Yamaha triumphs in Sugo


As expected the first Japanese Grand Prix for ten years has been a great success and will be fondly remembered as providing one of the most exciting races of the decade. The decently prepared track gave the GP stars a great opportunity to offer the healthy crowd some great racing, especially during the second MX1 moto.

The first MX1 race was pretty straightforward as most of the leading positions stabilised in the opening few laps. Stefan Everts took the holeshot while Pichon started several places further back, but the Frenchman rallied promptly and passed Everts before the end of the first circulations. Stefan reacted but Pichon was faster in this heat and captured his third consecutive win. Everts in second was followed by Townley and Coppins. Ramon and De Dycker made some good moves during the event, coming back respectively from tenth and twenty-ninth to fifth and tenth. The second moto was different and kept everyone on their toes as the top five riders of the series battled together for the entire thirty-five minute duration! Pichon made the holeshot but couldn’t forge a margin as Everts, Coppins, Smets and Townley were charging hard behind him. After the previous races the track was pretty rough and technical, but offered many lines and produced a great show; after twenty minutes the first five riders were separated by little more than three seconds! The positions changed several times, and Everts got the lead on the seventh lap when Mickael made a small mistake; Townley also passed Pichon later to challenge Everts but he unfortunately broke his engine just when he started to attack seriously the leader. The race was intense until the last metres, with Smets capturing second place and denying Coppins third place overall. Everts won his 83rd GP in Sugo, increasing his leadership in the series by two points.

Five different riders have now won the six MX2 GPs of the season as Billy Mackenzie dominated this Japanese event and offered Yamaha another success. Leading both races the British rider briefly fell in the opening heat giving the race to Antonio Cairoli, but took his revenge in the following outing as nobody was able to follow him. Billy won his first ever GP a week prior to the British GP at Matchams Park, and will for sure be supported in England as much as Stephen Sword who was second in the last MX2 moto in a British one-two. Sword was the only non-Yamaha rider in the top eight riders of the GP; he finished fourth overall behind Mackenzie, Cairoli and Cedric Melotte who had to recover twice from bad starts.

Local hero Yoshitaka Atsuta finished eleventh overall in the MX1 series, while Kenjiro Tsuji was the best MX1 wild card with a 16th and a 17th place. The GP was not successful for the MX2 Japanese competitors as only two scored points, with a fourteenth place for Takeshi Katsuya as best individual result.

Stefan Everts: “In the first race I was really trying hard to turn things around inside the race but I couldn’t do that, Mickael was riding strong and I had to be satisfied with my second place. Sometimes you win sometimes you lose, that was the case in the first moto. In both races I tried to be pretty aggressive at the beginning but I couldn’t do it more for than two laps and that was it. I think also that Mickael had good lines on the track and was relaxed and comfortable going around in the first heat. In the second race I knew where I had to go and from the first lap I put pressure on Mickael and at one point I managed to pass him. I won my first World Title in Japan, I won the last Japanese Grand Prix in 1995 and I won today, I’m so happy for Yamaha as it’s one of the most important races of the year for them, this event was successful thanks to the promoter who did an amazing job. I won this GP in a spectacular way and I think that all the fans will not forget this day especially after the exciting second MX1 moto. Now I want to go back home as soon as possible, I’m missing my son Liam!”

Billy Mackenzie: “I’m so happy to win in Japan, where the bikes are made. It’s the manufacturers’ country, and to win in Sugo, which is owned by Yamaha, is a great feeling. We had a lot of Japanese mechanics helping the team this weekend and I was glad to win overall. Maschio got the holeshot in the first moto but I made a quick pass on him, tried to do some real quick laps and pulled away. I had a six second lead after four or five laps and everything was going really good, but then I was struggling with my rhythm, I was a little bit tense and made a mistake in a corner. I restarted still in the lead but Cairoli was right behind me, put on the pressure and I lost my rhythm so he passed me. I knew from the first race that my speed was good, I fixed the quickest lap and I got the holeshot in the second race. I tried to put some fast laps in to pull a distance. I got the pit-board after three laps telling me that Sword was in second and I knew that he would be consistent but I was sure to be faster. It was an awesome race, I won one moto in Bellpuig and now got my first GP; I’m looking for more victories now.”

Next event: British GP on June 4th-5th (Matchams Park, www.britgp.com)

Information and results on www.motocrossmx1.com, the official website of the Motocross World Championships.

Info copyright Mediapress, photo copyright Yamaha Racing


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