Pichon defeats the belgian’s on their soil
The tenth round of the 2004 World Championship, organised in Neeroeteren was another exciting round with close racing in both MX1 and MX2 classes. Stefan Everts shared the MX1 heat wins with Mickael Pichon but lost the GP after he crashed in the first moto, while Tyla Rattray won the MX2 GP with two consistent races. Neither Ben Townley nor Andrew McFarlane could challenge him for the win, as both only finished one race this week-end.
Jorgensen grabbed the holeshot in the first race, followed by Everts, Joshua Coppins and Pichon. Pichon came second pretty fast, and after a couple of attacks he took the lead to his team-mate in the third lap. Everts came second and both started to offer nice racing to the fans; but Everts crashed in the fifth lap and let Pichon alone in the lead. Behind Pichon, Strijbos, Melotte, Ramon and Coppins where fighting for the podium spots; Melotte passed third at mid-race but crashed heavily in the whoops section, dislocating his femur. Strijbos got this third place behind Pichon and Jorgensen, while Everts finished sixth. In the second race Strijbos got the holeshot and led two laps; then Everts and Pichon passed him. Both stayed really close during most of the race, but Pichon was never able to attack him and secured his thirty GP win in the last laps. Ramon secured a third spot, while Coppins also passed Strijbos to finish fourth. Spaniard Garcia Vico was not there, as he signed a “gentleman agreement” and stopped his collaboration with Aprilia.
In the first MX2 race Antonio Cairoli got the holeshot and led the first two laps before Townley passed him. Fourth in the first lap, Ben came fast in the lead and dominated the race despite some opposition from Sébastien Pourcel; the young frenchie put some pressure on BT but stalled his engine in the eight lap and let his second spot to Sword. The British rider crashed in the following lap, so Rattray came second and Jeff Dement third. Finally Pourcel passed the American and got the first podium of his career with a third position, while Cairoli (two crashes), McFarlane (damaged front wheel), Bartolini and Federici retired. Bartolini grabbed the holeshot of the second moto, but Townley was promptly in the lead. He will do only one lap, before retiring with a technical problem on his bike… McFarlane and then Maschio took the lead; the frenchie had the race under control, but he got a stone in his brake in the last lap and let the win to McFarlane. Really strong this weekend Dement finishes third and got his first GP podium since a while; but the overall win was for Rattray, fourth in this race. With a better start (fourteen after one lap) Pourcel could have been on the podium, but with a sixth position he got a better result than Sword who retired early in the race due to technical problems.
Mickael Pichon. “It’s not a very easy year for me, and I would like to have more week-ends like this one! We work really hard with team Tiscali Honda and we were expecting more wins but after my accident in Germany it took time to get my speed back. Since a couple of GP’s I’ve been racing closer and closer to Stefan, I’m just so happy to win here today. Not especially because it’s in Belgium, just because it’s a GP win. The track was really tricky and difficult, there were many lines and it was so easy to make a mistake. In each race I was able to go through the pack pretty good, that’s what I did twice. We were pushing really hard with Stefan, until he did a mistake in the first race; then I knew that if I stay on two wheels I will won the heat and that’s what I did. In the second race Strijbos came from the inside and pushed everybody, I had to cut in the inside and my position was not so good again. I came really fast behind Stefan, try to stay really close but he had more speed in one part of the track. Two laps to go I decided to secure the GP win and let him go”.
Stefan Everts. “In the first race when I was behind Mickael unfortunately I stalled the engine and the rear wheel blocked! It was just in the corner before a downhill and as soon as the engine stopped it threw me off the bike and I hit something with my head on the ground. It took me sometime to re-start and in the first laps I was recovering from this crash. Then I took a good rhythm but I missed some minutes to catch Steve and Josh. I was mentally prepared not to win here, so I must take it in a positive way; I made a crash but I’m still OK, compared to my team-mate who is in hospital now. The second race was tough; I didn’t try to make a big gap with Mickael, I just kept the pace during the entire race, and in the last laps he slow down so it was good for me. I was really tired at the end, in fact I didn’t recovered from the last month of racing. But hopefully after Sweden we’ll have a good break”.
Steve Ramon. “I’m happy to be back on the podium, especially here in Belgium. In the first race I didn’t have a great start and had to come back, but when I came behind Strijbos I couldn’t pass him. I tried everything, and there I lost some energy and had to slow down. Joshua passed me and then I saw Stefan coming so I pushed really hard in the last two laps. In the second moto my start was better and I felt comfortable on the bike; I was able to follow Stefan and Mickael, and I made a small gap on Joshua to secure my third position. At the end of the race I made a couple of mistakes, but finally got my third podium of the season after Zolder and France”.
Tyla Rattray. “I had a big crash in practice last tuesday and dislocated my shoulder, so I came here just expecting a top ten finish. They put back the shoulder in the hospital, and then I got good treatment from my doctor and I want to thank him, my trainer, my physiotherapist and the whole team for their support. I never expect to win here, but I rode consistent in both races and it seems that I’m now the main contender for Ben in the championship. It would be good for KTM if we could finish first and second, I will try to finish all the following GP’s on the podium”.
Mickael Maschio. “I lost the GP in the last lap of the second race, when I took a stone in my rear brake pedal in the whoops section. The bike stopped and I was close to crash, I had to stop and take off the stone. I lost there eight seconds and McFarlane came back behind me in this last lap. Unfortunately I lost my front wheel later in a corner, may be I lost some concentration in the incident and McFarlane passed me there. With a second and a fifth in the first race I finished second, it’s a good result for us as everyone in the team is working really hard. I proved today that I have the speed to win races, I just hope to finally get a GP win as soon as possible”.
Jeff Dement. “I got my last podium in 2000 in Croatia, and I’m happy to be back! I lost the 2001 and 2003 season due to injuries, and it’s really tough this year to come back but our work paid off. I’m a little bit disappointed as with one more pass I would have won the GP, but in fact I’m really happy for me and my sponsors who always believed in me. This track is really technical with the rocks and the bumps, I felt well all the week-end. Marco my manager gave me good advices, it helped me in the second moto to catch Rattray at the end.”