Danger in the Sport - Riders Opinion

Posted on November 18, 2020

Two Dutchmen Jeffrey Herlings and Glenn Coldenhoff had scary moments this year, with both losing feeling in their bodies after crashes. Both crashes were more tipping over than actually having a big get-off, but as we have seen so many times in the past, sometimes it is the small crashes that can cause big injuries.

Former Grand Prix racer and now team manager of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna MXGP team Antti Pyrhonen knows as well as anyone that this year's accidents are just part of the sport, and as much as nobody wants to see them, they will happen in what many call the most dangerous sport in the World. Pyrhonen actually broke his back while racing many years ago and knows the dangers.

“Yes,” Pyrhonen said. “It is always you know, we have been in this sport a long time and we have seen some big crashes, like Bobryshev in Mantova, where it was one of the worst crashes I have seen, but he survived with light injuries. Sometimes we see a small crash where you twist your knee and you are six months out, so you never know how serious some twisting or a big or small crash. At the end of the day you need some luck and for sure, we need that, but then you have crashes like Glenn, Jeffrey or AJ, when you fall on your neck or head, those are the worst ones. You can then damage your neck and brain, but even with those accidents, we had a lot of good luck, because all those riders will recover.”

Four time World motocross champion Herlings felt the strange calendar caused a lot of stress on the riders and possibly brought an extra danger with riders not having the same mental level as usual due to the heavy workload.

“I mean,” Herlings said. “To do three races in a week, that is heavy. Obviously Infront did the best thing they could do, because everyone wants to race, the teams and riders because of sponsors and the promoters because of TV rights and things and they needed to click off a certain number of rounds. The only option in a three-month time frame, they had to run three races in a row, but it takes a lot out of the rider. You really need to be focused, and if you look at the (old school) tracks, and then also the weather conditions at times, it made it difficult. If you see the American tracks, they are so wide and in Europe, if you get off the track, you hit something. The older circuits I understand they are hard to change, but we need to look at which tracks we race at with the speeds now. The track in Faenza, it was so difficult to pass and that makes it also dangerous, because you take extra risk to try and pass. Obviously it is a corona year and we needed to race some of these tracks and of course, we don’t have the space they have in America to make these tracks, but the bikes we have now, with the speed, we need wide tracks.”

Multiple GP winner and MXoN hero Coldenhoff agreed with his fellow Dutchman and after his crash in Lommel, that saw him also lose feeling in his arms for a short period of time, he felt the stress of three races in a short period of time wasn’t bad for the physical of the riders, but the mental edge was maybe gone a little.

“You know,” Coldenhoff said. “It has been tough, very tough. After the coronavirus having three races in a week is pretty intense. Physically we can manage it, but mentally all the time, that is the hard part. With such a competitive class and everyone is trying really hard and worrying about having a seat next year. There was only one thing that counts and that is results. I think there have been more riders taking more risks to get into that position and if you look at all the injuries this year, it is pretty bad, maybe half the field.”

So, while we might have enjoyed the period of weekend after weekend of MXGP action, it will be nice to get back to normal once the COVID 19 saga is over, and we can return to resting the riders enough, that they can cope with the dangers this sport brings.

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