Welcome to our new weekly web-exclusive column, Transmoto's MXGP Insider presented by Kawasaki. Written by World Motocross fanatic, Transmoto's European correspondent Geoff Meyer, who has seen more MXGP pit paddocks than most and in his early days use to hitch a ride from event to event. The veteran Aussie runs MX Large and MX Illustrated magazine so he is well versed in the Euro motocross and supercross scene. Get your Euro fix here.
With just a month to go before the opening round of the FIM World Motocross Championships begins at the famous Valkenswaard circuit in Holland, rides have been battling it out in pre-season races to prepare for the April 9 World Motocross Championship season start.
In Italy last weekend, Frenchman Steven Frossard once again led home World MX1 Champion Antonio Cairoli in the Italian International Motocross Championship (he had done so a week earlier). While this might seem a bit of a shock, remembered Frossard won the same series in 2011 and went into the opening round of the series in Sevlievo, Bulgaria with great form (Frossard nearly won in Bulgaria), but it was Cairoli who walked away with the World MX1 Championship at seasons end.
Cairoli has never been a rider who has put much importance on the pre-season races and while he did win the Mantova Starcross a few weeks ago he has always loved the excitement and crowd support in Mantova and given an big performance there.
At the opening round of the Dutch Motocross Championship last weekend, MX2 favourite Jeffrey Herlings put together some really strong results and went home the winner ahead of his Red Bull KTM teammate, Jeremy Van Horebeek. Herlings is considered the best sand rider in the World and nobody was expecting anything but a Herlings win in Oss, Holland. British rider and Herlings toughest rival in the World MX2 Championship, Tommy Searle, was expected to race against Herlings in Oss, but pulled out of the event hours before it was run.
The MX1 class in Holland saw Russian hero, Evgeny Bobryshev, win, although there wasn't a lot of leading MX1 riders in attendance for this race. Bobryshev, along with Cairoli, Frossard, Clement Desalle, Christophe Pourcel and Gautier Paulin are the favourites to battle for the 2012 MX1 title.
In France on the same weekend, Xavier Boog and Paulin both did well swapping moto wins. Not involved in the French race was Christophe Pourcel, and while the former World MX2 Champion rode well the weekend before, his non-appearance leaves him with little track time leading into Valkenswaard.
This coming weekend the British Motocross Championship takes place and names like Kevin Strijbos, Marc De Reuver and Shaun Simpson will all get a much needed hit-out before the Grand Prix begin. Also American racer, Zach Osborne, makes his return to Europe at the British Championship and he will have a tough time as his Monster Energy Yamaha teammate Arnaud Tonus has been in hot form, winning the season opening Valence International and also the Hawkstone Park International. Tonus is the dark horse in this year's World MX2 Championship.
While Valkenswaard is a sand circuit, and many GP riders will compete in the upcoming rounds of the Dutch Motocross Championship in preparation, we will have to wait until Valkenswaard before we see all the best riders racing on the same circuit. It will then give us a clearer picture of who are the real contenders as the series runs through Holland, Bulgaria, Italy, Mexico and Brazil for the opening five rounds of the FIM World Motocross Championship.