2007 may be less than a month old, but preparations are already underway for the annual Hawkstone International - the now traditional preview to the grand prix season.

Belgian multi world champions Joel Smets and Stefan Everts have dominated the Sandy pre-season event in recent years, but both are now retired from top flight racing - offering the chance of a new superstar to emerge on March 4.

However it will be Everts' long time rival, and replacement at Rinaldi Yamaha, Josh Coppins (top picture) who will be the pre-event favourite and the Kiwi will be looking to get an early psychological edge over his MX1 world championship rivals with victory at Hawkstone.

However, British hero Billy Mackenzie (middle picture) could upset that plan, with reports of the MX2 GP winner looking very at home on his new MX1 factory Motorex Kawasaki during pre-season testing. 'Billy Mac' faces a double challenge in 2007, having swapped both bikes and class, but the confident young Scot will know exactly what he has to do to stamp his authority in the MX1 category, and the Shropshire sand could just be the stage for him to cause a stir.

Meanwhile, established Geboers Suzuki runner and 2006 title runner-up Kevin Strijbos (lower picture) will be looking to grab the chance to finally emerge from Everts' shadow at the first available opportunity.

The MX2 class will be equally as unpredictable with reigning British champion Carl Nunn moving to Bike-It Yamaha and due to make his first return to Hawkstone Park since clinching his domestic title there, back in September of last year.

On that occasion Nunn saw off the strong challenge of emerging star Tommy Searle, but the taste of revenge could be sweet for Searle as he looks to give his factory Red Bull KTM a victorious debut.


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