FUNCHAL, 28 March 2007 - The FIM Motocross World Championship, the most exciting Motocross series in the world, is about to break its long winter sleep. Ernée played host to the last race of the 2006 series on September 17, that was sort of a farewell party for the legendary Stefan Everts. Valkenswaard will open a new era this weekend with the Grand Prix of Benelux, but the Eurocircuit is so full of Motocross history that will surely guarantee continuity to the Motocross GP’s. There is no defending Champ in the MX1 class, as 2006 World Champion Everts retired last year, and everyone is hungry for victories. In the MX2 class, 18 year old Christophe Pourcel defends the Title from extremely motivated rivals, such as Italian Antonio Cairoli and South African Tyla Rattray.
After a long domination by Stefan Everts, who is now working in the KTM Red Bull Racing team, there are many riders who are ready to chase the 2007 World Title.
Kiwi Josh Coppins is on top of them, as he was the only rider who beat Everts last year, winning the GP of Northern Ireland in Desertmartin. “Lizard” will ride for the factory Yamaha Motocross Team, alongside MX1 debutant Marc De Reuver, who improved his feeling with the bike a lot during the winter.
The Suzuki WMX GP Team will count on Belgians Steve Ramon and Kevin Strijbos; Sylvain Geboers’ team had different fortunes this winter. Ramon is fully fit and looks forward to clinching his second World Title, but last year’s runner up Strijbos had a knee operation and will comeback to racing here in Valkenswaard.
KTM Red Bull team worked a lot throughout the winter, under Stefan Everts’ management. Jonathan Barragan aims at the top three, as debutant David Philippaerts had an impressive off season on the KTM 450 SX-F, and can already compete for the Title. There will probably another KTM racer to watch out for; it is Sarholz’s Max Nagl, who had a stunning off season.
Kawasaki Europe riders will not make his life easy though. Estonian Tanel Leok is now more experienced, and wants to be a serious title contender after a 2006 season that was compromised by injuries. On the other hand Scottish Billy Mackenzie is another debutant in MX1, as Kawasaki fellow rider Sebastien Pourcel of the GPKR team, but he is expected to race a good season.
Ken De Dycker is still in the CAS Honda squad, the team with which he will go for the Title in 2007; the 22 year old Belgian’s team mate will be American Mike Brown, an experienced rider who can be starring in the 2007 season.
Two new manufacturers will join the FIM Motocross World Championship series in 2007, and both set their sights on the MX1 class.
Aprilia will line up the twin cylinder MXV 4.5, with three times World Champion Alessio Chiodi and top Belgian rider Cedric Melotte.
WRM entered one bike only, that will be ridden by 2004 MX3 runner up Cristian Beggi.
The defending Champion, Frenchman Christophe Pourcel, injured this winter and was back to racing last weekend. He looked good, despite his lack of winter training, and he is aiming at winning as many motos as he can in 2007.
Yamaha De Carli’s Antonio Cairoli was the one with the highest number of moto wins last year -12- but he lost the title and finished runner up to Pourcel. This year he will be up there fighting again, as 2006 probably taught him some important things he will use right from this weekend in Valkenswaard.
Tyla Rattray spent a little part of his winter at home in South Africa, but he spent most of it training for the coming season. He was in Spain to train with his new coach Everts, together with team mate Tommy Searle and the rest of the KTM Red Bull squad. Both Tyla and Tommy are young and fast, and can be a serious threat for their rivals.
With GP winner Stephen Sword out, the Molson Kawasaki team will line up British Tom Church and South African Gareth Swanepoel, who are both skilled enough to aim at the top five.
There will be a lot of attention on Martin Honda’s American young gun Ryan Mills, who is very excited about racing his first Motocross World Championship season.
Last year’s European Motocross Champion in the 125cc class, Belgian Dennis Verbruggen is about to race his first complete GP season with team Yamaha Van Beers, and so is 2006 runner up in the European Championship, French Steven Frossard, in team CLS Kawasaki.
Three times GP winner Erik Eggens will race his home GP aiming at his fourth victory, as fellow Suzuki rider Sean Hamblin of America hopes in a nice debut with the Suzuki Swift Motocross team.
THE EUROCIRCUIT AND VALKENSWAARD
The Eurocircuit is one of the best circuits in the Netherlands, and it is just South of Eindhoven; it has hosted Motocross races since 1980, but its layout was slightly modified this year, to guarantee an overall improvement. It is a demanding sandy track, offering a perfect view of the start line from any spot.
Valkenswaard is a beautiful Dutch municipality with a population of 30,943 inhabitants. It is 130 kms South of the capital city Amsterdam, and very close to Eindhoven. The name Valkenswaard comes from a huge history of falconers, and “valk” actually means falcon in Dutch.
The Eurocircuit will be a Motocross fans magnet from Saturday, April 31, when the first practice will start at 10.00 am. On Sunday, the first race will be at 12.05 am.
Information and results on www.motocrossMX1.com, the official website of the FIM Motocross World Championships.