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Grand Prix of Portugal - Preview
7 May 2009
The 2009 MX1 and MX2 Motocross World Championships head for the hard-packed terrain of Agueda in Portugal this weekend.
The four opening rounds have seen four different winners in both the 250 and 450cc class, but Antonio Cairoli has been leading the MX1 series since Turkey while a strong Gautier Paulin has topped the MX2 standings since a muddy opening round in Faenza.
Cairoli, participating in his first full MX1 season, has good memories of Agueda after taking his first win of 2008 at the circuit, but is under pressure from KTM's Valkenswaard winner Jonathan Barragan, who is now 15 points from the Yamaha rider.
The Spaniard will be looking to exploit home support during the two 'Latin' rounds, with Bellpuig in Spain just one week after nearby Agueda.
Four points behind Barragan, Ken de Dycker will be the sole Teka Suzuki rider for the foreseeable future after a neck injury for 2007 MX1 world champion Steve Ramon at Valkenswaard. de Dycker, who was leading the series after Bulgaria, is still seeking his first win of the season.
Defending champion David Philippaerts of Yamaha Monster Energy took his first ever MX1 red plate courtesy of a second place finish in Agueda last year. The Italian is currently fourth in the MX1 standings just ahead of team-mate Josh Coppins who rounded off last year's podium behind Philippaerts and overall winner Sebastien Pourcel.
The latter started off 2009 with a left shoulder injury and the Kawasaki Racing Team rider dislocated his right shoulder in free practice at Valkenswaard, which means he is unlikely to be present this weekend.
Cairoli's Yamaha Red Bull De Carli team-mate Tanel Leok completes a top six covered by 32 points.
Due to a broken right wrist and scaphoid Kevin Strijbos will not be on the Portuguese gate - and the Martin Honda team then suffered a further heavy blow with the news that team-mate Marc de Reuver dislocated his hip during a training accident.
In the MX2 class Paulin of Kawasaki Bud Racing PSM is looking ever more like a title contender, despite finishing off the podium for the first time this year at Valkenswaard.
Marvin Musquin, riding for team NGS, still sits in second place but saw the gap to Paulin increase to 15 points after Valkenswaard.
Yamaha Monster Energy Ricci Motocross' Davide Guarneri completes the top three in the Championship, 14 points behind Musquin.
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