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WMXBelgiumApril 03 , 2005
2005 FIM Motocross World Championship Round 1
Grand Prix of Flanders - Zolder, Belgium

Pichon climbs second step at Zolder in 2005 MX1 curtain raiser

Martin Honda rider Mickael Pichon claimed second position overall at the first round of the 2005 FIM Motocross World Championships held this afternoon at Zolder in Belgium for the Grand Prix of Flanders. The 2004 MX1 runner-up scored two second positions in the opening races of the season to earn his and Honda’s first podium finish of ’05.

Mickael Pichon

Mickael Pichon

The permanent motor sport facility in the centre of Belgium enjoyed some pleasant and sunny weather with 20,000 fans (over the weekend) packing the man-made motocross circuit lying over the asphalt course, of the 1970’s F1 circuit, to enjoy the first race of seventeen in this year’s campaign.

Pichon suffered a scare during Saturday afternoon’s qualification session, just after setting pole position he ran off the track while practicing his starts and hurt his left knee in a bizarre spill. The Frenchman initially had no sensation in the joint and feared a repeat of the knee ligament damage he suffered in Germany two years ago. Thankfully he was cleared of anything serious during an examination shortly afterwards and was again on his feet after a massage by the team’s doctor. His martin Honda team-mate Javier Garcia Vico was not as fortunate and a stomach virus prevented his participation in timed practice. The Spaniard left the Belgian venue Saturday afternoon and will now look towards his home Grand Prix in two weeks time to start the official Honda chapter of his career.

Pichon did not repeat his ‘start’ mishap when it counted and placed within the top five from both jumps out of the gate. He was leading the first race comfortably but some suspension set-up problems led to arm-pump and the ever-closing figure of Stefan Everts eventually swept through to capture the moto and twenty-five points. Some modifications were made for the second heat but Suzuki’s Joel Smets set a fierce early pace and despite narrowing the gap to as little as two seconds at one stage, the 28 year old was not able to overtake the Belgian. Everts got the better of third-placed Jonathan Barragan in the closing moments of the MX1 action to ensure his overall result was one point better than the Honda.

The Rookie in the Martin Honda squad, Matteo Bonini unfortunately failed to score any points, he suffered with sever arm pump brought on by nerves in his opening MX2 race, in his second outing the young Italian finished 20th, one lap down but left Zolder wiser for his grand prix experience.

It was a fairly lack lustre day for CAS Honda boys Josh Coppins and Jussi Vehvilainen. The pair have been dominating the MX1 British Championship in recent weeks but encountered a tougher test here this afternoon. Coppins felt the effects of a recently dislocated shoulder as well as illness this week and could not repeat his podium result from twelve months ago. The Kiwi passed the chequered flag sixth initially but then barely managed to breach the top ten on the increasingly rougher surface later in the afternoon, finally obtaining eleventh to leave the circuit seventh overall.

Vehvilainen was struck by another rider in the first moto that led to a suspected broken finger on his left hand. The injury meant that the Finn could only take seven points for fourteenth in the second race.

Ken de Dycker was a constant menace in the upper half of the leader board representing the German Honda Sarholz Racing team, his fourth and ninth positions contributed to fifth overall. Paul Cooper (Multitek Honda) and James Noble (RWJ Honda) also secured top ten positions.

Within the MX2 class Mike Brown was eleventh overall in his return to World Championship racing. The RWJ Honda rider was holding fourth spot in the first race but arm-pump caused him to slip back to a lowly eighteenth. Altering the CRF250R slightly for the second moto saw the former AMA Champion a more pro-active force and he hardly dipped out of the top five, taking the same standing by the close of play. In his first Grand Prix for over a year and a half, Erik Eggens was happy with top ten finishes of seventh and ninth to classify sixth overall.

The second round of seventeen round the World Championships takes place in two weeks time at Bellpuig for the Grand Prix of Spain.


Joshua Coppins

Mickael Pichon:
“I was a little disappointed with the first moto because I had such a big lead after a few laps. We only had the factory suspension from Japan two weeks ago and that hasn’t left us with much time for testing and coming to tracks like this without preparation doesn’t make an easy race. After five laps my arms pumped up really bad and my times dropped from 1:46s to 1:49s and 50s, at one point I was almost thinking about stopping. It was so dangerous because I could not hold the bike. I did the best I could do. I was happy today with my starts and the second moto was good. Joel pushed really hard in the first laps and after a while I was starting to catch him and I wanted to put some pressure but then I made a few mistakes and could not get close. With around five minutes left I slowed down a little because I did not want to crash. The track was physically very demanding. I feel that two second positions here in Belgium is a very good result.”

Josh Coppins:
“In one way I am really disappointed with the GP and in another way I think a result like this is not that surprising because of my shoulder and also I have been feeling a bit sick this week. My lap-times weren’t good and I struggled but the good side is that I got points on the board and last year I went to races, made mistakes and DNF-ed because I rode over my head; today I did what I could.”

Jussi Vehvilainen:
“It was a pretty bad day. I started well in the first moto and was in third but then someone jumped on my hand and I still don’t know now if the finger is broken. I tried to carry on but I could not hold the bars properly. The second moto was also ruined because I only had two good fingers and it was hard to hold on as well as brake. I started to get arm pump so it was not a great GP, still I am able to go home almost in one piece.”

Mike Brown:
“In the first moto I got a good start and was right up there but then my arms got tight and I must have just been a little too excited. It was not the moto I planned and I took a pretty bad result but everything is new and I think I was just too excited trying to win. I think the more I ride the better I will be. The second moto was not so bad. I got up to third or fourth and started to get tight again. I tried to relax and my arms eased up in the last 10-15 minutes so I could get going again. There are plenty more races to come.”

2005 FIM Motocross World Championship Round 1
Grand Prix of Flanders - Zolder, Belgium

MX1 - Race 1 Result
1 EVERTS, Stefan (Yamaha)
2 PICHON, Mickael (Honda)
3 Townley, Ben (KTM)
4 de DIJCKER, Ken (Honda)
5 Smets, Joel (Suzuki)
6 Coppins, Joshua (Honda)
7 Strijbos, Kevin (Suzuki)
8 Cooper, Paul (Honda)
9 Leok, Tanel (Kawasaki)
10 Nemeth, Kornel (Suzuki)
11 Theybers, Danny (Suzuki)
12 Crockard, Gordon (Yamaha)
13 Atsuta, Yoshitaka (Suzuki)
14 Noble, James (Honda)
15 Leuret, Pascal (Honda)

Mickael Pichon (Honda)
MX1 - Race 2 Result
1 Smets, Joel (Suzuki)
2 PICHON, Mickael (Honda)
3 EVERTS, Stefan (Yamaha)
4 Barragan, Jonathan (KTM)
5 Townley, Ben (KTM)
6 Strijbos, Kevin (Suzuki)
7 Noble, James (Honda)
8 Jorgensen, Brian (Yamaha)
9 de DIJCKER, Ken (Honda)
10 Cooper, Paul (Honda)
11 Coppins, Joshua (Honda)
12 Ramon, Steve (KTM)
13 Federici, Claudio (Yamaha)
14 Vehvilainen, Jussi (Honda)
15 Leuret, Pascal (Honda)

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