IF you’ve been around motocross for a few years then there comes a point when suddenly you start to yearn for the sport of yesteryear and view it through rose-tinted goggles.
The tracks nowadays aren’t as good or demanding, the works bikes aren’t as exotic, Grand Prix racing is a money-laundering shadow of its former self, the riders are pampered superstars with media training who just trot out a list of sponsors to thank on the podium. Or so goes the chat between typically dismissive old duffers.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but top level motocross racing is thriving, faster than ever before and more spectacular. The tracks are more gnarly – as anyone who visited Hawkstone Park for the MX3 GP will testify. And after the opening GP on the slime-strewn hillsides of Faenza in Italy, it’s easy to see that today’s riders are fitter than they’ve ever been and are just as prepared as any rider of yesteryear to push hard even though it’s so slippery and wet that most mortals had trouble just standing up.
That opening race had no fewer than nine manufacturers contesting the MX1 class, from the big five manufacturers to tiddlers like TM and CCM plus V-twin factory tackle from Aprilia. That’s a healthy starting grid.
And once away from the mud and the tracks got harder, the riding style of the new kids on the podium like Marvin Musquin, Zach Osbourne and Euro MX2 superstar Christophe Charlier are taking riding skills onto a totally new level. A level that riders only so far back as Jeremy McGrath would have found simply incredible.
And while the man-made GP track in Turkey made for boring TV, the riders loved it as it was technically tough. Even Stefan Everts was yearning to race again on it – so you know it was tricky.
If you think the riders aren’t made of the same stern stuff of the Gods of days gone by, then you only have to look at how Brad Anderson rode at the Hawkstone Park British GP to see that true grit is alive and well. His ride through the pack was the stirring sort of stuff that will be remembered for years.
And as for anodyne cyber-riders, devoid or suppressed in personality too scared to say anything in case they upset their sponsors, then consider Jason Lawrence over the pond.
You may not be a fan of his hot-headed antics on the track, or him breaking into the superior Honda test track to spin a few laps then giving the Honda team boss $1000 to repair the damage. But that fact that Yamaha – the manufacturer of bike he rides – grassed him up to the AMA and got him banned for taking out another Yamaha rider, shows that the era of the renegade outlaw is still with us.
Motocross is alive and well. Its golden age is now, so make sure you enjoy it rather than wishing for a return to the old ways.
Although a repeat of incidents like Carla stopping to swig a beer while leading a GP wouldn’t go amiss every now and again, either.
Enjoy the issue.