Ahead of what promises to be a scorching 2017 FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship, reigning number one and chief ‘target’ for the forthcoming six-round campaign Livia Lancelot is back in familiar colours. The Kawasaki ace is one again sporting the Monster Energy ‘claw’ in what will be a hotly contested season with Kiara Fontanesi, Courtney Duncan and Nancy Van de Ven – all Grand Prix winners in 2016 – hunting the coveted top spot at the peak of women’s motorcycle racing.
Three of the last five WMX world championships have been decided at the final round with the speed and skills of the elite at the front of the Grand Prix pack evenly matched. After 2015 heartbreak when Lancelot was unable to start the last race in the Czech Republic due to a technical problem as leader of the standings and subsequently lost the title to Fontanesi, the Frenchwomen fired back to bury those demons in 2016 and grasp her second crown.
From the confines of her own team and with backing of long-time partner Kawasaki, Lancelot – 29 this weekend and the eldest and most experienced of her peer sect - is primed for the challenge that will involve trips to Indonesia, Italy, France (twice), Czech Republic and Holland to coincide with MXGP Grands Prix.
“I’m pretty happy because the winter went well with no injuries or anything crazy going on,” she said. “It has been quiet, and I’ve been able to get some good physical training done. Kawasaki also have a brand new KX250F which has meant a different frame and engine to work on and get used to. So we have spent many hours testing and working out information that we didn't really have before. I tried my GP race bike only a few days ago and I’m really happy with what we have.”
Lancelot will face four-times WMX Champ Fontanesi (now back on Yamaha with whom she scooped all of her medals) and newcomer Courtney Duncan who was the pace-setter since winning on her GP debut in Qatar last year and until her untimely injury and crash in Germany that ruled her out of the chase. Van de Ven was Lancelot’s closest pursuer before ‘Livi’ put her name in the record books at the damp Dutch Grand Prix last summer.
“This season will be like a war! There are four girls who are going for that title and I think it will be amazing to watch,” #114 said. “I’m really excited but – honestly – I’m not stressed or nervous about the situation. I’m the oldest of the group and I have achieved what I wanted to with my career so anything else feels like a bonus.”
“I have worked so hard this winter – just as much, if not more, than any other season – but I don't have the anxiety that I ‘need’ this title,” she continued. “I want to go out and have fun and race and I won’t be the one thinking ‘I must win this because I missed out before’.”
A relaxed Lancelot – one of the most stylish riders in the series – could be ominous for her rivals. The fact that she is now part of the Monster Energy flock again has also added extra feel-good factor. “It is good to be back. All the top Kawasaki riders have that association with Monster,” she offered. ‘I have partnerships with all the top brands like Kawasaki and Fox and being in the Monster family again means one of the biggest in motorsport. I love what they can do for my image, I know everyone there and it just feels good to have those colours again.”
WMX cranks into life with round two of MXGP at the new circuit in Pangkal Pinang and Grand Prix’s first visit to Indonesia this century on March 5th.