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WMXBelgiumAugust 8, 2004
2004 FIM Motocross World Championship Round 13
Grand Prix of Wallonie, Namur, Belgium

Double podium for Honda at Namur

Mickael Pichon and Josh Coppins climbed the podium in front of 23,000 fans this afternoon at Namur for the Grand Prix of Wallonie; the thirteenth round of the 2004 FIM MX1 World Championship.

Mickael Pichon (Honda)

Josh Coppins (Honda)

Under sunny skies with high temperatures the opening MX1 moto proved to be dramatic from as early as the third corner exiting the Esplanade rhythm section. Tiscali Honda rider Brian Jorgensen clashed with team-mate Pichon on the inside of the tight left hander and the Dane came off the worse, hitting the ground and lucky not to be landed on by the chasing pack. Jorgensen then pulled out with an injured upper leg and a damaged CRF 450 but would be fit enough for race two.

Stefan Everts (Yamaha), Pichon and CAS Honda rider Josh Coppins managed to dive past early leader Steve Ramon (KTM) within the first two laps and Everts sustained some heavy pressure from the Frenchman during the formative stages. Pichon looked quicker than the Yamaha rider coming onto the flat parade ground housing the start, pits and rhythm section but Everts was able to ease out precious tenths ploughing through the woods. The decisive moment came on lap six when Pichon lost control negotiating the near vertical 40ft drop down and crashed, handing the win to Everts and the rest of the podium places to Coppins and KTM’s Ramon. It was a popular victory for the Belgian on his favourite circuit and Pichon hammered his way back through from seventh to 4th.

Sarholz Honda rider Ken De Dijcker scooped his best moto finish of the season by charging past Suzuki’s Kevin Strijbos for 5th place.

Pichon made his intentions clear within a few seconds of the second race by leaping past hole-shotter Strijbos with Everts for company. The Frenchman was able to escape after the World Champion briefly crashed and, despite a brief spell of pressure from Coppins, he proceeded unhindered to the finish line for his fourth moto win from the last six and claiming the final step on the podium. Coppins confirmed his second successive top three inside a week with a 2-2 scorecard. Jorgensen was able to stay on the bike the second time and was 5th by the end of the 15 laps. Yamaha’s Everts recovered to third in Moto2 and sealed the overall win at his home Grand Prix. The new father (to baby Liam on Friday afternoon) now has a hefty 93 point lead in the MX1 standings over Pichon, with 150 up for grabs in the remaining three Grand Prix. Coppins is 38 points adrift in 3rd.

CAS Honda representative Yoshitaka Atsuta suffered a big crash during practice after falling victim to one of Namur’s classic traps; the tree root. While the CRF450 was something of a mess the former Japanese Champion was fortunately unscathed. Atsuta immediately buried his Citadelle demons by getting a good jump in the first MX1 moto and went on to take one of his best race results of the year with 8th place. In the second moto another top ten was secured with 10th position. Atsuta finished the day with 6th overall. In the MX2 class CAS Honda’s Jussi Vehvilainen produced a surprise podium finish with 2nd place overall (only the second trophy for the 250F this season) in only his third Grand Prix in almost two seasons – and only second appearance of 2004. Vehvilainen proved that his holeshot in the very first race of the day was no brief flash in the pan by then leading for the first nine laps and repeating the first corner wizardry for the next moto. Naturally suffering with the pace during the first 35 minute and 2 lap test, Vehvilainen dropped back to 6th as Yamaha’s Alessio Chiodi took the 25 points. RTT Honda man Carl Nunn had been looking fast throughout practice yesterday and secured 5th position in the second MX2 qualification heat Saturday afternoon. The 25 year old could not even buy a decent start at the moment and for the opening moto almost ran over a falling Claudio Federici, the hold-up meaning that he was as low as 28th going into the woods for the first time. A determined and creditable fight-back gave the Brit 11th.

Vehvilainen went on to secure only his second podium since Lierop 2001 with 3rd place in the hot conditions of Moto2. Nunn started inside the top ten and passed the chequered flag with 6th, gaining the same position overall. He now rests 8th in the World Championship standings and 50 points away from Mickael Maschio in 7th. Ben Townley was the second race winner but Yamaha’s Antonio Cairoli claimed his first ever overall GP victory on his debut appearance at the Citadelle.

The thirteenth round of the 2004 World Championships takes place in three weeks time on August 28th-29th at Gaildorf in Germany for the Grand Prix of Europe.

