under the floodlights.

Another highlight of the weekend is the fact that Livia Lancelot, 2008 FIM Women’s Motocross World Champion, will be taking part in the MX2 class during the MXGP in Qatar. She will be the second woman to take part in the FIM Motocross World Championship, after Mariana Balbi, who took part in the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2009 classifying 24th overall.

— MX1

MX1 defending Champion Antonio Cairoli has recently admitted that he is really excited to race in Qatar under the floodlights and he is also looking forward to visiting the country and getting involved with a different culture. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider, who has six FIM Motocross World Titles under his belt, took part in the Italian National Championship some weeks ago and he proved that he is fully fit to the defend the Title already in the first Grand Prix.

Rockstar Energy Suzuki World’s Clement Desalle, who finished second last year, is determined to start the 2013 season fighting for the top of the podium. The Belgian rider was the only one who led the MX1 standings last year apart from Cairoli, so he is one of the clear favourites to stop the Italian to claim another MX1 Title. Desalle took also part in some international off-season races and he also obtained excellent results. This year Desalle will have his compatriot Kevin Strijbos in the team, so the Rockstar Energy Suzuki World squad expects to be fighting for a double podium position in several Grand Prix.

Another candidate to be fighting for the top three positions is the Monster Energy Yamaha rider Steven Frossard, who is coming back to the FIM Motocross World Championship fully fit again after having missed almost the whole 2012 season due to a knee injury. The French rider finished second in 2011 in his rookie year in the FIM MX1 World Championship, so he is for sure another rider to be looking at not only for this Grand Prix, but also during the whole season. Joel Roelants will be the new MX1 teammate of Frossard and the Belgian is looking forward to starting his rookie season in the FIM MX1 World Championship.

For Gautier Paulin it will be the second year in the FIM MX1 World Championship and he has recently admitted that he feels much more comfortable with his bike this season and he is ready to be more often on the rostrum. The Kawasaki Racing Team rider finished third last year and he managed to win the second Grand Prix of 2012, which took place in Sevlievo, Bulgaria. Belgian rider Jeremy Van Horebeek, who finished third last year in the FIM MX2 World Championship, has joined the Kawasaki Racing Team this season on his debut in the MX1 class.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Ken De Dycker was the big surprise last year finishing fifth in the FIM MX1 World Championship and fighting for the top three positions at every Grand Prix. It will be the second season for the Belgian rider in the KTM factory team, so his main goal is to be more consistent and try to be as close as possible to his teammate’s level.

The Honda World Motocross team is also very excited to starting the new season with Evgeny Bobryshev and their new rider Max Nagl, who had an extraordinary end of 2012 season after his comeback from a serious back injury. Bobryshev had a difficult season last seasn, but he wants to prove that he is able to be fighting for the top three positions, and his teammate Nagl will do his best to join the Russian at every Grand Prix, even if he is still recovering from a hand injury he suffered a month ago in the Starcross of Mantova.

CLS MX1 Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit’s Tommy Searle will take part in his first Grand Prix in the FIM MX1 World Championship after having finished second in the FIM MX2 World Championship in 2012. Last year the British rider had already the opportunity to test the 450cc bike, as he represented Great Britain in the MX1 class in the Motocross of Nations. Searle has always said that he feels very comfortable in the 450cc bike, so he will have to prove already this weekend if he is able to be fighting for the top positions in his rookie year.

Xavier Boog, who finished seventh last year in the FIM Motocross World Championship, and Rui Gonçalves will be teammates this year in the renovated Kimi Räikkönen’s structure of ICEONERACING. The whole team has had a great off-season preparation, so they are now ready to test their speed and their settings with the rest of the teams.

2008 FIM MX1 World Champion David Philippaerts, who is fully recovered from the wrist injury he suffered last year in the Grand Prix of Sweden, will be back this weekend fully motivated wearing the colours of Honda Gariboldi. Another rider who changed team for this 2013 season is Shaun Simpson who is looking forward to race with his brand new TM Factory Racing machine.

— MX2

2012 FIM MX2 World Champion Jeffrey Herlings has landed in Qatar fully motivated to race the first Grand Prix of the season and he will do his best to start the new season with the red plate on his KTM. Besides, the Red Bull KTM Factory rider is also looking forward to racing agaisng the MX1 rider in the Super Final although he knows it is going to be difficult for him to finish among the top three riders.

Most of Herlings 2012 main rivals have moved up to the MX1 class, so there is a big question mark of who will be able to stop the Dutch rider to claim his second MX2 World Tile. However, his teammate Jordi Tixier has experienced significant improvements during the off-season, so he can be the one fighting for the MX2 World Championship against Herlings.

