2006 MXGP Preview World Championship Riders and Teams - Feature Review - Dirt Rider Magazine

The FIM MX World Championship Series finished nearly two months ago and now all the riders and the teams are getting some rest after a very tough season. Now is a good time to look at how next year's teams are shaping up and which bikes are going to be used by the most noteable riders of the Championships in 2006.Taking a look back as well as forward, we can also analyze the upcoming season by seeing how the huge amount of injuries this year has had a very negative impact on some of the best riders in the series.MX1 ClassThe Yamaha Rinaldi Team has lost their main sponsor, LM Cigarettes, but they've once again managed to hold on tight to the nine-time World Champion Stefan Everts. The 33 year-old Belgian has announced that the upcoming 2006 season will be his last. The latest season has definitely been hard and troublesome for the Belgian rider, who during these past years, has given us some great performances. Surely the 2006 season will showcase his best effort as he aims for his 10th World title—something no rider has yet been able to achieve.His teammate will be once again Cedric Melotte, who has once again been promoted to MX1 after a very harsh season in the MX2 (125cc) class. His performances were handicapped by problems with his right wrist that relegated him into an ultimate seventh place.2006 will also be the last year as a manager for Michele Rinaldi. The former 125cc World Champion will continue working with Yamaha developing and researching new parts as well as prototypes as he's been doing for years; We have yet to find out who will be succeeding him to guide the team in 2007.KTM has been investing a lot of money over the past few years, both on the technical side of things and on their riders for next year, to make sure they will have a great team. They've recruited former World Champion Georges Jobe, who will be monitoring and coordinating the activities of the orange riders in both MX1 and MX2 classes.2006 marks a huge return to Europe for Sebastien Tortelli; the French rider has a lot of potential, but over the last few years in the U.S. he's been victim to many injuries. But now it's his time to shine. He has a contract to participate in the 2006 World Championships in MX1 with options to return to the U.S. for the 2007 season.Another Frenchman under the KTM tent will be Michael Pichon. The two-time World Champion is without doubt an excellent rider, but this season's indecisions left everybody puzzled. In the Italian GP he pulled out of the race for an mysterious injury to his knee, announcing just after that he was going to quit. Then he reconsidered and raced in the French GP, but at the press conference for the Belgian GP he didn't know whether or not he'd race the following round.Jonathan Barragan's split with the Paolo Martin Team, for which he's been racing in the past two years, was inevitable. Excellent performances during his debut year in the MX1 class with a KTM have shown that the young Spanish rider is now worthy of a factory ride.With his second place overall, the 2005 season has been full of satisfaction for New Zealander Joshua Coppins. He's now definitely aiming to conquer the World Championship title, and after receiving even more support from Honda, he's re-signed the contract with the English team Honda/Cas. His team mate will be the Belgian Ken de Dijker.The Suzuki team is composed of Belgians starting from their manager Silvain Geboers. He has put his trust back into the young Kevin Strijbos who sat out the first GPs due to an ankle injury suffered while training in the States. After getting better he rejoined the season and won the Czech Republic GP, showing good skills throughtout the remaining championship.Steve Ramon will join Strijbos on the Suzuki team. The ex factory KTM rider did a great job in the final races resulting in a fourth place overall, perhaps motivated by the upcoming contract with Suzuki.Because of the latest injury to his left knee, five-time World Champion Joel Smets has had enough and has announced he won't take part in the World Championships anymore. His programs for the future involve collaborations with the MTM team that have promised to provide him with a Suzuki to participate in the Belgian Championship and some more international races.The Italian Paolo Martin's team, after ending the very tormented relationship with Pichon, will start off with some fresh enthusiasm and will be support once again by Honda. The two very spectacular riders riding for the team will be Javier Garcia Vico from Spain, who'll try especially hard after last year's injuries, and Brian Jorgensen from Sweden. After not doing well with Yamaha, Jorgensen decided to race with the Martin team like he did in 2004 when he landed fourth place.As always, factory Kawasaki will be managed by Jan De Groot, the reknowned Dutch manager who has given contracts to the Estonian Tanel Leok and to Scottish Stephen Sword, promoted this year from MX2.Finnish Antii Phyronen has been reconfirmed with TM and, like he did in the past season, will be riding a handcrafted Italian bike.Aprilia will be partecipating to only a few races for further testing on their V-twin bikes.In 2006, Husqvarna will take some time off to reflect and will officially not take part in the World Championship.MX2 Class (125cc)This year's World Champion, Italian Antonio Cairoli has put his signature on a two-year contract with the De Carli Team which is the same team with which he started off his career en route to the world title.After seeing Cairoli riding a 450 at the Motocross of the Nations, many fans thought that the young Sicilian rider would have moved on to MX1 in the 2006 season. However, he's decided to stay in the MX2 class with the number one plate, and once again the team manager Claudio DeCarli is combining the young Italian talent with another another emerging rider, Matteo Bonini, who did quite well last year at various times with his Honda/Martin.

This year's KTM team is really impressive. One of their riders is Tyla Rattray; the South African still has a bet going with fortune. First, he dislocated his left shoulder in the GP in Portugal. During the following race he tore ligaments in his right knee. After these two injuries he's had a long time to rest, but as soon as he walked back into the championship he managed to win the last three GPs of the season.Another rider who's been victim to many injuries is the Dutch Marc DeReuver. The 2006 season will be a good challenge for him. English rider Carl Nunn has also been reconfirmed, but a new entry to the team is Italian David Phillipaerts, who thanks to his excellent results through his overall fourth place, has earned a factory KTM SX-F.Another great team is a Yamaha support team built by the Italian manager Ilario Ricci. In the team we find three-time World champion Alessio Chiodi, the young Davide Guarnieri and Norwegian Kenneth Gundersen, who after two years with the KTM, as well as many serious injuries, will be riding in the MX2 class.The "European Alessis", meaning the speedy French Porcel brothers, Cristophe and Sebastien, respectively, will be riding with Kawasaki in 2006, but in a brand new structure managed by their father.After a season in the MX1 class, without any sort of satisfaction riding on a Husqvarna, the French Atonie Meo changes team and class, and will be participating with Honda/Martin in the MX2 class.British team Yamaha Dixon, after good performances in 2005, will still have the young Billy Mackenzie.The Casola team, thanks to the support of French Yamaha, will have two young pilots; Atonie Boissiere and Nicolas Aubin.

Former champion Sebastien Tortelli will return to the MXGP series aboard a KTM.
Mickael Pichon will be joining Tortelli under the KTM tent in '06.
Stefan Everts has announced next year will be his last racing MXGP.