MX1 ClassJoshua Coppins finished second in the championship last year, and this year the Team Honda Cas rider will have to put the improvements he found mid-season last year to good use. The New Zealander has been assured to be given more support by Honda.In the English team, Belgian Ken de Dijker will once again be in the MX1 class.KTM definitely has their eye fixed on the MX1 title this year, and to increase their chances, they’ve engaged two of the top-range French riders: Sebastien Tortelli and Mickael Pichon.Tortelli, after a few years spent in the U.S., the last of which was plagued by a series of injures, has elected to return to Europe where he’s already been World Champion (1996 in the 125cc class and in 1988 in the 250cc class). The agreement with KTM leaves Tortelli the option of returning to the U.S. in 2007.As far as Mickael Pichon is concerned, the rider, coming out of quite a tribulated 2005 season due to miscommunications and mutual discontent between him and his old team, will have to demonstrate what he’s really capable of with the Austrian 450. One thing is for sure, Mickael has shown, on more than one occasion, to have both the mental and the physical strength to duel against Everts.Jonathan Barragan will be part of the Works team and this should be considered a just reward to the young Spanish pilot who showcased his exceptional abilities more than once in the 2005 season, even though he was riding a bone-stock KTM.Former five-time motocross World Champion Georges Jobé will be Team Manager for Factory KTM in the MX1 class.The Estonian Tanel Leok has been reconfirmed on the wheels of Kawasaki for the Jan DeGroot Team; his teammate will be Stephen Sword. After a negative season caused by an injury to his hand, the young Scottish rider has passed from the MX2 to the MX1 class this year.
It looks like the Silvain Geboers Team, who’s managing Factory Suzuki, has a quite “nationalist” ensemble, considering that all the riders are from Belgium. Renewing trust into Kevin Strijbos, his teammate will be Steve Ramon, a former 125cc World Champion in 2003 who finished the MX1 Championship fourth overall last year.Overcoming a turbulent 2005, through tormented relations with his ex-rider Mickael Pichon, team manager Paolo Martin will be supported once again by Honda. Martin re-confirmed Spanish rider Javier Garcia Vico, who has shown strong signs of recovery after last season’s multiple injuries.Danish rider Brian Jorgensen after not doing well with Yamaha, is going back to the old love: Team Martin with which he finished fourth overall in the 2004 championship.Belgian Cedric Melotte is coming back to the MX1 class after a misfortunate year in the MX2 class complicated by problems with his right wrist that relegated him to seventh overall. Melotte will be once again riding for the Yamaha-Rinaldi team.Five-time World Champion Joel Smets, after his injury in 2005 to his left knee, decided upon a half-retirement from the competition; this year he will race the Belgian Championship plus some selected International races, and possibly a few GPs. Joel has support from Team MTM, and will race a Suzuki RM-Z450 with White Power factory suspension.Unfortunately, due to new European restrictive laws on tobacco advertising, the Rinaldi-Yamaha team has lost their title sponsor, LM Cigarette. Despite this, another team, the Geboers-Suzuki, will not be able to keep their historic sponsor, Corona beer. At this point, there is no sign of other companies with an interest in investing in the MXGP Series.MX2 ClassCurrent World Champion Antonio Cairoli starts off his season with a good forecast, and to show his dedication toward keeping the MX2 Title, the Sicilian rider of Team De Carli Yamaha will race with the number 1 plate, as opposed to other riders who are usually fond of their unique number. His teammate will be another young Italian rider, Matteo Bonini.There’s a big presence of KTM bikes in this class as well as MX1. KTM will give another factory ride to Tyla Rattray, who is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the most reliable rider to race for the title; the South African suffered a knee injury in 2005 and now looks forward to making up for lat year’s misfortune.Dutch rider Marc De Reuver has been victim to a series of injuruies last year and now seeks to redeem himself, as well. English rider Carl Nunn has also been re-confirmed with KTM. Italian David Philippaerts is the new entry under the KTM tent—this, thanks to really good results from last season where he earned fourth overall.British team “Bike it”/Dixon Racing/Yamaha, after good performances in 2005, will still have the young, fast and exuberant Billy Mackenzie.Yamaha will once again give support to the Ricci Racing team who includes Alessio Chiodi, the winningest Italian rider, having won three World Championship in this class. He will undoubtedly continue with his tactics which brought him to third place last year: experience and consistency.Also re-inking a deal with Yamaha is the young Davide Guarnieri, while Norwegian Kenneth Gundersen, after two injury-plagued years with KTM in the MX1 class, inks an entirely new deal with Yamaha. He will be riding in the MX2 class.Antonie Meo is changing teams and classes; after a bad season in the MX1 class riding a Factory Husqvarna, the French rider will ride with a Honda on Team Martin in the MX2 class.Europe’s fastest brothers: the young French riders Cristophe and Sebastien Porcel, will be riding with Kawasaki in 2006, but in a brand new structure managed by their father.