This weekend a tight and tense 2014 FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship will come to an exciting conclusion with Yamaha’s Kiara Fontanesi prepped and gunned to defend her lead in the standings for the final round of six around the fast hard-pack of Loket for the Grand Prix of Czech Republic.
The Italian, on her Yamaha Rinaldi Research and Development kitted YZ250F, has a small margin of four points over principal rival Meghan Rutledge and has been swapping moto victories with the Australian all season. France’s Livia Lancelot is also in the mix and is twenty-three points adrift.
‘Fonta’ largely dominated the MX Women’s series in 2012 and 2013 but a first round crash at Qatar in March and some other personal-related problems have meant a tough and inconsistent campaign compared to her uncatchable speed shown on the YZ250F over the past two years.
Now that 2014 has come down to ‘crunch time’ Fontanesi has re-grouped with her small family-run crew since finishing second at the German Grand Prix last month and knows that this is the moment to show her true potential across the two motos at Loket.
We caught up with Kiara this week as the final round and last duel of the year looms…
Kiara, what are your feelings about this weekend? It must be one of those scenarios that the competitive side of racers love even if it is a nervy time…
I know it is the last round but I feel good, have found a good set-up and I feel positive with my head. The conditions could not be better to go and fight for that championship; I am ready for Loket. After Germany we changed a lot of things. I altered my programme and was racing as much as possible. My approach until then had been just to do the world championship and it wasn’t helping so much. I’ve been practicing starts and other things. It was not about the physical work but just getting things into a position where I was much happier with my riding. I think in this period of one month we have moved up a level.
Do you go into a weekend like this thinking much about positions and mathematics?
You know, before Germany I was feeling the pressure with the points standings and the situation in the championship. It was tight. In previous years I had won easily even before the last round, so this is a new situation for me. After this break and the work we have done: no problem. I’m not worried about the championship because I’m thinking about the race and want to get out there and win. I’ve been racing and even beating some guys at national level in Italy and it has been good to get that comparison. I’m fit, and from the riding and racing I’ve done in the last weeks I know I can perform at Loket.
Meghan has pushed you close throughout the year. Has the competition been tougher this season?
The level is not going up. Livia [Lancelot] has had some good motos but then she hasn’t been pushing like Meghan. She has some into it with nothing to lose and has been going hard every single round. I found that I was slipping into a strange place where I’d just accept second or third positions. It was like I didn't have the power or desire compared to last season where I would be winning easily and would still want more. I wasn’t pushing like I know I can do. I think Meghan is four points behind me because I wasn’t like before, not because the speed or competition has improved. In my honest opinion I haven’t had a good season but the turning point has passed and I know I can do really well in these last motos; it is like I have built up all the potential that I haven’t shown yet and it will come out at Loket.
You have been a Yamaha rider since bursting through to international recognition. How was it gelling with the new YZ250F?
At the beginning of the year the new bike was good and fast but we needed to find the right set-up. I think we underestimated how different and quick the new YZ250F would feel, especially on hard-pack. In the last years we’d have the old YZ and there would be small changes to each new version. 2014 was a big alteration and after Germany we tried many more things like the suspension settings and dropped the rear and it has helped me a lot. I find I am not so tired. Before I was racing the bike with strength and not necessarily using the gas and other things. The 2014 bike is so much faster than the old one it just took a while for me to find my way with it.
If everything goes well on Saturday and Sunday will this title feel any more rewarding than the other two, purely because of how close it has been in 2014?
If everything goes to plan then this year will be the first time where I really ‘win’ the championship. It has been a hard season and I’ve had problems. I lost my friend at the start of the year and I had issues with motivation and it ate into my riding. 2014 has been a tough job but I feel that all the up-and-downs are gone this week. If it happens then this title will feel like the first; it will be really nice to win. If I don’t then it will be nobody’s fault but my own.