A dash through cool desert evening air awaits the Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe motorcycle race team for the opening of the FIM Motocross World Championship this Saturday night in Qatar.
The first round of eighteen in the 2013 MX2 series will take place on a new track located in the Losail MotoGP complex and both Max Anstie and Julien Lieber, armed with their factory-backed RM-Z250s, will venture into the sand hoping to start their racing campaign shining under the famous lights.
World MX2 Series opens in Qatar
The short pre-season spell has seen the German crew working in some diverse locations with Anstie using five rounds of the AMA Supercross 250 West Coast Supercross series to acquaint himself with the new works motorcycle and also get dialled-in for the Grand Prix year. Back in Europe, Lieber has also been busy with test responsibilities and even attempted a chilly Le Touquet beach race in early February.
Anstie is a new recruit for the squad but has already shown his mettle at MX2 level with two podiums in the past two seasons with different motorcycles. Lieber stepped in as a replacement for the last four rounds of the 2012 competition and the small Belgian's speed and hard work on the RM-Z250 was impressive enough to win a contract for a full crack at the 2013 schedule.
"I think being in Qatar for the first GP is going to be awesome: I have already done five races at night this year! I have had the best preparation for this season and I can honestly say the team and I have done absolutely everything we can to go and perform to our best.
I am feeling great on the Suzuki and have had more bike time than any of my European competitors. I cannot thank the team enough for what we have already done together and what we have achieved. It will be a good year, and we will be strong together. Let's go racing."
"I'm really happy to be part of this team and to have a bike like the RM-Z250, it seems like we have a lot of possibilities and potential and I cannot wait to start the season for real."
Team Manager Thomas Ramsbacher commented:
"I'm pleased. We did some good work with Max in America and he got some decent race time with the bike and came through those Supercross events without any injury. Julien came into the team late last year and was really trying to do the best he could without much time on the RM-Z and now clearly he has had many more kilometres on the track and a lot of testing to make the bike really his own. The Suzuki is ready for top results. We have the usual excellent support from SMC like we have enjoyed for the past few years and Jens and the guys have developed an excellent race bike for this season."
Anstie and Lieber at Losail
Anstie and Lieber will also have the unusual task of battling the 450cc MX1 machines at Losail. For the first time in the history of the MX1 and MX2 classes, both categories will be mixed in a three moto format (MX1 and MX2 in two separate heats and then a Superfinal) used specifically for this Grand Prix and also in Thailand the following week. Points scored in the Superfinal will be relevant to a rider's particular division. As part of the wider picture for 2013 the team also have the talents of Jorge Zaragoza and Brian Hsu in the wings for their respective European series commencing in the coming months with RM-Z250 and RM125 motorcycles.
The Superfinal for the Grand Prix of Qatar takes place at 23.10 (local time) and the whole programme can be caught on:
Info from Team Suzuki Press Office - February 28.