For the second year in a row the Italian round of the World Championship claimed a good attendance and the atmosphere at Castiglione del Lago reminded the paddock of the great times of Michele Rinaldi or Alex Puzar, who had thousands of partisan fans behind them in the early 80’s. With strong live TV coverage this season through ‘SportItalia’, and both Antonio Cairoli and Alessio Chiodi fighting for the MX2 crown, the tifosi were plentiful in Umbria and enjoyed the nice weather and the exciting action.
As usual the MX2 events were closely run this weekend and offered the fans some good opportunities to cheer their local favourites. Antonio “Tony” Cairoli had a tough job in the opening moto as Alessio Chiodi pushed hard and never left his shadow! ‘Chicco’ ended the race only one and a half seconds behind him, and with David Philippaerts in third, the Italians swept the first podium of the day. The following race was even closer with three different leaders; Cairoli notched his second holeshot of the day and was the first to head the pack until Chiodi passed him on the 9th circulation. Chiodi then crashed two laps later and left Cairoli and Stephen Sword battling for the win. Sword finally assumed first place on the fifteenth lap, followed by Cedric Melotte who had a pretty good start in this race. Cairoli won the GP from Stephen Sword and David Philippaerts and is again leading the series.
Both MX1 races were exciting right until the last lap! The premier class has served up some spectacular action so far this season and shows no sign of letting up. Brian Jorgensen claimed the holeshot and led Joel Smets and Ben Townley in the opening race. On the eighth circulation Townley passed Smets and then took the lead two laps later; unfortunately he slipped off and went back to third behind Jorgensen and Smets! He had to push again, finally overtaking Smets on the eighteenth lap and put pressure on Jorgensen in the last stages. The Dane seemed to have the situation under control but had some troubles with his engine on the last lap and finally finished runner up behind Townley. Successively second or third during the entire race, Joel Smets finally did make a small mistake in the closing minutes and offered a podium result to Pascal Leuret, a true privateer aboard a standard Honda; he beats Smets, Everts and Coppins after a good start and a strong race. Ben Townley and Stefan Everts battled during the next moto; Ben grabbed the holeshot but Stefan passed him at mid distance, and they entered the last lap together. Unfortunately Stefan had his line blocked by a lapper, and Townley got his first double win in the MX1 class. Everts finished the race and the GP in second position, followed by Smets, Jorgensen, Leuret and Spaniard Jonathan Barragan, twice in the top seven. Fluffing his first start, Mickael Pichon came back from last to seventh but crashed later and retired with a damaged wrist; he didn’t enter the second heat.
Ben Townley: “It was an amazing day. They did a really great job with the track. It is hard to find such a place where there is traction everywhere and places to pass. I enjoyed it out there today and it was fun to ride. I had some luck in both races but it was my turn for some good fortune. I was angry with myself and that small mistake in the first moto. I used a lot of energy to get to the front and having to go back to third and do it all over again was difficult. I had problem with the clutch in the second moto and it kept coming and going. It is pretty tricky for me to ride third gear on my bike without the clutch especially in the tight corners. I was struggling when Stefan passed me but I stuck to his wheel as much as I could. I was lucky at the end of the race because my clutch came back and he also ran into some trouble with backmarkers. This race was the first time the Grand Prix have been live in New Zealand and it was cool to win for my family and friends watching back home. This is an awesome win for me. To sit here with Stefan and Joel either side of me I don’t know how many titles there are here! They are both people who have helped me with my career since I have been in Europe, beating both of them was like a dream come true.”
Antonio Cairoli. “I’m of course really happy, it’s a great feeling to win in Italy. I got two good starts today and that was really important; in the opening race I wanted to take as many points as possible because I had an injection in my wrist and I knew that the second race would be difficult. In this second moto I had pain after ten minutes and I focused on Chicco as I really wanted to win this GP; last week I crashed pretty hard and injured the ligaments of my right wrist, I didn’t really know when I came here if it was possible to finish both races. I won the GP and got the red plate, that was my goal, and now I want to keep it until the last GP. I know that it will be tough with Chicco, McFarlane and Sword; I think that Sword could be the main rival.”
Next event: Grand Prix of France (Saint Jean d’Angely) on June 25th-26th
Information and results on www.motocrossmx1.com, the official website of the Motocross World Championships.
Photo copyright Ray Archer, info Mediapress