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WMXPortugalApril 4, 2004
2004 FIM Motocross World Championship Round 3
Grand Prix of Portugal – Agueda, Portugal

Pichon takes first win of the season with 2-1 results

Tiscali Honda rider Mickael Pichon gave the CRF450R Honda machine its first MX1 Grand Prix win today at Agueda, Portugal for round three of FIM series. The most successful French motocrosser in the history of the sport and former multi world title winner scored a 2nd place along with a moto victory to triumph overall. Pichon equalled the results of Yamaha’s Stefan Everts but climbed the podium for the first time in 11 months by virtue of winning the second race.

In significantly better and drier conditions than the clouds and rain that had blighted the build-up to the weekend, soaking the circuit, the racing got underway on a dry, fast and rough Agueda track. Sunshine and warm temperatures helped bolster a reasonably decent attendance with over 17,000 people entering the woodland setting to watch the stars of the MX1 and MX2 series’.

Mickael Pichon was a minute away from taking his third pole position in timed practice yesterday before being pipped by KTM’s Steve Ramon. He did however retain second choice in the gate and made two excellent starts, trailing Everts in the opening race and passing Joel Smets for the lead early on in the second moto, going on to dominate the 35 minute and 2 lap race distance.

CAS Honda rider Josh Coppins, who has taken podium trophies in the last two Grand Prix, looked fast all weekend but his quest for a third spray of champagne was wrecked on the first lap of the opening moto when he collided with Kenneth Gundersen and was sent crashing to the ground. The Kiwi was hit by Steve Ramon and then another bike clattered his stagnant 450 four-stroke. The 27 year old remounted and fought his way from dead last back to tenth only to despairingly run out of fuel with two laps to run after the original spill had caused a small leak. In the second race Coppins was running at a more familiar position and collected a firm if somewhat isolated third place. The DNF meant that he could only place 9th overall.

Coppins’ team-mate Yoshitaka Atsuta had his best weekend of the season finishing seventh overall (12th place and 7th) and a remaining a constant presence in the top ten during both races.

Brian Jorgensen, despite some trouble with his wrist that seems likely to need minor surgery this week, was sixth fastest on Saturday but could not transfer his speed into results. The Dane crossed the line 10th in the first moto but then crashed in the second race and finished 19th.

RTT Honda rider Carl Nunn earned Honda’s best result so far with the new 250F by taking two 7th positions and 4th place overall after notching his second ever GP pole position on Saturday.

Several honourable mentions have to be made from this afternoon’s activities. In the first MX1 moto Paul Cooper guided his Honda 450 to an excellent 7th position but then in a moment of bad luck so typical for the British rider he crashed trying to avoid a fallen Kenneth Gundersen and was taken to the medical centre with a broken collarbone. In the second MX2 race RWJ Honda man Jamie Dobb was one of the fastest riders on the track and proved his speed by fighting back from a first lap position of 14th to take 5th. The former World Champion was hindered by a poor starting position after a crash in yesterday’s qualifying races. His exhilarating charge was one of the highlights of the second race that was won by Kawasaki’s Stephen Sword, taking his first ever GP success. The day however was owned by KTM’s Ben Townley. The last moto of the day, the MX1 race 2 saw Honda Sarholz rider Ken De Dijcker pull a surprise result out of the bag by earning his best World Championship finish with 5th.

Josh Coppins lies fourth in the MX1 standings, 31 points behind Stefan Everts, and Pichon is currently sixth.

Round four of the World Championships occurs in three weeks time at Valkenswaard for the Grand Prix of the Netherlands.

Josh Coppins
"Frustrating weekend. I made a decent start but then saw a KTM mudguard come alongside and knock me down. Ramon then ran over me and I was really lucky not to be hurt. Someone hit the bike and nudged the fuel tank because I rode my balls off to get back up to tenth and then bike stopped with a lap to go and I had to walk back to the paddock. I’m disappointed but you have to accept these things. In the second moto things were back to normal, I tried to close the gap to Stefan but the top three were quite spaced out. I should have had two podiums today but that’s racing."

Mickael Pichon
"It has been eleven months since my last win and this is a very good feeling to be up here. It seems like I have been through a very long and bad period but I never gave up and was always thinking about the time I could come back to be on top of the podium. I pushed hard today and I am so happy to win. I have to thank the doctors for getting me back on my feet so quickly and my team who have worked so hard and kept believing in me when our start to the season was not so good. It is great to be with Honda and the bike is awesome. In the first moto I pushed hard to catch Stefan but the gap stayed the same. We then came to the lapped riders and I got closer but made some mistakes going past them. At that time I was happy with second and to get some serious points after last week’s disappointment. In the second race I tried really hard to get a lead and when it was up to 18 seconds I eased off and really enjoyed the last two laps."

