Grand Prix of Spain Preview


Many of the leading riders in the MX1 and MX2 class have not a long history with the Grand Prix of Spain. Of course MX1 series favorite and series leader Josh Coppins has seen many changes in the sport in Spain, racing in his first Spanish Grand Prix back in 1995. The Rinaldi Yamaha rider picked up one point in the opening moto and began his climb through the rankings. Of course Alessio Chiodi is a multiple GP winner in Spain, however if we look through the record books then GP winners are few and far between from the current list of GP contenders.

Some have mastered the Spanish circuits of Bellpuig, those including two time world champion Mickael Pichon who has won there three times and also three time World 125cc champion Alessio Chiodi, who has along list of victories and also podium finishes. Here is a look back at the last five years around the Bellpuig circuit.

2002 and Mickael Maschio (now retired) won the 125cc Grand Prix ahead of Philippe Depasquier and Erik Eggens, of these three only Eggens remains. Steve Ramon DNFed the race, while Tyla Rattray and Marc de Reuver finished 10th and 11th. In the 250cc class that year it was semi-retired Mickael Pichon who won ahead of Alessio Chiodi and Frederic Bolley, or course of these three only Chiodi remains. The 500cc class was won by retired legend Joel Smets, he beat home Stefan Everts and Andrea Bartolini (all three are retired).

2003 and again Maschio won the 125cc class, this time leading home Chiodi and Bartolini, again two retired, one still racing. In the MotocrossGP class it was Mickael Pichon who won in an amazing weekend. The French legend easily handled two other legends with Smets second and Everts third. In the 650cc class Smets won ahead of Javier Vico Garcia and Yves Demaria (both not racing in Spain this year).

2004 and the now MX1 class was owned by that man Everts and he went 1-1 in Spain, finishing ahead of Josh Coppins and Kenneth Gundersen. In the MX2 it was Tyla Rattray who finished first, followed by Andrew McFarlane and Stephen Sword (both not racing in Spain this year).

2005 and we saw a shocker as Alessio Chiodi won the 125cc class, showing that his love of the circuit was not lost. Chiodi had won around Bellpuig twice in the 1990's once in 1994 and again in 1999. In the MX1class it was Ben Townley with 2-3 results who won ahead of Mickael Pichon 1-6 and Joel Smets 7-1.

2006 and of course that man Everts won, finishing just one point ahead of Tanel Leok and Steve Ramon, although it was the opening moto victory by Kevin Strijbos that had the whole GP paddock asking when Everts might be beaten for an overall. In the MX2 class a wild GP ended with Tyla Rattay winning with 5-2 results, second was Marc de Reuver with 3-5 and third Billy Mackenzie with 7-3 scores. Chiodi once again turned back the clock to finish with equal points as Mackenzie, but lost out on the podium place after a poorer second moto result than the scottish rider.

As you can see from the leading MX1 riders not one has won a Grand Prix of Spain, and only Gordon Crockard (who shocked the world in 2000 at Talavera), Alessio Chiodi (who is probably after Stefan Everts the most successful rider in Spanish GP history), Mike Brown (who won a 125cc GP at Bellpuig in 2000) from the MX1 class have won a GP in Spain. So what we have going into the Grand Prix of Spain this year is that not one of the MX1 riders has a clear advantage. In MX2 Tyla Rattray is the only present MX2 rider who is a former GP winner in Spain.

The top men in Spain

Stefan Everts leads the way with five GP wins in Spain. Everts winning the 250 Grand Prix in 1996 and 1998 in Talavera, and again in the 500cc class and MX1 class in 2001, 2004 and 2006. Joel Smets has won in the 500cc class in Osuna in 1999, the 500cc class in Bellpuig in 2000 and 2002 and the 650cc class in 2003.

Mickael Pichon of course has three victories in Spain, while Harry Everts has won three Spanish GP's, taking victory in 1979 and 1980 in the 125cc class, and once in the 250cc class in 1978. Italian Alessio Chiodi has three GP wins at Bellpuig. Another Belgian Joel Robert also won three Grands Prix of Spain, winning in the 250cc class in 1969, 1970 and 1971, all held at the Sabadell circuit. Of course Robert would win six World Motocross championships along the way.

Several legends of the sport have won two Spanish Grands Prix, those being American Donny Schmit, Belgians Gaston Rahier, Eric Geboers, Andre Malherbe, Georges Jobe, Michele Rinaldi, Frenchman Mickael Maschio, Japanese hero Akira Watanabe, four time World champion Torsten Hallman of Sweden, British rider Dave Bickers, and Russian rider Victor Arbekov.