February, 28 2013
Qatar will swap oil magnates for MX stars this weekend as the 2013 world championship kicks off with the first ever FIM Motocross Grand Prix of Qatar in Losail.
It’s history in the making for the championship: the first ever MXGP to be held in the Middle East, the first held at night (due to the extreme heat), and the first to have the new Super Final format, which features riders from both MX1 and MX2 classes.
A rider who is determined to put an end to reigning MX1 champion Antonio Cairoli’s history making feats is last year’s runner-up Clement Desalle.
The Belgian, twice MX1 runner-up (2012 and 2012) and twice third place (2009 and 2011) in seven years, comes to Qatar in good form, after winning the Valence International Motocross in France earlier this month.
“We've been working on the bike and the 2013 chassis has brought a bit more stability in the turns,” said the Rockstar Energy Suzuki World rider, who has now won Valence on three occasions. “There have been 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,” added a confident Desalle. “It has taken some getting used to as well as some tests, but we have been working hard and we're good to go.”
Another rider in podium contention this year is Gautier Paulin. This is the Kawasaki Racing Team rider’s second year in the MX1 class and he will be looking to improve on his third-place finish last year. Standing in his way, however, is MX1 debutant Jeremy Van Horebeek - third in last year’s MX2 World Championship, who has switched to the Kawasaki Racing Team.
In MX2 all eyes will be on current world champion Jeffrey Herlings, who is aiming to enter the record books with a second successive world title. With Dutch teenager’s main rival last year, Brit Tommy Searle, stepping up to MX1, one of the biggest challenges could come from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mate, Jordi Tixier.
KTM MX2 team boss Stefan Everts was quick to talk up the Frenchman’s chances in 2013.
“Tixier has had a really good winter,” Evert said of Tixier, who finished in fifth last season. “He started working on his preparation in November and his riding has been improving so the distance between him and Herlings has got smaller. Jordi also likes his 2013 bike and I am expecting him to race for top three positions this year.”
MXGP of Qatar timetable: 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.