Will Stefan Everts and Ben Townley dominate again?
Round five of the 2004 FIM Motocross World Championship will take place this weekend in Teutschenthal (former Eastern Germany), home of a Grand Prix all the way back since 1971 (German or European). Although Sunday will be only the tenth time that the Talkessel track has hosted the meeting. The GP has subsequently been a regular visitor at the venue from 1998 and entertained triple events since 2001.
One week after the Dutch Grand Prix on the sandy track of Valkenswaard, the riders will find a completely different circuit as the German is hard-pack. It’s one of the nicest tracks of the series according to many and it usually boasts one of the biggest attendances of the season even if this year the fans will not witness former star Pit Beirer in action.
Winners last week and both leaders of their class Stefan Everts and Ben Townley will look for another top result this weekend, but it could be more difficult for them as the track offers a different test. With four heats and two GP wins in the MX1 class since the beginning of the season Stefan Everts is having a great season so far and has totalled 74 career GP wins. “I’ve not totally recovered from my thumb and rib injuries but I’ve got pretty good results. I know that the season will be long and I’m sure that I will have some strong opposition in the following weeks so it’s important to score as many points as possible each weekend,” said the Monegasque resident, who just moved this week into a new apartment. To-date either Everts or his team Yamaha Rinaldi have taken brilliant results, as Cedric Melotte is currently runner-up in the world classification; winner of two heats and scoring last weekend the same points as Everts, the new father (his girl friend Sarah gave birth to Matteo last Sunday night!) confirmed his talent and has collected many points at every GP, showing unusual consistency! With Steve Ramon in third, the Belgian riders are monopolising the championship podium, but after a strong opening GP in Zolder Steve has missed the top three at the following rounds and now leads Pichon by only two points. The French rider was unable last weekend to repeat his previous wins in Valkenswaard, and with a fourth position in the GP he lost some ground. “Fourth is not such a bad result on a sandy track, but you can’t be really happy with this position when your goal is to be world champion,” said Pichon who has won twice in Teutschenthal (2001 and 2003) but failed in 2002 after a crash at the start. It was the single GP that Pichon didn’t won that year and Kenneth Gundersen took the opportunity to win his first GP in the main class, Now fifth in the current series, Kenneth will try to catch a podium here but will have to combat the Suzuki boys. Joel Smets obtained last week his first podium of the season, confirming real progress in the development of the new Suzuki, and will be for sure, with his young team-mate Kevin Strijbos, one of the men to watch carefully this weekend.
The new boss of the MX2 class seems to be Ben Townley, the first rider to win two GP’s in the row (Portugal and Netherlands) this season. On his four stroke machinery Ben has been luckier than his team-mate Marc De Reuver so far and leads the series after winning races in all conditions (sand in Flanders or Netherlands, mud in Spain and normal conditions in Portugal). Ben missed the podium here two years ago (fourth) and the GP last year (due to an operation) but was always fast at this track in the past. Winner here last year (his first ever GP win) was Marc De Reuver who is probably unluckiest guy of the class after four races due to mechanical trouble; he now has to catch his team-mate Townley. Britain’s Stephen Sword, who missed the podium last weekend for the first time this season, has lost a couple of points but will feel more at ease here than in Valkenswaard; the situation is similar for his team-mate Mickaël Maschio who has been out of the picture in the last two GP’s and expecting a prompt return to the podium. In this exciting class regulars like Andrew McFarlane and Tyla Rattray or “old guys” Alessio Chiodi and Andrea Bartolini will be serious contenders, while young and promising talents Antonio Cairoli, Aigar Leok and Sébastien Pourcel will race for the first podium of their career.
The action will start Saturday at 10 am with the first free practice session, and qualifying will take place from 3 to 6pm. Sunday the MX2 races are scheduled at 12.05 and 15.05, and the MX1 at 13.05 and 16.05.
For more info and results check the official web site of the FIM Motocross World Championships: www.motocrossMX1.com
Photo (C) Yamaha Racing – Info MediaCross