Wilvo Nestaan JM Racing KTM’s Jake Nicholls had a very consistent season last year and he finished fourth in the FIM MX2 World Championship. The British rider is very motivated to start the new season, so he might be one of the riders to finish on the MX2 podium this weekend in Qatar.

Another rider who can be fighting for an overall win in the MX2 class is the Monster Energy Yamaha rider, Christophe Charlier. The French rider had a tough season in 2012 as he struggled with several injuries, but he is fully fit again and more motivated than ever to be fighting for the first step of the podium.

Max Anstie is another clear candidate to be among the top three riders and this season he will be wearing the colours of the Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe team. The British rider took part in several Supercross races in the USA, so he is arriving in Qatar fully fit to race for a top three result.

Arnaud Tonus and Alessandro Lupino will be the new riders for the CLS MX2 Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit team and both of them are also possible candidates to finish on the podium. In fact, Tonus finished the 2012 season claiming a third overall result during the Grand Prix of Germany.

Another team who is fully renovated for this 2013 season is Dixon’s Monster Energy Yamaha. The British team manager will count on Australian Dean Ferris, who has moved from the MX1 to the MX2 class, the 2012 European 250cc Champion Mel Pocock and Maxime Desprey, who was also taking part in the European 250 Championship last year.


Friday: MX2 Free Practice 17:00; MX1 Free Practice 17:45; MX2 Pre-Qualifying Practice 19:15; MX1-Pre Qualifying Practice 20:00; MX2 Qualifying Race 22:00; MX1 Qualifying Race 23:00.

Saturday: MX2 Warm up 17:00; MX1 Warm up 17:30; MX2 Grand Prix Race 1 19:10; MX1 Grand Prix Race 1 20:10; MX1/2 Last Chance Race 21:30; MX1/2 Super Final 23:10.

— Suzuki Preview

A short pre-season of preparation for Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 comes to a formal end this Saturday as the very first FIM Motocross Grand Prix of Qatar takes place at Losail and opens the 2013 World Championship campaign.

Clement Desalle and Kevin Strijbos will guide their factory RM-Z450 machines around the new rocky layout for part one of two overseas events that initiate the 18-round MX1 series.

The works Suzuki crew will again rely on the talents of two Belgian riders, Desalle and Strijbos – both former championship runner-ups – as the lights are turned on for MX Grand Prix racing’s first ever night meeting at the renowned and spectacular MotoGP venue.

It will be the fourth term in ‘yellow’ for 23 year old Desalle and also the fourth where ’25’ is expected to be a contender for the MX1 crown after claiming victory for the third year in a row at the Valence International recently. “We made a few changes to the routine with some cardio stuff but we are at a level now where we know our bodies and the job we need to do,” said Desalle “We go to Qatar for the first Grand Prix and for sure it will be different but it will be important not to put too much pressure on ourselves this weekend. This is the longest championship for many years and there is a lot of racing ahead.

“We’ve been working on the bike and the 2013 chassis has brought a bit more stability in the turns,” he added. “There have little changes to the new race bike but that’s how you improve an already good motorcycle, making small progressions here and there. The biggest difference has been with the air suspension. It is a bit difficult to explain how the unit behaves but basically it is a different feeling and it has taken some getting used to as well as some tests, but we have been working hard and we’re good to go.”

It could be said that Strijbos is a Suzuki man at heart. The veteran grew up with the team through MXGP and the initial years of MX1 at the beginning of the last decade; even marking the RM-Z450’s first ever GP win in 2005. He twice grabbed the ‘number two plate’ to Stefan Everts. Strijbos returned to the crew for several appearances as a substitute rider in 2011 and after a decent 2012 campaign where he gained three podiums (his first silverware since 2006) as a privateer, has been welcomed back into the factory fold. “Yes, this is like part three for me!” he said. “I’ve said many times before that this is a team and a way to work that I feel very comfortable with and I feel really good going into the season. It is interesting for me to work with Joel Smets, now that he is an integral member of the team, and having a five times world champion with all his experience is something very positive to have in your corner.”

The Losail circuit hosted its first motocross race less than two weeks ago. Located a short distance from the capital of Doha the terrain is believed to be rocky and loose and placed on a flat landscape. Temperatures in the Middle East mean that the Grand Prix will be staged at night and Qatar will also see the introduction of a new three moto format with MX1 and MX2 classes mixed for a Superfinal that will start at 23.10 local time.


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