Gavin Towers debut in Europe: Road less travelled

MXPG Germany 2024, Teutschenthal Rider:

It is understated that a quite capable American, Jack Chambers, is currently riding his first full season in the FIM Motocross World Championship. Those interested in U.S. athletes had one more reason to followed round eight of the MXGP World Championship in Teutschenthal, Germany, as Gavin Towers made his EMX250 debut. At the end of the day, he went 6-2 for 4th overall despite the minimal preparation.

Words | Lewis Phillips

Towers was in a precarious position when his bid for the Supercross Futures crown proved to be futile – he was left without a clear path and was uninterested in extending his amateur career further. There was a lifeline of sorts pushed in his direction, however, as Yamaha’s official EMX250 team needed a fill-in rider for the remainder of the season. Janis Reisulis has been nursing a health issue since round one, where he posted respectable 6-4 moto scores and briefly entered title contention.

Yamaha has been plagued with injury in all categories, unfortunately, as Maxime Renaux, Jago Geerts and Thibault Benistant are also sidelined for the foreseeable. The latter is crucial to this narrative: that vacant YZ250FM will provide Towers with a path into the MX2 class on more than one occasion. First, he must find his feet in EMX250 and that challenge cannot be understated. EMX250, heralded as the world’s best development system, features a deep field and qualification process that strikes fear into most new faces.

RUMOR: Gavin Towers expect to make an MX2 Wildcard appareance at the double-header Indonesia round – Image: JP Acevedo

Arguably the best way to underline the depth of the feeder class is the fact that Mathis Valin, the series leader, is the only rider who has finished in the top ten in all ten of the motos that have been run this season. Cas Valk, the rider who trails Valin, has appeared in MX2 on two occasions this term and sat on the cusp of the top ten on both occasions. The spirit of EMX250 is that it is an amateur class, but the pace rivals that of MX2. The competition is not the only item that Towers must fear as his first race beckons.

“Everyone runs mousse in MXGP and that in itself is different, let alone suspension settings and everything else,” Darian Sanayei said, reflecting on the challenges that he faced when he too ventured down the road less travelled. “They are all little changes that you do not really think about. Some riders are really good at adapting to those things and some are not. The hard-pack tracks were the hardest thing for me. What helped was the fact that I lived in France and the super hard, rocky tracks were the only ones that I could ride.”

Interestingly, Towers will benefit from that in time too. VRT Yamaha is a French squad that’s based in Les Sables-d’Olonne – a seaside town in western France – and so he will become all too familiar with slick, hard-pack tracks that have limited ruts.

It is likely that Towers will enjoy success at some point in his European adventure, but the concern will be whether or not that equals attention from the United States. Jack Chambers is, as mentioned above, almost invisible, despite the fact that he is competitive in a class that is more noteworthy than EMX250. Is it possible that Towers could become lost in Europe’s system and be forced to overcome an arduous path back to notoriety in his homeland, the place where he still sees a future? So should he: Capturing podium finishes in Supercross Futures is nothing to scoff at.

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