Current MX1 and MX2 series leaders Ken de Dycker and Tyla Rattray are both fit and looking forward to this weekend’s Grand Prix but there is more going on in the Motocross paddock, hosting also the Veterans World Cup participants for the first of three rounds of the series.
Teka Suzuki WMX1’s De Dycker experienced a stunning weekend in Valkenswaard on the sand but Bellpuig is the first hard pack venue of the season and it will represent a new challenge for the Belgian.
Last year’s Bellpuig winner Joshua Coppins of Yamaha Monster Motocross could benefit of ten days of training in former World Champion Jacky Vimond’s house to make up for the lack of bike time due to his off season foot injury.
KTM fellow riders Max Nagl (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Spaniard Jonathan Barragan (AXO KTM Silver Action) will aim at podium results as the former took his maiden MX1 podium in Bellpuig (2007) while the latter wants to make up for the misfortune of Valkenswaard, where he did not finish the opening moto.
Defending MX1 World Champion Steve Ramon of Teka Suzuki WMX1 is fitter than he was at Valkenswaard as he got over his flu completely, and he will try to chase current series leader and team mate De Dycker despite Bellpuig not being his favourite course.
This weekend will also mark the comeback for British manufacturer CCM after their last Grand Prix appearance which dated back to 1989, with the rider Greg Hanson. The latter will take part in the Veterans World Cup while British countryman Ollie Sandiford Smith will steer the 450 machine powered by a Yamaha engine in the MX1 class.
In the MX2 class Reigning Champion Antonio Cairoli of Yamaha Red Bull De Carli has a tough flu affecting him since yesterday; the Italian was looking forward to attacking current red plate holder Tyla Rattray of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing this weekend but the illness is a tough factor the two time MX2 World Champion has to deal with.
On the other hand South African Rattray is ready to go for another victory at Bellpuig, where he collected a third place overall at the beginning of an injury plagued 2007 season. His team mate and 2007 MX2 runner up Tommy Searle enters Spain to take his revenge from round one, where he ended a bitter fourth, the same as he finished the 2007 Spanish GP.
The Suzuki Swift Motocross Team sees his only factory supported rider Pascal Leuret sit out of Spain as the Frenchman is suffering with a dislocated shoulder at the moment.
Davide Guarneri of Ricci Racing Yamaha has also a tough weekend ahead of him; he will try racing despite a right broken collarbone ligament from last week’s practice.
After Valkenswaard’s podium on his favourite ground, Beursfoon Suzuki’s sand specialist Erik Eggens will try to be consistent on the hard Spanish course while other KTM riders Rui Goncalves (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Shaun Simpson (KTM UK) can play an important role this weekend.
THE CIRCUIT DE MOTOCROS DE CATALUNYA AND BELLPUIG
The Circuit de Motocros de Catalunya is one of the best permanent Spanish motocross courses; the fantastic track layout provides excellent racing and lots of home fans show up during the weekend for a strong crowd attendance each year. The ground is normally hard pack but rain can turn it upside down as it did last year; the 2007 Grand Prix was held on a very muddy and demanding course with Yamaha fellow riders Joshua Coppins (MX1) and Antonio Cairoli (MX2) taking the overall victory at the end of an extremely tough race.
Bellpuig is one of the most important towns in the province of Lleida, in Catalonia. It is 300 metres above the sea level and it is located 130 kilometres North West of Barcelona. The town was a barony in the past and part of that era is still alive in the castle looming over the town and in the monastery. Nowadays the city is very well developed and modern, courtesy of its healthy economy based on the commercial sector. The particular yellow and green flag features the hills surrounding the town, which has about 4755 inhabitants (2007).
THE EVENT’S SCHEDULE
Saturday April 19: Veterans Free Practice 1 at 9:00 am; MX2 Free Practice at 10:00 am; MX1 Free Practice 1 at 11:00 am; MX2 Pre-Qualifying Practice at 12:00 am; Veterans Free Practice 2 at 1:15 pm; MX1 Free Practice 2 at 2:00 pm; MX2 Qualifying Race 1 at 3:00 pm; MX2 Qualifying Race 2 at 3:45 pm; MX1 Time Practice at 4:30 pm; MX2 Last Chance Qualifying Practice at 5:15 pm; Veterans Time Practice at 6:00 pm (local time).
Sunday April 20: Veterans Warm-up at 9:00 am; MX2 Warm-up at 9:30 am; MX1 Warm-up at 10:00 am; Veterans Race 1 at 11:10 am; MX2 Grand Prix Race 1 at 12:10 am; MX1 Grand Prix Race 1 at 1:10 pm; Veterans Race 2 at 2:10 pm; MX2 Grand Prix Race 2 at 3:03 pm; MX1 Grand Prix Race 2 at 4:03 pm (local time).