Brian Jorgensen (Honda)

Yoshitaka Atsuta (Honda)

Mickael Pichon:
“I have been very happy with the last three races and I have only made one mistake in this time and that was today in the first moto. I knew it would be difficult to try and beat Stefan here. In the first moto I was not so far behind him but then I made an error on the very steep step-down and went over the bars. It took me some time to start the bike again and then I tried my best to come back. I finished fourth and the three guys ahead were too far in front to catch. I was not riding that well and the result was a little disappointing. In the second moto I was ready to try and win and I started hard and aggressive. Stefan passed me on an outside line in one section that I could not believe was possible! I settled into a pace and saw him make some mistakes especially in the double jump, which was tricky, this time it was his turn to crash and when I went through I pushed hard because Josh was coming up. I slowed down a little because Stefan had set a fast pace right at the beginning and I felt tired but I think Josh may have made a mistake because I could then pull away one or two seconds a lap. I felt a lot better in that second moto and we had changed a few settings on the bike. This is not my favourite track and it is can be very difficult. I am getting better and I learnt a lot in that second moto especially with the bike, the suspension and the engine, trying to get it a bit smoother. I would have liked to have done better in that first heat but I am happy with third position because I know you cannot win every time.”

Brian Jorgensen:
“I had a really good start in the first race and was in second place pushing hard to get into the lead as soon as possible. Stefan lost his balance in the whoops and veered over and hit me. I went to the left where Mickael was, bounced off him and then hit Stefan again and went off the bike. I hit my hip and it was hard to re-start the bike without any power in my leg. I was far behind and decided to stop because the handlebars were bent and this is not the place to ride with a damaged bike. In the second moto I started third and it was just a matter of looking at the track and getting my lines. I got a good rhythm and made some consistent laps, not the fastest but pretty constant and that made the difference in the end.”

Josh Coppins:
“My riding was pretty good today. I preferred the track when it was wetter because it was a bit more technical whereas it became a lot more slippery when it dried out. During the second moto I landed heavily off the big double down over the road and hurt my hand. I tried to keep pushing but I was making little mistakes and the hand was sore. I was close to crashing a few times and this was not a place where you want come off. I slowed down a little bit and tried to catch my breath with the plan to attack Mickael again but my breath never returned! I felt tired and just wanted to finish the race on the podium. Everybody in the team is working hard and we are getting close to winning another GP before the season finishes.”

Yoshitaka Atsuta:
“I had a big crash yesterday and cut my arm but a bad qualifying was worse and meant a difficult race today. I had a good start in the first moto and tried to ride smooth and not crash again; it was a decent race. The second moto I had a bad start, somewhere down in 20th, and I just kept on riding while people were falling. 8th and 10th for the weekend is good.”

Jussi Vehvilainen:
“This is like a dream. Today was only my second GP since Moscow 2002 and to get on the podium here, especially in Namur, is great for me. I spent a lot of time away from the sport. Last year I broke a vertebrae and that put me out for the year and at the start of this season I crashed again before the first GP and broke another vertebrae; It was not much fun! I had a three month break to recover and have been training for six weeks and things are getting better every day. I was suffering with nerves in my first moto, it’s a very long time since I led a race and having been out of action for so long I soon tired and just wanted to take a good finish.”

Carl Nunn:
“The overall result was good but I am still aiming towards getting two strong top ten rides on the same day because I know that will take me closer to the podium. I am regularly getting inside the top ten now and near the top five so it is a matter of time and I reckon we can do it before the end of the season.”

2004 FIM Motocross World Championship Round 13
Grand Prix of Wallonie, Namur, Belgium


MX1 - Race 1 Result

2 COPPINS Joshua (Honda)
3 RAMON Steve (KTM)
4 PICHON Mickael (Honda)
5 DE DIJCKER Ken (Honda)
7 BILL Julien (KTM)
8 ATSUTA Yoshitaka (Honda)
11 LEOK Tanel (SUZUKI)
13 BURNHAM Christian (KTM)
14 KOVALAINEN Marko (Honda)
15 DINI Fabrizio (KTM)
MX1 - Race 2 Result
1 PICHON Mickael (Honda)
2 COPPINS Joshua (Honda)
5 JORGENSEN Brian (Honda)
10 ATSUTA Yoshitaka (Honda)
11 NOBLE James (Honda)
12 KOVALAINEN Marko (Honda)
13 FREIBERGS Lauris (Honda)
14 DINI Fabrizio (KTM)
15 JONES Mark (KTM)

Mickael Pichon (Honda)

Related Links

· WMX - FIM Motocross World Championship
· Belgium

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