ÿÿÿÿThe 2006 GP season starts on this next weekend with the MX1 and MX2 classes in Zolder and the MX3 Championship in France. KTM has sent out short bios of their nine man race team.
2006 MX1/MX2 GP SCHEDULE
APRIL 2……Flanders (Zolder)
APRIL 16……Spain (Bellpuig)
APRIL 23……Portugal (Agueda)
MAY 7……Germany (Teutschenthal)
MAY 21……Japan (Sugo)
JUNE 4……Bulgaria (Sevlievo)
JUNE 11…… Italy (Montevarchi)
JUNE 18…… England (Matterley Basin)
JULY 2……Sweden (Uddevalla)
JULY 16……South Africa (Sun City)
JULY 30……Czech Republic (Loket)
AUG. 6……Belgium (Namur)
AUG. 27……Ireland (Desert Martin)
SEPT. 3……Netherlands (Lierop)
SEPT. 17……France (Ernee)
KTM RIDERS IN THE MX1 (450 CLASS)
ÿÿÿÿMickael Pichon is just one of two genuine World Championship contenders that KTM have within their MX1 ranks for 2006. The most successful Frenchman in Grand Prix history (35 career wins) dominated the 250cc category in 2001 and 2002. He finished runner-up to Everts in 2003 and also the first year of MX1 in 2004. No other rider has come close to the current World Champion in terms of race victories. He has owned 8 Grand Prix from 33 since the MX1 class formed at the start of 2004. The 29 year old has stated that 2006 could be his final season meaning that there won’t be many more riders motivated for a title push than Pichon.
ÿÿÿÿ”With KTM I believe I have what I want and need,” he said last year after signing a one year deal. “It is a factory team and many people think like I think and want to give their best. They treat their riders like they should, and they have a lot of power and resources for developing the bike.”
ÿÿÿÿLike his countryman and new teammate, Sebastien Tortelli has experience in winning the blue ribbon class of motocross when he (significantly) beat Stefan Everts to the 1998 250cc World crown. He was also World Champion in the 125cc contest in 1996. After only four years in Grand Prix, Tortelli headed to the US and the lure of AMA competition. Despite gaining a runner-up position in the 2000 250cc AMA Motocross Championship the 27 year old suffered a string of seasons affected by injury problems.
ÿÿÿÿHis signature and return to Europe and the World Championships was seen as something of a coup for KTM and Frenchman will start as one of the favorites for the title.
ÿÿÿÿJonathan Barragan has been supported by KTM since he made his breakthrough into the World Championships during 2003, initially contesting the 125/MX2 class on the immensely successful 125 SX (still the last two-stroke motorcycle to win a Grand Prix with Tyla Rattray’s triumph at Neeroeteren, Belgium in 2004) and then moving to the MX1 category backed by KTM Spain in 2005 where he impressed with a string of lively results and finished seventh overall in the Championship.
ÿÿÿÿHis moto podium finish in Sweden and top four positions in Belgium, Great Britain, Italy, France and Spain grabbed attention and led towards his inclusion in the factory’s plans for 2006 for a one year deal. “This is has been a dream of mine for a long time now; many seasons. I believe that 2006 could be a fantastic year for me,” he said. “I will be a part of the factory team and I just want to do my best for them.’
MEET THE FOUR MX2 (250F CLASS) RIDERS
ÿÿÿÿ2004 World Championship runner-up Tyla Rattray was frustrated by a dislocated shoulder and damaged knee ligaments last season that ruined his quest for the title. He completed a perfect clean sweep at Zolder for the first round of the series being fastest in every single practice session and then winning both motos.
ÿÿÿÿRattray arrived in Europe during 2002 and started to establish himself the following season where he gained a podium at Genk for the Grand Prix of Belgium. He enjoyed some decent scraps with friend and KTM team-mate Ben Townley and was a constant threat on the 125cc SX in 2004 despite the wide-spread dominance of the 250cc four-stroke. Rattray will start his 5th season in 2006 and already boasts 7 Grand Prix victories in two years as the next major star to emerge from South African in the mould of Greg Albertyn and Grant Langston.
ÿÿÿÿDrafted into the team during 2005 after long-term injuries to Rattray and Marc De Reuver, David Philippaerts went on to show enormous progression riding the works 250F and took 3 moto wins and 2 Grand Prix victories. The Italian, with a Belgian father, started the year riding the 125cc SX and after finishing fourth at Teutschenthal in Germany was given the 250F vacated by Rattray after his accident in Namur.
ÿÿÿÿHe grabbed the opportunity to impress with both hands and rose to fourth in the World Championship earning a permanent slot for 2006.
“I’m really happy to be a factory rider next season” he said, “and I am already looking forward to the challenge I will have in 2006. 2005 was very positive for me and I am glad and grateful that KTM saw my potential.”
ÿÿÿÿCarl Nunn entered the KTM family at the eleventh hour during the winter of 2004 and went from offering the team ample back-up on the 125cc SX to winning the British Championship and gaining his first Grand Prix podium since 2000. Nunn was briefly left to shoulder the KTM MX2 effort with injuries to both of his team-mates but his adaptation to the 250SXF was admirable and swift. He did not finish out of the top three once in 8 rounds and 16 races of the British series and gained his first Grand Prix moto victory in five years in front of a noisy crowd at the British Grand Prix. Several podiums towards the end of the season confirmed his growing comfort and confidence as part of the factory set-up.
ÿÿÿÿAlways a fast, smooth and consistent rider, Nunn is one of the UK’s best and will no doubt improve on a steady 2005 in his second term with the team and on the four-stroke.
MARC DE REUVER
ÿÿÿÿA ruthless sand rider (as proved by his accomplished 2004 Motocross of Nations performance despite missing the better part of the season) Marc de Reuver has been plagued with injury and misfortune for the last two years.
ÿÿÿÿThe Dutchman dislocated his hip after winning his first Grand Prix in Germany during 2003. He then fractured vertebrae at the same track (Teutschenthal) in 2004 and needed a knee reconstruction after an innocuous crash during a pre-season meeting at the start of 2005. Despite a lack of victories there is no doubting his pace and various podium appearances; 3 moto wins during his sparse appearances in 2004 and 2005 do not fairly reflect the threat that De Reuver poses. The 23-year-old will enter his fourth season with the Champ squad.
THE BIG BOYS OF MX3 (650 CLASS)
ÿÿÿÿBelgian Sven Breugelmans first came to the attention of the Grand Prix paddock with a podium at Grobbendonk in 2000. He then produced some decent rides in the 2001 125cc World Championship where the undoubted highlight was a 2nd position at Genk, again in Belgium. He finished 12th in the series that year and sealed a high-profile move to the works 250cc Suzuki team but his opportunity was wrecked by a knee ligament injury that sidelined him for a year.
ÿÿÿÿBreugelmans signed for KTM in 2004 and has been a constant presence inside the MX3 top group for almost two years. The 26 year old won the World Championship by 16 points from his team-mate last season.
ÿÿÿÿYves Demaria has a wealth of Grand Prix experience in all classes as well as being part of the French Motocross of Nations winning team in 2001. Unsurprisingly Demaria firmly stamped his authority on the first MX3 World Championship and only an ankle injury prevented the 34 year old from reaching a similar level in 2005. When he has made brief MX1 outings Demaria has consistently been on the pace and during the 2004 French Grand Prix even grabbed a podium position.