Back to work !
The 2004 FIM Motocross World Championship is back in action this weekend for the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic after a three week break following the Swedish GP at the beginning of July. Most of the riders have participated in some National Championship rounds during this period, but they’ve also had time to relax before the final stretch of the series with the five last GP’s over the next eight weeks.
Czech Republic has retained a constant presence in Motocross Championship past, providing the famous (3 times World Champion) CZ Motorcycle brand (several top riders, including Roger De Coster, Joel Robert, Sylvain Geboers, were CZ factory riders in the 60’s) and great Champions such as Vlastimil Valek (6 GP wins), Jaroslva Falta (4 GP wins, 250 vice-champion in 1974), Zdeny Velky (3 GP wins) or Antonin Baborovsky (2 GP wins). A total of 21 GP wins have been scored by Czech riders throughout the history of the sport but unfortunately it was a long time ago….
The Czech Grand Prix has been a regular fixture in the calendar; Holice, Dalecin, Sisbro, Povaska Bystrica, Kramolin and Jinin were the main venues and it’s since 1995 that Loket welcomed the 500cc GP riders. It will be the third time in a row that Loket (located in the west part of Czech Republic, 150kms from Prague) welcomes a GP, and slightly earlier than usual as the event has appeared at the tail end of the season for several years now. Stefan Everts (in 2002) and Joel Smets (in 2003) clinched a title there but Loket will not witness any celebrations this weekend as there are still 250 points up for grabs in each class.
With a strong lead (97 points) in the MX1 category, Stefan Everts seems to have one hand on the title, even if French rival Mickael Pichon has won the last two events in Belgium and Sweden. Stefan, who was not in his best shape last month (he crashed three times in the last four motos – a rare sight), has now renewed his deal with L&M Yamaha and can focus on the races even he if not yet an happy father. The doctors finally decided that his girlfriend Kelly would deliver the baby at full term and Stefan has to wait some more days for a little visitor…. Winner of a Belgian race during the GP break, the King of Motocross will not spend a lot of time in Czech Republic after the event and will fly back home promptly to give support to Kelly. Second in the standings after his third GP win of the season, Pichon was the most active rider in July; he raced in France every weekend (and more as he also raced a SX on 14th) he successively won two Supercross and two Motocross events, one aboard his usual 450 CRF and another on a 250 CRF. The former 250 World champion is in his best shape and expect more GP wins. “I’m now seventh in the GP winners standings with 31 wins, and my goal is to come in the top five. That means I have to win at least 6 more GP’s to equal Torsten Hallman,” said the Honda rider. Joshua Coppins (in England) and Kevin Strijbos (in Germany) also won a National event in July, and both will be, along with Steve Ramon, Brian Jorgensen and Tanel Leok, the main contenders for the MX1 GP. Winner of two heats during the last three GP’s Strijbos will use the latest version of the 450 Suzuki, while Leok will do his third race aboard the yellow thumper. The Estonian teenager will be keen for more 450 experience considering the fact that he has just signed a deal with Jan De Grot to race next season on the new four-stroke Kawasaki. Injured Cedric Melotte, who has been confirmed by Yamaha for next season, is actually rehabilitating in southern France (Cap Breton) and hopes to be back to action next week in Namur; injured Kenneth Gundersen and Mark Huckelbridge will be replaced this weekend by Sven Breugelmans and Marc Jones.
After a couple of disappointing races Ben Townley dominated the last round of the MX2 championship in Sweden. It gave the Kiwi a safer lead (77 points) in the series, after a period when his rivals started to think it was possible to beat him! Winner of fourteen heats and six GP’s, leading no less than 235 laps (from a total of 413) since the beginning of the season, Ben is the strongest man in this class, but knows (with four retirements) that it’s really important to finish all the races. His KTM team-mate Tyla Rattray and Britain’s Stephen Sword are fighting for the vice-champion spot, while Andrew McFarlane (who suffered two DNFs in the last four motos) has to be careful with Michael Maschio, Antonio Cairoli and Alessio Chiodi not far behind him. Coming back to the GP’s after his injury in Germany three months ago, Townley’s other team-mate Marc De Reuver will be a serious contender for the podium; he proved with an overall win in his first race (Dutch championship) since his injury that he is back to his best!
The action will start Saturday at 10am 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.
2003 winners: Stefan Everts (125 and Motocross GP) and Joel Smets (650)
2002 winners: Mickael Maschio (125), Mickael Pichon (250) and Joel Smets (500)
2000 winner: Mickael Pichon (250)
1999 winner: Andrea Bartolini (500)
1998 winner: Joel Smets (500)
1997 winner: Stefan Everts (250)
1995 winner: Joel Smets (500)
For more info and results check the official web site of the FIM Motocross World Championships: www.motocrossMX1.com
Info MediaCross, photo (C) Mx2k.com