FUNCHAL, 18 April 2007- This is a busy part of the season, with two Motocross Grand Prix’s in a row, and it will be a good test for the racers of the FIM Motocross World Championship.
Last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix was a tough round, but racing was great, thanks to two extremely battled motos in the MX2 class, and a fantastic Josh Coppins owning both chequered flags of the MX1.
Portugal will play host to the third round of the series this weekend, on the Crossódromo Internacional do Casarão in Agueda.
Both series leader are Yamaha riders; Josh Coppins is definitely one of the favourites for the MX1 Title, but there are many rivals out there, such as Kevin Strijbos, who aims at his first victory of the season. In the MX2 class Antonio Cairoli was impressive in both the first and the second round of the series, but Christophe Pourcel is coming up, and can leave his mark on this Portuguese meeting.
Only Yamaha Motocross’ Josh Coppins and KTM Red Bull Jonathan Barragan have clinched a moto victory, but things can change in Portugal. Suzuki factory rider Kevin Strijbos was back from a knee injury in Valkenswaard, but now he is getting stronger and stronger, and Agueda can turn into the second victory of his career.
Barragan, who rode with a badly bruised shoulder in Spain, took some rest after his home event, to come back fit this weekend; the hard working Spaniard can win his maiden Grand Prix in Portugal, where he clinched the only podium of his 2006 season.
Maximilian Nagl of the KTM Sarholz team was very surprised with his podium last weekend, as this winter he set his sights on the top ten. In Agueda we will see if he has changed his plans.
Steve Ramon dropped down to fifth in the points standings after an unfortunate Spanish round, but the Belgian races for the Title, and looks forward to re-entering the top three.
Green riders Tanel Leok and Billy Mackenzie showed signs of improvement in Spain, with Leok clocking the pole position and Mac following leader Coppins for 14 laps in moto two; this weekend they have to keep up the good work.
Can debutant Mackenzie clinch his maiden MX1 moto victory in Portugal? In Bellpuig he looked fit enough to make it.
By racing a wonderful Spanish Grand Prix, Antonio Cairoli demonstrated he is really focused on this year’s title; the Yamaha De Carli’s top rider was wise and gutsy at the same time, but the season is long, as GPKR’s Christophe Pourcel knows.
The Frenchman was not completely satisfied with the second place, and wants to beat rival Cairoli this Sunday.
Pourcel is third in the standings, because super consistent Tyla Rattray of the KTM Red Bull team currently holds the runner up spot. The South African has just one point more than the defending Champion, but wants to open up a gap by winning his first Grand Prix of the season in Portugal.
Beuersfoon Suzuki’s Erik Eggens is fourth, but he is 27 points away from the wrestle for the top three. The Dutchman did not expect this result, but he has to fight his hardest if he wants to keep this top five spot. Frenchman Pascal Leuret is right behind him, and is all set on closing the one point gap from Eggens.
Portuguese Rui Goncalves begun his season last weekend in Spain; the AXO KTM Silver Action youngster will need some more Grand Prix’s before getting back to a good pace, but his home Grand Prix can help his recovery.
The Portuguese crowd waits for 21 year old Rui Goncalves
Crossódromo Internacional do Casarão AND AGUEDA
The Portuguese circuit is very well known for its fine red ground, which is one of the most fascinating sceneries in the FIM Motocross World Championship calendar. The circuit has a lot of character, and is managed by the Ginasio Clube de Agueda, one of the most important sports event organizers of the area.
Will Agueda be painted in Yamaha blue again?
Agueda is a fascinating Portuguese town, on the the Western edge of the European continent. Its location in between the sea and the mountain makes it a popular attraction for tourists; the town has about 15.000 inhabitants, and the closest airport is only 70 km away, in Porto.
The host of this third Grand Prix of the season is very well known for the bicycle production, but has also a strong industry.
Part of the fascination of the city is the junction between the rural and the urban culture; Agueda is actually surrounded by rural areas, that are connected with the more industrialized areas.
One of the main attractions in town is the Igreja de Trofa (Church of Trofa), which is a Renaissance church from the 16th century, with baroque decoration from the 18th century. But right outside Agueda -45 km South- there is the city of Coimbra, with one of the oldest European Universities, that was founded in 1290.
THE EVENT’S SCHEDULE
On Saturday, April 21, the free practices will start at 10.00 am. On Sunday the first moto of the MX2 class will start at 12.08 am.