Preview: Austrian GP

| September 18, 2001

The Austrian GP, the last of this 2001 season, should be quite interesting, as there is still some suspense in each class concerning the final positions in the standings. There’s a final battle between Stefan Everts and Joel Smets for the 500cc title; Gordon Crockard and Chad Reed are fighting for the place of 250cc vice champion; Josh Coppins, Frederic Bolley and Pit Beirer are struggling over fifth place in the quarter-liter class; and Steve Ramon, Kenneth Gundersen, Eric Eggens and Luigi Seguy are slugging it out for the place of vice champion in the 125cc class.

For the first time this season, all the riders will have equal chances, as none of them has ever ridden at this new track located between Klagenfurt and Graz in Austria. Both the promoting motorcycle club and the national federation did their best to build a modern track in order that thhey might bring Austria a prestigious triple Grand Prix.

The main class of the week end will be the 500cc division, as both Yamaha-rider Everts and KTM-mounted Smets have a chance to be crowned Sunday afternoon. “The promoter should give us a bonus, as we keep some suspense in this class, so the media and the press will follow with interest this last round,” Smets smiled after winning the Italian GP last weekend. With a gap of 23 points between them (in Everts’ favor), Smets still has a small chance; if he were to win and Everts didn’t finished the race, he could keep his number-one plate. Granted, that’s not likely, but everyone knows that up until the last meters of the last lap of the last race, anything can happen (remember Smets in Roggenburg or Everts in Lierop). Everts has prepared for this race at home in Monaco, while Smets was practicing on the 250cc KTM to prepare the Motocross des Nations.

In the 250cc class, new champ Mickael Pichon will try to get his 10th win of the season, and everyone saw last weekend in Italy that he still has enough motivation to win. But in this class, most will be watching Crockard and Reed, as the Aussie is now quite close (thanks to five podiums in a row!). Italian Claudio Federici will be looking for revenge after his disappointing result at home last week, and Josh Coppins, Bolley and Beirer will have a battle in the race for the fifth position.

With two podiums in a row, Gundersen and Eggens are now able to contest Ramon (who got a terrible start at the last GP) for the place of 125cc vice champion. Seguy has also a chance to finish on the podium, but it will be really hard for him in KTM’s land (the Austrian bikes have won all but one 125cc GP this season).

Points Standings

125: 1. Dobb (GBR, KTM), 228 pts (World Champion); 2. Ramon (BEL, Kawasaki), 166; 3. Gundersen (NOR, KTM), 151; 4. Eggens (NED, KTM), 146; 5. Seguy (FRA, Yamaha), 141; 6. Chiodi (ITA, Yamaha), 113.

250: 1. Pichon (FRA, Suzuki), 293 pts (World Champion); 2. Crockard (GBR, Honda), 177; 3. Reed (AUS, Kawasaki), 174; 4. Federici (ITA, Yamaha), 157; 5. Coppins (NZL, Suzuki), 126; 6. Bolley (FRA, Honda), 120; 7. Beirer (GER, Yamaha), 120.

500: 1. Everts (BEL, Yamaha), 271 pts; 2. Smets (BEL, KTM), 248; 3. Bervoets (BEL, Yamaha), 195; 4. Garcia Vico (SPA, KTM), 127; 5. Lindhe (SWE, Husqvarna), 98.

By Freelance