Dec 29, 2009

A new year and new season of racing are upon us

Here we are at the dawn of 2010, a new year that I hope will bring a ton of positive things to people, my family, friends and me included, as well as surely some very exciting racing in all series. MotoGP and WSBK are going to offer some good racing with new riders, new teams and the same for the FIM World Motocross and the AMA Supercross and Outdoors Motocross series. The only championship that is looking bleak right now is the AMA Pro road racing series. Unfortunately things are not looking very good there. The second year of DMG's control of the series is bringing more controversy than Tiger Wood and the almost extinction of purse money in the Superbike class is not going to help things, to the contrary. At this time, only about 12 riders are confirmed in the AMA SBK class, including Yates and Zemke, the 2 Michael Jordan Motorsports riders and Dainese's Blake Young on the Yoshimura Suzuki team. Things are looking worse for what is actually supposed to be the new #1 class, the Daytona Sportbike where 5 riders are kind of officially in. Of course despite the pull-out of Kawasaki from US road racing, adding to the departed Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki is not helping but like every year, a lot of last-minute decisions and entries will take place in the weeks leading to Daytona.

But the most important right now is that we are 2 weeks from Anaheim 1, the opening round of the AMA SX series. Things are actually looking good, especially in the 450 class, with a lot of healthy, fast, riders. This could be a very good season with a lot of possible podium contenders lining up behind the fast James Stewart and Chad Reed. Lots of question of course, will Ryan Villopoto beat any of those two aliens on a regular basis? will Hill, Shorty and Millsaps step up to the plate? Will Dungey be the 4th fastest guy, will he battle for 3rd on a regular basis, will he win his first Supercross race? What about Reardon, Ivan "I'm a Yamaha Privateer" Tedesco, Jake Moss, Matt Moss, Josh Grant, JGR's Justin Brayton or Jason Lawrence?
I believe that it won't be too hard for JS1 and CR22 to get to the front but it is going to be a very hard fought battle from 3rd to 15th, with the starts being more important than ever.

The Lites class is going to be good, lots of very fast riders, lots of title contenders, East like West, even if the Pro Circuit and Factory Connection teams should squat the podium spots, we should count on Suzuki's Stroupe and the Yamaha boyz to shake the establishment. Pourcel, Barcia, Stroupe, Weimer, Canard, I will bet some money that those 5 will win races.

I have been a bit busy with AGV and Dainese sponsoring matters in the last couple months as I tried to bring some good names to our team. Although we have not really produced a competitive off-road helmet for a few years, as a leader in the manufacturing of helmets and a brand with a strong off-road past, we decided to get back in the mix. People will say it is pretty bad timing in view of the economical crisis that hit the world and our industry in particular (leisure don't always do good in time of financial difficulties), some even advised us not to do it.
As a helmet manufacturer though, and a proud one, with very strong roots in racing, we couldn't stay out of such an important segment of the motorcycling world. And a really cool one at that. MX and off-road rocks! We know that.

So from the time I was hired, almost 2 years ago, we were working on the MX lids. The aim was always to produce a "price point" helmet in polycarbonate and a high-end one in carbon/kevlar/fiber. While we were making strides in R&D I swas asked to start working on potential pro riders for the AMA SX and MX series. Snnoping around the '09 races I started looking at guys that could work with us, riders who had the right exposure but more so the right personality to work with a new helmet and a renowned brand like AGV.
I was also helping on the Euro/FIM side, brainstorming with my Italian colleagues on potential riders, pushing for who I thought would do well for us and would be great partners to work with.
It took about a year to come with a final team. A year of building up relationships, meetings, traveling, endless phone calls, visits, meetings again, more late phone calls, testing, etc, etc.
Then I received the first production models of the MT-X and the AX-8. I was pumped with the way the helmet turned out and how good they are. Now I wanted to go ride MX again! I knew it would work very well for our team riders.
In the last months we have scrambled to get the necessary helmets delivered on time for the painters (AirTrix and AP Designs) to get the riders' lids ready on time for A1, while contract negotiations were still ongoing for some (just for minor text amendments).

At Anaheim, Honda Red Bull's Davi Millsaps and Yamaha Rinaldi's Gautier Paulin will go racing with the AGV AX-8. We are pretty excited to be teammed up with DM18 and GP21 and I will have a small tear of pride when the gate drops for GP's first race, the first at that level, for an AGV MX helmet in many years.
In Europe along with Gautier (who will be using the Star Racing Yamaha rig as a base for the first 4 SX Lites West) the second AGV MX rider will be 2008 MX1 World champion Davide Phillipaerts.
In US, along with DM18 (who is looking good right now) the other AGV riders will be Honda Red Bull's Ashley Fiolek with whom I have always wanted to work again. I appreciate and respect Ash and her dad Jim a lot and believe that they are great people to work with, on top of the fact that Ash will be a great ambassador for AGV. A 3rd rider, a Red Bull off-road legend, should be signed in the coming days.

I'll try write more things as the season goes on. 

Photos of GP21 during a photoshoot for French magazine MX Mag by Stephan Legrand, along with the cover of the mag's last issue. Pretty cool!