MotoCross > 2008 Round 10: South Africa > Race Results
WMX South Africa July 20, 2008
2008 FIM MX1 / MX2 World Motocross Championship Round 10
Grand Prix of South Africa, Nelspruit

Billy MacKenzie top Honda rider at South Africa MX1 GP

CAS Honda’s Billy MacKenzie finished seventh overall at the Grand Prix of South Africa in Nelspruit with a hard fought for 7-5 scorecard that ensured the Scotsman moved up one position in the MX1 World Motocross Championship standings. Meanwhile Billy’s CAS teammate Steve Boniface finished 12th overall and Honda Martin’s lone rider on the day Julien Bill battled to 17th.

Billy MacKenzie

Billy MacKenzie

Prior to the Grand Prix there was bad news for the Honda Martin squad as just one day before they were due to fly to South Africa Dutchman Marc De Reuver – already a grand Prix winner in 2008 and currently top-10 in the series standings – broke a bone in his foot during a practice session.

“Marc was unfortunately injured the day before we were due to leave for Africa in a practice session at Lommel,” explained Honda Martin team manager Lorenzo Resta. “He lost his footing on the footpeg and crashed really hard. There is something broken in his foot and I think it will be three or four weeks before he is able to race again. The good news is that he is not in plaster and so he’s able to train and keep his fitness up.”

With the Nelspruit circuit being a new track on the GP schedule nobody knew quite what to expect before race weekend. The 1.6km circuit proved to be a popular one as the tight layout and many jumps made for some excellent action. The stone-free surface initially appeared to be quite loose and loamy but the surface soon packed down to offer an ideal racing surface. However, the low winter sun did make visibility quite difficult in a number of places as the ruts and bumps were hidden by dark shadows which made racing around the circuit quite dangerous as the riders hit some of the obstacles ‘blind’.

The light was particularly bad for the MX1 qualifying session which saw Billy MacKenzie hold pole early in the timed period before finally finishing 10th. French CAS teammate Steve Boniface – riding only his third GP for the British team - ended the session 12th with Honda Martin’s Julien Bill just 0.385 seconds slower in 13th place.

Despite not having the best pick at the start gate MacKenzie powered his factory CRF450 to perfection off the line in moto one and ran a strong third during the early portion of the race. Unable to keep contact with the leaders due to some self-confessed poor line selection, MacKenzie lost several places mid-race before coming back strong at the finish to narrowly miss snatching sixth place from Tanel Leok.

Martin Honda rider Julien Bill ran seventh in the early going but after becoming embroiled in a tough top-10 battle Julien suffered with some arm pump and was forced to slow his pace rather than crash on the tough technical circuit. Despite being unhappy with his speed, Julien was able to finish 11th – a credible result considering the depth of talent in the MX1 class.

Boniface also gated well and initially ran fourth in the early laps behind MacKenzie. But as the race progressed Steve slipped back through the pack as a sickness-induced lack of energy meant he was unable to run his normal pace. Finally finishing 13th Steve had to be content with his ride in the tough conditions.

Moto two would prove to be even tougher for the MX1 riders as the sun sank even lower in the African winter sky making visibility difficult once more. This time MacKenzie was unfortunate not to take the holeshot as he pushed hard around the outside of turn one to sit third as the jostling pack settled. Pushing hard to stay with the leaders, Billy made a mistake and lost a bit of time mid-race and came under pressure from Sebastien Pourcel and Josh Coppins.

Pourcel made a hard pass on Billy on lap 12 which broke his concentration also allowing Coppins space to get passed him. Regrouping his thoughts for the final part of the race, Billy used his superior fitness and on-track speed to reel in the riders in front of him but unfortunately was unable to pass them before the end of the moto. Finishing fifth in race two Billy had to be content with seventh overall on the day.

Boniface got another great start in moto two but once more suffered with low energy levels and slipped back through the pack to 13th place in the race and 12th overall.

Martin Honda’s Bill was most definitely unfortunate in race two after contact with another rider on lap one damaged his machine’s silencer which eventually broke off completely on lap seven but not before it had damaged the factory Honda’s brake line. Not noticing the brake line was leaking fluid, the Martin team speedily replaced the aftermarket silencer in the pits and sent the Swiss rider back out onto the track to score some points but Julien quickly found his rear brake wasn’t working and wisely retired rather than risk injury on the technical circuit.

MacKenzie’s race results in Nelspruit ensure the Scotsman improves by one place in the series standings to eighth – ahead of Tanel Leok – while Bill and Boniface consolidate their rankings despite their much more difficult day. Despite his absence De Reuver still sits 10th in the series standings although it’s likely he’ll slip a couple of places before he returns from injury.

The next round of the FIM MX1/MX2 World Championship will be the Grand Prix of Belgium at Lommel on August 3.

Julian Bill

Steve Boniface

Billy MacKenzie – CAS Honda
“In the first race I got out of the gate well and I was in third behind Ramon and Nagl then they started to pull away a little bit and I kind of lost the tow and started fighting with the people behind me. I was taking some bad lines and on one particular off-camber I was going around the outside and losing so much time but I was kind of scared to change lines because I’d used it from the first lap and I wasn’t sure what the line on the inside was like.

