Winner of the 2004 British GP and dominant in the British Championship, New Zealander Josh Coppins is in his best-ever form and is likely to be tussling with Dane Brian Jorgensen (now on a factory Yamaha), Spaniard Javier Garcia Vico (team-mate of Pichon), Belgians' Kevin Strijbos (Suzuki) and Steve Ramon (KTM), plus Ireland's Gordon Crockard (Yamaha).
MX2 World Champion Ben Townley has also shown his good speed on the KTM 450, but hasn't celebrated any pre-season success due to technical problems; keep an eye on the fast kiwi, as well as the factory Kawasaki of Tanel Leok and the Husqvarna of Antoine Meo to cause a surprise.
With Townley's graduation, the 2005 MX2 series is wide open - indeed, the first time the main favourites will face each other will be at Zolder! Transferring from MX1 (and the winner last year on the Flemish track) Melotte is probably the fastest rider at the moment on a sandy surface and leads a strong Yamaha line-up which includes former World Champions Alessio Chiodi and Mickael Maschio, young talent Antonio Cairoli and Andrew McFarlane.
Aboard the works Kawasakis are Britain's Stephen Sword and young French talents Christophe and Sébastien Pourcel who will try to bring some 'green' faces to the podium, while Belgian Patrick Caps, American Mike Brown and Dutchman Erik Eggens will steer red 250CRF Hondas.
All of them will have one goal: to beat the KTM factory, who have been champions for four of the last five seasons. But to succeed names such as Grant Langston, James Dobb, Steve Ramon and Ben Townley, the Austrian factory have committed South African Tyla Rattray and British Carl Nunn who will both ride the marque's 250 four-strokes.
"The start of the 2005 season looks an exciting one with the FIM MX2 World Champion (Townley) moving to the MX1 class to take on Stefan Everts and Mickael Pichon, with the return of Joel Smets against the ever motivated Brian Jorgensen, Joshua Coppins, Kevin Strijbos or Steve Ramon. Meanwhile, by adding Brown and Melotte to the already competitive MX2 starting grid, it will be an outstanding and spectacular MX2 series," declared Youthstream president Giuseppe Luongo.
"I am happy that the racing is starting this weekend. Everyone can concentrate on each of their jobs and Motocross will live a historical moment with the widest TV coverage ever, with 17 MX1/MX2 events plus the Motocross of Nations, with 12 MX3/EU125 events and with the most riders entered in every class!
"So, despite the difficult situation with the world economy, Motocross is pushing forward. Adrenaline will be pumping right from the word 'go', the FIM Motocross World Championships will be something you definitely should not miss," he concluded.
President of the FIM Motocross Commission, Dr Wolfgang Srb is also optimistic ahead of the 2005 season: "We will see one of the best seasons ever in MX1 as well as in MX2. Young riders seem to be ready to challenge the big names; the competition could be outstanding. I just hope that nobody gets injured and that we have great racing until the very last round of the Championship in Desertmartin.
"The participation of the US rider Mike Brown will add additional quality. The two events outside of Europe - Sugo in Japan and Sun City in South Africa - are important steps towards a real 'global' world championship.