The 2011 FIM Motocross World Championships starts this weekend in Sevlievo, Bulgaria. Apart from hosting the first Grand Prix of the MX1 and MX2 classes, the prestigious Bulgarian venue will also host the first round of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship and the first round of the UEM EMX125.Four times World Champion Antonio Cairoli will have to defend his Title from the likes of Belgian Clement Desalle, his compatriot David Philippaerts and his teammate Max Nagl, to mention just a few. Besides, the return of Ben Townley to the series will put more drama to the chase for the MX1 Title.German Ken Roczen seems to be the clear favourite to conquer the MX2 class. However, many young talents such as Jeffrey Herlings, Gautier Paulin or Arnaud Tonus have shown a great potential and they will all try to stop the German rider on his new KTM machine.2010 FIM 85cc Junior World Champion Henry Jacobi is taking part this year in the UEM EMX 125 Championship.Simone Zecchina enters the series being the under 17 Italian Champion and the runner-up of the same series, Samuele Bernardini, is also racing the UEM EMX 125 with Maglia Azzurra Junior Team.Stefan Ekerold, from Bodo Schmidt Motorsport team, is also another name to take into account as a potential candidate for the Title being the son of 80’s Road race World Champion John Ekerold.MX1Red Bull Teka KTM Factory racing’s Antonio Cairoli regained the MX1 World Title in 2010 on the revolutionary 350 SX-F and handed the Austrian manufacturer the so expected MX1 Title, which was last won by Heinz Kinigadner in 1985.On his second year with KTM, the Italian is looking forward to achieve his fifth World Title and be at the same level as Motocross legends such as Joel Smets, Georges Jobe, Eric Geboers and Roger De Coster.Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1’s Clement Desalle was second in 2010, but this season is committed to put things even more difficult to Cairoli and achieve his maiden MX1 World Title. His compatriot and World Champion Steve Ramon will race one more year for Suzuki and he will try to improve his fifth place from 2010.David Philippaerts, who finished fourth in the MX1 World Championship last year, is looking forward to be on the podium this weekend in Sevlievo after having missed it in the last two years. Grand Prix winner Steven Frossard has joined David Philippaerts in the Monster Energy Yamaha squad and both are really looking forward to hand Yamaha another World Title.Max Nagl arrives in Sevlievo focused on repeating his overall victory in front of the Bulgarian crowd and show to his rivals that he is fully fit again. The German is aware of his incredible potential and he knows that he is also able to achieve his maiden MX1 Title this 2011 season.Estonian Tanel Leok has joined the TM Racing Factory Team, while Ken De Dycker is back racing for LS Honda Racing together with Shaun Simpson.Xavier Boog will be racing one more year for the Kawasaki Racing Team, together with Spaniard Jonathan Barragán and Sebastien Pourcel, who will miss the first Grand Prix’s of the season due to an injury suffered during the offseason. Both Boog and Barragán have shown to be fully fit for this 2011 Championship, but they will have to measure their potential with the rest of the GP riders this weekend in Sevlievo.Evgeny Bobryshev and Rui Gonçalves will race the first Grand Prix of the season this weekend being part of the new Honda World Motocross Team, while Ben Townley is back to the FIM Motocross World Championship with the Team CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit.Brazilian Antonio Jorge Balbi will race this weekend in Sevlievo as one of the official riders of the Sturm Racing Team and the 2010 MX3 World Champion, Carlos Campano, will also be this weekend at the starting gate of the first Grand Prix of the 2011 season.2010 MX1 PODIUM: 1. Max Nagl 2. Antonio Cairoli 3. Clement Desalle 2010 MX1 POLEMAN: Max NaglMX22010 MX2 World Champion, Marvin Musquin, is not taking part in this year’s Championship as he decided to live his American Dream. Consequently, Ken Roczen, who was the runner up of the series, is the favourite candidate to conquer the MX2 Title. This year, the 17-year-old German rider is riding for the Red Bull Teka KTM Factory Racing MX2 team and his aim is to bring back the MX2 World Title to his new squad.Roczen’s new teammate, Jeffrey Herlings, will start this weekend his second season in the MX2 class and he will race to be on the top of the podium and improve his fourth overall position from last year. Jeremy Van Horebeek is also joining Herlings in the Red Bull Teka KTM Factory Racing MX2 team.Third in last year’s Championship was Zach Osborne, who will start chasing a Grand Prix victory already this weekend in Sevlievo. Swiss rider Arnaud Tonus, who finished third in the last GP of the 2010 season and seventh in the MX2 Championship, has joined Bike-it Cosworth Wild Wolf Yamaha team and will race together with Osborne.Joel Roelants did a very consistent 2010 season and managed to finish fifth of the MX2 class. This 2011 season, Jordi Tixier, who was last year’s UEM EMX 125 European Champion, will join the Belgian young talent in the Nestaan JM Racing KTM team, and both riders might be easily at the top of the standings throughout this 2011 season.Gautier Paulin could only be tenth last year, as he missed the four first Grand Prix’s of the season due to a broken fibula right before the season started. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider showed his superb fitness by the end of the 2010 season by winning the penultimate Grand Prix and he is now looking forward to be back at the top of the Championship standings starting from this weekend’s Grand Prix in Bulgaria.Two British riders will form the line-up of Team CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki Pro Circuit. On one hand, Tommy Searle is back from American to obtain the MX2 World Title he missed in 2008, and on the other hand the charismatic Max Anstie has just arrived from the USA to prove his riding skills against the talented FIM MX2 World Championship riders.After his Grand Prix debut in the Bulgarian track last year, home rider Petar Petrov will be back again racing in front of his crowd racing for Team Yamaha Van Beers Racing.Other than KTM, Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and TM, among the manufacturers involved in the MX2 class there is also Husqvarna, having Alessandro Lupino and Michael Leib as their main riders.2010 MX2 PODIUM: 1. Marvin Musquin 2. Ken Roczen 3. Steven Frossard 2010 MX2 POLEMAN: Ken Roczen2011 Bulgaria FIM Motocross World Championship Timetable:Saturday: EMX125 Free Practice 8:00; WMX Free Practice 8:40; MX2 Free Practice 9:30; MX1 Free Practice 10:15; WMX Time Practice 11:00; EMX125 Time Practice 12:30; MX2 Pre-Qualifying Practice 13:15; MX1-Pre Qualifying Practice 14:00; WMX Race 1 15:10; MX2 Qualifying Race 16:10; MX1 Qualifying Race 17:00; EMX125 Race 1 17:50; WMX Race 2 18:40;Sunday: EMX125 Warm up 8:30; MX2 Warm up 9:00; MX1 Warm up 9:30; EMX125 Race 2 11:20; MX2 Grand Prix Race 1 12:10; MX1 Grand Prix Race 1 13:10; MX2 Grand Prix Race 2 15:03; MX1 Grand Prix race 2 16:03.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.