Leok victorious through unforgiving Faenza mud

Tanel Leok

A YZ450F has been placed on top of the podium at the first round of fifteen in the MX1-GP World Championship thanks to new Yamaha Red Bull De Carli recruit Tanel Leok. The Estonian - 2009 MX1 Italian champion and now Italian Grand Prix winner - mastered ludicrous conditions at Faenza, close to Imola, to register his second MX1-GP victory in a race programme that saw the second moto cancelled due to the overly-muddy and impassable terrain.

Team-mate Antonio Cairoli performed well in front of his home fans for 5th place while the Yamaha Monster Energy MX team pairing of Josh Coppins and world champion David Philippaerts were 6th and 9th respectively; four Yamahas in the top ten were more than any other manufacturer as eleven hours of rain made the circuit a supreme test for both man and machine with a dose of good fortune also needed.

David Philippaerts

On a dry Saturday Philippaerts rode an excellent race in the first ever MX1 Qualification Heat (replacing the 30 minute Time Practice for 2009) to take his maiden pole position in the class. It was also the first pole for Yamaha since Josh Coppins placed the YZ450FM on top of the timing sheets at the Grand Prix of Japan at Sugo in 2007. In truth it should have been a 1-2 for the team as Coppins held an easy lead in the Heat while Philippaerts worked his way to the front from mid-top ten. The New Zealander however came unstuck on a steep downhill section and crashed heavily, winding himself in the process, but later claimed to be fine. 2nd place in the Heat (and therefore the gate) for Sunday belonged to Cairoli. The Sicilian enjoyed his return to world championship action for the first time since sustaining a knee injury at the South African Grand Prix last summer. His speed on the YZ450F was impressive in what is his first outing as a full-time competitor of the MX1-GP series. Leok was 5th.

A short and fast circuit on Saturday, that was not popular with the riders due to its ease and emphasis on horsepower rather than technical demands, was a different prospect on Sunday. The swampy setting was reminiscent of the sodden Spanish Grand Prix of 2008 and many riders had problems with the heavy, sticky mud. The three main uphill sections saw frequent falls and stationery machines, and the lap chart changed order with alarming frequency. The pit-lane was a busy place with many riders entering to change goggles and gloves.

Leok was the third and last leader of the race and held on for a remarkable win for half of the 15 laps. Cairoli had a tough start and also crashed at one stage but was spurred on by the crowd to take a top five result. Philippaerts was holding 5th for at least three laps until a rock hit him in the eye and he slipped off trying to climb a hill. The Italian was able to recover from 14th to 9th and was pleased with his salvage operation. Coppins was a little sore but after finding a way to negotiate the climbs the Kiwi ploughed on to 6th, although he too could not benefit from decent vision with his goggles long discarded.

The FIM called a halt to proceedings before the start of the second moto after a track inspection and deciding that the safety of the riders was paramount. The classification of the first outing represented the final result and also forms the world championship standings.

The second and third rounds now follow hard upon with the Grand Prix of Bulgaria occurring at the notable Sevlievo circuit next week. The Grand Prix of Turkey at a new facility in Istanbul takes place seven days later.

Tanel Leok, Yamaha Red Bull De Carli, 1st:

"Everything had gone well in pre-season leading up to this race but I came here not wanting to take any risks. For a couple of years I have been injured entering the first Grand Prix so this time I took it easy. In fact I had a bit of bad luck this week because I got sick and had tonsillitis but was OK by the time of practice. It feels great to be Italian Champion and also win the Italian Grand Prix, it is very positive for the team and all the sponsors. It was important not to stop out there. I had some luck because nobody crashed in front of me but my approach was to always keep the bike rolling."

