The Grand Prix of Europe at the Gaildorf circuit in Germany will form the penultimate round of the FIM Motocross World Championship this weekend and Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 will have both factory RM-Z450s in the MX1 gate thanks to the skills of stand-in riders Kevin Strijbos, of Belgium, and New Zealand’s Cody Cooper.
The 14th meeting of 15 will take place at the grassy and ‘Old School’ track located north-east of Stuttgart and is the first visit by the World Championship to the venue since 2005.
Strijbos raced to a first moto position of ninth on that occasion and collected a decent fourth overall at Gaildorf in 2004 for what was the inaugural season for the MX2 class.
After finishing sixth and 11th in his two outings since being welcomed back into the fold in the wake of Steve Ramon’s injury at the Grand Prix of Limburg, the Belgian is ready to tackle the natural German inclines.
“I think we will definitely find some hard-pack there even if I hear there have been some changes to the overall layout,” the former double World Championship runner-up said. “I’ve had some good races and have some good memories from that place and can recall winning there even as far back as my days on an 85cc. I hope it will be a dry weekend otherwise it will be a mud-bath!
“I feel good on the bike with every session I ride but I am struggling a little bit at the moment with the knee I twigged in Britain. It meant the Belgian Championship race last weekend was not so good and I have a bit of a problem in the left-hand corners but I’ll put this aside and try to do the best I can for these last two GPs.”
New Zealander Cody Cooper will embark on his first Grand Prix appearance after previously attempting to qualify for a World Championship round 10 years ago.
It will certainly be the 26-year-old’s first MX1 run. The Kiwi has been in Belgium for almost two weeks and has been gaining valuable track time on the RM-Z450 ahead of his debut.
“The team is really good and I have been riding a lot since I have got here,” said Cooper, who finished eighth overall in the 2011 Australian National Motocross Championship and won six motos and three podium results from the nine rounds.
“The factory bike is much easier to ride and I am loving it. The RM-Z is lighter and I can carry more speed in the corners.
“I don’t have any pressure from the team in terms of results and I just want to get out there and ride as hard as I can,” he added.
“I want to get good starts and ‘redeem’ myself in Germany after not making the qualification-cut a good few years ago! I have not ridden at Gaildorf before but I watched a few videos and I think I’ll like that natural layout.”
An early weather forecast for the weekend predicts high temperatures, clouds and the chance of showers on Sunday.
MX1 World Championship standings:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 554 points; 2. Steven Frossard (FRA, Yamaha), 472 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), 461 p.; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), 410 p.; 5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), 387 p.; 6. Rui Goncalves (POR, Honda), 371 p.; 7. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), 308 p.; 8. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, Kawasaki), 279 p.; 9. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), 272 p.; 10. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Honda), 268 p.; 11. Tanel Leok (EST, TM), 247 p.; 12. Steve Ramon (BEL, Suzuki), 229 p.; 13. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki World MX1), 225 p.
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com