FUNCHAL (PORTUGAL), 7 May 2008 – Following a week break from Grand Prix racing, the fourth round of the 2008 series will get underway this weekend at the beautiful circuit of Sevlievo, in Bulgaria. The first meeting of the month will see a completely different situation compared to the pre Agueda points standings.
David Philippaerts is now leading the MX1 class with Italian countryman Tony Cairoli back on top of the MX2 classifications courtesy of his Portuguese double victory. Though with 12 rounds to the end the Championship is still to be decided.
This weekend Sevlievo will also host the opening round of the FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship, marking the first edition of the series as the incredibly popular Women’s World Cup was upgraded to World Championship at the end of 2007. Kiwi Yamaha mounted Katherine Prumm enters Sevlievo as the defending Champion.
Ending a close second in Agueda, Yamaha Monster Motocross’ David Philippaerts won a personal challenge by moving up to the Championship lead for the first time in his career. The Italian is looking really comfortable on his new Yamaha ride, collecting podium results already at the second round in Bellpuig, Spain, after a troubled start in Valkenswaard, the Netherlands.
On the other hand Portuguese GP winner Sebastien Pourcel of GPKR had two difficult first rounds before coming back stronger in Agueda to take his first win of 2008. With his team mate Kevin Strijbos out until the British GP, Pourcel is now the best placed Kawasaki rider courtesy of his eighth place in the series.
Defending Champion Steve Ramon of Teka Suzuki WMX1 is sitting a close second from Philippaerts and enters Bulgaria with the goal of chipping away at the gap; after a last lap mistake in the final moto at Agueda, Ramon was snatched his third consecutive podium by Yamaha Monster Motocross’ Joshua Coppins, who ended an eventual third overall.
The latter won the 2007 Bulgarian round and is now a solid third in the Championship ahead of CAS Honda’s Billy Mackenzie; the factory Honda rider showed a good speed in Portugal but missed the consistency and crashed in both heats.
Early World Championship leader Ken de Dycker of Teka Suzuki WMX1 sits fifth in the points standings after he lost his leadership at the last Grand Prix, where he rode with a blister on his throttle hand.
Winning one heat at the 2007 Bulgarian GP, AXO KTM Silver Action’s Jonathan Barragan collected a second place on the podium. This year victory has yet to come for the Spaniard, who sits seventh in the Championship behind Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Max Nagl, but Bulgaria can be a turn in luck for the factory KTM rider.
Courtesy of his dream performance in Agueda with two heat wins, Yamaha Red Bull De Carli’s Antonio Cairoli moved up to the Championship lead. The Portuguese GP winner has finally collected his maiden win of 2008 and will be even more confident entering Sevlievo, where Cairoliwon his first Bulgarian GP last year with a Portugal like double heat win.
His closest rivals in the 2008 Championship Tyla Rattray and Tommy Searle, both of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, completed the Bulgarian rostrum last year, sitting second and third respectively.
This weekend Rattray will be on a mission to get the red plate back as the South African lead the Championship from his Valkenswaard’s victory until the last round. On the other hand Searle has not collected a win yet but he keeps going for it since his maiden success at his home in Donington Park last year.
The hard fought 2008 season has seen another GP winner other than Rattray and Cairoli, in the likes of Ricci Racing Yamaha’s Davide Guarneri. After his triumph in wet Spain, the Italian is currently fourth but he is ready to work his way up through his consistency.
Thoughuarneri has to face a strong opposition from the fifth and the sixth placed riders in the points standings. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Rui Goncalves is five points away while Molson Kawasaki’s Stephen Sword, who is the sole Kawasaki rider in the top ten, has a short six point gap. Other Ricci Racing Yamaha rider Nicolas Aubin is also close to joining the fight for the top four, as he sits seventh behind Sword. The Frenchman has just collected his best season’s finish with a fifth place overall in Portugal and will try to work his way through the standings this weekend.
Pascal Leuret, now a factory supported Suzuki rider in the Suzuki Swift Motocross Team, entered the top five of last year’s Bulgarian GP but will be out of this weekend’s event due to a shoulder injury. After the early performances of Beursfoon Suzuki’s Erik Eggens, now the best placed yellow rider is another Suzuki factory supported Frenchman, Xavier Boog of Suzuki Inotec, being eleventh in the standings.
GORNA ROSITZA AND SEVLIEVO
The Gorna Rositza race track was built in 1959 and reconstructed in 2000; it is a top motocross facility, being a reason of pride in Bulgaria, which won the 2006 and 2007 Best Organizer Awards at Monte Carlo’s FIM Off Road Awards. The course has the shape of an amphitheatre, offering a spectacular view to the spectators attending the Grand Prix in crowds. With a strong support from the political authorities, the Bulgarian Grand Prix is one of the most important worldwide events happening in the country. The hard pack ground of Sevlievo hosted a very dry race in 2007. Coppins and Cairoli survived the heat to win the MX1 and MX2 class respectively at the end of an eventful day, as everyone expected it to be a wet GP after the muddy 2007 edition. The weather forecast predicts a cloudy weekend hit by rain on Saturday.
The area of the Gorna Rositza track
This track is located only a few kilometers outside Sevlievo, with the town being situated in northern Bulgaria close to the geographical center of the country, 178 km from the country’s capital Sofia and 283 km away from sea resort Varna and the Black Sea. Sevlievo was funded at the end of the 10th century and has a history over ten centuries old, which is evident throughout the town in its buildings, churches and fortified walls. Nowadays the town has developed its industrial side and enjoys to be part of the European community as the whole country entered the EU on the 1st of January 2007.
THE EVENT’S SCHEDULE
Saturday May 10: Women’s World Championship Free Practice 1 at 9:00 am; MX2 Free Practice at 10:00 am; MX1 Free Practice 1 at 11:00 am; MX2 Pre-Qualifying Practice at 12:00 am; Women’s World Championship Free Practice 2 at 1:15 pm; MX1 Free Practice 2 at 2:00 pm; MX2 Qualifying Race 1 at 3:00 pm; MX2 Qualifying Race 2 at 3:45 pm; MX1 Time Practice at 4:30 pm; MX2 Last Chance Qualifying Practice at 5:15 pm; Women’s World Championship Time Practice at 6:00 pm (local time).
Sunday May 11: Women’s World Championship Warm-up at 9:00 am; MX2 Warm-up at 9:30 am; MX1 Warm-up at 10:00 am; Women’s World Championship Race 1 at 11:10 am; MX2 Grand Prix Race 1 at 12:10 am; MX1 Grand Prix Race 1 at 1:10 pm; Women’s World Championship Race 2 at 2:10 pm; MX2 Grand Prix Race 2 at 3:03 pm; MX1 Grand Prix Race 2 at 4:03 pm (local time).
Information, photos and results are online at http://www.motocrossMX1.com, the official website of the FIM Motocross World Championships.
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