Due to heavy watering (a natural one, as rain came Saturday night) the track was pretty slippery and probably more physical and technical than ever this weekend. As expected by many fans, the MX1 race was another confrontation between Stefan Everts and Mickael Pichon, with Joshua Coppins assuming their shadow. Brian Jorgensen caused some trouble at the first start, changing his line on a technical section and crashing in front of the pack! Pichon avoided the incident but not Pyrhonen, Theybers and Demaria who might have broken a finger and retired. Ramon led the first lap but in the second both Everts and Pichon passed him; the two rivals stayed together for five laps but then Pichon crashed at the end of a downhill just before the “Chalet du monument” and lost a couple of places. Stefan easily won the race followed by Coppins and Ramon, while Pichon recovered to fourth. The Frenchman took his revenge in the second moto; Everts led the first lap but it was his turn to make an error! Pichon took the lead and pushed away Coppins’ assaults. Coming back to third, Everts secured the overall win while Ramon crashed spectacularly in the woods. Twice second, Coppins finishes runner-up overall followed by Pichon. Making his return to GP action Cedric Melotte was eleventh when he retired in the first heat: “I got an hit in my back and then I had some problems to move my leg, so I preferred to stop,” said the Yamaha rider.
The first MX2 race was without any doubt the most exciting of the season, with a great battle between Vehvilainen, Chiodi and Cairoli. Vehvilainen led half of the race but made a mistake and offered the lead to Chiodi and Cairoli. Cairoli never stopped pushing and finished close to Chiodi who got his last heat win back in 1999! Cairoli secured second, followed by Maschio and Caps. Stephen Sword was involved in a pile-up at the start with Federici and Pourcel, and could only cross the line down in sixteenth, while Tyla Rattray got a good seventh position despite his damaged shoulder. He was the first KTM rider in this race as both Townley and De Reuver retired due to technical problems. Both took their revenge in the second moto, fighting for the win until the last lap; Ben finally won the race. Vehvilainen (again) got the holeshot, followed by Chiodi, but the Italian rider broke his engine in the first lap and retired. Fourth behind Vehvilainen, Cairoli finally claimed his first ever GP win one week after his first heat win, while McFarlane secured a podium with a eighth position in the second heat. Caps crashed at the start and retired, while Maschio, Bartolini and Federici also hit the dirt during the race and did not finish.
Stefan Everts. “I think that this weekend has been the most emotional in my life! Friday has been a great day for me and then winning in Namur is a dream come true, especially after Liam. It’s a perfect weekend for me! In both races I was really aggressive from the beginning, like Mickael was in Czech Republic. I made some tricky passes today, it’s a pity that I crashed in the second race. After that it was tough as Steve Ramon was pushing really hard, I knew I needed to finish third to win the GP. When Steve passed me it was a difficult place, he started to slide and then made a very big crash, he hit the trees and went over the handlebars; I saw in the next lap that he was OK. The track was this year really physically, it was very hot and it was hard in some places to stay focused.”
Joshua Coppins. “My start were not especially good today, but my riding was good. It was easier for me when the track was wet; it was more technical and slippery. In the second moto I came really close to Mickael, I think I was a little bit faster at this moment but on the big double after the “Chalet du Monument” my hand came off the handle bar. It was pretty sore and I tried to keep pushing but almost crashed and then decided to slow down a little bit. My plan was to attack again later, but my rhythm was not good again, I was too tired. It has been a really good day for me, everyone is working hard in the team and I hope I can win another GP before the season is finished.”
Mickael Pichon. “I knew when I came here that it would be a difficult race, I knew it would be difficult to beat Stefan. In the first moto I was not so far behind him and put some pressure, but I made a small mistake and went over the bars. I had to start the bike again, it took me a while as I never stalled the engine so far… From this I just had to do the best to come back, but the three guys in front were really too far. In the second race I was really motivated to win, but Stefan had always a high motivation and he passed me in the woods; I didn’t think it was possible to make a move there! I tried to stay close, I saw him doing a couple of mistakes and on the tricky double he made an error and crashed. Josh was really close and I pushed really hard, I was just recovering as Stefan started the race really fast. Then Josh made a mistake, and I pulled away one or two seconds a lap. We changed some settings for the second race and I was much more comfortable on the bike.”
Antonio Cairoli. “When I arrived here yesterday I had some problems to understand the track and to take a good rhythm but lap after lap it was better and better. At the end of the day things were going well and I started to enjoy it. In the first race I had a good start and rode strong, but couldn’t pass Chiodi; it’s not easy here to overtake a rival and Chiodi has a lot of experience. Once I was close to passing him, but finally I decided to secure my second place. In the second race I knew that Chicco had a problem in the first lap and I took my overall win.”
Jussi Pekka Vehvilainen. “It’s a big surprise for me to be there on the podium, for my second GP since the end of 2002! I injured my back twice, once in 2003 and last time just before the opening GP in Zolder. It’s great for me to get a podium, especially here in Namur; I started to practice six weeks ago and came back to the GP’s only in Loket. I had two good starts today, it’s always important here; I made some mistakes in the first moto and the second one was better. I would like to thank Harry, the boss of the CAS Honda team; I don’t know many managers who keep confidence in a rider who get two big injuries in two years and Harry was always behind me during this time.”
Andrew McFarlane. “Since my crash ten days ago I tried everything to recover as soon as possible from my injury, but unfortunately it was impossible to hold the bike last week in Loket. This week I had as much therapy as possible on my shoulder, and thanks to two people who helped me a lot, I was able to race this weekend. With the injury it was impossible for me to move the shoulder, and I just went on the bike last Thursday. On this track it was tough and really demanding for the body, especially on the downhills, and I had to ride smart here. It was impossible for me to ride as usual, because if I made a mistake it was impossible to correct it. To be honest I was not expecting a podium this weekend!”
For more info and results check the official web site of the FIM Motocross World Championships: www.motocrossMX1.com