Monday, April 21, 2008

Philippaerts takes first podium in rain-hit Spanish MX-GP

David Philippaerts finished as runner-up and gained his first podium result with the YZ450FM, giving the Yamaha Monster Motocross Team their maiden silverware of the FIM 2008 World Championship, after just one moto in a torrid and swampy Grand Prix of Spain at a soaked Bellpuig.

Almost eleven hours of rain from the early hours of Sunday morning through to the close of the afternoon rendered the hillside circuit almost un-passable and the second MX1 moto was cancelled as the heaviest period of water lashed the sea of mud.

The track had already been cut after numerous MX2 machines could not make the three steep step-ups only 20 minutes prior but the majority of MX1-GP riders were concerned about the conditions and the second sprint was eventually annulled leaving the results from the first race to decide the overall result.

Josh Coppins was fourth through the slime and seat-high ruts in Moto1 and ensured that the team had their two riders within the top four in perhaps the hardest race conditions seen this century.
It was all a stark contrast to the blue skies and sunshine of Saturday that saw the track, hard, dusty and fast with the top nine qualifiers split by just two seconds. With the drastic change in weather came a different race approach as the slow speed and care used by the riders turned the race into an exercise of survival and in which the wild alterations in the lap-chart, as people slipped and crashed throughout the 15 laps, was confusing to follow. Lap-times almost doubled.

Philippaerts rode particularly well after becoming involved in a first corner crash with several others. The Italian soldiered on to move up the standings. He should have been joined in the top three by Coppins who was holding a steady second place behind leader and eventual winner Steve Ramon. The New Zealander however could not avoid two stationary riders on the step-ups and the needed time to remount and restart after his slip.
With one just moto completed in extraordinary circumstances the world championship standings show that Philippaerts lies third, 15 points from the lead while Coppins is fourth, just 8 behind his team-mate.

Round three will take place at Agueda in Portugal next week.