Motocross

Craic on

Craic on

A SIX-YEAR-OLD Stefan Everts was a spectator way back then, watching his dad Harry clinch his first world 125cc championship at Slane near Dublin in 1979. A SIX-YEAR-OLD Stefan Everts was a spectator way back then, watching his dad Harry clinch his first world 125cc championship at Slane near Dublin in 1979. And 25 years – and seven world titles of his own – later, Stefan’s back and gunning for a record eighth crown.
There’s loads of entertainment planned for the two-day MX fest – including (invitation-only!) dbr-backed minibike races – but it’s the GP action everyone’s going to Ballykelly to see. And what a treat we’re in for!
Everts is sitting pretty at the top of the MX1 standings – after 12 rounds he held a commanding 91-point lead over second-placed Mickael Pichon. After recent uncertainty surrounding his deal for ’05, Everts has now resigned for the Rinaldi factory Yamaha team so the Belgian should have 100 per cent focus for Ballykelly – the penultimate event in the 16-round series.
But while Everts is the rider everyone’s shooting at, Pichon’s very much the man to beat. At the Czecho round at Loket, the French two-time world champ nailed the only hat-trick of GP overalls so far this season on his Martin CRF450 with a dominant 1-1 card.
Brit-based Kiwi Josh ‘Lizzard’ Coppins claimed a career-first GP overall earlier this season when the world MX championship circus stopped off on the Isle of Wight. During his last visit to Ireland for the Maxxis round at Desertmartin, CAS Honda’s Coppins scored a double win – a result he’ll be hoping to repeat at Ballykelly.
Belgian trio Steve Ramon, Kevin Strijbos and Cedric Melotte hold fourth through to sixth in the championship standings after 12 rounds. Ramon, the ’03 world 125cc champ, has scored consistently this season aboard the factory KTM but has won just one GP moto while, at the time of going to press, Everts’ team-mate Melotte is out injured – although he hopefully will be back for Ballykelly.
Strijbos, on the factory 450cc Suzuki, is enjoying a cracking run of form as he gets to grips with the four-stroke and is looking for his maiden MX1 overall. Could it come at Ballykelly?
Or could there be a bigger surprise in the shape of Pichon’s team-mate Brian Jorgensen? The Dane’s promised much the season but apart from a stunning 1-1 result in Germany his only top three overall this season has come in Sweden. Brian’s raced – and won – in Ireland before and still has plenty of fans there after a spell spent contesting the British championship.
The final MX1 danger man has to be Estonian Express Tanel Leok. Leok started the year racing for the Motovision Suzuki team and so impressed with his performances on the two-stroke 250 he’s taken over the injured Joel Smets’ ride on a factory 450.
Britain’s best hope for a GP podium finish and even overall victory again lies with Stephen Sword in the MX2 division.
Swordy’s world championship form since signing a factory Kawasaki deal for ’04 has been jaw-dropping and the two-time British champ has a very real chance of winning at Ballykelly.
But two big obstacles stand in the Scot’s way – series leader Ben Townley and South African teenager Tyla ‘Styla’ Rattray.
BT, who missed a big slice of last season after a huge crash during pre-season training in the States, is armed with KTM’s 250 four-banger and the pair form a formidable combination.
The official Youthstream stats make interesting reading – and underline the young Kiwi’s dominance. After Loket Townley had led a total of 254 laps and won 15 GP motos. Just to put this into perspective, next on the laps-led list was Italian teenager Antonio Cairoli with 47 while Andrew McFarlane was second in the motos-won standings with three!
BT’s nearest rival in the title chase is 125cc Champ KTM-mounted Rattray – although going into round 13 at Namur the South African was a whopping 94 points adrift.
Swordy was a further 17 points behind before Namur but had a healthy 61-point cushion over Dixon Bike It Yamaha’s McFarlane who, thanks to a shoulder injury that put him out of contention at Loket, had the fast-starting Cairoli snapping at his heels.
Other possible MX2 contenders at Ballykelly include former champs Chicco Chiodi and Mickael Maschio while RTT Honda’s Carl Nunn will be looking to stay out of trouble and come away with a big haul of points.
Tickets can be bought on the gate or online at www.kwsgp.com. Admission to the event is £10 for Friday, £20 for the Saturday or £25 for both days. Accompanied children under 14 get in for free.