Cooper and Sword clinch Canada Heights motocross opener

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Paul Cooper and Stephen Sword have won the opening round of the MX1 and MX2 Maxxis British Motocross Championship that took place at Canada Heights in Kent today.

The first of eight rounds in the premier national off-road series in Europe began under cloudy skies and chilly conditions at the popular circuit located just off the M25 motorway near Swanley. 9000 fans entered the gates for their first taste of 2005 motocross season and were not disappointed as some thrilling racing saw podium places decided within the final moments of the motos.

MultiTek Honda rider and former British Champion Paul Cooper claimed a perfect MX1 clean sweep by winning both 30 minute and 2 lap races; enjoying a successful comeback after missing most of the 2004 campaign through injury. The veteran had to work for his spoils in the second race as Finnish Honda representative Jussi Vehvilainen fronted the 450cc four-stroke and 250cc two-stroke pack for the majority of the distance. Cooper moved ahead within the final few circulations and third placed Japanese Suzuki rider Yoshitaka Atsuta pursued Vehvilainen with venom in a straight shoot-out for the second and third steps of the podium. Atsuta almost crashed on the last lap trying to seize the runner-up spot but sensationally recovered to pip the Honda man to the finish line by just two tenths of a second. Earlier in the day Cooper had led a more processional affair, yet his afternoon efforts delivered his first British Championship triumph in over a year. Atsuta equalled his best ever result in second with his last gasp charge despite being level on points with Vehvilainen (the second moto ranking determining the final standing). James Noble was fourth while Suzuki’s Neville Bradshaw can feel content with fifth after his debut outing in the bigger class.


The Sidcup and District Motorcycle club had undertaken some careful and considered alterations to the Canada Heights circuit in what is becoming one of the slickest organised events on the calendar. The preparation of the dirt was good and the changes to the course from 2004 were interesting. Despite the low temperatures after some morning sunshine had evaporated the riders were still made to sweat by the physically demanding and lofty layout.


Stephen Sword was hassled by a resilient Carl Nunn and aggressive Mike Brown in the MX2 competition for 250cc four-stroke and 125cc two-stroke motorcycles. The defending Champion and factory Kawasaki rider, making a one-off appearance due to World Championship priorities for 2005, was defeated by America’s Mike Brown and works KTM pilot Carl Nunn respectively in the first race of the day. Sword rallied for the next moto and duelled closely with Nunn for the duration, finally shaking off his ‘orange shadow’ after the latter fell on the penultimate lap. Nunn had ‘holeshotted’ both races and demonstrated that he will be a valid threat for the title this year. Brown retired while holding a position in the top ten shortly into the second MX2 exhibition. The DNF was attributed to a mysterious mechanical problem with the 250 Honda. Brown had determinedly put paid to his British rival’s hopes in race one. Tom Church, the winner of the MX2 Canada Heights round in 2004, completed the top three with results of fifth and third. The Kawasaki youngster was delighted with his trophy after a seven month absence due to a shoulder injury. Wayne Smith was fourth in his first ride for Honda ahead of Holland’s Erik Eggens who was also making his British Championship debut for the Japanese manufacturer.


The series now heads north in two weeks time for the second round set to occur at Polesworth near Tamworth on Easter Sunday.


1st MX1: Paul Cooper, Multi Tek Honda:
“I’m ecstatic with everything that has happened today; this was a fantastic result. I want to thank the team and also Honda. Jussi had some great speed and there was a time in the second race where I thought that I might not catch him but I kept my head and focussed on the lines and was able to take the lead. There were a lot of backmarkers out there and you always need a bit of luck cutting through.”


 2nd MX1: Yoshitaka Atsuta, Motovision Racing Suzuki:
“I was in third place for a lot of the race and was looking for a way past Paul but we kept coming up to backmarkers and the track became one-line so it was not easy to pass. I was lucky near the end and just got by Jussi in the last corner. The team is working hard and the bike is very good, we now have two more weeks to prepare before round two.”


 3rd MX1: Jussi Vehvilainen, CAS Honda:
“I like to win but sometimes podium results are good and I am happy with this start to the season. The track here was very rough and the top guys were having problems with the slower riders. Yoshi was all over me in the last laps and just squeezed past before the flag. I have been through some dark times and at this stage last season I had broken my back. I want to thank Harry Ainsworth and the team for all their support and helping me to return to the podium.”


