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WMXSouth AfricaSrptember 26, 2004
2004 FIM Motocross World Championship Round 16
Grand Prix of South Africa, Sun City

Pichon survives second moto drama for 6th win of season

Tiscali Honda rider Mickael Pichon weathered a second moto storm of drama and controversy at the sixteenth and final round of the FIM MX1 Motocross World Championships this afternoon at Sun City for the Grand Prix of South Africa, to claim his sixth triumph of the season.

Mickael Pichon (Honda)

Mickael Pichon (Honda)

Pichon scored a 1st and 2nd at the brand new grandstand-surrounded facility but the results hid a more complicated tale.

The supercross nature of the track also had a hard packed and slippery terrain creating a very tough test for the riders, suited the Frenchman and he showed his speed from the moment the gate dropped for the first MX1 moto of 35 minute and 2 laps duration. The 28 year old led from the line to the flag while chasing World Champion Stefan Everts could not reduce a deficit of several seconds. The positions were widely split making for a slightly staid slice of action. CAS rider Josh Coppins was able to pass the chequered flag in 3rd place.

The luxurious golf and casino resort, home to one of the most spectacular hotels in the world, The Lost Palace, is likened to Las Vegas as much for its isolated nature as the opulence and splendour of the man-made environment. The weather was windy and dusty on Saturday but the heat and sunshine blessed the action in front of an alleged 21,000 fans this afternoon as the temperature climbed into the high 30s.

The second MX1 moto provided far better entertainment and some surprising scenes. Pichon and Everts collided in the third corner of the opening lap as the former tried to move past the Yamaha man. Everts lost control in the coming-together and hit the ground. Incensed, he then walked off the track to the adjacent turn to throw his goggles at Pichon as the pack filtered back around. The eight times number one then remounted and slowly cruised around the track until the leaders came to lap him, Pichon holding third at this stage.

Clearly still upset Everts blocked the line of the Honda rider and almost caused the chasing Coppins to crash. Everts retired for the first time in over a year and Pichon was sufficiently undeterred to sweep past special guest Greg Albertyn into the lead on lap three. Four laps later however and the most successful Frenchman in GP history had a big crash in the sandy section and was relegated to sixth place by the time he returned to the track. Coppins inherited the lead and held the advantage until the finish line. Pichon knew that he needed 2nd spot to secure overall success and sliced through four positions in six laps to mount the top step. Coppins was able to celebrate 2nd ahead of KTM's Steve Ramon.

Everts left the circuit early while Pichon admitted that his move was aggressive but not unfair. Everts may now face disciplinary actions from the FIM, the sports governing body for his behaviour.

Yoshitaka Atsuta banished the memory of a small crash and 11th position in the first moto to holeshot the second race and briefly lead the world. The 2001 250cc Japanese Champion was fighting among the leaders and never dropped outside of the top six in one of his best showings of the season. He finally finished 5th (6th overall) and ended his three year stint with the British CAS team on a positive note.

Honda have taken five positions in the top 10 final MX1 World Championship standings, more than any other manufacturer. The list reads Mickael Pichon (2nd), Josh Coppins, (3rd), Brian Jorgensen (8th), Ken De Dijcker (9th) and Yoshitaka Atsuta (10th). Honda have won eight Grand Prix from sixteen and have been on the podium at every round.

In the MX2 class RTT Honda's Carl Nunn struggled with the settings on his CR250F to maximise the potential of the bike and was able to post results of 10th and 9th for 10th overall. The result was good enough to keep Yamaha's Patrick Caps at bay in the World Championship table and Nunn finishes the season as top Honda rider in the 250cc four-stroke's debut campaign with 8th place.

Having played minor roles in the World Championship this season CAS Honda riders Gordon Crockard (MX1) and Jussi Vehvilainen (MX2) did not make the trip out to the circuit located three hours drive north of Johannesburg. Both riders will be representing their countries at next week's Motocross des Nations and more practice time in Europe was seen as a more beneficial exercise. Pichon's team-mate Brian Jorgensen is still suffering with a knee complaint and also did not travel.

The Motocross of Nations at Lierop in Holland is the next major meeting for the world's best riders and occurs in just seven days.

