GP of Portugal Report

May 11, 2009 2:10pm | by:

  • Antonio Cairoli has won 5 of the last 6 motos
  • Ken De Dycker leads the pack
Among the fire-red dirt and across the plunging undulations of Agueda for the Grand Prix of Portugal and the fifth round of the fifteen in the FIM World Championship, Yamaha Red Bull De Carli rider Antonio Cairoli not only extended his phenomenal run of success at the venue but also – with his second double moto set of the season and second overall victory – stamped his name on the betting slip as the firm favourite for the ‘09 MX1 title.

The Sicilian, a former twice MX2 world champion and arguably the most talented and high profile rider on the GP scene today, has only six MX1 appearances to his name but already boasts a 50% win ratio and has adapted to the premier class and the demands of the 450 without pause or hesitation. His eighth and ninth moto triumphs from the last ten in Agueda were taken with convincing authority, not even a sizeable lead by Teka Suzuki’s Ken De Dycker in Moto2 or a collision with world champion and friend David Philippaerts in the same sprint could deter his conquering pace.

The two weeks between the Grand Prix of Benelux in the sand of Valkenswaard and the trip to Portugal had been costly and full of unwelcome news. Injuries to protagonists such as Kevin Strijbos, Marc De Reuver, Sebastien Pourcel, Steve Ramon and Shaun Simpson left vacancies in the factory teams of Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and KTM. De Reuver’s hip dislocation and broken three vertebrae after a practice spill means that the charismatic but unpredictable Dutchman’s career hangs in the balance. Strijbos’ broken scaphoid (with a six-week recovery period) caused the luckless Italian Martin crew to be left high and dry. The desperate search for capable talent (and not only by Honda) has led to some transatlantic phone calls and, perhaps more interestingly for GP audiences, contact with former Martin pilot and double world champion Mickael Pichon, who could possibly compete from semi-retirement and run the bike inside the top ten at several rounds.

  • Rui Goncalves won his second GP in a row
  • Ashley Fiolek finished 2nd overall
To compound Honda’s misery Billy Mackenzie, the only works representative (CAS team-mate Cedric Melotte was absent with a back ailment), wrenched his right thumb in a tumble negotiating a fast lap on Saturday and pulled out of the GP.

The threat of rain hung in the clouds and finally arrived for the second MX1 moto on Sunday. The reams of bumps, rippled and kickers in the hard red dirt combined to create a vicious test.

Cairoli was absolute across the slippery terrain and headed the podium from De Dycker and – much to Honda’s relief – Clement Desalle, whose Belgian team’s CRF450R was up to the task of two advantageous getaways from the line.

Cairoli’s prang with Philippaerts while disputing second-place in Moto 2 with Desalle for company was a talking point, and the Yamaha rider’s failure to hold the inside line and rut on a descent, thus hitting the world champion, railing the outside, down and out (and later diagnosed with a broken left index finger), provoked an apology from the victor afterwards and instigated ill-feeling from Philippaerts, who felt aggrieved and knew the DNF would be costly. Among the rest of strong Yamaha fleet Josh Coppins was consistent to ride to fourth overall and Tanel Leok was also close.

Grand Prix of Benelux winner a fortnight ago, Jonathan Barragan, could only take 9th on his factory KTM after wrenching shoulder ligaments in a training crash during the week and became yet another of the multitude seeking medical assistance.

Cairoli can now afford not to finish a moto and still sit at the top of the standings. His 25-point gap over De Dycker is the first blocks from which the flamboyant rider can assemble his title-grasping strategy at the first time of asking.
The MX2 class saw KTM’s Rui Goncalves notch a second win in succession after a pair of holeshots and 2-1 scores. The home GP spectacle for Stefan Everts’ star pupil suitably buoyed the biggest crowd seen yet at Agueda and perhaps did a fitting job in pushing the sport’s profile in the country.

Pole sitter Steven Frossard was second for Kawasaki, ahead of Honda’s Marvin Musquin, the latter Frenchman producing one of the performances of the weekend to recover from a Saturday prang, almost the last slot in the gate, a near-crash on the straight in Moto 1 and finally a rip through the pack to catch and pass Goncalves for his second chequered flag of the season. A broken water hose stopped series front-runner Gautier Paulin from improving his ranking of sixth and allowed Musquin to draw closer in the points list.

  • Ken Roczen was 7th in his MX2 debut
  • Livia Lancelot has a firm hold on the WMX points lead
Women’s World Champion Livia Lancelot won her second Grand Prix in a row and gained extra points over nearest rival Steffie Laier (who was disqualified in Moto1 after receiving outside assistance in the wake of a crash). The USA were represented by Ashley Fiolek, Sarah Whitmore and, briefly, by Tarah Geiger. The latter suffered the same fate as her Utag team-mate Zach Osborne; the duo leaving the western tip of Europe with a pair of broken wrists. Fiolek is currently second in the FIM WMX series but is set to miss the next outing in Spain to prepare for her AMA campaign.

