The 2016 FIM Motocross World Championship arrives at the midway stage with the ninth round of 18 and the Grand Prix of Spain this weekend; taking place for the third year in a row at the circuit in the town of Talavera de la Reina, southwest of Madrid.
Team Suzuki World MXGP will be looking for more podium potential in the Toledo region from Kevin Strijbos on the works RM-Z450 and also for Jeremy Seewer to get back into his trophy-run on the RM-Z250 in the MX2 category. The team unfortunately cannot count on Ben Townley or Brian Hsu after both athletes sustained injury setbacks this week.
After three back-to-back meetings MXGP enjoyed a short hiatus in preparation for another brace of races in Spain and followed by the trip to St Jean D’Angely in France; two hill-set circuits that have vague similarities in terms of a hard-pack base, a narrow trajectory and restrictions on bona fide overtaking spots. For the next two weekends race starts are going to be absolutely key in the premier class and Strijbos – who captured a season-best fourth position last time out at Arco di Trento in Italy (another hard-pack and compact venue) – is optimistic of more progression.
“I’ve had some good days riding and putting in the motos and I’m happy with the set-up on the bike for the harder tracks so the focus has been more on me and my work,” the Belgian said. “The important thing this weekend will be the starts because it is not so easy to pass at Talavera and I know I need to get out of the gate if I want a result. I will be putting everything into this for the motos because I know if I can start in the top-three then I can stay there. On the other side I’m sorry for the setback with Ben. We did some good riding in France during the week and it is a shame if he has to miss the race.”
Townley was anticipating his first competitive outing at Talavera but a crash while riding yesterday required a medical check on the New Zealander’s left wrist and ribs and has left him needing to withdraw from the weekend and start another recovery process. “I went down today and hit my wrist, ribs and banged my head a bit,” he said. “I’ll need a few days off again. The wrist is not broken but the doctor told me I’d need to rest it and start some treatment. I will have to go day-by-day and see where I can get to. That’s all I know at the moment.”
Spain will present Seewer with the ideal chance to resurrect his streak of podium results in the MX2 class that currently sits at six trophies from eight outings and a clear second position in the world championship standings. The Swiss was unlucky to become involved in a start straight collision in the first moto at Talavera last year that prevented him from showing his comfort and form around one of his favoured tracks. He will line up at looking to bounce back from the respectable fifth place he scored at Arco and after having refined further his RM-Z250 for the golden Spanish terrain.
“Even though the last Grand Prix did not finish in the best way I’m feeling so good on the bike at the moment,” the #‘91’ said. “We did some more work on the engine and squeezed a little bit more power which I’m sure will help me further for the starts. It will be useful at Talavera. It is a track I really like and I always feel confident on this type of hard soil.”
He will once more be the sole MX2 representative for the crew as Brian Hsu suffered further injury around his left hand after a crash last weekend in the second round of the ADAC MX Master series at Moggers. The 17-year-old was making a tentative comeback to action after improving the feeling and flexibility around the wrist he broke last November but will now have to reset and review his progress.
Bas Vaessen will attempt the fifth round of the EMX250 European Championship in Spain as the Grand Prix feeder series also reaches the halfway stage. The Dutchman is aiming for his second podium appearance of the year and to also gain four more points than Kevin Wouts to enter the top four of the standings.
Temperatures are expected to hover in the mid-20s this weekend with the chance of some thunderstorms on Saturday and clearer skies on Sunday.
MXGP World Championship Standings (after 8 of 18 rounds): 1. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 335 points; 2. Romain Febvre (FRA, YAM), 331 p.; 3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 310 p.; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 273 p.; 5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 264 p.; 6. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 247 p.; 7. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki World MXGP), 204 p.; 8. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 189 p.; 9. Valentin Guillod (SUI, YAM), 153 p.; 10. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, KTM), 146 p.; 11. Tommy Searle (GBR, KAW), 139 p.; 12. Christophe Charlier (FRA, HUS), 135 p.; 13. Ben Townley (NZL, Suzuki World MXGP), 119 p.
MX2 World Championship Standings (after 8 of 18 rounds): 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 397 points; 2. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki World MX2), 297 p.; 3. Pauls Jonass (LAT, KTM), 260 p.; 4. Benoit Paturel (FRA, YAM), 211 p.; 5. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, YAM), 210 p.; 6. Petar Petrov (BUL, KAW), 202 p.; 7. Max Anstie (GBR, HUS), 183 p.; 8. Vsevolod Brylyakov (RUS, KAW), 182 p.; 9. Samuele Bernardini (ITA, TM), 179 p.; 10. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 162 p.
EMX250 European Championship Standings (after 4 of 10 rounds): 1. Thomas Kjer Olsen (DEN, HUS), 182 points; 2. Hunter Lawrence (AUS, KAW), 151 p.; 3. Darian Sanayei (USA, KAW), 137 p.; 4. Kevin Wouts (BEL, KTM), 114 p.; 5. Bas Vaessen (NED, Suzuki World MX2), 110 p.; 6. Nick Kouwenberg (NED, HON), 105 p.; 7. Jorge Prado Garcia (ESP, KTM), 85 p.; 8. Anton Gole (SWE, HUS), 83 p.; 9. Miro Sihvonen (FIN, KTM), 83 p.; 10. Nicolas Dercourt (FRA, KAW), 69 p.