Portugal to Host Third MXGP this WeekendWednesday, April 23, 2008 | 6:14 AM
Ken de Dycker and Tyla Rattray remained at the lead of the MX1 and the MX2 points standings respectively but courtesy of solid performances in Spain runners up Steve Ramon and Tony Cairoli have chipped away at the gap, entering Agueda ready to snatch the lead.
Finishing first overall at Bellpuig after the event management decided not to run the MX1 second moto, reigning MX1 World Champion Steve Ramon took his first Grand Prix victory in the category since his debut in 2004, the year following his maiden World Championship win in the 125cc class.
The latter clinched another podium at Bellpuig and will try to score good points again in Agueda to keep holding the red plate.
Courtesy of his first Yamaha Monster Motocross podium, Italian David Philippaerts has moved up to the third place in the Championship standings and looks forward to Portugal, where he collected his first career MX1 podium last year.
Team mate Joshua Coppins, who is feeling stronger and stronger after his late preseason foot injury, has bitter memories of the 2007 Portuguese GP, where the Kiwi’s victorious row was stopped by an incredible Kevin Strijbos. Due to the injury, Coppins has not yet won a Grand Prix or a moto this year but has been playing his cards well so far, sitting on a solid fourth place in the Championship.
On the other hand GPKR’s Kevin Strijbos, who finished twice runner up in the World MX1 class in 2006 and 2007, was a positive sixth in Bellpuig, moving up to seventh in the Championship. Though misfortune hit the winner of last year’s Portuguese Grand Prix again, as he underwent an operation on Monday after a thumb injury from last Saturday’s practice. Strijbos will be away from the GP scenario until Mallory Park’s British GP, on June 1st.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tyla Rattray continues to lead the series but has found a new Yamaha mounted rival other than Yamaha Red Bull De Carli’s Antonio Cairoli in the likes of Davide Guarneri.
The Ricci Racing Yamaha’s Italian took his second GP victory at the end of his eventful Spanish weekend, where Guarneri was even doubtful for the race as he injured his right collarbone the week before the event. Guarneri soldiered on in Bellpuig’s mud to ride two flawless moto’s and eventually saw his Championship position change into a solid third.
Cairoli sits second, sandwiched in between Guarneri and Rattray, who is just three points away. Also Cairoli experiencing two tough moto’s last weekend due to a flu that affected him since the Thursday before the second GP. In 2007, the defending MX2 World Champion took his third consecutive victory of the season in Agueda, which is a track he knows well enough to battle it out for the top spots.
On the other hand Rattray saw his two podium row stop in Agueda 2007, where team mate Tommy Searle took his first rostrum finish with KTM since his move to the factory Austrian squad at the end of 2006 –his first full time racing season.
Portuguese Rui Goncalves will be highly motivated for this visit to Agueda as it is the first time the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider enters his home GP with full factory machinery. Goncalves is now fifth in the Championship ahead of 3C Racing’s Manuel Monni –second on Bellpuig’s podium- KTM UK’s Shaun Simpson, Ricci Racing Yamaha’Nicolas Aubin, Molson Kawasaki’s Stephen Sword –completing the podium last weekend- and Suzuki Inotec’s Xavier Boog rounding off the top ten.
CROSSÓDROMO INTERNACIONAL DO CASARÃO AND AGUEDA
The Crossódromo Internacional Do Casarão in Agueda is a unique track with a lot of character, partially due to its particular red ground which is not usual among the FIM Motocross World Championship venues. The race track is managed by local organizer Ginasio Clube de Agueda, taking care of lots of sports events happening in the area. Last year on Agueda’s intermediate ground Kevin Strijbos (MX1) and Antonio Cairoli (MX2) took victory in sunny and hot weather conditions, something the series has been missing this year since the opening round in Valkenswaard. The weather forecast for the weekend is actually sunny.
THE EVENT’S SCHEDULE
The Portuguese Grand Prix will begin on Saturday with free practice and qualifying preceding Sunday’s races.
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Jean-Michel Bayle, the iconic superstar of yesteryear, raced motocross for the first time in twenty-one years at the Vets MXdN in England. Page 126.