By Geoff Meyer
The MXGP class of 2014 has three riders with very impressive records. Defending World Champion Antonio Cairoli, 2008 MX1 World Champion David Philippaerts and 2008 MX2 World Champion Tyla Rattray are the three riders with World Championships to their name.
Ten years ago when Youthstream took over the FIM Motocross World Championships these three riders were very much the future of the sport. Rattray and Cairoli finishing second and third in the MX2 Championship behind New Zealand’s Ben Townley, and Philippaerts back in 19th position, although was quickly signed by KTM to race in their MX2 team - he finished fourth in the MX2 Championship in 2005.
Only a handful of riders still remain on the World scene from that 2004 MX2 title race, as most have retired or just race National championship level now.
Cairoli is of course the man of the moment. He has left names like Townley, Rattray, Pourcel, Searle and other former championship rivals in his wake as he dominates year after year. A legend of the sport and his status just continues to improve with every moto, Grand Prix or Championship victory.
His perfect off-season will see him come into the opening round of the Championship in Doha, Qatar, in a month’s time with a lot of confidence. The question is: will he play it safe like he did in 2013 and cruise to enough points to make him happy? Or will he want to drive the nail in his competitors’ coffins, showing them that he has once again improved?
The return of Rattray to the FIM Motocross World Championships is a bonus for the sport as he is one of the truly tough competitors in the sport. The South African battled hard with Cairoli for his MX2 Championship and for sure Rattray will want to once again show he is capable of fighting hard with the Italian legend.
Having raced in America the last few years, picked up several injures and lost track of his career a little, the signing with the Red Bull IceOne Husqvarna Factory Racing team for 2014 give him the chance to once again produce his best. No doubt Husqvarna will also want to beat their big brother KTM for that MXGP championship.
David Philippaerts has had a tough time of late. Major injures and the loss of his ride in the Rinaldi Yamaha team cost him a lot of
confidence. Now riding for his own team the former World Champion will be wanting to return to the very top of the sport.
Philippaerts isn’t racing for minor points and you can count on him showing a little better form in 2014 than he did in 2013 when he finished 11th in the World and his best result was 28 points at the Grand Prix of Germany, when he scored 6-10 results.
Philippaerts knows that time is running out on his career and the injuries from the last few years have caught up on him. However, he also knows that with a little luck, he can again be a top five guy and fight for podium finishes.