The FIM Motocross World Championship clicks into full swing for the Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe team this weekend with back-to-back events starting with the Grand Prix of Bulgaria at the Sevlievo circuit.
The second and third rounds of 16 will accelerate the series that will travel to Italy and then South America throughout this month and the next.
Sevlievo is a special date for Petar Petrov: The teenager will be able to perform in front of family, friends and fans in what is only his third full season as an MX2 GP star. Petrov will carry the spotlight and the hopes of Bulgarian public as the fastest off-road racer from his country and also now armed with factory-backed RM-Z250 equipment. He has spent the last two weeks counting the days and measuring the rate of his recovery after a fall prior to Valkenswaard left him with a sore lower back.
"Even though I am coming into this weekend hoping I will be as close to 100% as possible it is still great to be home," said Petrov who is familiar with the excellent facilities at Sevlievo and of course the fast and flowing layout with steep hillside drops and descents as well as some spectacular jumps. "I hope I can make the fans happy, do as well as I can and better than I've scored at Sevlievo in the past. There is no pressure from the team to get a result but I am putting pressure on myself because I'm on a factory bike now and I really want to show what I can do."
With an uncertain weather forecast for the weekend, Petrov is not fearful of an adverse climate over the two days of what should be a special meeting. "I like it when it's raining and I'll be keen to get out there whatever is going on with the weather."
For team-mate Harri Kullas, the small break in between the Championship opener at Valkenswaard in Holland two weeks ago and the approaching fixture in eastern Europe was valuable time for recuperation and improvement of his mineral levels; a condition that has left the fit and strong Fin struggling with fatigue. "We had test results before and after Valkenswaard and for Harri to be 100% it is going to take around three to four weeks so I think Sevlievo will be a little too soon for him," assessed Team Manager Thomas Ramsbacher. "I think Harri will be operating at 75% and for sure we won't see his full potential just yet. The important thing is that we are in the right direction for his fitness and confidence and there is more to come from him."
The Rockstar Energy Europe crew expands to embrace a third member this weekend. Bulgaria will see the competitive debut of exciting Spanish talent Jorge Zaragoza. The teenager will steer his RM125 in the first of seven meetings in the European 125cc two-stroke series; the first of two clear steps on the ladder to the MX2 Grand Prix category. EMX125 will run at select GP meetings and will provide Zaragoza with the best and biggest stage with which to demonstrate his potential and that of the still-rapid RM125. "Jorge is burning to go racing," said Ramsbacher. "Sevlievo is one of his favourite tracks and he cannot wait to get out there in an equal playing field because in the German races he has done up until now he has had to compete against the 250s. I feel that we will almost need to calm him down this weekend!"
MX2 World Championship standings: 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 50 points; 2. Joel Roelants (BEL, Kawasaki), 42 p.; 3. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), 42 p.; 4. Jeremy van Horebeek (BEL, KTM), 36 p.; 5. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 29 p.; 6. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), 28 p.; 7. Max Anstie (GBR, Honda), 26 p.; 8. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), 24 p.; 9. Valentin Teillet (FRA, Kawasaki), 23 p.; 10. Mel Pocock (GBR, Yamaha), 22 p. 14. Harri Kullas (FIN, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), 15 p. 17. Petar Petrov (BUL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), 7 p.