After the heat of Trindade, Brazil last weekend the Rockstar Energy Suzuki Grand Prix teams are likely to encounter similar stuffy temperatures and yet another new circuit this week with the Grand Prix of Leon in Mexico and the last round of the 2014 FIM Motocross World Championship.
With Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MXGP’s Kevin Strijbos and Clement Desalle being confirmed as third and fourth in the premier class standings for this year on the RM-Z450s the interest for the works outfit lies in the efforts of standout rookie Jeremy Seewer; the Swiss hopes to confirm 10th place in MX2 with his Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe RM-Z250 in his very first Grand Prix campaign.
Leon will host the second Mexican round of the FIM series this century after a polemic inauguration at Guadaljara in 2012. There is a high degree of optimism surrounding the venue of the season-closer thanks to an experienced organisation team (the crew behind the Mexican WRC), even if the recent weather conditions have allegedly not been kind in the build-up to the event.
For the second week in succession the GP paddock will have to learn a layout unknown to every racer poised for action in MXGP and MX2. The 1.5km trajectory of fine, loose soil has been partially designed by promoters Youthstream and construction began in March with the final steps taking place in recent weeks.
For Strijbos the visit to Mexico presents his last chance to snare victory in 2014 after notching seven podium results and one moto win this year. The Belgian was sixth in the State of Goias last Sunday. “The plan is to get to Mexico at the beginning of the week and then do some light training, some running and then think about the last race,” he said.
Strijbos is still motivated and has his role as a representative of Team Belgium at the Motocross of Nations in three weeks to look forward to. With third place secured the 17th and final meeting of the season in Mexico holds little significance in terms of the championship picture for the 28 year old who marked his best finish in the premier category since 2007.
“I think third is good and I should be happy with it but I tend to think more on the negative points rather than the positive,” he assessed. “I had some bad races and bad weekends and we need to cut those down or try to avoid them next year. The biggest thing was getting injured at the beginning of winter. It was not easy to make those steps to be in the best shape for the season. For sure if someone had told me at the start of the year I would be third at the end then I would have taken it; that was my goal for the season. I know many guys were injured but you need to be here to get the points.”
Over in MX2 and Seewer, along with team-mate Glen Coldenhoff, will have their own priorities at the Leon Grand Prix. The Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe duo take their RM-Z250s into battle with the young Swiss aiming to classify 10th for the year in the championship standings and the talented Dutchman will sample his last Grand Prix in the 250cc division before moving into MXGP on the RM-Z450 in 2015.
“I feel really good at the moment,” said Seewer who equalled a personal best moto result of fifth in Brazil and defends a 46 point lead in the table over Max Anstie in 11th. “You never know what will happen in one year because the season is so long…and I felt it! There is a lot of fighting through thirty-four motos. The goal was a top-10 finish and I am in 10th. I think I can be happy with this for my first season and can look forward to doing better next year.” Seewer – a sure-fire contender for Rookie of the Year - can even rise to ninth if he scores 18 points more than Jose Butron.
The cool and collected Coldenhoff is quite unruffled about his departure from MX2 and still has the 68th Motocross of Nations to anticipate on the RM-Z250. The 23 year old would gladly like to end 2014 in the same way that he began (three podiums in four rounds) and gain momentum into the off-season when he will have to learn the intricacies of the 450cc motorcycle. Coldenhoff was forced to miss nine Grands Prix due to his knee injury.
“I got some good confidence through the training before Brazil and I took a bit of a knock because of the results [11th in Trindade after some bad starts],” he commented. “We have a lot of flying to do now and can try to work during the few days before Mexico. I will keep fighting and never give up. I want to do the best I can in my last MX2 GP.”
Warm temperatures, cloudy skies and possible rainfall is provisionally predicted for Leon this weekend.
MXGP World Championship Standings (after 16 of 17 rounds):
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 705 points; 2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 596 p.; 3. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki), 530 p.; 4. Clement Desalle (BEL, Rockstar Energy Suzuki), 484 p.; 5. Steven Frossard (FRA, KAW), 392 p.; 6. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 382 p.; 7. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 357 p.; 8. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 315 p.; 9. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), 270 p.; 10. David Philippaerts (ITA, YAM), 258 p.;
MX2 World Championship Standings (after 16 of 17 rounds):
1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 594 points; 2. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 571 p.; 3. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 534 p.; 4. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 511 p.; 5. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 487 p.; 6. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 422 p.; 7. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 412 p.; 8. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 384 p.; 9. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 345 p.; 10. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), 328 p.; 11. Max Anstie (GBR, YAM), 282 p.; 12. Julien Lieber (BEL, KTM), 260 p.; 13. Petar Petrov (BUL, YAM), 239 p.; 14. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe), 223 p.;