1st MX2: Stephen Sword, Kawasaki Racing Team:
“It was a hard day; the boys were fast this afternoon. I really enjoyed the second race. Carl was pushing hard and I had to change my lines to find a way to catch and pass him. At the end I didn’t know that he had dropped it so I kept on trying right to the line. I did not want to come here and lose. I am not racing the rest of the rounds but I achieved what I wanted today.”


 2nd MX2: Carl Nunn, Champ Red Bull KTM:
“It was frantic at the end. Stephen made a mistake and I thought ‘now’s my chance’ but I entered a corner too hot and lost the front end. The gap rose to about eight seconds and that was too much to peg back in two laps. I am happy though. I made two good starts and that is such an important part of the races. I am pleased with the bike and Serge, my mechanic, has done a great job. I have to thank KTM from the bottom of my heart for the faith they have shown in me during what was a difficult off-season period.”


3rd MX2: Tom Church, Molson Kawasaki:
“I had a great race with Erik Eggens and kept on trying until the end even though I was shattered! I have had a long time off the bike and came here hoping for a top five; I am over-the-moon to get on the podium. I am pleased that I am on the pace and not far away from the leaders, I want to be with them at the next race.”


Catch the Canada Heights action on TV at the following times and channels (information correct at time of publication but please consult TV guide for last minute changes).
Thursday 7th April – 5.00pm Sky Sports Xtra
Friday 8th April – 7.00pm Sky Sports 2
Saturday 9th April – 2.30am Sky Sports 3
Saturday 9th April – 5.00am Sky Sports Xtra
Sunday 10th April – 5.00pm Sky Sports 2


Results:


MX1 Moto1:
1. Paul Cooper, Honda
2. James Noble, Honda
3. Jussi Vehvilainen, Honda
4. Yoshitaka Atsuta, Suzuki
5. Neville Bradshaw, Suzuki
6. Mark Hucklebridge, Honda
7. Mark Eastwood, Honda
8. Gordon Crockard, Yamaha
9. Mark Jones, KTM
10. Glen Phillips, Yamaha


MX1 Moto2:
1. Paul Cooper, Honda
2. Yoshitaka Atsuta, Suzuki
3. Jussi Vehvilainen, Honda
4. James Noble, Honda
5. Neville Bradshaw, Suzuki
6. Glen Phillips, Yamaha
7. Christian Burnham, Honda
8. Mark Hucklebridge, Honda
9. Mark Eastwood, Honda
10. Stuart Flockhart, Honda


MX1:
1. Paul Cooper 60
2. Yoshitaka Atsuta 50
3. Jussi Vehvilainen 50
4. James Noble 50
5. Neville Bradshaw 42
6. Mark Hucklebridge 34
7. Glen Phillips 30
8. Mark Eastwood 30
9. Stuart Flockhart 21
10. Christian Burnham 17


MX2 Moto1:
1. Mike Brown, Honda
2. Carl Nunn, KTM
3. Stephen Sword, Kawasaki
4. Wayne Smith, Honda
5. Tom Church, Kawasaki
6. Eric Eggens, Honda
7. Brad Anderson, Yamaha
8. Lewis Gregory, Suzuki
9. Graeme Gowland, Kawasaki
10. Tommy Searle, Kawasaki


MX2 Moto2:
1. Stephen Sword, Kawasaki
2. Carl Nunn, KTM
3. Tom Church, Kawasaki
4. Eric Eggens, Honda
5. Wayne Smith, Honda
6. Brad Anderson, Yamaha
7. Billy MacKenzie, Yamaha
8. Tommy Searle, Kawasaki
9. Lewis Gregory, Suzuki
10. David Willett


MX2:
1. Stephen Sword 55
2. Carl Nunn 54
3. Tom Church 46
4. Wayne Smith 44
5. Eric Eggens 42
6. Brad Anderson 36
7. Mike Brown 30
8. Lewis Gregory 28
9. Billy MacKenzie 27
10. Tommy Searle 26


Full results can be found on the official website
The new official website housing results, news, reports and rider profiles can be found at:
www.mxgb.info

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