In Japan as well as in Great Britain the riders were highly complimentary of the tracks after a couple of muddy events where there were not so many different lines available; the level of racing was amazing in both the two last Grand Prix, providing some of the best action in the last decade!
Castiglione promises to be a different test with its hard-pack surface compared to the soft Japanese and British terrain. “It’s really nice to have different type of tracks, actually they try to rip most of them and a World Championship must mix all conditions. I want to race some hard tracks now,” said British GP podium finisher Joshua Coppins last weekend. Most of the World Championship riders have raced at some stage in the past at Castiglione, even if no Grand Prix has been organised there since 2002.
Most of the Italian fans will be carefully watching the MX2 class (formerly named 125cc) as the category has always been the best one for native various riders, who took their best results there. Michele Rinaldi (1984), Alessandro Puzar (1995) and Alessio Chiodi (1997, 1998, 1999) clinched World Titles, and that’s where the Tifosi can expect a GP win or another crown this season. More open than last year (after seven rounds Ben Townley was leading Stephen Sword by 26 points and the top four riders were separated by 85 points, while after England the top four riders are tightly grouped within 13 only points) the MX2 series had already six different heat winners and seen fourteen riders sharing a podium! Some of them are usual contenders, but there has been a lot of new faces with Christophe Pourcel, Billy Mackenzie, David Philippaerts or Davide Guarneri who experienced the podium ceremony for the first time in their career! Winning three of the seven previous rounds Australian Andrew McFarlane took the lead in the series after his British win for the first time in his GP career, but close to him are local stars Antonio Cairoli and Alessio Chiodi who only scored points in one heat last weekend. The youngster (Cairoli) is suffering from a wrist injury and the ‘veteran’ (Chiodi) who was sick during the last two weeks will lead once more the Italian squadra in Castiglione, but David Philippaerts (for the third time aboard the factory 250 KTM) and Davide Guarneri (winner of the second heat in Teutschenthal) are both serious contenders for a top three even if their opponents are numerous. Among the fifty riders entering the event one of them will have some extra-attention: Stefy Bau, the first woman to ever race a Grand Prix.
In the MX1 class Stefan Everts now strongly leads the series after his fifth GP win in Great Britain. Mickael Pichon had a really bad day in Matchams Park and is now closely followed in the standings by Joshua Coppins and Joel Smets. “I felt so tired last weekend that I wasn’t able to race as usual,” Pichon explained in the week. “I had some blood tests to understand what’s happening, but unfortunately I got these problems at the worst period with three GP’s in a row including Japan. Matchams was physically really demanding and I couldn’t take many points, let’s hope that it will be better in Castiglione,” added the Frenchman who will have his team-mate Javier Garcia Vico alongside him for the second race in a row after England. Coppins, Smets but also Ben Townley, again fast but unlucky (he crashed at the first corner in moto1) last week, will be the strongest opponents to Everts and Pichon, while Antti Pyrhonen and Antoine Meo will probably feel some pressure. Both racing for an Italian brands (respectively TM and Husqvarna) the Finn and the Frenchman will be under the microscope, especially Antoine who will introduce the new Husqvarna colours during the weekend.
The forecast predicts good weather for the weekend.
Practices start on Saturday at 10.00 with qualifying sessions from 3.00 to 5.45, and on Sunday the MX2 races are scheduled at 12.05 and 3.02, the MX1 at 1.05 and 4.05 local time (GMT time).
Information and results on www.motocrossmx1.com, the official website of the Motocross World Championships.
2005 MX1 World Championship standings after GP6: 1.Everts (Bel, Yamaha) 301 pts ; 2.Pichon (Fra, Honda), 261 ; 3.Coppins (Nzl, Honda), 243 ; 4.Smets (Bel, Suzuki), 238; 5.Townley (Nzl, KTM), 204 ; etc….
2005 MX2 World Championship standings after GP6: 1.McFarlane (Aus, Yamaha), 232 pts; 2.Cairoli (Ita, Yamaha), 225 ; 3.Chiodi (Ita, Yamaha), 221 ; 4.Sword (Gbr, Kawasaki), 219 ; 5.Melotte (Bel, Yamaha), 185 ; etc…
Previous GP winners in Castiglione del Lago :
2002: Mickael Maschio (125), Mickael Pichon (250), Yves Demaria (500)
2001: Kenneth Gundersen (125), Mickael Pichon (250), Joel Smets (500)
2000: Joel Smets (500)
1999: Peter Johansson (500)
1997: Andrea Bartolini (500)
1995: Claudio Federici (125)
1993: Greg Albertyn (125)
1988: Jean Michel Bayle (125)
Info Mediapress, photo copyright Yamaha Racing