Two weeks after opening their 2009 motocross calendar with a shakedown meeting at the Starcross International at Mantova, the renamed Yamaha Monster Energy Motocross Team accelerated their progress and preparations for the upcoming FIM MX1-GP World Championship – in which they will enter as title holders for the fourth time in five years – by celebrating a double podium appearance at the Valence International in central France yesterday.
World Champion David Philippaerts, fresh from his win last week at the opening round of the Italian Championship at Montevarchi, guided his YZ450FM through cold winds and light rain to record results of 1st, 1st and 2nd in the three French motos and claim the overall top step. Josh Coppins was also looking strong. The Kiwi had took a chequered flag at Montevarchi and collected results of 2nd, 3rd and 5th across a slippery and stony track that offered very few racing lines. The 31 year old took the bottom platform of the podium.
The 2009 version of the YZ450FM was fiery off the line permitting the distinctive black and green colours of the motorcycles to be seen at the very front of the field in all three outings. Although the team use the pre-season international events as viable testing opportunities, Philippaerts was uncompromising and determined against numerous Grand Prix peers and factory representation from four other manufacturers.
The Italian escaped from the pack in the first moto of twenty minutes and two laps and then enjoyed a small battle with Ken de Dycker in the second before getting the better of the Belgian. De Dycker was able to make an early break in the Superfinal – the third race of a dark and overcast day – and Philippaerts rode within himself for second place to confirm his second set of spoils in 2009.
“It was good to win here because the track was difficult,” said the 25 year old. “De Dycker was fast but it was good training and another test for the bike. Things are heading in the right way and now we will go to Belgium for some more work before coming back to Italy. Faenza will be an emotional first Grand Prix but I am excited to start the season.”
Coppins, who has been splitting his time between training in Italy and spending time in the UK with his new daughter Myla, tackled a few technical issues with his motorcycle but was still a protagonist. He followed his team-mate in Moto1, beat Marc de Reuver to 3rd in Moto2 and was 5th in the last race.
“It wasn’t a bad day but I did not ride as well as I did in Italy and struggled to get a rhythm with the track,” the winner of the 2008 German GP said. “We had a small few things to sort out with the bike but that is the reason why we do these races. I was quite good in the first laps and had two decent starts in the first two motos; so this was positive. I was a little bit inconsistent with my speed, sometimes very fast and then not so quick, and I know we can be better. We will be working hard for the next month and expecting to move up a level before the first Grand Prix.”
The team will now continue their plans in readiness for the 2009 Grand Prix campaign that begins fittingly at their home event in Faenza Italy on March 29th. Both riders will contest the third round of the Italian national series at Ponte a Egola on March 8th.