#inthisyear2009: Marvin Musquin becomes the MX2 world champion – today he is one of KTM’s best prospects in the AMA Supercross World Championship
Back when Marvin Musquin won his first world championship race in early 2009, the Frenchman was still largely an unknown quantity. But that would change very quickly. Never before has anyone left their mark on a season in the way Musquin did back then at just 19-years old. Blessed with immense talent, he impressed the world of motocross, securing his first MX2 world championship title at the end of the season on the KTM 250 SX-F.
For KTM, the 2009 motocross season could not have gone much better. In addition to Musquin’s world championship title, the world championship runners-up position in the big MX1 class and the Women’s Motocross World Championship also went to KTM. In an equally glorious competition, Musquin successfully defended his title in 2010. “The next step will see Marvin in the USA, where Roger De Coster is already waiting for him”, said KTM boss Stefan Pierer at the time. Today, Musquin is one of KTM’s best prospects in the AMA Supercross World Championship.
Supercross is still a relatively new type of offroad sport, at least when compared to today’s “Six Days of Enduro”. The first International Six Days Reliability Trial took place well over 100 years ago in the English city of Carlisle. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that motocross became popular in Europe, where races took place on natural tracks on heavy-duty 4-stroke motorcycles. In Belgium, motocross was even a kind of national sport. It’s no surprise then that many successful motocross riders, such as the five-time 500cc world champion and current Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager Roger De Coster, come from the land of the Flemish and Walloons. In 1947, the MX of Nations took place for the first time in Wassenaar, Netherlands as a team competition for national teams, similar to the International Six Days Enduro in enduro racing. For two decades, only Belgian, English, and Swedish teams succeeded in taking the title. The motocross world championship for individual riders only began in 1957. Even today, circuits from the early years, such as Hawkstone Park in Great Britain or the tracks around the Citadel in Namur, Belgium, are still legendary.
Motocross was practically unheard of in the USA; offroad sport was held at cross-country races such as the Elsinore Grand Prix and Baja 500, or as flat track at horse racetracks, with a few road races as well. Even enduro racing was considered a highly exotic beast in the USA. It wasn’t until European manufacturers exported their competition bikes to the USA toward the end of the 1960s that crowd-pleasing motocross racing surged in popularity in the USA. Although it would still be a few years until American riders caught up with the stars of the day, such as Roger De Coster or the Scandinavian riders, the spell had been broken. The 1971 race at the Daytona International Speedway marked a first. Up until then motocross races had been held on natural tracks a long way outside cities, however the organizers of the Daytona race constructed an artificial track with spectacular jumps and brought motocross to the spectators. This successful concept was developed further, and just a year later a race was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, one of the largest football stadiums in the USA. The term “Supercross” – a combination of “Super Bowl” (the NFL championship) and “motocross” was also coined at this time. Supercross quickly became one of the most popular motorsports in the USA. In Europe, motocross races were only held in the summer, however in the USA there was not one but two series. Since 1972, the AMA Motocross Championship has been held in the summer. During the winter, the Supercross championships take place in the stadiums, traditionally kicking off during the first weekend of January.
Since 2008, the AMA Supercross series has enjoyed world championship status, even though the races are almost always held in the USA. During the heats and a last chance qualifier, around 40 riders compete for one of the 22 starting positions in the final.
In the USA, Roger De Coster took the young Frenchman Marvin Musquin under his wing, and, through him, KTM was able to enlist the then 22-year old Ryan Dungey, who received the prestigious Supercross title for KTM three times in a row from 2015 to 2017 before announcing his retirement from active racing at the end of the season. Musquin initially started on the KTM 250 SX-F in the 250 SX Championship, which is held in West and East divisions. He won a total of four races in 2013, including the Supercross in Daytona Beach, which ultimately took him through to the runners-up spot of the East division. Two years later, Musquin was crowned the winner of the 250 SX East Championship before switching to the 450 SX class where he quickly became the “Rookie of the Year 2016”.
The current SX season is on course to be one of the most thrilling. After the sixth of seventeen races, just two points separated the top four. Musquin came in eighth place in the kick-off race in Anaheim. Non-stop rain and a muddy track coupled with a training shortfall due to a knee injury in the previous season all prevented him from finishing higher. However, the Frenchman later regained his momentum and obtained his fifth consecutive podium in Arlington. After a slow start, Cooper Webb made an impressive comeback at the second Red Bull Factory KTM, taking leadership on the very last corner and defending it with a lead of less than 0.03 seconds in a neck-to-neck final. With four victories this season, this meant that Cooper Webb also secured the leader’s red plate. After finishing second at the Detroit Triple Crown, it seems that he is the man to beat during the second half of the season; closely followed by his teammate Marvin Musquin, currently placed third in the standings.
Photos: Simon Cudby | Ray Archer