Antonio Cairoli, Yamaha Red Bull De Carli, 5th:

"It is nice to be back after more than half a year and feels great to get a top five finish. I am really happy with my race today and also yesterday in the qualification because it was a good test for me in terms of my speed in MX1 and also my condition. I was consistent and tried to stay up; it was not much fun!"
Josh Coppins

Josh Coppins, Yamaha Monster Energy MX Team, 6th:

"Everything was looking rosy yesterday but then I went down hard. I winded myself, hit my head and picked up a few bruises. It meant I also had a bad gate-pick. It was very different today of course. I passed a few guys, got stuck a couple of times and kept trying to do laps and came out with sixth. I think I got a 'get out of jail free' card yesterday and was lucky to walk away and then be able to race and take sixth. Perhaps I should have stopped for goggles but I was content at the time with sixth and maybe that was a mistake. There are some guys who you'd expect to be going for the championship that did not score many points today so I feel sixth was OK."

David Philippaerts, Yamaha Monster Energy MX Team, 9th:

"For me today is quite good because I made a crash but kept riding - even without goggles - and arrived to ninth. I fell because on the corner before the jump one rock flew into my face from another rider's rear wheel and I could see nothing when I was going up. I was there for maybe three or four laps. It was a very difficult moto to finish."

Circuit Length: 0
Crowd: 12,000
Weather: Muddy

Last Years Winner: Matteo Dottori
2009 GP of Italy 29/03/2009
Race 1 - 15 Laps
Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Total Time
1 Tanel Leok Yamaha EST 41'16.698
2 Ken De Dycker Suzuki BEL 1'04.480
3 Clement Desalle Honda BEL 1'17.405
4 Aigar Leok TM EST 2'08.093
5 Antonio Cairoli Yamaha ITA -1Laps
6 Joshua Coppins Yamaha NZL -1Laps
7 Maximilian Nagl KTM GER -2Laps
8 Tom Church CCM GBR -2Laps
9 David Philippaerts Yamaha ITA -3Laps
10 Jonathan Barragan KTM ESP -3Laps
11 Jason Dougan CCM GBR -3Laps
12 Steve Ramon Suzuki BEL -4Laps
13 Gareth Swanepoel Kawasaki RSA -4Laps
14 Marc De Reuver Honda NED -4Laps
15 Julien Bill Aprilia CHE -5Laps

Rider Standings 29/03/2009

Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Points
1. Tanel Leok Yamaha EST 25
2. Ken De Dycker Suzuki BEL 22
3. Clement Desalle Honda BEL 20
4. Aigar Leok TM EST 18
5. Antonio Cairoli Yamaha ITA 16
6. Joshua Coppins Yamaha NZL 15
7. Maximilian Nagl KTM GER 14
8. Tom Church CCM GBR 13
9. David Philippaerts Yamaha ITA 12
10. Jonathan Barragan KTM ESP 11
11. Jason Dougan CCM GBR 10
12. Steve Ramon Suzuki BEL 9
13. Gareth Swanepoel Kawasaki RSA 8
14. Marc De Reuver Honda NED 7
15. Julien Bill Aprilia CHE 6

Manufacturer Standings 29/03/2009

Pos. Manufacturer Points
1. Yamaha 25
2. Suzuki 22
3. Honda 20
4. TM 18
5. KTM 14
6. CCM 13
7. Kawasaki 8
8. Aprilia 6

Guarneri 4th at tough home Grand Prix

David Guarneri

Yamaha Monster Energy Ricci Motocross Team's Davide Guarneri scored 4th position in the single moto that was run at Faenza and the Italian Grand Prix for the first event of fifteen in the 2009 FIM MX2-GP World Championship. Incessant rainfall from the early hours of Sunday morning meant that the fast and short track near Imola became a difficult bog, and rewarded determination and good fortune rather than rider skill.

With riders regularly pitting for clean goggles and gloves and many more hitting the swampy ground at some stage, Guarneri showed the same application and strong will that won him the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix in similar conditions. He did not start well on his YZ250F but keep upright as much as possible and was rewarded with a decent haul of points.

Team-mate Nico Aubin (who had a heavy crash during the dry qualification heat) was running as high as third through Sunday's mud but was one of the many to be caught out by the steep slippery hills. The Frenchman would cross the line a lap down in 7th. Loic Larrieu could not have asked for a more interesting debut and the third member of the new Monster Energy-backed team finished outside of the points in 28th.

