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Jeremy Van Horebeek at the 2017 Grand Prix of Argentina

Patagonia pushes MXGP 2018 into gear

Feb 252018

A long, tough but exhilarating nineteen rounds, thirty-eight motos and seven months lies ahead for the latest saga in the FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship. The majority of the paddock will begin the time-zone-spanning trek to Neuquen in the depths of Patagonia through the coming days for the first flurry of racing this week and the Grand Prix of Patagonia-Argentina.

The biggest targets across the dark volcanic earth that gets rough, fast, inviting and challenging for the more technical of the MXGP elite will be reigning champions KTM; the Austrians owning both MXGP and MX2 classes in 2017. Sand, loam, deep ruts, large jumps, slick hard-pack, undulations, flat, man-made obstacles and a variety of weather conditions: no other motorcycle racing discipline pushes both man and machine to such extremes. Add some colourful characters and diverse styles and motocross is prime for some fantastically close action.

It all starts again in Argentina; the Neuquen facility usually packed with typically rabid and passionate fans as the site hosts the opening chapter of MXGP for the very first time. Chasing KTM will be the Monster Energy Yamaha duo of Romain Febvre (France, 26 years old) and Jeremy Van Horebeek (Belgian, now 28). For Febvre in particular 2018 presents the chance to erase some of the burning frustration of last year when a mistake with the set-up with this YZ450FM in pre-season meant a drawn-out period of readjustment. The 2015 World Champ should be one of more feisty and focussed among the favourites for 2018 success. Van Horebeek meanwhile continues the search for the level and consistency of his 2014 term where twelve podiums drew him up to the position of world no.2. ‘JVH’ enters his fifth year with Yamaha and should be primed to head the leaderboard.