FUNCHAL (PORTUGAL), 25 March 2009 - The World Motocross Championship will start this weekend in Faenza, Italy, where the series ended in 2008 with the Titles of David Philippaerts (MX1) and Tyla Rattray (MX2). This year there will be also the Veterans' World Cup welcoming back two time World Champion Alex Puzar and former GP winner Darryll King.
A new set of rules such as the 40 riders at the gate and lots of improvements to the organizational structure will add character to this season opener where nine manufacturers will be involved (Aprilia, CCM, Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, TM, Yamaha).
With the World Championship starting off in Faenza the spotlight will be on defending MX1 Champion David Philippaerts, who collected his maiden title at Faenza last year, and arch MX2 rival Tony Cairoli who will be at his first full MX1 season-both are from Italy.
Yamaha Monster Energy Motocross' David Philippaerts, the only Italian to have won an MX1 Title, expects an important challenge on home soil where he will face several other rivals.
Teka Suzuki World MX1 team mates Steve Ramon and Ken de Dycker have bittersweet memories from last year when they settled for second and third in the Championship after a hard fought GP in Faenza, where they both entered with a Title chance.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Max Nagl looks after his second MX1 GP win on the track where he took a clean sweep last year. KTM fellow rider Jonathan Barragan of Team Silver Action was also a solid contender throughout the 2008 as he finished the season in fourth, his best World Championship finish.
Honda will see a strong line up for this Championship with the two factory teams Martin Honda MX, having Kevin Strijbos and Marc de Reuver, and CAS Honda with Cedric Melotte and Billy Mackenzie. All these riders have taken at least one GP win as they aim to build on their tallies.
Yamaha will defend the Title with Philippaerts but the Japanese manufacturer will line up other major players such as Joshua Coppins in the Yamaha Monster Energy Motocross team, two time MX2 World Champion Tony Cairoli, who is back from last year's knee injury, and Tanel Leok in the Yamaha Red Bull De Carli squad.
Former Motocross World Championship rider David Vuillemin will make his comeback to the series after a period Stateside. Riding for Bud Racing PSM Vuillemin completes a strong Team Green including also French countryman Sebastien Pourcel in the Kawasaki Racing team. The 2008 Lovemytime MX1 Pole Position Award winner will not be 100% at Faenza due to a winter injury.
Home rider Alex Salvini will also race this first GP onboard the factory Husqvarna before starting the MX3 World Championship on April 12 at Hawkstone Park, UK.
Aprilia Racing will start the season with an updated MXV 450 ridden by Manuel Priem and Julien Bill as TM will have the sole Aigar Leok in MX1.
New British manufacturer CCM will line up Tom Church and Jason Dougan with the Buildbase CCM Racing colours.
2008 MX1 PODIUM:
1. Max Nagl
2. Ken de Dycker
3. Jonathan Barragan
2008 MX1 POLEMAN: Sebastien Pourcel
With three of the 2008 MX2 major players in the likes of Rattray, Searle and Cairoli leaving the class several young guns will now mount on the stage of an exciting Championship.
After a stunning pre season Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team mates Shaun Simpson and Rui Goncalves are all set on a great opening Grand Prix as both have serious victory ambitions. Moreover Simpson inherited the number four, the same number as last year's World Championship winner Tyla Rattray, which might add extra luck to the British's first season in the team.
Third last year Nicolas Aubin of Ricci Racing Yamaha is also expected to be upfront as the fast Frenchman already proved to be capable of winning GP's. Team mate Davide Guarneri is also very motivated for his home Grand Prix while 3C Racing Yamaha's Manuel Monni is pumped after his successful National Title defence.
American Zach Osborne of Utag-Yamaha.com will be another title challenger as well as Steven Frossard from team CLS Kawasaki.
Again riding for Kawasaki will be Gautier Paulin of team Bud Racing PSM; the 18 year old, who will turn 19 on Thursday, was stopped by an injury last year but will be in top form at Faenza.
A potent KTM line up will see also KTM HDI MX's Anthony Boissiere, KTM UK's Stephen Sword and KTM Factory Junior riders Valentin Teillet (the 2008 EMX2 European Champion), Jeremy Van Horebeek and Joel Roelants, the latter having visited the podium last year at Faenza for the first time. Unfortunately Silver Action's Matteo Bonini is to miss his home GP due to a shoulder injury from the winter.
Jason Clermont and Marvin Musquin will be racing for team NGS. The latter is supposed to collect his first podiums and wins this year, his second full season in the MX2 series, even though Honda's podium chances will be increased by the presence of JK Racing's Pascal Leuret.
Team Teka Suzuki Europe World MX2 will be in Faenza with a reinforced line up, as Xavier Boog will be joined by Japanese Yohei Kojima and later in the season by German sensation Ken Roczen.
Among other riders dressing up in yellow this year would be Jeremy Tarroux (Beursfoon Suzuki MX) and Latvian Matiss Karro (MVR-D Suzuki).
Other news comes from TM, with the Italian manufacturer lining up the eagerly awaited TM 250F MX that debuted this winter. It will be ridden by Czech Martin Michek.
2008 MX2 PODIUM:
1. Tommy Searle
2. Tyla Rattray
3. Joel Roelants
An even more challenging Veterans' Motocross World Cup will start at Faenza with a superb entry list, including two time World Champion Alex Puzar and Darryll King as well as defending World Cup Winner Peter Iven.
Puzar will surely receive a warm welcome from his home crowd and he expects to set them on fire with a clean sweep at Faenza, starting from Saturday's first heat. The list of rivals is long and surely includes five time GP winner Darryll King and last year's World Cup Winner Peter Iven. The latter will face another challenge as he will line up onboard a Honda after completing last season with Kawasaki.
Other riders attending round one will be Greg Hanson, Mehrdad Moradi from Iran, Andres Krestinov, Jan Blancquaert, Valter Bartolini, Michele Fanton.
Saturday: Veteran Motocross World Cup Free Practice 9:00-9:30; MX2 Free Practice 10:00-10:40; MX1 Free Practice 10:50-11:30; Veteran Motocross World Cup Time Practice 12:00-12:30; MX2 Pre Qualifying Practice 13:30-14:10; MX1 Pre Qualifying Practice 14:30-15:10; MX2 Qualifying Race 16:00; MX1 Qualifying Race 17:00; Veteran Motocross World Cup Race 1 18:00.
Sunday: KTM Trophy Free Practice 8:15-8:35; Veteran Motocross World Cup Warm Up 8:45-9:05; MX2 Warm Up 9:15-9:35; MX1 Warm Up 9:45-10:05; KTM Trophy Time Practice 10:15-10:35; Veteran Motocross World Cup Race 2 11:15; MX2 Grand Prix Race 1 12:10; MX1 Grand Prix Race 1 13:10; KTM Trophy Race 1 14:00; MX2 Grand Prix Race 2 15:03; MX1 Grand Prix Race 2 16:03; KTM Trophy Race 2 17:00.