A friendly welcome in Japan as the World Championships arrive
After a ten year absence the FIM Motocross World Championship has received a friendly welcome in Sugo this week, home of the seventh round of the season. Teams, riders and media have already been impressed by the quality of the organisation and circuit and anticipate a great event.
When the FIM appointed Youthstream to take in charge of the development of Motocross World Championship, they assigned the company one main objective: to develop the sport worldwide. Increasing the development of the TV coverage and bringing the series outside of Europe were part of the plan presented by Giuseppe Luongo and after South Africa last year it’s now time for Japan to entertain a GP race. “I think it’s one of the most important steps. We need to bring this championship outside of Europe and Japan is a perfect country for us, most of the main manufacturers are based there and for the credibility, standing and the value of the World Championship it’s so important to be here,” explained Wolfgang Srb, President of the FIM Motocross commission. “It’s the first time in years that we have come to Japan and this event needs to be successful, then it will be easier for all of us in the future. The Japanese manufacturers want to see how is the reaction of the market, spectators, media, and TV and I’m sure that it’s a great opportunity to get more support from them, that’s what we want for the teams. On Sunday evening we’ll know more about the future but already the Japanese are surprised by the great TV coverage of the World Championship. We have to give credit to Youthstream for the work they have done in term of television, diffusion and coverage, this is unbelievable and a big achievement. This is what makes our sport bigger, nowadays you need to have great TV coverage,” added M.Srb who was pleased with the track preparation. “The Japanese are listening to our advice. I was there six weeks ago for a seminar and then came to watch a Japanese championship race, it was ‘so-so’. We had a long talk after the event to discuss the improvements and they really listened to us. They prepared the track in an American way, with this mix of wood shavings and earth, and you see that they have ‘got the message’. They just want everything to be perfect,” concluded the main FIM representative.
Arriving in Japan on Tuesday or Wednesday after a long trip from Europe, all the riders came to the circuit on Friday morning to discover the track and have a talk with their mechanics. For most it was their first glimpse of venue but the factory Kawasaki riders pitched up earlier in the week to test the latest version of their bikes that they will use for the first time Sugo; all the other machines arrived from Europe and had to be assembled by the mechanics. Each team has been supplied with two tents, and the MX ‘family’ have the talented Italian Lorenzo Resta as official chef; with all the riders, technicians, journalists and mechanics eating together in the same tent, this overseas GP brings back another and unusual atmosphere in the paddock!
Fifth in the MX1 standings and former MX2 World Champion, New Zealander Ben Townley was among the first riders to discover the track. “It’s look good, they have done a great job to prepare the track! >From what you can see, even you never know until you ride it looks like you will gain a lot of lines in the turns, because it’s a kind of dirt which you can ride anywhere and find new lines. I like it, I just need some good start and we’ve worked a lot on it so I hope it will be OK but anyway it looks pretty good for passing. I’m very happy to have my family around me this weekend, my man and sister are going shopping today while my father came to the track, it’s pretty cool to have them supporting me,” said the friendly “kiwi” who expect to renew his Spanish performance.
The Sugo International Circuit is located in the Northern part of Japan, 30 kms from Sengai which is the tenth biggest city in the country with 1 million habitants. Former Japanese Motocross Grand Prix took place in Suzuka, and Stefan Everts won the last edition in 1995 on his way to capturing his second World Title. The current leader of the MX1 series has already raced several times in Sugo during the final round of the All Japan Motocross Championship, and is without any doubt the most popular rider in Japan. He will probably share the glory this weekend with Yoshitaka Atsuta, who will be racing at his local track during his third campaign in the World Championship. Actually twentieth in the MX1 series on his Motovision Suzuki “Yoshi” will be joined this weekend by numerous Japanese hopefuls. Fourteen riders including Japanese leader Kenjiro Tsuji (Honda) got an entry in the MX1 class, while fifteen others will try through the MX2 qualifying heats to qualify for their national GP.
The weather forecast had been good on Thursday and some showers watered the track on Friday; the forecast predicts pretty mixed conditions for the weekend, with the possibility of rain.
Practices start on Saturday at 10.00 with qualifying sessions from 3.00 to 5.45, and on Sunday the MX2 races are scheduled at 12.05 and 3.02, the MX1 at 1.05 and 4.05 local time (minus 6 hours GMT time).
Information and results on www.motocrossmx1.com, the official website of the Motocross World Championships.
2005 MX1 World Championship standings after GP5: 1.Everts (BEL, Yamaha), 204 pts ; 2.Pichon (FRA, Honda), 195 ; 3.Smets (BEL, Suzuki), 167 ; 4.Coppins (NZL, Honda), 167 ; 5.Townley (NZL, KTM), 148 ; etc….
2005 MX2 World Championship standings after GP5: 1.Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), 174 ; 2.Chiodi (ITA, Yamaha), 1703 ; 3.McFarlane (AUS, Yamaha), 155 ; 4.Sword (GBR, Kawasaki), 152 ; 5.Melotte (BEL, Yamaha), 143 ; etc….
Previous winners GP of Japan (Suzuka)
1995: Stefan Everts (BEL, 250 Kawasaki)
1994: Yves Demaria (FRA, 250 Honda)
1993: Alessandro Puzar (ITA, 250 Yamaha)
1992: Mike Kiedroswki (USA, 250 Kawasaki) and Pedro Tragter (NED, 125 Suzuki)
1991: Jeff Stanton (USA, 250 Honda) and Mike Kiedrowski (USA, 125 Kawasaki)
Info, photo copyright Mediacross