The Grand Prix of Belgium at the new, 'unseen' and hard-pack circuit of Sans Souci in Bastogne this weekend will bring the Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe team to the mid-point of its 2012 FIM MX2 Motocross World Championship campaign.
Harri Kullas, Petar Petrov and their brace of factory-back RM-Z250s will travel to the location in the south east of the country to help inaugurate the venue hosting the eighth round of 16 in the series.
Kullas has had more time to recover from the stiff neck that he suffered in Portugal last week and as a consequence of a crash in France a fortnight ago for what was the first of this three-week three-race streak of meetings. Petrov continues to get stronger, faster and more confident and is making progress in his first campaign in 'yellow'. Sadly the team will not be able to count on the exceptional talents of Spaniard Jorge Zaragoza as the teenager has only just recovered from his broken wrist and the event in Bastogne comes along too quickly for the RM125cc racer and the fourth round of the European EMX125 contest
"We've not had the best of luck so far this season with some injuries to the riders but they are picking up the rhythm and fitness; and overall, we're pleased with what we have done to this point in the Championship," commented Team Manager Thomas Ramsbacher.
"We would've needed to push Jorge quite hard for him to be ready for Belgium and that was not really something we wanted to do," he continued. "There is a long-term plan in place for him and taking further risks at this stage is not in anybody's interests. The important thing is that he is well, fit and ready on the bike before he can think about entering the gate of a race. We have talked and adjusted our sights and the FIM Junior World Championship is August is now our big target. On the subject of our young guys, Brian Hsu was another one who had to worry about a wrist injury but his pre-season problem is now firmly over and it was great to see him winning the European 85cc race last week.
"We are happy with Petar and the line that his riding and results are heading and we really hope Harri will be able to make progress both physically and in terms of the goal we have both set for 2012," he added. "If you look at the points table - Kullas is 11th - then he is only six points away from being able to move up to eighth and that is more an indication of where his speed and capability should be."
Little is known about the new facility in Bastogne except that the hard-pack terrain is forged into plenty of big jumps to keep the crowd captivated. FIM-regulated tracks are rarely longer than the stipulated 1750m length and the setting in the Ardennes forest guarantees a scenic landscape. The team will roll into the paddock today (Thursday) and be chasing yet more generous quantities of Grand Prix points before a small break precedes a trip to Sweden at the end of the month.
"We had some elements of the team come into place quite late this year but the bikes are working at the top level and we are still planning for the future with the technical side," added Ramsbacher. "Rockstar Energy has given the team a great profile and a real synergy with the MX1 factory guys. Most of all, it is cool that they see and support our plan to bring the cream of young European talent to the highest level. We're extremely happy our programme is firmly underway and we have great partners like this."
MX2 World Championship Standings (after 7 of 16 rounds): 1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 317 points; 2. Tommy Searle (GBR, Kawasaki), 293 p.; 3. Jeremy van Horebeek (BEL, KTM), 268 p.; 4. Joel Roelants (BEL, Kawasaki), 204 p.; 5. Max Anstie (GBR, Honda), 191 p.; 6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 187 p.; 7. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), 175 p.; 8. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Husqvarna), 129 p.; 9. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 126 p.; 10. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), 125 p.; 11. Harri Kullas (FIN, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), 123 p.; 12. Petar Petrov (BUL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), 108 p.