By John Basher
Who would have guessed that MXA would be at the final Motocross GP of the year in Fermo, Italy? I certainly wouldn’t have, and I work for the magazine! Why is it such a shock? Let me count the ways.
(1) There’s a championship being decided back in the U.S. on the same weekend. Unless you’ve been living under a rock or caught up in NFL football talk, you know that the 250 title was being decided at the Pala National between Christophe Pourcel and Trey Canard. But, I got the assignment to go to Italy, while John Minert, Dennis Stapleton and Zap went to Pala.
(2) Both MX GP titles have already been decided. The champagne has dried and the Italian GP is more than less anticlimactic. Antonio Cairoli (450) and Marvin Musquin (250) sewed up their respective titles early, so winning in Italy is for bragging rights.
(3) Europe is Giuseppe country. MXA has been known to rub the Grand Prix uber-meister Giuseppe Luongo the wrong way because of our straightforward and honest approach in reporting news. He did not like the Brazilian GP story or the caustic comments on his constant press releases flip-flops. Needless to say, I don’t think that Luongo and Jody will be exchanging Christmas cards this year. However, somehow I managed to get a photo credential and media pass for this weekend. Maybe I just got away with one today, while tomorrow I’ll be given the boot.
(4) Regardless, I’m both happy and surprised to be here. I don’t know a lick of Italian. I’m not a big fan of coffee, I can’t understand any of the road signs and my electrical plugs won’t work in the outlets, but none of that matters. Italy is a cool place, and the Fermo motocross circuit is especially impressive.
Take a look at the photos from Saturday’s qualifying races below to get an idea of the happenings from Fermo today. The weather is beautiful, the fans came out despite the fact that the real racing doesn’t happen until tomorrow, and the riders battled for position. I’ll try and post more photos tomorrow – that is, unless I’m not allowed back in the track!
Tomorrow these hillsides will be packed full of Italian spectators. The track itself has tacky dirt when moist, but hardpack once dry. There are plenty of massive tabletops and doubles littered around the two minute long track.
Marvin Musquin (1) led the MX2 pack to the first turn in the qualifying race, but Ken Roczen (94) cut inside and took the lead away. The best starting spots are found to the far inside, much like the first turn at Budds Creek.
Germany’s Ken Roczen led the MX2 qualifying race wire to wire, but not without enduring serious pressure from champ Marvin Musquin. Roczen has incredible style, even more so than most American riders. Tomorrow Roczen is going to try and have the last laugh on a season that saw him finish second in the point standings.
Zach Osborne is flying the U.S. flag overseas. He is joined by fellow countrymen Michael Leib (MX2) and Jimmy Albertson (MX1). Osborne has faired the best this season. Today at Fermo he finished eighth in the qualifying race, one spot ahead of Leib.
Although many top U.S. riders have seemed to abandon the scrub, it is a wildly popular riding technique used in Europe. Two-time MX2 champion Marvin Musquin demonstrates. Next year “Movin” Marvin is coming to the U.S. as part of the KTM factory team. The French sensation signed a two-year deal, and he will begin his American journey in Supercross.
After the dreaded Red Bull arch melee at Glen Helen, it seems like they have fixed the problem, as the arch stayed firmly in place. For next year Red Bull is out as the primary sponsor, instead being replaced by Monster. The energy drink wars have now extended to Europe. Also new for 2011 is Husqvarna’s foray into MX2 racing. Husqvarna announced today that they will field two MX2 racers. Rumor has it that one of the spots will be filled by Shaun Simpson.
Being that it is a world championship, the Italian GP is well represented by many different countries. These flags represent the various countries. The only question is, where is the American flag?
The starting gates at the Italian GP are very tall. Since riders aren’t allowed to groom the starting area beyond the gate, many of them anchored one foot behind the gate while extending in front of the gate to build a proper starting pad over the bar. It was quite comical, but necessary.
MX1 champion Antonio Cairoli is the hometown hero this weekend. He didn’t have a great day racing today, but he’s in good position for gate selection tomorrow. Cairoli finished fourth in qualifying. On a brighter note, Team Italy worked out their sponsorship problems and will field Cairoli, along with David Philippaerts and Alessandro Lupino at the Motocross des Nations in Colorado.
As the first lap of MX1 qualifying came to a close, Clement Desalle (25) battled among the field to eventually finish eighth place. You probably remember Desalle from the Unadilla National a month ago, where the GP rider put in an impressive second place finish overall.
American Jimmy Albertson has been having an up and down season in Europe. He has the speed, but adapting to the European tracks and different cultures has to be somewhat difficult. Today he qualified ninth.
Antonio Cairoli oozes style.
QUALIFYING RESULTS: GRAND PRIX OF ITALY (SATURDAY)
1. David Philippaerts (Monster Rinaldi Yamaha)
2. Sebastien Pourcel (KRT Kawasaki)
3. Nico Aubin (Bud Rockstar Kawasaki)
4. Toni Cairoli (Red Bull KTM)
5. Steve Ramon (Rockstar Teka Suzuki)
6. Davide Guarneri (LS Honda)
7. Max Nagl (Red Bull KTM)
8. Clement Desalle (Rockstar Teka Suzuki)
9. Jimmy Albertson (Martin Honda)
10. Xavier Boog (KRT Kawasaki)
11. Josh Coppins (Aprilia)
12. Rui Goncalves (Red Bull KTM)
13. Greg Aranda (Bud Rockstar Kawasaki)
14. Carlos Campano (Andalucia Yamaha)
15. Tanel Leok (LS Honda)
16. Manuel Monni (3C Yamaha)
17. Cedric Soubeyras (Sarholz KTM)
18. Ken De Dycker (Monster Ricci Yamaha)
19. Matthias Bellino (HDI KTM)
20. Jonathan Barragan (KRT Kawasaki)
1. Ken Roczen (Teka Suzuki)
2. Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM)
3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (CLS Pro Circuit Kawasaki)
4. Steven Frossard (CLS Pro Circuit Kawasaki)
5. Gautier Paulin (Monster Rinaldi Yamaha)
6. Arnaud Tonus (Teka Suzuki)
7. Valentin Teillet (HDI KTM)
8. Zach Osborne (Bike It Cosworth Yamaha)
9. Michael Leib (Bud Rockstar Kawasaki)
10. Alessandro Lupino (Monster Ricci Yamaha)
11. Joel Roelants (JM Nestaan KTM)
12. Christophe Charlier (Monster Gariboldi Yamaha)
13. Jake Nicholls (HM Plant Red Bull KTM UK)
14. Harri Kullas (Monster Gariboldi Yamaha)
15. Nikolaj Larsen (SRS Honda)
16. Glenn Coldenhoff (Jumbo TvE Yamaha)
17 Matiss Karro (MVR-D Suzuki)
18 Dennis Verbrggen (JM Nestaan KTM)
19. Giacomo Del Segato (Suzuki)
20. Nick Triest (Shineray KTM)