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WMXMarch 30, 2003
World Motocross Championship 250cc, Round 1, Spain

Crockard Misses Out on Podium in Season Opener

The opening race of the Motocross World Championship season was held on March 30 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Bellpuig, about 100km north of Barcelona, Spain.

The highest class from this season has been renamed the Motocross GP class, and with 4-stroke 450cc bikes taking part alongside 2-stroke 250cc machines, this weekend saw one of the most interesting races for years.

The race was dominated by reigning 250cc champion Mickael Pichon, who took 11 out of 12 races last year. The highest placed Honda rider was Irishman Gordon Crockard (CAS Honda Racing), who just missed out on a podium place in 4th.

Last year's runner-up Joshua Coppins (CAS Honda Racing) did not take part in this opening race due to injuries sustained during training in January. Currently back home in New Zealand to focus on recovering, he will come to Europe in two weeks to begin race preparations with his new team. However, he is unlikely to actually appear in a Motocross GP for at least another month.

Pole sitter for the final race in the Motocross GP class was Claudio Federici (Yamaha). Behind him was Pichon in second place, followed by Joel Smets (KTM) and Stefan Everts (Yamaha), last season's Open class champion and racing again this year on a 450cc machine.

Crockard took the hole shot but was forced off the track after coming into contact with Brian Jorgensen (Honda). Despite returning to the course quickly, Crockard was in 9th position at the end of the first of 22 laps.

After dropping another three places and nearly coming off a few times, he then began to fight back fiercely and recovered to take fourth place near the end.

At this point, Pichon was leading with Smets in second and Everts in third. Crockard was within striking range of Everts, but was held up by tail enders and finished the race in fourth place, 0.7 seconds behind Everts.

Yoshitaka Atsuta (CAS Honda Racing) lost ground after a bump with another rider on the first corner of Lap 1 of the first race, but a steady performance saw him recover and finish 13th.

Harry Ainsworth, team manager and owner of CAS Honda Racing, had this to say after the opening race:

"Although he lost a lot of time on the first corner, Crockard recovered superbly. The machine performed well too, as expected. Atsuta also did well to finish 13th. He fell early on, and might have been a bit nervous after that. It's a big pity Coppins got injured before the season began, but he's very tough and I'm sure he'll be back soon."

World Motocross Championship 250cc, Round 1, Spain

1 Mickael Pichon (Suzuki)
2 Joel Smets (KTM)
3 Stefan Everts (Yamaha)
4 Gordon Crockard (CAS Honda Racing)
5 Brian Jorgensen (Honda)
6 Kenneth Gundersen (Kawasaki)
13 Yoshitaka Atsuta (CAS Honda Racing)
1 Mickael Maschio (Kawasaki)
2 Alessio Chiodi (Yamaha)
3 Andrea Bartolini (Yamaha)
4 Stephen Sword (KTM)
5 Steve Ramon (KTM)
6 Marc de Reuver (KTM)

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