Welcome to the opening round of the 2023 MXGP World Championship at one of the most epic tracks in the world...in Patagonia, Argentina. Dive in for some action from the first round of the season.
The Bullet is back and so are we for another exciting season of MXGP.
After being away from MXGP for 487 days, Jeffrey Herlings rebounded from a rough qualifying race to take second and return to the podium in Argentina.
As with all flyaways, the pit areas were a bit interesting. Some teams are a bit more minimalistic then others but here's a peek at KTM's setup for Argentina.
Each rider and mechanic has a mini-bay with a work bench; these work benches have basic tool and parts storage, chemicals, a trash can and rag dispenser. Behind the wall is a storage area and a place for the riders.
While the US team chooses to run the OEM vented side plate, the MX2 bikes over here go the old school route and drill their own holes and placements into a standard cover.
Yup, Antonio Cairoli is still at the races. In 2023 he has taken up a role as Red Bull KTM MXGP's Team Manager.
Unlike the US side, which has riders primarily using the split triple clamp design, the MXGP Austrian machines all had solid/tapered clamps.
On the US side of things, Justin Barcia is the only Austrian machine rider we've seen using their RPM launch indicator but over in the GPs quite a few of their riders have them equipped. This such unit is aboard Herlings' 450 SX-F.
Some small differences in the controls, such as the machined throttle housing from Domino. Similar to the US, the GP team has gone away from the complicated start, stop, and mode switches. Instead opting for a more traditional start button and kill button (other side of handlebar).
While the US-Austrian teams use a Kite hydraulic master cylinder on the hydraulic clutch, Herlings machine had the stock Brembo unit in place.
The Red Bull KTM squad has a new sponsor for 2023 with Ram trucks.
One last look at the KTM pits.
The IceOne Factory Kawasaki MXGP team looks quite mellow in terms of their pita area when compared to KTM. Two riders, four bikes, two work areas, and a couple of backdrops. Also, as we've seen in years past, the Factory Kawasaki team has split suspension duties between their team as Romain Febvre is on Showa and Mitch Evans on KYB. We had heard the team was going to run KYB across the board, but the decision to stay on Showa was pushed by Febvre.
We are finally getting a better look at the upcoming 2024 Kawasaki KX450 that Romain Febvre and Mitch Evans are already racing overseas. The center cases of the engine seem to be the same as the current engine, but the cylinder and cylinder head are heavily changed. As we've seen with other brands, Kawasaki is clearly trying to decrease the intake angle into their cylinder head. Yamaha of course accomplished this by turning their cylinder head around backward and creating a vertical drop-in intake at the front of the bike. Kawasaki has gone for a route similar to Honda though, keeping a traditional cylinder head direction but placing their intake tract and box above their rear shock. This decreased the intake angle and got them closer to a vertical intake. The frame is also new, with a similar design angle as the current chassis but being modified for the new/lower shock tower. Along with raising their front cradle and allowing for a center port exhaust. Something that KTM has been doing for nearly two decades on four strokes, with Honda and Suzuki joining them in recent years. This allows for a more even exhaust port length on each side of the cylinder head.
The air filter placement isn't too different from the current bike other than being flatter in the box and not angled to one side like the prior model. Similar to the Honda, the air will have to pass through the filter, raise up...over the shock, then down into the engine. The electronics package above the airbox seems like overkill and we wonder if this is a race team-only situation. Or if the production bike will come with a large more complex ECU and data center.
The '24 KX450 looks to have the same fuel tank as the outgoing bike or nearly the same.
Mitch Evans was battling a thumb injury and ultimately didn't race the main motos on Sunday.
The new KX450 looked great on MXGP debut with Febvre piloting it to a podium in the first moto.
Boogers is coming for Prado? Poor Brian Bogers.
A small peek at WP's work mobile work station. From this view, you can see that WP's works and kit shocks utilize a nitrogen bladder design, unlike the floating piston found in the production shock and older kit shocks.
Off to the side of the F&H pits, KYB had their own mobile work station setup to service its teams. Tool drawers, an oil dump tank, vices, nitrogen bottles, and even a shock bleeding pump are on hand.
After spending his entire professional career aboard Factory Austrian equipment, Pauls Jonass has stuck with the Standing Construct team as they head over to Honda in 2023. He has also retained his personal deal with Red Bull.
Brian Bogers returns to red machines, after last riding Hondas for HRC MXGP back in 2019. He retains his personal support from SF Logistics and remains with Standing Construct as well.
The Standing Construct machines have quite the clean/factory look for 2023. No gold rims here but a blue seat fits with some of the more old-school look that Honda teams world wide are doing in recent years. The team has swapped a few hard parts sponsors to better align with the typical Honda support look, including Yoshimura exhaust systems, Hinson clutches, and Showa kit suspension. However, unlike the HRC team, the Standing Construct crew is using a traditional A-Kit shock and not a BFRC.
The team is also utilizing Dunlop tires, while most teams utilize Pirelli in MXGP.
The bikes also featured hard parts from X-Trig, Renthal and Haan...along with electronics by GET.
Fantic has gotten a lot of attention for racing their Yamaha-derived 250 two-stroke and 450 four-stroke in some of the world championships, but they also have a 250 four-stroke they're campaigning as well.
David Braceras inherited the F&H ride that was originally pegged for Guillem Farres, before Farres snagged the spot with Star Yamaha.
MXGP teams take their fork and triple clamp protection serious...
Jeremy Seewer doing it for the locals, as his gear was based on Argentina's Lionel Messi...the MVP of the 2022 World Cup.
The Red Bull GasGas Factory MXGP team had a similar work area to their orange counterparts. Albeit with a bit more going on when we passed through.
The GasGas team has a slightly larger capacity tank at their disposal.
No fork based lap timer holder here, just a nice central mount that's well tucked in.
Even though Jorge Prado took third place overall on Sunday, he still took the red plate from round one due to the extra ten points he won by taking the victory in Saturday's qualifying race.
Claudio De Carli's son, Davide, has taken over as the GasGas Factory team manager, as Claudio moves into a broader role within the KTM/Husky/GasGas group.
Scott and Jorge Prado debuted his new signature Scott Fury goggle at the opening round of the season. From this photo we can also spy the changes made to the new MXGP factory Austrian frames. See the windowed area below the top subframe mount?
Even though Ruben Fernandez is now directly on HRC Honda MXGP, there are a couple carryovers from his 114 program. One such is his suspension setup which is a production shock body with an A-kit shock adjuster and an 18mm shaft inserted into it, and the production fork cartridges in coated tubes and a forged fork lug. Very odd...
Another carryover was his mechanic Federica Sezzi, who followed him over from 114. The only female factory motocross mechanic?
Ben Watson is Beta's big hope in 2023. A 15th overall at round one wasn't a great indication of his pace as he battled extreme food poisoning all weekend. Onwards and upwards to the Watson-Wagon.
There is no Husqvarna MXGP factory program in 2023...but Nestaan continues on as the MX2 factory program with three riders for the new year.
The obligatory Kay de Wolf hanging it out photo... Also, Kay and his new teammate Lucas Coenen are both Red Bull riders aboard the Nestaan Husqvarna team. Both however are personal deals as their third teammate is running a Husqvarna-branded Bell Moto-10 helmet.
That helpless feeling when your front tire pushes just over the top of the berm and you're so committed that there's no hope to save it...
That's all from Argentina. See you at round two...
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