Geoff Meyer – MXLarge.com
Looking back at Valkenswaard (Dutch Motocross Grand Prix) – Top Ten Things
It has to be one of the best stops on the Grand Prix calendar. Valkenswaard, one of the old school circuits that brings so much to the GP series. Large crowds, huge atmosphere, brilliant racing and a very impressive paddock area. The Dutch sure know how to put on a show, and their crown jewel is the circuit just 20 kilometers south of Eindhoven.
Some things really impressed me about Valkenswaard this year. It is really funny, but I never liked going to Valkenswaard some years ago, it was always a bit of a boring GP, the atmosphere was never really that great because the local Dutch just are not as enthusiastic as the French or British.
The circuit was old and worn out. In the past few years though the Youthstream team have turned that old circuit into one of the best on the calendar. Really amazing technical sections, the sand has been roto-tilled, making it softer and forming more lines for the riders.
The beauty about sand is there never seems to be one fast line, or if there is it can change within a few laps and another faster line is formed. Valkenswaard seems to give the riders such a variety of lines, which of course makes brilliant racing, as we saw this last weekend.
I thought I would put down my 10 favorite things about my Valkenswaard weekend:
1. Moto one MX1: This race was just simply a classic. They will talk about Valkenswaard 2009 for many years, same as Sugo in 2005 when Pichon, Everts, Coppins, Smets and Townley went at it. What this MX1 class of 2009 has is a mix of so many things. The calm of Ramon, old school of Coppins, wild and at times reckless Barragan, De Dycker and Philippaerts, and the always exciting to watch Cairoli. There is a mix of so much talent in this class at the moment and that opening MX1 moto showed it.
2. Former World Motocross Champions at the circuit: There is always a long list of former World champions in the paddock, but this weekend seemed like it was overflowing with former greats. Names like Stefan and Harry Everts, Michele Rinaldi, Eric Geboers, Georges Jobe, Jacky Martens, Dave Thorpe, Ben Townley, Alex Puzar, John Van Der Berk, Joel Smets, Steve Ramon, Antonio Cairoli, David Philippaerts, Jacky Vimond, Heinz Kinigardner, David Strijbos, James Dobb, and Andre Malherbe were all in attendance. That is twenty former or present world champions on show and something like 52 championships. Why we don’t have a presentation of these riders on the Sunday morning I don’t know. Wouldn’t it make for a magical moment at each GP if these guys could to a parade lap?
3. Tent row: The signal area for the mechanics was just awesome. To me this was as Formula One as I have ever seen at a motocross race. With the colors and all those people hanging over the edge of the top floor of the tents was really impressive. Valkenswaard, with the crowd on the hill in the background and the line of flags that followed the mechanics area – it just looked amazing.
4. Red Bull KTM: After starting the season with only bad luck, many expected the Red Bull KTM riders to give it a big shot at the sandy circuit in Holland. Shaun Simpson and Rui Goncalves didn’t disappoint as they dominated the podium in the MX2 class. As for Max Nagl, he won the Saturday qualification race, but poor starts cost him on Sunday. Still, he continues to ride the Valkenswaard circuit well.
5. The crowd: As always Valkenswaard has a big crowd. While this circuit is pretty flat, in fact nearly as flat as the circuit in Turkey a couple of weeks earlier, there are the odd hill sections where a mass of people congregate. It makes for great photos and really adds a nice atmosphere. With Marc De Reuver doing well in the opening moto, the crowd also came alive, which is something the flying Dutchman (De Reuver) should be commended on. De Reuver has for sure brought his countrymen to life on more than the odd occasion.
6. The French riders: Despite not having the same sand skills as the Red Bull boys, Nicolas Aubin, Gautier Paulin and Marvin Musquin all had good moments in Holland. Aubin has always been the leading French rider in the sand, and once again he proved he is capable of running with anyone in the soft stuff. Paulin and Musquin though have always struggled in the sand, and their performances this year came out of the blue. The three leading French riders finished 3rd, 5th and 7th overall, which shows just how much they want it this year. Xavier Boog also did well to finish in 8th place.
7. The paddock: As mentioned last year, this is one of the best looking paddocks in the series. This year was even better as Teka joined Red Bull with a huge hospitality area. When you add all the well presented team trucks and sponsor areas, you can see that the sport is growing in leaps and bounds. The whole paddock area is concrete and well spread out, giving the fans and officials very easy access, and makes for a very professional look.
8. Freecaster television: These guys really deserve a big slap on the back. The Freecaster team of Tim Van Goethem and Mike Van Cleven work harder than most at a GP, and with a long list of videos on show from Friday until Sunday night, this has been a huge bonus for the motocross fan. Not only that but we all love to watch those pre-race interviews with the legendary Stefan Everts and the beautiful Lisa Leyman.
9. The Eurocircuit track at Valkenswaard: Greg Atkins and Jason Barcley (hope I spelled that okay Jason) did a great job on the circuit. Some really interesting changes, and they all seemed to make Valkenswaard better. More waves, more jumps, … but what I really enjoyed was a section coming into the tent row, where after a small chicane, the riders arrived at a small hill, before dropping down into a corner, the concentration level of the riders there was really impressive.
10. Antonio Cairoli: I know, I probably talk about this kid too much, but he is just impressive. He didn’t win the GP, but he sure looked solid all weekend. His come from behind performance in the Saturday qualification race, where he was caught up in a first corner crash, then fought his way to seventh was impressive. He then won a moto and after another terrible start in the second MX1 moto he fought his way from outside the top 15 to third in that second moto. He probably should have won the overall, but did finish equal on first place points with Jon Barragan.