Honda celebrated their first MX1 'double' of the season this afternoon after Mickael Pichon's clean sweep at Teutschenthal for the Grand Prix of Europe, round five of the 2005 FIM Motocross World Championship. To crown a decent day for the Martin Honda team series-leader Stefan Everts could only finish eleventh in the first moto and the Championship chase has tightened considerably. CAS Honda rider Josh Coppins also mounted the podium in second position.
Weather conditions had improved in eastern Germany, close to the town of Halle, as the relentless debilitating rain of Saturday gave way to wind and passing clouds; thankfully no further showers. However the effects of the excessive water on the track created a sticky and rough course where the slightest mistake would prove costly. The racing line was fast, narrow and rough and overtaking was again a precious commodity.
Pichon had secured his fifteenth consecutive pole position on Saturday and has now ruled qualification for a full year. He clocked a time that was just four thousandths of a second faster than KTM's Ben Townley despite having some problems with the roll-off strip on his goggles.
24,000 fans packed the chilly Talkessel circuit and witnessed Pichon enact a perfect set of motos as he hole shoted both races and led from the first corner to the chequered flag. The jump from the start gate was the crucial moment of the day and the twenty-eight year old was faultless on both occasions. The Frenchman was far happier with the handling of his CRF 450R aced his 35th career win. Only Stefan Everts, who crashed in the opening race and could only finish eleventh, could run him close in the second moto but the former 250cc double World Champion was able to manage a comfortable cushion over his main title rival.
CAS Honda rider Josh Coppins provided one of the highlights of a staid first race by battling with countryman Ben Townley in a fierce contest for third place. The British Champion held the upper-hand for at least half of the 35 minutes and 2 laps distance but a mistake in stalling the engine allowed the KTM to pass and Coppins was left adrift in fourth. Coppins was more pro-active in the second moto and survived a brief skirmish with Suzuki's Joel Smets on the first lap to again take a lonely fourth behind the escaping figure of KTM's Steve Ramon.
RWJ's James Noble continued his splendid form with seventh place overall. The Briton is currently second in his national series and equalled his highest ever GP race finish with a ranking of fifth in Moto1.
Pichon's team-mate Javier Garcia Vico is still suffering from damaged vertebrae in his neck that caused inflammation and prevented the Spaniard from riding. The Martin Honda representative needs to rest and is hopeful of being back in action for the British Grand Prix on June 5th. CAS Honda rider Jussi Vehvilainen was also missing after injuring ankle ligaments during the first moto at Namur last week. Like Vico, the Finn is confident of a GP return at Matchams Park in early June.
In MX2 Honda's highest finisher was Patrick Caps with a 9th place in the first moto. RWJ's Erik Eggens is still not strong enough to compete after dislocating his shoulder at the Grand Prix of Portugal. Martin Honda rider Matteo Bonini claimed 19th despite a damaged thumb ligament in the first race and retired after three laps of the second unable to stand the pain. The Italian shone with his speed in qualification in Portugal and Spain but has struggled to replicate the same pace in the last two rounds. Andrew McFarlane won his second GP of the season and topped a perfect result for the Ricci Racing Yamaha team as the Italian outfit filled all podium positions.
Pichon still retains second spot in the World Championship standings but has reduced the deficit to Everts to nine points (it was twenty-seven prior to Teutschenthal) with Coppins currently equal third.
The sixth round of the series occurs in two weeks time at Sugo; the first Japanese Grand Prix since 1995.
"I have been waiting for this victory. I trained really hard over the winter and, like all of us, I want to win the Championship. The first few races weren't so good even if I was consistent. I like Teutschenthal a lot and I was hoping to win this weekend. I was happy that the weather was good today even though I knew the races would still be difficult. The starts were important and I got it right both times. We are working with the guys to get the bike better and better. They are trying really hard and we made a good job this weekend; this is the best I have felt since the beginning of the year. I was able to pull away easily. Stefan closed some time on me in the second moto but I could cut through the backmarkers quickly and control the race."
"It's good to be back on the podium and especially because it was a tough weekend. I didn't ride so well in the first moto but the second was much better. I was struggling on the turns in the first race and my mechanic suggested some changes which worked later on. I was watching the MX2 and I saw some people passing on a certain line, I had been way too soft in the first race and needed to be more aggressive in the afternoon so I pushed on this line and came together with Joel. The team is working really hard and we are trying to get closer to Stefan and Mickael and make the Championship more interesting."
"The day went well, I had two good starts. I was fourth on the first lap of the first moto but I made a mistake and Josh got past me. I hung onto the back of him but lost some time when they overtook Pyrhonen for third. I kept my head down and finished fifth so I was happy with that. In the second race I got caught in the boggy stuff on the first lap, it was a mistake on my part and lost a few positions. I was eighth until the last laps when Smets took me out. It was a rush between the two of us to get up but I was on the wet mud and couldn't get any traction. I nearly got him back but seventh overall is good for the Championship and I'm quite happy. I took a fifth in the 650 class a few years ago but this result was against tougher opposition."
"Today was very important for the team and everybody. In the few GPs before there was always a little problem, such as the engine or the suspension, but the team have been working really hard and things have finally come good. Mickael looked very strong today and I am very happy; the championship now looks much better for us!"
