Valkenswaard – The Circuit
By Geoff Meyer | 04 Apr 2012
Back in 1974 Belgian rider Sylvain Geboers riding a Suzuki won the first ever Grand Prix held at the Valkenswaard circuit. Now some 38 years later the eurocircuit in the Brabant region of The Netherlands will be the opening round of the 2012 FIM World Motocross Championship.
Valkenswaard has a long and successful history with the sport, and many of the greatest riders in the history of Motocross have won at the sandy track known for its deep holes and ever changing terrain.
There can be no doubt that this year’s opening round of the FIM World Motocross Championship will bring many surprises, as it does every year, but two riders enter the 2012 series as favorites to win in Valkenswaard.
In the MX2 class local rider and 2011 MX2 series runner-up Jeffrey Herlings of the Red Bull KTM Factory team has won the last two years in Valkenswaard and on both occasions winning with ease as he controlled his rival for 1-1-1-1 results.
Herlings, who lives just around the corner from Valkenswaard, is considered the fastest sand rider in the World and with a handful of MX2 riders missing from last year’s series.
With 2011 World MX2 Champion Ken Roczen having moved to America, Gautier Paulin having moved up to the MX1 class and Zach Osborne and Arnaud Tonus being both out injured, it leaves many of last year’s competition out of the MX2 class for Valkenswaard. That leaves British rider Tommy Searle and Herlings Belgian teammate Jeremy Van Horebeek to try and keep the Flying Dutchman honest. Both Searle and Van Horebeek are good sand riders, so if the Flying Dutchman makes a mistake, expect them to be waiting.
Herlings has helped Dutch Motocross rise after a decade of dwindling crowds and little in the way of World Championship contenders. Last year Valkenswaard had a record crowd and much of that should be attributed to Herlings good form.
In the MX1 class defending World MX1 Champion Antonio Cairoli of the Red Bull KTM Factory team will go into Valkenswaard as the big favorite having also won the last two years in Valkenswaard, going 1-1-1-2 in the process. Despite Belgian riders loving the sand, it’s the little Italian who is the king of the sand, often winning the Dutch and Belgian GPs in recent years.
One rider who has also good sand skills is Clement Desalle of the Rockstar Energy Suzuki team. Desalle was the fastest rider in the MX1 class last year when Valkenswaard came around and this year he looked strong in the pre-season.
A mix of other riders have a chance to battle with Cairoli, including Frenchmen Steven Frossard, Gautier Paulin and Christophe Pourcel, add the name of Russian giant Evgeny Bobryshev and the MX1 class has some pretty good contenders.
A huge crowd is expected with Herlings being the favorite to win the 2012 FIM World MX2 Championship, all of Holland is waiting with the hope he can do what other countrymen have failed to do in the last 20 or so years.
Photo: Antonio Cairoli - KTM image
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