Newly crowned 2000 World Champions Frederic Bolley and Joel Smets showed today in qualifying for the final 250 and 500cc MX GP in Roggenburg, Switzerland that their titles are deserved, easily posting the fastest times in their respective classes. The practice session took place in chilly, breezy conditions on a high-speed track, that includes a couple of downhill straightaways that American Ryan Hughes described as “fifth-gear, pinned – for a while!”
Frenchman Bolley, Hughes’ PAMO Honda teammate, had the fast time sewed up for most of the 250cc session, but waited until the waining minutes to throw down a sizzling one-minute, 6.530-second circuit – nearly two seconds faster than Mickael Maschio’s second-best time of one-minute, 9.723 seconds. Bolley, who looked ultra smooth on the equally smooth track that is laid out in a bucolic valley just east of the French border, averaged 33.7 miles per hour on his fast lap.
“I think the pressure is off him,” said Winfield Kawasaki’s Pit Beirer. “For sure he didn’t spend all week partying and drunk. He still wants to win.”
Four brands filled the top four times, with Joshua Coppins’ Suzuki and Claudio Federici’s Yamaha following the Kawasaki of Maschio. As for Hughes, he was eighth despite using a special 757 tire from Dunlop. This his second GP back following a broken wrist earlier in the season.
“He said he just couldn’t put together a fast lap,” said mechanic Wyat Seals. “I told him I’m not worried. I think Ryan is better at chasing another rider than [chasing] the clock.”
Smets’ time was nearly two and a half seconds slower than that of Bolley, but it was plenty good to top the 500cc class. Smets, who averaged 33.07 miles per hour on his fast lap, was followed by another factory KTM, this one piloted by Swede Peter Johansson, .668 of a second behind the big Belgian.
250: 1. Frederic Bolley (Hon) 2:08.145; 2. Mickael Maschio (Kaw) 2:09.723; 3. Joshua Coppins (Suz) 2:10.061; 4. Claudio Federici (Yam) 2:10.069; 5. Pit Beirer (Kaw) 2:10.327; 6. Yves Demaria (Yam) 2:10.345; 7. Alessandro Zanni (Yam) 2:11.059; 8. Ryan Hughes (Hon) 2:11.311; 9. Paul Cooper (Hus) 2:11.366; 10. Gordon Crockard (Hon) 2:11.418; 11. Justin Morris (Yam) 2:11.663; 12. Michal Kadlecek (Suz) 2:12.052; 13. Damien Denil (Kaw) 2:12.143; 14. Danny Theybers (KTM) 2:12.208; 15. Marko Kovalainen (Yam) 2:12.270.
500: 1. Joel Smets (KTM) 2:10.565; 2. Peter Johansson (KTM) 2:11.233; 3. Massimo Bartolini (Yam) 2:11.705; 4. Marnicq Bervoets (Yam) 2:11.821; 5. Joakim Karlsson (Hon) 2:11.951; 6. Miska Aaltonen (Hus) 2:11.967; 7. Darryl King (Hus) 2:12.045; 8. Andrea Bartolini (Yam) 2:12.117; 9. Marcel Van Drunen (Hus) 2:12.517; 10. Fabrizio Dini (Hus) 2:13.140; 11. Jonny Lindhe (Hus) 2:13.506; 12. Thierry Klutz (VOR) 2:13.657; 13. Siegfried Bauer (KTM) 2:13.673; 14. Gert-Jan Van Doorn (VOR) 2:13.793; 15. Jonas Engdahl (KTM) 2:13.838.