MX1 - Race 1 (18 laps =31.5 Km)
Pos / Rider / Nation / Bike / Time
1 / Pichon, Mickael / FRA / Honda / 39:47,7
2 / Smets, Joel / BEL / Suzuki / 40:03,4
3 / Townley, Ben / NZL / KTM / 40:17,6
4 / Coppins, Joshua / NZL / Honda / 40:20,5
5 / Noble, James / GBR / Honda / 40:29,1
6 / Jorgensen, Brian / DEN / Yamaha / 40:30,5
7 / Leok, Tanel / EST / Kawasaki / 40:31,3
8 / Meo, Antoine / FRA / Husqvarna / 41:09,1
9 / Pyrhonen, Antti / FIN / TM / 41:26,3
10 / van Daele, Marvin / BEL / Honda / 41:29,1
11 / Everts, Stefan / BEL / Yamaha / 41:34,0
12 / Theybers, Danny / BEL / Suzuki / 41:34,9
13 / Leuret, Pascal / FRA / Honda / 41:41,2
14 / Barragan, Jonathan / SPA / KTM / 41:48,5
15 / Atsuta, Yoshitaka / JPN / Suzuki / 41:55,7
MX1 - Race2 (18 laps =31.5 Km)
Pos / Rider / Nation / Bike / Time
1 / PICHON Mickael / FRA / HONDA / 40:28,596
2 / EVERTS Stefan / BEL / YAMAHA / 40:48,072
3 / RAMON Steve / BEL / KTM / 41:00,077
4 / COPPINS Joshua / NZL / HONDA / 41:05,213
5 / LEOK Tanel / EST / KAWASAKI / 41:14,272
6 / DE DYCKER Ken / BEL / HONDA / 41:16,074
7 / JORGENSEN Brian / DEN / YAMAHA / 41:24,175
8 / SMETS Joël / BEL / SUZUKI / 41:30,184
9 / NOBLE James / GBR / HONDA / 41:31,698
10 / BARRAGAN Jonathan / SPA / KTM / 41:52,709
11 / VAN DAELE Marvin / BEL / HONDA / 41:56,847
12 / PRIEM Manuel / BEL / YAMAHA / 41:57,760
13 / PYRHONEN Antti / FIN / TM / 42:09,473
14 / TOWNLEY Ben / NZL / KTM / 42:14,564
15 / NEMETH Kornel / HUN / SUZUKI / 42:15,813
Fastest Lap: PICHON Mickael in 2:11.836 on lap 15
MX1 World Motocross Championship Standings
Pos, Rider, Total
1 Everts, Stefan 204, 2 Pichon, Mickael 195, 3 Smets, Joel 167, 4 Coppins, Joshua 167,
5 Townley, Ben 148, 6 Ramon, Steve 120, 7 Jorgensen, B. 104, 8 Noble, James 104,
9 de Dijcker, Ken 87, 10 Cooper, Paul 81, 11 van Daele, M. 74, 12 Pyrhonen, A. 73,
13 Leok, Tanel 71, 14 Leuret, Pascal 64, 15 Theybers, Danny 63.
MX2 - Race 1 (18 laps =31.5 Km)
Pos / Rider / Nat. / Bike / Time
1 / McFarlane, Andrew / AUS / Yamaha / 41:21,8
2 / Cairoli, Antonio / ITA / Yamaha / 41:22,3
3 / Melotte, Cedric / BEL / Yamaha / 41:34,3
4 / Philippaerts, David / ITA / KTM / 41:37,6
5 / Chiodi, Alessio / ITA / Yamaha / 41:43,6
6 / Sword, Stephen / GBR / Kawasaki / 42:00,2
7 / Guarneri, Davide / ITA / Yamaha / 42:25,5
8 / Church, Tom / GBR / Kawasaki / 42:26,6
9 / Caps, Patrick / BEL / Honda / 42:28,8
10 / Boissiere, Anthony / FRA / Yamaha / 42:56,9
11 / Monni, Manuel / ITA / KTM / 43:00,4
12 / Renet, Pierre A. / FRA / Yamaha / 43:20,9
13 / Maschio, Mickael / FRA / Yamaha / 43:36,8
14 / Goncalves, Rui / POR / Yamaha / 43:38,6
15 / Pourcel, Christophe / FRA / Kawasaki / 41:31,4
MX2 - Race 2 (18 laps =31.5 Km)
Pos / Rider / Nat. / Bike / Time
1 / GUARNERI Davide / ITA / YAMAHA / 41:56,247
2 / CHIODI Alessio / ITA / YAMAHA / 41:58,066
3 / MCFARLANE Andrew / AUS / YAMAHA / 41:59,510
4 / MACKENZIE Billy / GBR / YAMAHA / 42:09,905
5 / SWORD Stephen / GBR / KAWASAKI / 42:12,270
6 / PHILIPPAERTS David / ITA / KTM / 42:26,624
7 / MASCHIO Mickaël / FRA / YAMAHA / 42:33,598
8 / LEOK Aigar / EST / KTM / 42:36,327
9 / CHURCH Tom / GBR / KAWASAKI / 42:40,417
10 / NAGL Maximilian / GER / KTM / 42:44,299
11 / GONCALVES Rui / POR / YAMAHA / 42:45,933
12 / MELOTTE Cedric / BEL / YAMAHA / 42:47,974
13 / NUNN Carl / / GBR / KTM / 42:49,384
14 / MONNI Manuel / ITA / KTM / 42:54,455
15 / AUBIN Nicolas / FRA / YAMAHA / 42:55,857
Fastest Lap: MCFARLANE Andrew in 2:16.856 on lap 5
MX2 World Motocross Championship Standings
Pos Rider Total
1 Cairoli, A. 174, 2 Chiodi, Alessio 173, 3 McFarlane, A. 155, 4 Sword, Stephen 152,
5 Melotte, Cedric 143, 6 Maschio, M. 98, 7 Mackenzie, B. 97, 8 Rattray, Tyla 90,
9 Caps, Patrick 90, 10 Guarneri, D. 87, 11 Goncalves, Rui 85, 12 Nunn, Carl 85,
13 Boissiere, A. 82, 14 Philippaerts, D. 81, 15 Pourcel, C. 66,
Source: Honda Motor Company, Ltd - Motor Sports Division