Welcome to our new weekly web-exclusive column, Transmoto's MXGP Insider presented by KTM. Written by World Motocross fanatic, Transmoto's European correspondent Geoff Meyer. He's 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.
Once the greatest motocross nation in the world, Belgium is in serious danger of disappearing from the sport forever. Not only have we not seen a Belgian World Champion in four years (the longest period without a World Champion since Joel Robert won his first title in 1968), but many of the leading circuits in the country tucked between France and The Netherlands are closing down. There is a feeling that nothing can help the country where motocross was once the biggest sport in the land.
The latest circuit in danger is Kester. Once the stronghold of Belgian motocross and a regular Grand Prix venue, Kester is nestled in a beautiful forest area. Unfortunately in recent years, houses have come close and closer to the circuit and recent demonstrations by the greenies seem to have made sure that Kester will follow Namur and other circuits.
Of course, Namur hasn't been used for motocross for some time and it seems very unlikely that the circuit that raced around a castle will ever return.
With just a handful of circuits remaining in Belgium and no Stefan Everts or Roger De Coster on the horizon, the greatest motocross country in Europe seems in terrible danger.
FIM World MX1 contender, Clement Desalle, is a fighter and proved last year that he can be the fastest rider in the world, however he needs to work on consistency to be able to match the legendary Antonio Cairoli.
After Desalle, it's pretty thin pickings. With veterans, Kevin Strijbos and Ken De Dycker, reaching their expiration date, there's not a single Belgium in the MX1 class after these three. Only Joel Roelants and Jeremy Van Horebeek in the MX2 class stand out as possible contenders for the future, although both are very inconsistent and yet to really show the speed of the leading MX2 contenders.
Add to the fact that Belgium's last World Motocross Champion, Steve Ramon, has been forced to retire due to a serious back injury and it just adds to the worries of the small country.
For the first time in many years Belgium won't have a round of the FIM World Motocross Championship this year, with Lommel preferring to put its energies into this year's Monster Energy Motocross of Nations. No other circuit in Belgium seems to have the man power or finances to run a Grand Prix.
Legends Stefan Everts, Joel Smets and Eric Geboers have been fighting hard against the local governments to keep circuits open, but with little luck. Even Everts home track Neeroeteren, which has hosted several Grand Prix and was the training track for both Stefan and his father Harry (a four-time World Motocross Champion), closed a couple of years ago despite a great rally by the Motocross supporters.
When you consider that the top ten all-time FIM World Championship winners list contains Stefan Everts, Joel Robert, Joel Smets, Roger De Coster, Eric Geboers, Georges Jobe and Harry Everts, then you can understand that Belgium is the land of the giants. Like the fictional television program of the 1960s, it seems like its time is also running out.