Yamaha Motocross team rider Josh Coppins showed why he is seen as one of the favourites for the FIM MX1 Word Championship this year as he scored his first International win in blue colours and scored his second success inside a week after proving his great shape in the opening round of the Italian Championship at Montevarchi last Sunday. The New Zealander posted results of third, third and first with the YZ450FM over three motos at a dark, cold and rainy Valence circuit in Southern France yesterday 26/07/2007.
Excessive rain through Saturday evening meant that the hillside setting 100km south of Lyon was a mushy and puddle-strewn terrain for Sunday’s racing timetable. Further predicted showers thankfully remained absent though and the slippery course dried as the afternoon drew on. The small venue was crowded by a decent spectator turn-out and the high-profile entry list that included works teams from four manufacturers provided worthy entertainment.
The best race of the day was the second of the three. Overall victory was disputed between David Philippaerts, Kevin Strijbos and Coppins and the trio pulled away from the pack in Motos two and three. The first coming together of the three protagonists in heat one witnessed a close chase with the triplet separated by no more than two seconds for the latter half of the 20 minute and two lap distance. Coppins built his momentum to be crawling all over the back of stubborn leader Philippaerts approaching the last circulation, but was then mugged by Strijbos and had to accept third spot.
He gained suitable revenge in the final act however and left his junior rivals unable to match his speed at the front even though the French spectators were treated to another tight finish with little over a second dividing the first two past the chequered flag.
‘I am happy with today. It is my first time on the bike in these conditions and I am learning each time I ride,’ said Coppins. ‘I had three good starts and was on the podium three times which is what I was looking for. I knew that if I won the last race I would get the ‘overall’ so I pushed harder. In the first two heats I took it easy and concentrated on being smooth.
I wanted to pass Philippaerts in that second race but I got stuck in a rut behind him and Kevin came up fast with some really good lines. He had obviously been passing others with those lines and got by me. I wasn’t going to enter a big fight at that stage and I completed my own race.’
Marc de Reuver
Marc de Reuver was not befriended by lady luck. The Dutchman did not have the best pick of gates after timed practice although was able to take an eight place in the first race. He was then hit by Tanel Leok and crashed in the second moto and had a decent start thwarted in heat three when Billy Mackenzie fell in front of him on the third corner. He grabbed 15th overall with final positions of eight, 15th and a non-score.
‘I did not have such a good time from qualification and this did not help,’ he lamented. ‘I did not get a bad start in the first heat but there was so much mud that there was only one line. I had eight and thought I could do better in the next one. I had another decent start in the second heat from my position but on the jump after the finish line I collided with Leok in the air and was completely last by the time I restarted. In the third race I had a good line around the corner before the finish because everybody was struggling around the inside and Mackenzie thought the same thing but he crashed. I was half a metre behind him which brought me to a stop. I fell again later on and it seemed to sum up my day.’
Ricci Racing’s Kenneth Gundersen was struggling to make an impact on the YZ250F in a format that placed MX2, MX1 and MX Open machines into the same category. The Norwegian had a forgettable day, but insisted the results of 18th, 17th and DNS in no way indicate the progress of his preparation for a World Championship bid.
‘It was a really bad day because I had bad starts and crashed in the first corner of both motos,’ he said. ‘It was good training and that’s it. It is difficult to race in the open class with a 250. If you are at the front from the start then it is OK but if you have to pass then it is very hard. Everything is going really well though. We had a great week in Italy and I feel very prepared for this year.’
The Yamaha Motocross Team have little time for rest as they head north through Europe this week to Great Britain and the sand of Hawkstone Park for their fourth meeting inside four weeks.
1. J. Coppins (NZL) Yamaha
2. D. Philippaerts (ITA) KTM
3. M. Nagl (RFA) KTM
4. K. Strijbos (BEL) Suzuki
5. T. Rattray (AFS) KTM
6. B. Mackenzie (GBR) Kawasaki
7. S. Pourcel (FRA) Kawasaki
8. J. Bill (CH) Kawasaki
9. N. Aubin (FRA) Yamaha
10. F. Renet (FRA) Honda
11. A. Boissière (FRA) Kawasaki
12. M. Vanni (FRA) Honda
13. S. Frossard (FRA) Kawasaki
14. D. Allier (FRA) Kawasaki
15. M. De Reuver (NL) Yamaha