This was something different for motocross. The Veltins Arena in Germany brought together the three best riders from the six principal brands that formulate series such as Monster Energy Supercross and the FIM Motocross World Championship, and let them do battle in a season-closing exhibition event within the confines of the futuristic stadium normally accustomed to Schalke 04 football matches. A host of curious fans occupied seating for the first ever Monster Energy Supermotocross Rider’s Cup across a compact and technically challenging indoor motocross track.
On this mysterious and undoubtedly attractive stage KTM were the victorious manufacturer but the three races unleashed on the audience saw crashes, bad starts, unpredictable scenes and a select of athletes from a first-class line-up unfold. Among an entertainment programme that also involved Drift demonstrations and Action Sport displays it was left to off-road motorcycle racing stars like 2016 MXGP World Champion Tim Gajser and 2015 No.1, Monster Energy Yamaha’s Romain Febvre, to seize two chequered flags between them.
Gajser, who won SuperPole, ruled the very first ‘gatedrop’ of SMX but was ruled out of overall soils after two spills in the second sprint that aggravated the small injury the triumphant Slovenian sustained prior to the ’16 Motocross of Nations two weeks previously. Febvre capitalised on the Honda ace’s mistake to comfortably own Race 2. The Frenchman was held up by a fallen rider in the formative stages of the last outing of the evening and had to ride from last to seventh spot.
Yamaha ended the evening with fifth place in the SMX ranking.
“The track is really small so if you start last it's very difficult to come back,” reflected Febvre.
“The stadium event is good for the pubic and it was great to be part of a full Yamaha team."
"For sure the races were amazing for the spirit and the atmosphere,” commented Yamaha Motor Europe’s Team Manager Alberto Barozzi. “The Manufacturers' Cup is a really good challenge for the future because my feeling is that the responsibility for our riders to defend the brand is a great honour. We are happy for the event and take the positives from it for the future, it's definitely an interesting way to end the season for the Yamaha family."
Ahead of the Blue Army was Kawasaki with key representation from the likes of Monster Energy DRT duo Tommy Searle and Vsevolod Brylyakov and factory KX450F racer Jordi Tixier. The combination of the speed and talent of the Englishman, Russian and Frenchman helped ‘Green’ take the third step of the box behind the Austrians and Honda in second.
“I didn’t know what to expect, and overall it was an enjoyable day,” offered Searle, who culminated a decent campaign in which he also gathered his first British Championship. “I’m really happy to finish the season on the podium with my teammates; it was a nice event.”
For the majority of the MXGP based racing elite the 2016 competitive season has now come to a conclusion. For the AMA contingent next weekend’s Monster Energy Cup at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas is the first key moment in testing and preparation for the 2017 Supercross term that is due to kick off in the confines of the Angel Stadium in Anaheim next January.