The big question for the MX2 class in 2019 is can anyone stop Jorge Prado. Watching him at the tail end of 2018, and his strong MXoN performance, not to mention his three pre-season performances in Italy, it’s hard to bet against the defending MX2 champion.
You could name 10 riders that will battle for podiums and possibly GP victories in 2019, and still be leaving some riders out. While the main group should come from the factory riders like Thomas Kjer Olsen, Ben Watson, Calvin Vlaanderen, Jed Beaton and Jago Geerts, don’t be surprised to see Darian Sanayei, Adam Sterry, Henry Jacobi or Tom Vialle pull some surprises here and there.
After his performance in Mantova last weekend, and talking to people inside the KTM camp, I am very excited to see what Vialle does. KTM team manager Dirk Greubels has said he is smooth and doesn’t make too many mistakes, and that was clear in Mantova.
Danish rider Thomas Kjer Olsen of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory team finished third in 2018 should be the main man to challenge Prado, and with Pauls Jonass moving up to the MXGP class, it will have Olsen as the biggest challenge to Prado. Olsen knows that the season is a long one, and he will need to be fit and strong all year long to challenge the KTM rider. Resting up in the winter has helped the Dane be ready for this next challenge.
“It is 20 races and a lot of traveling, and you have to stay in shape throughout the season, but at the end of last season, I still felt good. I put everything into last season, it was nice to relax and think about something other than motocross. That is what I really enjoyed: getting away from it and doing things that you normally don’t have the energy for. Doing something else while I still can. I went on holiday with my friends, just had fun being with my friends, my brother and my family. I still stayed active, because nobody wants to stay in bed all winter. I helped my brother out building his apartment and we did all kinds of different things.”
British rider Ben Watson of the Kemea Yamaha Factory team finished fourth in the MX2 championship in 2019 is looking at stepping it up in this year, and don’t be surprised to see him running top three more often than not and probably winning a GP or two. With great backing from Yamaha, he won’t struggle with matching the KTM and Husqvarna machines.
“Fourth in the World is unbelievable and I am over the moon about that, but I need to up my game now, and improve on that, and set a new target, a new goal. I always keep my goals to myself, and I have a new goal and I will be working hard for that and it is an improvement from fourth. I am not going to apply pressure to myself, but I am going to work hard for it. We are only in MX2, it is only going to get worse with pressure. It isn’t even the premier class and I haven’t won a GP yet, and I have a lot of pressure coming to get to the top. I am sure if I get the red-plate and I am leading the World championship with a few rounds to go, there would be a lot of pressure, but I am not the sort of rider to let that affect me.”
South African Calvin Vlaanderen of the HRC Factory effort continues to improve in the MX2 class, finishing fifth in the series points last year, he knows that improvements are needed, but as mentioned, he continues to make progress, so don’t be surprised to see him grow as a rider this year.
“It’s been a really good off-season. After the Nations, I didn’t take some time off because we had testing for a week and a half after Nations. First, I had to recover from my eye. Then we had the testing, which went well. After the testing, I took some time off. Went home to South Africa, see the family and all my friends and things like that, which was important and necessary to recover after such a long season. That went well. Always good to go back home and spend time with family. Then I came back to Holland and started my off-season training, off the bike the first few weeks and then got back on the bike. Just taking things slowly, one step at a time to build it up. So far it’s been a really good off-season. We haven’t had any issues or hiccups. We continue this way and I think it’s pretty good preparation for the season.”
American racer Darian Sanayei of the Dixon Kawasaki team might just be the guy to keep the US fans interested, but it’s going to take a strong bike to compete with the factory KTM and Husqvarna machines. Coming back from injury might be his biggest hurdle.
“I spent a lot of time off because of the injury and that was nice to get a break and refresh, which is the positive of an injury. I have to go back a few times this year because my visa runs out. I mean, I pretty much have all I need here now, I have a car, an apartment, and I know what to buy at the supermarket. Before I was guessing and didn’t know where to go and I got my routine down pretty good now. You know, in the past I would just say we go 20 races, let’s go race. In 2018 because I wasn’t riding or training that much, I did look into it more and actually see where we raced.”
Images Yamaha, HRC, Husqvarna, Kawasaki and KTM