The FIM Motocross World Championship is very much the pinnacle of our sport, with riders from all over the world competing to become the best motocross rider in the world. Whether Australian Mitchell Evans, or South African Calvin Vlaanderen, the dream is to be World Champion.
A handful of American riders are also putting their best efforts forward, and in the last two weeks, two of those, Mitchell Harrison and Austin Root, both battled the hard truths of the very tough MXGP and MX2 classes.
For Harrison just the qualification in MX2 has set up some problems, although in Portugal last weekend, he was able to finish 10th overall on Sunday, and is working hard to get his one lap charge improved on the Saturday.
“The qualifying has always been a weakness for me,” Harrison said. “I struggle to do just the one fast lap. I have been working hard with that, because two seconds can put you in a completely different place. It isn’t the same in America. Long hard races I can do, my endurance has always been good, but that one lap I need to work on. I need to pin it for a lap.”
What Harrison isn’t having trouble with is the lifestyle in Europe. Living in the south of France the Bud Racing Kawasaki rider is loving life.
“It has been rather easy. Where I am living in France a lot of people speak English. I have been trying to learn French, but it is really hard to learn a language. Getting around is easy, the team take care of everything. The Bud Kawasaki team is really an amazing team and make it easy for me, coming over from America and not knowing anything. The transition has been nice, and I have my girlfriend over here now and that makes it a lot easier. I love it, it is beautiful here. The food is better here, and I am right on the beach, so that is great.”
As for Root, he rode the Mantova round of the MXGP Championship, a tall order as he arrived alone, with a small van, his own bike and a lot of hope. Not surprisingly, he struggled with 34th place overall. The difference from his domestic championship and the World Championship is miles apart and twice as much work.
“Oh yes,” Root said. “A big difference from America. I think that is why it is so hard for Americans over here. We are used to flying in Friday night, doing two practices in the morning and two races in the afternoon and then getting the heck out of there. You get it done and leave. MXGP you are there Friday for test, Saturday for two practice and a qualifying, then you race on Sunday. For me I am so used to go, go, go I am sort of over it by Sunday night. I thought if I had ridden at my best, I could have scored points. That was my goal to score points and that was my main goal. I didn’t get to show that, but a lot of people don’t know what I am going through. Being so far from home, it is very challenging. I was at MXGP this weekend and you see all the top riders there, and they all have their family there. When I see that, and I am there on my own. I love my girlfriends’ family to death, but they speak another language, they have another culture. They don’t speak English and they try and help me as much as possible. I still feel alone.”
Although two American riders, Mitchell Harrison and Darian Sanayei, are racing in the MX2 World Championship, Root hasn’t had the chance to catch up with his fellow countrymen.
“I never talked to those guys. I would love to ride with those guys and hang out. I am sure they feel the same way I do. It is a totally different racing, different tracks. It would be better to talk to somebody and understand where we are coming from. You have to have the right people around you. Because if you don’t, it isn’t easy. I am not with the team; I am so far away from the team. It is a good team, and they give me what I need, but it isn’t a high budget team. I just wanted to try and race over here and show I can ride around the World and do good. I want to learn.”
Now, as Harrison prepares for the MX2 class at the Grand Prix of France this weekend, Root will be working away in Italy, trying to gain speed and confidence so he can try to return to the FIM Motocross World Championship and once again give it his best shot.