Brian Jorgensen
"It has been a difficult set of three Grand Prix. I have had this problem with my left arm and the wrist keeps ‘going to sleep’. I will have surgery on Tuesday to release the nerve and hopefully it will be better. This was a disappointing weekend because I know I have the speed and the condition to get better results."

Yoshitaka Atsuta
"The Grand Prix was not so bad but I was not so happy with my starts and I wanted to keep the good positions I had during the races but lost some places towards the end. I had a small crash when the bike hit a neutral in the first race and finished 12th but I changed my line for the second moto and passed many riders in the first few laps. Unfortunately Ramon took 6th away from me on the last lap. After the first two GPs this was much better and I need to keep on moving up."

Carl Nunn
"I’m really happy with this weekend. That was my second pole position ever at a Grand Prix and we worked our way onwards from there. I can’t be too disappointed with two results in the top ten and fourth is pretty good. I wasn’t able to start as well as I could in the heat races. I held first gear again but the bike did not pick up as good on a drier track. I had to short-shift and it meant that I could not get the hole shot. The bike stopped when I used too much back brake in the second race and that was a mistake that annoyed me. I was kick starting it and it made me lose some time. This weekend though was the best one for me and the team and we keep on getting better. I’m not looking at winning at the moment, I’m just trying to finish as high as I can but we are improving all the time."

Jamie Dobb
"I am feeling in better shape than ever and the second race showed who has been doing their work because a lot of other riders tired. The qualifying heat was the real disaster of the GP and meant that I could not really do anything in the race because of my position in the gate. In the first moto I crashed on the second turn but was coming through when Wayne Smith decided to wipe me out. I then had to fight back again from the mid-20s. The second moto was really positive and proves I am getting up to speed."

Roger Harvey, Honda Race Co-ordinator
"Thanks to Mickael Honda have taken their best result all year. He still looked a little shaky in the first moto but was more smooth and steady in the second. It was a good win; he beat Stefan Everts fair and square. It was a shame for Josh that the fuel ran out because of the leak, that was just a freak accident but he put things right in the second moto. That result is what we have come to expect from him. De Dijcker keeps surprising me and that was an excellent ride to 5th and Paul Cooper was so unlucky to get hurt in the second race. Yoshi is on his way back and we want him running in the top six so I hope he can continue at this level. It was great to see Jamie Dobb returning so strong in the second MX2 moto and Carl’s results show that the 250F is coming on."
2004 FIM Motocross World Championship Round 3
Grand Prix of Portugal – Agueda, Portugal


line

MX1 - Race 1 Result
1 EVERTS Stefan (YAMAHA)
2 PICHON Mickael (Honda)
3 GUNDERSEN Kenneth (KTM)
4 RAMON Steve (KTM)
5 MELOTTE Cedric (YAMAHA)
6 STRIJBOS Kevin (SUZUKI)
7 COOPER Paul (Honda)
8 BURNHAM Christian (KTM)
9 GARCIA VICA Javier (Honda)
10 JORGENSEN Brian (Honda)
11 SMETS Joel (SUZUKI)
12 ATSUTA Yoshitaka (Honda)
13 FREIBERGS Lauris (Honda)
14 PYRHONEN Antti (SUZUKI)
15 BERVOETS Marnicq (YAMAHA)

MX1 - Race 2 Result
1 PICHON Mickael (Honda)
2 EVERTS Stefan (YAMAHA)
3 COPPINS Joshua (Honda)
4 MELOTTE Cedric (YAMAHA)
5 DE DIJCKER Ken (Honda)
6 RAMON Steve (KTM)
7 ATSUTA Yoshitaka (Honda)
8 STRIJBOS Kevin (SUZUKI)
9 GUNDERSEN Kenneth (KTM)
10 GARCIA VICA Javier (Honda)
11 NOBLE James (Honda)
12 LEOK Tanel (SUZUKI)
13 PYRHONEN Antti (SUZUKI)
14 MARTIN Christophe (YAMAHA)
15 KOVALAINEN Marko (Honda)
PICHON Mickael
PICHON Mickael (Honda)

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