“That messed me up for the next four corners and I’d end up having to concentrate more on the riders behind me. I ended up losing a few places and then I got tight and had a little bit of arm pump but I was able to come back strong at the end of the race and put a bit of a charge on and caught back up to Leok at the end to finish seventh. I wasn’t happy with it because I made too many mistakes and I wasn’t thinking – I wasn’t riding smart enough.

“I almost got the holeshot in moto two – I kept it on right around the outside but I didn’t quite get it. Again, I sat third for a while but this time I kept with then and pushed hard the whole time. I thought we’d maybe broke fourth but then Sebastien caught me and gave me a little payback for all the times I’ve put him down. That kind of broke my rhythm and I lost a bit of time in the middle of the race but after that I was strong right to the end of the race and I caught both Coppins and Pourcel back but I was unable to pass them before the finish.

“I’m quite happy, every week now since my shoulder injury I’ve improved and this week I was strong in both motos to run 7-5. Hopefully next time I can improve on that and also have at least one win before the end of the season.”

Steve Boniface – CAS Honda
“The track was really good – probably the best one there’s been so far this year – and I was enjoying riding it but the problem today was that I’ve been kind of sick all week long with a bad stomach and today was the worst of it. I got a good start in both motos but I felt really weak and I did everything I could but it wasn’t so good – I finally finished 13th in both races.

“I’m really happy here with the CAS team and everything is going really well - the bike is really good, the team are very easy to work with and now I just need to put in some good consistent results and move forward from there.”

Julien Bill – Martin Honda
“The track here was awesome and the dirt was really well prepared and it was a lot of fun to ride with all the big jumps – it’s a really nice track. The only problem was with the light both in qualifying and the second moto today. The sun was so low in the sky it made seeing some of the ruts really difficult but of course it’s the same for everyone.

“In the first race I got a really good start but then early in the race I got really bad arm pump and I was struggling a little bit with my speed. After that I managed to finish 11th and that isn’t awesome but I still scored good points and that’s important for the championship.

“My start was pretty decent in the second moto too but I think somebody hit me pretty hard from behind on the first lap and that broke my silencer. It was hanging off for a few laps and then it eventually broke altogether and so I had to pull in the pit to change it. The team changed it quickly and I went out again to try and score more points but what we hadn’t realised is that when the silencer had been hitting the swinging arm and it had damaged the brake line so the fluid came out and my rear brake didn’t work properly and I had to pull off the track.”

2008 FIM MX1 / MX2 World Motocross Championship
Round 10 Grand Prix of South Africa, Nelspruit

MX1 Race 1
1 Ramon, Steve (Suzuki)
2 Philippaerts, David (Yamaha)
3 Barragan, Jonathan (KTM)
4 Nagl, Maximilian (KTM)
5 de Dycker, Ken (Suzuki)
6 Leok, Tanel (Kawasaki)
7 Mackenzie, Billy (Honda)
8 Pourcel, Sebastien (Kawasaki)
9 Coppins, Joshua (Yamaha)
10 Priem, Manuel (Kawasaki)
11 Bill, Julien (Honda)
12 Schiffer, Marcus (KTM)
13 Boniface, Steve (Honda)
14 Noble, James (KTM)
15 Campano, Carlos (Yamaha)
MX1 Race 2
1 Barragan, Jonathan (KTM)
2 Nagl, Maximilian (KTM)
3 Pourcel, Sebastien (Kawasaki)
4 Coppins, Joshua (Yamaha)
5 Mackenzie, Billy (Honda)
6 Philippaerts, David (Yamaha)
7 de Dycker, Ken (Suzuki)
8 Ramon, Steve (Suzuki)
9 Priem, Manuel (Kawasaki)
10 Desalle, Clement (Suzuki)
11 Leok, Tanel (Kawasaki)
12 Schiffer, Marcus (KTM)
13 Boniface, Steve (Honda)
14 Noble, James (KTM)
15 Church, Tom (Kawasaki)
MX2 Race 1
1 Searle, Tommy (KTM)
2 Aubin, Nicolas (Yamaha)
3 Rattray, Tyla (KTM)
4 Simpson, Shaun (KTM)
5 Frossard, Steven (Kawasaki)
6 Boog, Xavier (Suzuki)
7 Musquin, Marvin (Honda)
8 Guarneri, Davide (Yamaha)
9 van Horebeek, Jeremy (KTM)
10 Sword, Stephen (Kawasaki)
11 Goncalves, Rui (KTM)
12 Leuret, Pascal (Suzuki)
13 Monni, Manuel (Yamaha)
14 Aranda, Gregory (Kawasaki)
15 Lupino, Alessandro (Yamaha)
MX2 Race 2
1 Rattray, Tyla (KTM)
2 Searle, Tommy (KTM)
3 Frossard, Steven (Kawasaki)
4 Simpson, Shaun (KTM)
5 Aubin, Nicolas (Yamaha)
6 van Horebeek, Jeremy (KTM)
7 Boog, Xavier (Suzuki)
8 Musquin, Marvin (Honda)
9 Boissiere, Anthony (KTM)
10 Leuret, Pascal (Suzuki)
11 Nicholls, Jake (Suzuki)
12 Tarroux, Jeremy (KTM)
13 Sword, Stephen (Kawasaki)
14 Monni, Manuel (Yamaha)
15 Guarneri, Davide (Yamaha)

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