The world championship continues its Iberian adventure next week with the Grand Prix of Catalunya at the Bellpuig circuit; the venue of fantastic scenes thirteen months ago when the event was washed out by downpours and the second MX1 moto was cancelled on safety grounds.

MX1 Race 1 top ten:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), 39:32.718; ; 2. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Suzuki), +0:07.035; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Honda), +0:12.446; 4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), +0:14.608; 5. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), +0:16.374; 6. Tanel Leok (EST, Yamaha), +0:21.134; 7. Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha), +0:50.988; 8. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, KTM), +0:54.914; 9. Gregory Aranda (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:58.430; 10. Gareth Swanepoel (RSA, Kawasaki), +1:11.378;

MX1 Race 2 top ten:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), 40:13.107; ; 2. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Suzuki), +0:10.571; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Honda), +0:18.792; 4. Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha), +0:20.312; 5. Tanel Leok (EST, Yamaha), +0:40.474; 6. David Vuillemin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:49.212; 7. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), +0:58.709; 8. Gareth Swanepoel (RSA, Kawasaki), +1:09.139; 9. Gregory Aranda (FRA, Kawasaki), +1:15.733; 10. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, KTM), +1:31.163;

MX1 Overall top ten:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), 50 points; 2. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Suzuki), 44 p.; 3. Clement Desalle (BEL, Honda), 40 p.; 4. Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha), 32 p.; 5. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), 32 p.; 6. Tanel Leok (EST, Yamaha), 31 p.; 7. David Vuillemin (FRA, Kawasaki), 25 p.; 8. Gareth Swanepoel (RSA, Kawasaki), 24 p.; 9. Gregory Aranda (FRA, Kawasaki), 24 p.; 10. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, KTM), 24 p.;

MX1 Championship top ten:
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha), 193 points; 2. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Suzuki), 168 p.; 3. Jonathan Barragan (ESP, KTM), 152 p.; 4. Joshua Coppins (NZL, Yamaha), 144 p.; 5. Tanel Leok (EST, Yamaha), 142 p.; 6. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), 134 p.; 7. Clement Desalle (BEL, Honda), 126 p.; 8. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), 119 p.; 9. Steve Ramon (BEL, Suzuki), 100 p.; 10. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Honda), 82 p.;

MX2 Race 1 top ten:
1. Marvin Musquin (FRA, Honda), 39:53.534; ; 2. Rui Goncalves (POR, KTM), +0:02.587; 3. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:02.923; 4. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:21.629; 5. Davide Guarneri (ITA, Yamaha), +0:29.869; 6. Loic Larrieu (FRA, Yamaha), +0:33.387; 7. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KTM), +0:40.667; 8. Nicolas Aubin (FRA, Yamaha), +0:43.076; 9. Ken Roczen (GER, Suzuki), +0:47.651; 10. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Yamaha), +0:50.485;

MX2 Race 2 top ten:

1. Rui Goncalves (POR, KTM), 39:10.794; ; 2. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:07.812; 3. Davide Guarneri (ITA, Yamaha), +0:10.843; 4. Ken Roczen (GER, Suzuki), +0:13.149; 5. Loic Larrieu (FRA, Yamaha), +0:15.004; 6. Marvin Musquin (FRA, Honda), +0:25.511; 7. Xavier Boog (FRA, Suzuki), +0:27.974; 8. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:33.318; 9. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KTM), +0:47.567; 10. Marcus Schiffer (GER, KTM), +1:00.810;

MX2 Overall top ten:
1. Rui Goncalves (POR, KTM), 47 points; 2. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), 42 p.; 3. Marvin Musquin (FRA, Honda), 40 p.; 4. Davide Guarneri (ITA, Yamaha), 36 p.; 5. Loic Larrieu (FRA, Yamaha), 31 p.; 6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), 31 p.; 7. Ken Roczen (GER, Suzuki), 30 p.; 8. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KTM), 26 p.; 9. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Yamaha), 21 p.; 10. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Yamaha), 16 p.;

MX2 Championship top ten:
1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), 171 points; 2. Marvin Musquin (FRA, Honda), 165 p.; 3. Davide Guarneri (ITA, Yamaha), 147 p.; 4. Rui Goncalves (POR, KTM), 125 p.; 5. Xavier Boog (FRA, Suzuki), 108 p.; 6. Steven Frossard (FRA, Kawasaki), 105 p.; 7. Zach Osborne (USA, Yamaha), 100 p.; 8. Nicolas Aubin (FRA, Yamaha), 98 p.; 9. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 97 p.; 10. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KTM), 72 p.