Alex Lupino

Second best Yamaha performer was Yamaha Red Bull De Carli's Alessandro Lupino who took a career-best 6th place. Italian Champion Manuel Monni failed to finish while his team-mate Deny Philippaerts was 15th.

Utag Yamaha.com's Zach Osborne was another who could not come through the slush unscathed and was disappointed to sit 25th on the results sheet.

Round two will happen in the confines of the Sevlievo circuit for the Bulgarian Grand Prix next weekend.

Davide Guarneri, Yamaha Monster Energy Motocross Team, 4th:

"The track was fast but perfect on Saturday and then just changed so much for today. The big uphill was really difficult. I had a bad start but this was a bit lucky because there was a big crash in mid-pack and I managed to get around it and take a good line. I fell off once, but it was slow and in the corner so I could pick the bike up and carry on. I finished fourth and this was not about the speed but more because I was able to survive."
Nico Aubin

Nico Aubin, Yamaha Monster Energy Ricci Motocross Team, 7th:

"The first race was so difficult. It was terrible with the mud and so hard to arrive to the top of the hills. Every lap was a risk. I started around seventh and came back to second and didn't make any mistakes for quite a few laps but then was caught out on the uphill and went down. I restarted and took some good points. I am pleased about this because I had a hard crash yesterday and wasn't sure if I would be able to race like I wanted today."

Zach Osborne, Utag Yamaha.com, 25th:

"I have ridden a lot of mud because I am from the East Coast and we have our fair share of thunder storms but nothing like that, where I felt like an absolute beginner. Every lap you just think about getting up the first hill and then the second and if you make it then you are thinking of the first one again. It is unfortunate that I did badly but looking ahead I am only 25 points behind instead of 50 and today could have been a lot worse. You work the whole winter to make a point or a statement about what you have done and then to get a mud race like this is like playing Russian roulette; you can be a hero or a zero and today I was a zero."

Circuit Length: 0
Crowd: 12,000
Weather: Muddy

Last Years Winner: Gert Krestinov
2009 GP of Italy 29/03/2009

Race 1 - 16 Laps
Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Total Time
1 Gautier Paulin Kawasaki FRA 42'22.467
2 Jeremy Van Horebeek KTM BEL 0'38.206
3 Marvin Musquin Honda FRA 1'41.397
4 Davide Guarneri Yamaha ITA -1Laps
5 Joel Roelants KTM BEL -1Laps
6 Alessandro Lupino Yamaha ITA -1Laps
7 Nicolas Aubin Yamaha FRA -1Laps
8 Marco Maddii Suzuki ITA -2Laps
9 Valentin Teillet KTM FRA -2Laps
10 Jake Nicholls KTM GBR -3Laps
11 Shaun Simpson KTM GBR -3Laps
12 Xavier Boog Suzuki FRA -4Laps
13 Steven Frossard Kawasaki FRA -5Laps
14 Ceriel Klein Kromhof KTM NED -5Laps
15 Deny Philippaerts Yamaha ITA -5Laps

Rider Standings 29/03/2009

Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Points
1. Gautier Paulin Kawasaki FRA 25
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek KTM BEL 22
3. Marvin Musquin Honda FRA 20
4. Davide Guarneri Yamaha ITA 18
5. Joel Roelants KTM BEL 16
6. Alessandro Lupino Yamaha ITA 15
7. Nicolas Aubin Yamaha FRA 14
8. Marco Maddii Suzuki ITA 13
9. Valentin Teillet KTM FRA 12
10. Jake Nicholls KTM GBR 11
11. Shaun Simpson KTM GBR 10
12. Xavier Boog Suzuki FRA 9
13. Steven Frossard Kawasaki FRA 8
14. Ceriel Klein Kromhof KTM NED 7
15. Deny Philippaerts Yamaha ITA 6

Manufacturer Standings 29/03/2009

Pos. Manufacturer Points
1. Kawasaki 25
2. KTM 22
3. Honda 20
4. Yamaha 18
5. Suzuki 13