Josh Coppins (Honda)

Yoshitaka Atsuta (Honda)

Mickael Pichon:
“The second moto did not really go as I would have expected! It started well except for that little incident I had with Stefan. He was aggressive in the first lap, like he has been many times this year, and I understand this because he wants to win, like I do. I came to the inside and he went far outside and to the middle, I had already jumped out in the middle also and we touched and I took his front wheel. I know it was perhaps not a nice move but he did the same to me last year in Austria and I was lucky to stay on the bike. I just wanted to make the move and there was nothing else involved. Afterwards his reaction was not so nice, he was probably very mad and again I can understand this because I would have been the same! He tried to push me on the corner by the finish line and when he was on the bike again the next lap he almost put me on the ground and I nearly crashed. This might not be a good end to the Championship but I just wanted to win really badly. My crash was not a result of all this. I was riding pretty good but I don't know what I did there in the sand. I was trying to avoid the big bumps and went too much to the left. The rear wheel locked because I went wide near the fence and I was thrown over the bars, it was a big crash and a stupid one because I had a big lead and felt great. From that I knew I had to restart as quick as possible and looking around I saw that Josh was in front and I needed second for the win so I pushed really hard to come back, which was not so easy. All the guys were riding about the same speed and it was hard to make up the difference on that track. When I got to second Josh was too far away but I knew the GP was mine.”

Josh Coppins:
“Taking a heat win and second is not a bad way to finish the season, I have been 3rd a lot of times recently. The second moto was good fun and I'm sure exciting for everyone who was watching; it was an improvement on the first, which was boring. I was really happy with the way I rode because I maintained the same speed and hit the same lines. I was watching my pit board and could see where Steve was and could control the race, it was a good feeling to be consistent and not make any small mistakes.”

Yoshitaka Atsuta:
“I got a good jump in the first moto but I was hit in the first and second corner. Albertyn crashed in front of me and I had nowhere to go and ran into him. I lost some positions and tried too hard to catch people and had a small crash. I was going again and caught up to Leok but could not pass him. The second race was brilliant. I took the holeshot but then Greg passed me and he was holding us up a little. It was nice to finally be at the front and with some more training I hope for more next year.”

Carl Nunn:
“In the first race I did not get a good start so it was hard right from the beginning. The plan over the two races was to not let Caps get in front of me in the Championship. I rode pretty good but we struggled with the high altitude and sorting out the jetting. We came out of the first race OK. In the second I got a good start but made a few little mistakes on the first two laps that lost me a couple of positions. I was trying as hard as I could while making sure that I did not crash. It was tough towards the end but other riders were fading, Caps was ahead but I made sure I had enough points. I did not want to lose 8th in the Championship; it is not the best position I have had but I wanted a top ten placing by the end of the year, the higher the better. I could not reach 7th so protecting 8th was the objective. I am happy enough and now we can go away this winter and get the bike working a lot better. I want to build more confidence and go for top five next season. The Honda was a new bike this year and it was important for me to place it as high as I could, being the top rider for the manufacturer is pretty cool.”

2004 FIM Motocross World Championship Round 15
Grand Prix of South Africa, Sun City


MX1 - Race 1 Result

1 PICHON Mickael (Honda)
3 COPPINS Joshua (Honda)
5 RAMON Steve (KTM)
8 NOBLE James (Honda)
9 DE DIJCKER Ken (Honda)
10 LEOK Tanel (SUZUKI)
11 ATSUTA Yoshitaka (Honda)
12 PYRHONEN Antti (TM)
13 DUGMORE Collin (Honda)
14 KOVALAINEN Marko (Honda)

Mickael Pichon (Honda)
MX1 - Race 2 Result
1 COPPINS Joshua (Honda)
2 PICHON Mickael (Honda)
3 RAMON Steve (KTM)
5 ATSUTA Yoshitaka (Honda)
8 KOVALAINEN Marko (Honda)
10 NOBLE James (Honda)
11 BURNHAM Christian (KTM)
12 PYRHONEN Antti (TM)
13 ODDENINO Enrico (TM)
14 LEOK Tanel (SUZUKI)
15 IZOIRD Fabien (KTM)

Josh Coppins (Honda)

Related Links

· WMX - FIM Motocross World Championship
· South Africa

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