After the euphoria of the British win at Matterley, the World Motocross Championship returns to mainland Europe this weekend. This is the second time that the series has visited the Netherlands, and having started the season at Valkenswaard, this time it’s the turn of the rather beautiful Lierop circuit, just down the road from Eindhoven. The track is cut into the soft sand of the region, snaking through the dense woodland and always delivers some truly stunning and extremely technical racing. Lierop is an extremely punishing circuit for the riders and only the strong will get the results on Sunday. On the positive side, the Europeans need all the time they can get on sand circuits it they have any hope of beating the Americans at the MXoN at Lommel, a circuit just a stone’s throw away in northern Belgium.
OK so you know how this is going to go. We’re going to try and big up the chances of one of the other title contenders for the weekends racing, knowing full well that Antonio Cairoli can and will win. TC222 is on a complete roll at the end of the season, only missing one win since his disaster ride in Sweden. Given his dominance at Valkenswaard, expect Tony to lead every lap of both motos for yet another overall. Chasing him down is likely to be an orange wave of Nagl and DeDycker, fresh from their powerful showing in the UK. Nagl has been dropped by KTM for 2013, which given his form may prove to be a mistake, and if the paddock rumours are reliable, one which the Honda squad look set to take advantage of for next year. Other riders likely to do well here include Gautier Paulin, who was super strong at the venue on the MX2 bike and is likely to do the same on the big Kawasaki.
As for title second place man Clement Desalle, his team are based almost on the doorstep of the track so let’s hope he can raise his head from last GPs lack – lustre showing and take the fight to Cairoli. Or maybe he’s mentally already thrown the towel in for this year?
Prediction – Cairoli, Nagl, De Dycker
In what must be some kind of first (although I fully expect Paul Malin to correct me in the style of a motocross Wikipedia), the entire British Nations team are, in normal life, competing in the same world championship class. In a few short weeks only two of them will be on their regular bikes and will be going for big results at Lommel, so a good showing at Lierop would certainly boost their hopes in the quest for the Chamberlain trophy. But enough of this dreaming, how about the GP? Sadly Tommy’s fantastic double victory at Matterley didn’t have too much of an effect on the points difference at the top of the table, as despite Mr Herlings falls, he got up quickly both times to come in second. Tommy trails the KTM rider by 51 points and it would take some kind of end of season meltdown to throw away that lead. But Tommy isn’t going to give up until the last corner in Teutschental so expect another gritty performance from number 100 in Lierop. If only Herlings wasn’t so stupidly fast in the sand….
Snapping at their heels for the lead will be van Horebeek and Jake Nicholls, with Jake almost certain to move into fourth place in the championship following Joel Roelants injury. It’s a tall order for Jake to move into third but hell if we get two riders into the top five that’s a hell of an achievement, and if Max Anstie’s bike stays together we might even make it three!
But there are two other riders that might just screw up this plan thanks to their devastating speed. Steve Dixon’s tag team of Osborne and Tonus both have enough speed and expertise to hit the podium at Lierop, and won’t care one bit about how that might affect the championship. And why should they – once the gate drops it’s every man for himself…
Prediction – Herlings, Searle, Nicholls