After a summer break of almost four weeks, the FIM Motocross World Championship re-ignites this weekend with round 11, the Belgian GP at Limburg, in the unforgiving, deep sand of Lommel.
New Zealand’s Josh Coppins (Aprilia) is currently 14th in the championship standings, not a position he’s too comfortable with after being among the top 10 for the previous six editions of the championship.
The Kiwi has even finished as high as world No.2 on two occasions is used to challenging for the podium.
But, with four non-scoring races in his 20 outings thus far, the man from Motueka knows that luck hasn’t been on his side this season.
However, on the plus side of the ledger, Coppins knows that a couple of solid races now will thrust him right back into the top 10. He is just five points behind French rider Anthony Boissiere (TM) and nine points behind South African Gareth Swanepoel (Honda).
Coppins finished third overall on the day in his last appearance, at round five of the British Motocross Championships at Foxhills last weekend. He came home 4-3-3 in his MX1 races, finishing the day behind Russian rider Evgeny Bobryshev (Honda) and Scotsman Stephen Sword (CCM) but ahead of British defending champion Brad Anderson (Honda).
Defending world champion Antonio Cairoli, of Italy leads the world standings and, barring a disaster, looks like earning KTM the No.1 plate.
Belgian Suzuki riders Clement Desalle and Steve Ramon sit in second and fourth positions respectively in the MX1 class standings.
Two-thirds of the way through the 2010 contest, Desalle is having a stellar first season with the team and has not dropped out of the top six in the 18 motos from 20 that he has completed. The double ‘0-0’ for round three at Valkenswaard, after an early crash led to a dislocated right shoulder, did proved costly to his championship aspirations and the 21-year-old needs to reduce a deficit of 67 points to leader Cairoli … only 250 points are still available in the remaining five rounds.
“I live 200km from Lommel, so it is not really a home GP! Lommel has a lot of bumps so it is hard for us as well as the motorcycles; a tough track,” said Desalle, who set pole position at the circuit in 2009 and was fifth overall (taking second place in the first moto). “It is a nice change from hard-pack and I like sand, but the body usually aches after this GP.”
Lommel is a familiar course to many of the Grand Prix fraternity who base themselves in the Benelux region during the season for practice and training. The flat and challenging layout is renowned for its physical and technical demands and rewards the most skilled and fittest exponents of sand-riding.
Unfortunately the general weather forecast for the weekend is not too positive with cloudy conditions on Saturday and showers on Sunday.
MX1 World Championship standings (after 10 of 15 rounds):
1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 434 points;
2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), 367;
3. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha), 331;
4. Steve Ramon (BEL, Suzuki), 315;
5. Maximilian Nagl (GER, KTM), 306;
6. Xavier Boog (FRA, Kawasaki), 276;
7. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Yamaha), 269;
8. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), 223;
9. Tanel Leok (EST, Honda), 219;
10. Davide Guarneri (ITA, Honda), 196;
11. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki) 161;
12. Gareth Swanepoel (RSA, Honda) 149;
13. Anthony Boissiere (FRA, TM) 145;
14. Josh Coppins (NZL, Aprilia) 140;
15. Rui Goncalves (POR, KTM) 124.
© Words and photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com