Check out notes, quotes and extras from the opening round of the FIM Motocross World Championship in Faenza, Italy...
There was a nice piece of symbolism on Saturday evening when Honda Motor Europe made their 2009 presentation in part of the archaic clubhouse at Faenza; a room so narrow that a ten-person group photo was almost impossible. (Talk about putting the squeeze on the sport.) The company commented that they are committed to racing for 2009 but could offer no comment on 2010, which will be the third and final year of their initial three-season plan to re-install the factory Honda effort in GP motocross.Full credit goes to the small British manufacturer, CCM from the north of England, who captured its first-ever MX1 World Championship points in their maiden season with respectable finishes for their CMX 450 machine, and riders Tom Church and Jason Dougan who finished eighth and 11th, respectively.
A new motorcycle rolled into action with TM fielding a fuel-injected 250 in the hands of Czech Martin Michek. The small Italian firm has traditionally always focussed on the MX1 category.
In a series sponsored by Red Bull the presence of rival drink Monster Energy is spreading across the paddock. The distinctive green "M" is seen on the black bikes of the MX1 world champions Yamaha and now across the YZ250Fs of the Ricci Racing outfit in MX2. With support for CAS Honda in place and also Utag Yamaha.com, the energy drink is becoming prolific as their European profile grows.Kitchenware specialists Teka Group have now become main sponsors of the FIM World Championship after initially dipping their toe with patronage of the German MX2 Suzuki effort, and since the start of 2008, the factory MX1 squad. The Geboers-led team of Ramon and De Dycker is arguably the best supported crew in the paddock and increased their profile even further with Red Bull backing for 2009.
Yamaha is now the only Japanese brand without a fuel-injected MX1 machine. Faenza represented the first Grand Prix for the CRF450F Honda with the electronic aid while Kawasaki were starting their first season with fuel-injection after several race appearances towards the end of 2008. Suzuki – with their RM-Z450 – were using a second generation of the unit.Popular former champion Alessandro Puzar – now working for ProGrip – re-fitted his chin strap to compete in the opening race of the Veteran’s world championship. Riding a Honda, Puzar came second in the first race on Saturday afternoon and was fourth overall. Defending champion Peter Iven was the winner.
New Zealander Josh Coppins looked imperious on a dry and normal Saturday as he comfortably led most of the new MX1 qualification Heat but a harsh crash when he was pitched over the bars descending a downhill left the 31 year old winded, dizzy and bruised. Considering his discomfort and resulting lowly gate position, his sixth-place finish was entirely commendable, especially as he elected not to lose time by coming into the pits for a goggle-change - a move he later regretted. “Everything was looking rosy yesterday but then I went down hard. 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 was alright. 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.”Seasoned AMA veteran David Vuillemin began his first ever MX1 Grand Prix reacclimatising to old-school, simple, fast and hard-pack Italian tracks. Sunday was a different prospect and after recovering from a mud-meeting in the formative stages he lost a top ten finish with a baked clutch. “The beginning of the race was not so bad, I had a pretty good start but during the second lap I crashed on an uphill and lost time. I stopped in the pits to get new gloves, then came back in the race and saw riders everywhere, especially in two sections. You had to stop and study the lines at each lap. I didn’t make any mistakes and came back to the top ten when my clutch failed. It’s frustrating as you spend a lot of energy for nothing; I was expecting better conditions for my first GP.”Utag Yamaha's Zach Osborne, the sole American in the world championship, made at least two visits to the pits for goggles in a crash-strewn race eventually leading to a non-scoring finish. “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.”