MX2 - What is MX2?
MX2 is one of two principal classes in the FIM Motocross World Championship and caters for machinery from 125cc two-strokes to 250cc four-strokes. It also features an age restriction allowing participation for riders of 23 years and under. In 2013 the decibel limit and FIM noise regulations were lowered further meaning another cycle of development for the four-strokes. The 2016 season will follow in the footsteps of two previous seasons, which were the longest in the history of the sport with eighteen rounds filling the calendar and trips to three different continents.
By definition motocross is a closed circuit, off-road motorsport that takes place on a natural track consisting of man-made obstacles and jumps; the layout itself also makes use of the landscape for elevation changes, terrain and distinctive features.
The FIM Motocross World Championship was established in 1957 for the 500cc category. During the 1980s and 1990s three different series were run for 125, 250 and 500cc classes. In 2001 the classifications merged with just one calendar. From 2004 the world championship has been separated into principal MX1 – now ‘MXGP’ - (250cc two-strokes and four-strokes up to 450cc) and MX2 (125cc two-strokes and four-strokes up to 250cc) divisions.
Grand Prix sees the riders of each class complete two 30 minute and 2 lap motos, with 25 points awarded to the winner and scaling down to one point for 20th place. The standings of both races are combined for an overall result. In the event of two riders tying on points then the second race ranking determines the order of the final classification. At the end of the season – that normally runs from February to September – the rider with the highest number of points is crowned as world champion.
More than other forms of motorcycle racing, motocross places higher emphasis on rider skill and fitness than solely outright machine performance. Of course, a well-tuned and fettled machine tailored to the rider’s style is essential for Grand Prix success but technique, conditioning and physical and mental strength is of prime importance.
The range and diversity of world championship circuits (not to mention varying weather conditions) mean that a rider has to be able to adapt to numerous race situations and circumstances; from the deep sand and loam tracks of northern Europe, to the hard-pack of the south and the supercross-style jumps and timing sections on some of the more modern courses. In recent years there has been a trend of competition across temporary tracks built in the confines of permanent motorsport facilities like Losail, Mallory Park and Lausitzring.
Grand Prix motos traditionally take place on a Sunday with Saturday allocated for timed practice and qualification heats to determine who wins pole position. The classification from the heat determines the entry order into the gate. Although the riders start the motos in one single line the best qualifiers from the 20 minute Saturday race get first pick of positions in the starting gate for Sunday, giving them an advantage in the often frantic and tight first corners.
Although predominantly a European based championship, this year the Grand Prix series travel to Qatar, Thailand, Brazil, Argentina and the USA. At the end of the season there is the traditional ‘Motocross of Nations’, (now reaching its 70th edition with the 2016 event due to be staged in Maggiora, Italy), where the three fastest riders from each country compete under their flag. While this meeting is not part of the world championship it remains one of the most prestigious occasions on the calendar that is hugely popular with fans and riders alike, attracting crowds near the 80,000 mark.