The FIM Motocross World Championship has travelled across to Afyon, Turkey, for the eighteenth round of the current term. A majority of the Grand Prix contingent have never entered this particular nation, as it has not been on the calendar for eight years, so intrigue has been rife in recent weeks.
What is the best way to describe the new facility? It is quite similar to Qatar. It is a man-made track, which is not a surprise at all, and the soil is similar. Even the colour and texture resemble the Losail International Circuit in many ways. The layout is obviously different but the stereotypical jumps that Youthstream love to implement are in place. Shaun Simpson really summed it up best in the MX Vice pre-race podcast earlier today by saying that it is the same as the American riders jumping a triple in Monster Energy Supercross. It comes naturally and is something that is encountered most weeks.
The weather plays a huge role in the way that a circuit develops across a race weekend. There was a storm of epic proportions on Wednesday evening that has helped add another layer to the soil and should ensure that it cuts up quite nicely. There is no more rain forecast for this weekend, just as one would expect at the Grand Prix of Turkey, but that should help things. It is always interesting to see how a track deteriorates at races such as this, as there are no support classes and therefore just four sessions will occur before the first qualifying race on Saturday afternoon. There are four sessions before free practice at some events!
This race resembles a flyaway in many different ways. The trip is relatively long, which adds to that feeling, and the surroundings are unique. The local community are embracing the sport too, as every shop has signs and tickets are being sold at a booth in a local mall. It just has that special feeling. Will a respectable crowd turn out to watch the action this weekend? Perhaps, as the local area appears to be fairly well populated. There were around twenty fans camping on Thursday night too, which is certainly a good sign and actually came as a bit of a shock! This appears to have the ingredients to become a firm fixture on the calendar, it really does, but obviously a lot of that will depend on how the next two days ago.
Everyone likes to come down on events such as this. It has actually become a bit of a tradition! This is the best way to sum it up though: If you are a fan and have an opportunity to go to one event a year, a man-made track is probably not ideal. If you go to six or seven rounds a season, however, mixing in a race such as this is actually quite enjoyable. There are always positives when it comes to a round like this, especially if you are looking for an enjoyable time away from the track. It is difficult for some to believe when sat on a couch thousands of miles away, however, as the television does not tell the full story in many ways. Anyway, there has not been a race on a track like this since Pangkal Pinang. It is allowed once in a while!
There are some intriguing points to note ahead of the Grand Prix of Turkey, especially if you are a Fantasy MX Manager player. The F&H Racing Kawasaki squad are not present this weekend, which means Marshal Weltin has not made the trip, for reasons that are yet to be determined. BOS GP have not travelled across either, but that was already reported last week. The rest of the regulars in the FIM Motocross World Championship are at the venue and ready to compete. Bring on round eighteen! There are not many races left at all now, so one must make the most of every single second.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden