First heat wins for Strijbos and McFarlane
For his return on the legendary track of Gallarate, the FIM Motocross World Championship got a brilliant attendance and gave to the fans a lot of emotions in both the MX1 and MX2 races. Racing his fourth season in Europe, Australian Andrew McFarlane won the first GP of his career, and became the fourth winner of the season in the MX2 class. Stefan Everts got another GP win in the MX1 class, but his young countryman Kevin Strijbos won the first heat of his career.
After a disappointing weekend in France, both McFarlane and Strijbos recovered in Italy where they got the best result of their life! Strijbos got in the first MX1 race another holeshot, but this time he was able to pull a gap in the first laps. Leading the entire race, he took full advantage of his perfect start while Everts and Pichon lost time to pass several riders. When he came second three laps to the end, Everts couldn’t catch him and just secured his second place from Pichon trough the lappers! The start of Strijbos was not as great in the following race; Coppins (who crashed in the previous one) nailed the holeshot followed by Ramon, Melotte and Pichon. Pichon took the lead in the fourth lap, but Everts passed him four laps later. The Frenchman put some pressure on the Belgian star, who kept the advantage and won his fifth GP of the season. Strijbos, who came back from a poor start to fourth finished the GP in second while Pichon, who lost time in the first race when his team-mate pushed him took the third place of the GP.
Australian McFarlane got two heat wins in a different way. He dominate the first race since the first corner, but came back strongly from sixth in the following one after he missed his start. This second race was probably the most exciting of the season in this class, as four riders were fighting together for the win in the last laps: McFarlane, Maschio and Italian’s Cairoli and Chiodi. Both Italians got the full support of the crowd, but that was not enough and McFarlane bet Cairoli, Chiodi and Maschio. Coming back from seventh to third in the first moto, World Championship leader Ben Townley was involved in a pile-up at the second start (Federici, Boissière and Rattray also crashed) and finished eight. Once more after France, he increased his advantage in the championship even he didn’t won the GP; Sword had a terrible crash in a fast downhill when his engine stopped, and Rattray retired with a damaged shoulder after the crash at the start.
Sun, big attendance, good organisation and nice racing for the second week-end in a row – after a brilliant British event – gives some good feeling to the FIM Motocross World Championship contenders and supporters who attend the French GP in Saint Jean d’Angely.
Two men dominated the MX1 Grand Prix: Stefan Everts and Mickael Pichon. Joshua Coppins got the holeshot in the first race and led it during six laps, before being passed by Everts in a fast downhill. Pichon was following the world champ’s assault, and came second but couldn’t challenge him for the heat win. In the second race Everts got the holeshot but Pichon was right behind him, and the race promised to be exciting. But unluckily Pichon got a stone in his front brake and was forced to retire in the second lap. “It’s really frustrating for me, as I had the right speed this time. On this fast track with many downhill it’s impossible to race without a front brake, and I’m so disappointed” said the French hero. Nobody was able to follow Evert’s rhythm, and with another double win Stefan increased his leadership. Winner of the previous event Coppins was again a strong contender with a third and a second position, while Ramon took the last place on the podium with a fifth and a fourth place. Melotte would have been on the podium if a stone didn’t damaged his rear brake pedal and forced him to retire in the second heat, and without an early crash in the first race Demaria who finished third in the other one could have reach this podium for his unique MX1 appearance of the season. Single factory Suzuki rider, Kevin Strijbos was unlucky with a DNF in the first race (crash at the start) and a poor start in the second one.
The MX2 races were once more intense, especially the first one with a nice battle between Ben Townley and Antonio Cairoli. The young Italian talent got the holeshot and led half of he race, before Townley passed him. But Cairoli never gave up and surprised Townley, who couldn’t relax before the finish line. Sword finished third, followed by Italian’s Federici and Chiodi and French’s Pourcel, Maschio and Boissière. Chiodi, another Italian on a 250 four stroke Yamaha got the second holeshot and led three laps, but Maschio passed him in the fourth lap. Coming back from fifteen to ninth in the opening race, Tyla Rattray was the strongest rider in this heat and took the lead at mid race. It was sufficient to win the event as Townley and Sword retired after a crash; Maschio, Chiodi and Federici finished the Grand Prix with the same number of points and were settled by their result in the second race.
Stefan Everts. “ In the first race I lost time behind Jorgensen, and when I passed him I was then able to catch Ramon and finished second. My second start was similar but I had a good feeling with the track and came to the lead quite easily. My main problem once more was the lapper, especially in the first race; I can’t understand why this guys never respect the blue flags, they probably just know the yellow one’s. I think that we could give a penalty to these riders…”
Kevin Strijbos “My first race was good, I could ride pretty smooth after my holeshot. I didn’t felt any pressure and made a small gap. In the second heat my start was pretty bad, I did a wheelie and I was around twenty… In the beginning my laps were not so good but after ten minutes I took a good rhythm and cached many riders including Ramon in the last two laps. Of course I’m really happy with my heat win, I hope I can have a GP win soon.”
Mickael Pichon “I’m never happy with a third position, but it’s nice to be back on the podium after France. I gave everything I could, in the first moto I was fourth but lost two ranks when my teammate pushed me in front of the boxes. Josh and Stefan passed me, and as the track was really slippery I took my time. The track was drying in the last ten minutes, we had a good speed with Stefan and came back on Ramon. My start in the second heat was better than Stefan but not so much, pretty quickly I got in front I didn’t found the good lines and struggled a little bit. Stefan passed me, I tried to go easy on the track but he pulled away a little bit. I was slower in two or three slippery corners, I pushed really hard in the last laps but I made a mistake and almost crashed.”
Andrew McFarlane “Last weekend was really terrible for me, and this week we worked really hard with the Dixon team and Rinaldi Yamaha. In the second start I didn’t got the same jump as in the first one, I found really good lines on this slippery track. I had good traction, I never gave up and pushed during the entire race. When I came in Europe my first goal was to win a GP and I got it today, it’s a first step as my final goal is to win a World title”.
Claudio Federici “The first heat was really good, even if my start was not so good. I pushed really hard in the first lap to pass many riders, came second at mid-race and pushed again but McFarlane was too far. I don’t know what happened at the second start, I think that somebody hit my wheel. I was only 23rd in the first lap but never gave up to finish seventh; I’m happy as I could catch Townley in the last laps”.
Alessio Chiodi “I got good start this week-end, but in the first heat the track was really slippery and I didn’t found the good lines. The second race was much better, the track was changed and we could use the burns and the ruts, it was better for my riding style. I was expecting a podium here, so I’m happy and will try to get more in the following races”.