Despite few federations having officially announced the riders that will represent them at this year’s ISDE in Brazil, a clearer picture is starting to form as to which riders are planning on competing including MX GP stars Stefan Everts and Joel Smets for Belgium, as well as a possible appearance by Jean-Michel Bayle in the French Trophy team.
As expected team Finland will start the event as clear favorites with their Trophy team expected to be the same as last year. Although no official word has yet been given to who will ride for the “dream team,” or in which class, Juha Salminen, Samuli Aro, Petteri Silvan, Petri Pohjamo, Mika Ahola and Jani Laaksonen are the riders expected to represent Finland.
The Italian squad is a bit of a mixed bunch with several riders switching classes in order to try and strengthen the team’s chances. Husqvarna rider Roberto Bazzurri will ride as the team’s only 125cc rider, while Giuseppe Gallino and Mario Rinaldi will compete aboard 250cc four-stroke Yamahas. Giovanni Sala will race alone in the 250cc two-stroke class, while Honda Italy’s Alex Zanni and Farioli KTM rider Alessandro Botturi will compete in the 450cc Four-Stroke class.
One team that could produce a surprise result in November is Belgium. With Stefan Everts’ long-rumored and highly anticipated participation looking more and more certain, former ISDE finishers Joel Smets and Johan Boohnan, along with WEC regular Thiery Klutz, are also looking at a Belgian Trophy team spot. If two more riders of a similar caliber can be found then the sand specialist, depending on the conditions in Brazil, might be a tough bunch to beat.
Other riders expected to compete are Stefan Merriman, Shane Watts and Ben Grabham for Australia, while Spain will field its strongest team for many years with Ivan Cervantes, Xavi Puigdemont and Jordi Duran the most noteworthy riders. France is playing their cards close to their chest with only the news that JMB might compete as a member of a team that is expected to be similar to that from ‘02. The already strong Swedish team will be strengthened by the inclusion of Peter Bergvall whose difference of opinion with the Swedish federation has kept him out of the national side for several years. Anders Eriksson, Bjorne Carlsson, Niklas Gustafsson, Rickard Larsson, Bergvall and one other is expected to be Sweden’s Trophy team line up.