Four Young Belgian Men

Belgium is a proud country, not just in motocross, but in life in general, but it is motocross that once carried the Belgians on their shoulders, from one celebration to celebration. One Motocross World Championship after another, starting way back in Rene Baeten in 1957 until Steve Ramon in 2007. 52 World Championship to the country's name and several Grand Prix legends in that list.

While the country continues to see tracks closed and they haven’t had a World Champion since Ramon in 2007, there is a rumbling that this great motocross nation is starting to build momentum. The youngsters are starting to make a noise, and everyone is sitting up waiting for something special to occur for the most successful motocross country in the history of the sport.

Long gone are the days of riders like Roger De Coster, Joel Robert, Harry Everts, Gaston Rahier, Eric Geboers, Georges Jobe, Andre Malherbe, Stefan Everts and Joel Smets, but some young lions are appearing on the scene and it is clear that within the next couple of years, or maybe even in 2023, this proud land, tucked between Holland and France could return to at least part of its past glories.

For the first time in many years, Belgium will have four factory riders in 2023, all in the MX2 class, with 22-year-old Jago Geerts on the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing MX2 Team, 18 year old Liam Everts and 15 year old Sacha Coenen in the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team and Nestaan Husqvarna Factory Racing signing Lucas Coenen (also 15 years old) to race the MX2 class.

Of course, back in the golden era of Belgian motocross, be it the 1970s with De Coster, Robert and Harry Everts racing factory Suzuki machinery, or the 1980s with Geboers, Jobe, and Malherbe on the factory Honda machines or even the early 2000’s with Everts and Smets racing for several different factory teams, yes, Belgians owned the major places amongst the teams. Throughout the history of the sport, factory teams were packed with Belgian talent although, since the retirement of Everts and Smets, the numbers have dropped dramatically.

In recent years Geerts has ridden for the Factory Yamaha Team in MX2 and Jeremy Van Horebeek in the Beta Factory Team in MXGP, but outside of those two, numbers were dwindling. In 2022 Belgian riders finished in 13th and 15th place in the MXGP points, with Van Horebeek (13th) making his final season and Brent Van Doninck in 15th place.

MX2 was a lot better with Geerts fighting for the title until the final round and finishing in second place in the World Championship and Liam Everts climbed into the top ten to finish 10th in his rookie MX2 season. Again though, from MXGP and MX2, these were the only four Belgians who raced the whole series.

Now, with the Coenen brothers, Geerts and Everts, there is a feeling of fresh air running through the practice tracks in Belgium and Holland as these four youngsters start to build on their nation’s history. There is no surprise to see the name Everts in amongst this group of talented riders and you just know a strong rivalry will begin within the four, first in MX2 in 2023 and then MXGP in the future.

Maybe, just maybe the proud Belgian history can spring back to life, and you just know legends like Harry Everts, Joel Smets and Stefan Everts will be hands-on, willing these four riders to more success and hopefully add that 53rd number one plate to the countries World Championship list.

 

Photo copyright: Ray Archer

Author: 
Geoff Meyer

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