MXGP and AMA, the fastest stage of Motocross in the world
Motocross is the off-road motorcycle racing which has an element of sprint. The World Motocross Championship (now called MXGP) began in 1957 and is still held mainly in Europe, partly because it started as a European championship. On the other hand, in North America, which has a huge motocross market, the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) sponsors Supercross (a race event with the element of entertainment held in a stadium) and Pro Motocross Championship (a regular motocross event held on an outdoor circuit). These race series are very popular in North America. The MXGP, which takes place in Europe, and the AMA series, which travels throughout the United States, literally divide the popularity of motocross fans around the world.
Although the two series are located far apart, they have always seen each other as a rival and have a history of friendly rivalry. Is which rider faster, European or American? There have always been riders who have tried to go to AMA from MXGP and vice versa, but the answer has never been clear, partly because there has never been a head-to-head competition. However, when it comes to outdoor motocross competitions, it could be said that MXGP is more difficult than AMA courses. While AMA tracks are well prepared for showcase, MXGP tracks have moderate surface preparation, deep wheel tracks, and sandy grounds that are particularly challenging for riders, and it makes the characteristics of MXGP that is "rider versus the track". Therefore, MXGP has become more technical and requires a variety of skills from the riders.
In Europe, national and European championships are held in each country, and each of them is a high-level racing event. The competition in MXGP is fierce every year, with riders from countries with diverse histories, cultures, and languages. Of all countries, Belgique has gotten the name of “the strongest country of the world” to oneself for many years because there is the Everts Family who turned out the MXGP top riders for the third generation straight in a row. Out of all the histories, Tim Gajser, who is the ace of this year's Team HRC, is attracting a lot of attention because of his Slovenian background, which is rare in MXGP. Also, Ruben Fernandez, a new member of the team, is from Spain, a powerful country. The MXGP is a very interesting series in terms of gauging the motocross culture and ability of each country.
Honda CRF450R's unique SOHC engine
Honda participates in the MXGP with its factory team "Team HRC”. Unlike the AMA, where only production-based machines with homologation (vehicle certification) are allowed to participate, the MXGP is a valuable race for Honda to get a development opportunity, as it allows manufacturers to enter their advanced development of vehicles.
Since its debut, the Team HRC factory machine CRF450R has been equipped with a SOHC engine that is different from the DOHC engines that other companies equipped with. The SOHC engine has a unique mechanism called Unicam, in which the cam pushes the valve directly on the intake side, while the exhaust side is via a rocker arm. Generally speaking, DOHC engines are high-revving type and SOCH engines are low and mid-revving type. Motocross course’s layouts do not place much emphasis on maximum speed so Honda emphasized low-mid torque and the lightness of the engine itself for the 450 class, which is the largest displacement class. In 2019 and the following year, Gajser won the world title. It is no coincidence that, despite this being the first year of a full model change, it has successfully accumulated victories and he won the championship for the fifth time. The Unicam system is now also used in production models, enhancing the drivability of large-displacement adventure machines such as the CRF1100L Africa Twin and the just-released XL750 Transalp.
The CRF450R, which will run in 2023, is fully remodeled in 2020, further upgrading the mass centralization and excellent rider interface of the machine itself that has been promoted up to that point. The swingarm and frame have been redesigned and developed with a focus on sharp handling. As regards the new specifications that have been refined down to the smallest detail for the factory machine, “The riders are very impressed with the improvements we have made to the CRF450R and are looking forward to the start of the MXGP season," said Marcus Pereira de Freitas, general manager of Team HRC.
Expectations for Ruben Fernandez in his second year of the MXGP class
Team HRC for the 2023 season will consist of five-time titleist Tim Geiser and youngster Ruben Fernandez, who just made his debut in MXGP in 2022 after winning the MX2 (250cc) class championship in 2021. Naturally, we have high expectations for Geiser to win his sixth championship, and he has made perfect adjustments during the off-season. He was fully prepared for the start of the season, but he broken femur during the Italian Championship held in Trentino, Italy. Unfortunately, he was out of contention for the title before the season even started.
Fernandez, on the other hand, is a new member of this 2023 team. His transition to Team HRC was smooth because he was a member of Team Honda 114 Motorsports, which is another leading Honda satellite team. Last year, he accumulated podium finishes, and at the Czech GP, he set the top time in the practice session. Just when it looked as if he might finally win his first race, he crashed and injured himself. However, he was able to start making adjustments for the 2023 season last July. "I was able to spend the off-season with a good feeling. I should be able to show my fans what I can do in my first race,” said Fernandez. He got second place in the Italian Championships in Trentino and showed how well he is doing.
Although Team HRC will start the 2023 season without our strongest rider Geiser, Fernandez's youthful vigor and the strength to score a series of podium finishes in his first year are the essence of his great talent. The season opener will be held on March 12, starting with the Patagonia Argentina GP, where Fernandez finished 7th last year.