and Winter testing with Clement Desalle and Tanel Leok; and the team's aspiration to be 2012 World MX1 Champions.
The 2012 FIM World Championship is about to begin again and it is always an exciting time before the first grand prix comes near. All the work we do and all the interest of the sponsors and partners come down to this moment.
Our testing plans and objective went to schedule during the winter and the pre-season. We had new ideas and some worked and some didn't but this is normal and the reason why we try stuff! At the end of the day, only the rider can give a thumbs-up. Our material and components all arrived in good time so we were able to do our job without any major hassle.
The riders themselves also had a good period and we were happy that Clement was able to take time and recover fully and get stronger after his shoulder operations near the end of 2011. All the Suzuki riders came together for a group training session in Portugal, which was also positive for a bit of team-building, and then concentrated on their own programmes. Clement has already showed decent speed, performance and confidence by winning all the MX1 heats in Valence and Hawkstone Park. It was good to see.
Things with Tanel were going very well. He had blended into the team and we knew a little about working with him from the time during 2004, which was his first year in MX1. He has learnt a lot since then and he has changed quite a bit also. He is a very open person now and takes more interest in the way the bike functions. He has good support around him with his family and we've found it is almost impossible to tire him out with our requests for testing! Unfortunately he had an accident while training at Lommel. He hit another bike that was lying on a jump landing and the crash pretty much put him on the sidelines for five weeks. He is set to start practicing again tomorrow - on Saturday - so all should be OK for the first GP.
With regards to our race bike, Clement gave some good reports and feedback during 2011 for the RM-Z450 and was already very happy with the equipment he had. Nevertheless we pushed to offer him more and take that level of satisfaction up a notch. In the end he is really pleased with the bike and from our point of view that is something we strive to achieve.
For Tanel, we were glad that he had a great feeling straight away on our bike and the only change has been to the basic setting and little things particular to his tastes such as adjustments to the front and rear brakes and positions of the handlebars. The set-ups of both Clement and Tanel are actually quite similar and Tanel is now a smoother rider than the 'bulldozer' we all remember! In terms of the value he'll bring to the development of our bike it is still a little early to tell and I think we will know more when we get to the middle of the season.
Obviously we are in Rockstar Energy Drink colours again this season and as the main sponsor of the team they are of prime importance. The relationship between us is excellent. We both believe in each other and both parties do their best to perform and provide above and beyond what is set in the agreement. The co-operation with Rockstar and Fox is vital for the way the rider's material and clothing is handled and we can also count on great support again from loyal partners such as Akrapovic, Pirelli, Motul, Renthal, Polisport, Hinson, Twin Air, DID, NGK & WLM. The choice of partners for the race team and machinery is crucial for the final result.
MX1 will be exciting again this year. It seems that each manufacturer has lined up several fast riders, some with GP-winning experience, to fight it out. This is very good for the sport in general and I really hope we can take our first World Championship this decade after 16 rounds of entertainment!