I know we say it every time there’s a GP in the UK but truly, honestly, 100 per cent, there is absolutely nowhere else to be over the August Bank Holiday than Gore Basin!
The MX2 title may be down the tube but Britain has three potential winners I know we say it every time there’s a GP in the UK but truly, honestly, 100 per cent, there is absolutely nowhere else to be over the August Bank Holiday than Gore Basin!
The MX2 title may be down the tube but Britain has three potential winners – and they could well sweep the podium – and the British champion is going for the Big One, the MX1 title itself!
Let’s start with that one…
Josh Coppins may not be native-born but the nicest bloke in the paddock has finally blossomed from the ‘nearly guy’ to world-beater.
It all clicked in the last two laps of the first moto at last month’s Swedish GP. Even a fortnight earlier in France the 28-year-old Kiwi had been dropped at the death by Everts and Townley but at Uddevalla the CAS teamster swept around the outside of buddy BT at turn two and led by a couple of bike lengths for 35 minutes.
How often before has Josh been pipped at the finish? So when BT closed onto his rear wheel there was a sense of deja vu. Only this time Coppins was in control!
BT didn’t make a mistake but neither did Josh and the elder of the two Kiwi buddies kept it pinned for four more minutes for a famous victory. "I had the best lines and I was strong. The team have worked continuously on the bike and I can now race it on the limit. There was no way I was going to lose that race!"
The body language, the twinkling eyes, even the tone of his voice told the tale – since July 3 we are seeing a new Josh Coppins, still as amiable but with that final killer touch that separates the champion from the runner-up!
Race two was a runaway and a fortnight later in SA Josh was even stronger. "That was the best race of my career. I raced Stefan one-on-one. He didn’t have a problem and I beat him!"
Although still in front by almost an entire GP, Everts had already spoken openly of ‘crisis’ and his behaviour on the podium at Sun City shows that his head is still not free despite his best on-track performance since Matchams.
Stefan got trailed off on the Isle of Wight last summer, only salvaging a podium with the experience that earns him that on a bad day. Or at least it used to! The mind games are in full flow and Stefan comes to Britain in the knowledge that tactical consistency may no longer be enough to earn him title #9!
Not only Josh but also BT – winner of four straight motos in June – and eternal threat Mickael Pichon are all capable of beating the record champ in a straight race. It is an unpleasant (for Stefan) fact which he has not had to face for a decade.
Remember last summer’s titanic duel between Coppins and Pichon plus the way in which Townley controlled MX2? MX1 at Gore Basin promises to be the Race of the Century!
And before it even starts the MX2 should drive you all into a frenzy.
Swordy should have been going for gold too but that freak crash during testing at Plomion has blown all that away just as the 25-year-old was moving in for the kill.
But with the nature of the hand injury – a hairline crack – finally diagnosed Stephen will back to full speed by the time the Isle of Wight GP comes around. And with a point to prove!
But he is not the only one…
Billy Mackenzie has done this term what Swordy achieved last summer – moto win, podium, GP winner – and is also back on the case after hurting through June. A Scottish 1-2 is more than just possible and don’t try to tell either of them which one will be second!
That result could bring Hogmanay forward four months but don’t forget this is the English GP and who slayed them all at Matchams – Nunny of course! It hasn’t been a magic season for the East Anglian despite getting his hands on a factory KTM but no-one rises more to the occasion on home turf than Carl. It could be 1-2-3 but place a six-way bet if you go down Ladbrokes with your last tenner!
Not that there isn’t plenty of foreign menace in the air to contend with in MX2.
Aussie Andrew McFarlane is disputing the title with Italians Antonio Cairoli and Chicco Chiodi – all on Yams – while David Philippaerts has been the revelation of the season since switching to the factory Toomer in late May.
Add in Cedric Melotte, Davide Guarneri, Anthony Boissiere et les freres Pourcel for good measure and you have a mega line-up even before remembering that Mattighofen will have big guns Tyla Rattray and Marc De Reuver back for the race.
Styla pushed BT all the way for the win last year and loves Gore Basin so much he pencilled it in for his comeback months ago.
And then there are the other Brits. TC showed at Matchams that he is top six material, Molson team-mate Swanny has been back on the gas since SA, Jason Dougan and Shaun Simpson are new wave teenage motocrossers of the highest calibre, Erik Eggens has already had a podium this year, Wayne Smith and Brad Anderson will be out to show their domestic form can transfer to GP level and all eyes will be on UK youth scene dominator Tommy Searle. Now 16, the lad from Gloucestershire was a sensation at Matchams and is already marked down for a full-time GP career in 2006.
In MX1 James Noble is battling for the #7 plate with Pichon’s buddy Pascal Leuret, Spanish whizzkid Jonathan Barragan and Yamaha factory star Brian Jorgensen. The Yorkshireman had a miserable Matchams – all the more reason to star in the English GP.
Paul Cooper is also back on the gas after the mystery bug which laid him low through mid-summer, Jussi Vehvilainen is hopefully there still after his comeback at Landrake, Yoshi Atsuta should put the Motovision Suzuki in the top 10 for promoter Mark Chamberlain, team-mate Neville Bradshaw could be back on GP pace by then, Gordon Crockard will be desperate to salvage something from the season before his home GP, Mark Hucklebridge can surely rise to the occasion and Mark Jones proved at Matchams that he is still good for points.
Not enough for you?
Three nights of camping in the pleasantly luscious British countryside, catering facilities which are genuinely good, 20 bands to keep you awake in the festival tent, the largest trade area in the world and minibike racing – it all adds up to the greatest weekend of the year. Just don’t let her indoors catch you in the queue for the Showgirlz!
See you all there – at the race that is, not the queue!
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Words and photos by Alex Hodgkinson