The MX1 and MX2 world championship titles may have been decided already but there’s still plenty to ride for at the 15th and final round of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Italy this weekend.
Italian Antonio Cairoli and German Ken Roczen have the MX1 and MX2 crowns on their respective heads as the riders head to the steep hillside track at Fermo for the Grand Prix of Italy but a strong end to the season is still a must for the men who will also be racing a week later at the Motocross of Nations in France.
With contracts for next year also still to be signed by several key riders, the racing a Fermo should offer plenty of excitement as the battle continues for the championships’ remaining podium spots
For Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 ring-in rider Cody Cooper (pictured above), this weekend’s racing presents another chance for him to make an impression in Europe.
New Zealand MX1 champion Cooper and his Belgian team-mate Kevin Strijbos will need to learn the best lines and nature of the Fermo hard-pack terrain in the initial practice sessions on their works RM-Z450s as both riders will visit the venue for the first time.
Belgian Clement Desalle has missed the last two Grand Prix races of the year and will finish the campaign with a top-six position at the very least in what has been a difficult term with highs – victories in Bulgaria, USA, Portugal and Czech Republic, seven moto triumphs and six red plates as MX1 leader – and lows of two shoulder problems.
Strijbos is currently 12th in the standings and has an excellent chance to breach the top 10 on Sunday, trailing Tanel Leok by two points with Ken De Dycker injured.
“I’ve never ridden at Fermo but I watched the race on the TV last year and it looks a lot of fun; a lot of hills and some cool jumps,” said Strijbos.
“I think I have the speed to make the top five. It is all about making those starts and if I can get away with the front guys then I’m sure I can make it happen. My knee was a bit stiff after Gaildorf but otherwise I have not been bothered by it at all. It is the last GP of the year and you always want to finish the season in a good way.”
Kiwi hero Cooper had a tough baptism to MX1 Grand Prix racing last week in Germany where he failed to notch a point but the Australian National series regular is now wiser to the physical-and-technical demands of the scene.
Cooper was drafted into the team to replace Desalle for the rounds at Gaildorf and Fermo and was always set to face an uphill task after flying to Europe from his holiday in the wake of the 2011 Australian series.
“The plan for the week is to try and ride some hard-pack and do some big motos! I’m not going to get race fit in one week. I pushed hard in the last three weeks but before that I was on a break,” he said after the European GP last Sunday.
The weather forecast for the weekend is excellent with sunshine and high temperatures predicted for both days and likely to make the last Grand Prix of the year a tough one.
MX1 World Championship standings (after 14 of 15 rounds):
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 596 points; 2. Steven Frossard (FRA, Yamaha), 472 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), 461 p.; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), 439 p.; 5. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), 425 p.; 6. Rui Goncalves (POR, Honda), 404 p.; 7. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), 309 p.; 8. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), 308 p.; 9. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, Kawasaki), 288 p.; 10. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Honda), 268 p.; 11. Tanel Leok (EST, TM), 259 p.; 12. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), 257 p.; 13. Steve Ramon (BEL, Suzuki), 229 p.
Photos courtesy Suzuki