28 May 2004
Preview – Grand Prix of Great Britain.
When the FIM created the 500 Motocross world championship in 1957, England was arguable the sport's world leader with top riders – such as Leslie Archer, John Draper and Jeff Smith – plus national brands including BSA, CCM, Norton and Matchless.
Now, four years after the last British GP (held at Foxhill), Great Britain is back on the world championship calendar with the seventh round of the 2004 series, at the all new Isle of Wight circuit.
Winner of three rounds since the opening event at Zolder, Stefan Everts has a strong lead (38 points ahead of Melotte) going into the event and is looking to consolidate his position early… especially after a chat with his team-mate.
“I got some good advice from my team-mate Cedric Melotte: Cedric is a new dad, and he explained to me that it's sometimes difficult to sleep at home with his young son; Kelly is expecting our baby in august, and maybe I'll have also some sleeping troubles so I have to push now!” said the factory Yamaha rider.
With no previous GPs held at the Isle of Wight circuit (a British championship round was organized there last year, but the track had been re-designed) selecting those that will challenge Everts this weekend is a difficult job:
Mickael Pichon has fully recovered from his German GP injury and will be eager to test his pace ahead of his home race - next weekend's French GP; Steve Ramon is defending his third position in the series, Kenneth Gundersen is back after his knee operation, Josh Coppins is a regular UK rider and keen to offer to his British based team another podium; factory Suzuki stars Joel Smets and Kevin Strijbos both have one podium to their name so far this year, but are eager for much more, while the return to hard soil will probably give new motivation to many other riders….
Revelation of the season in the MX2 class, Brit Stephen Sword was dreaming of heading to his home GP leading the world series, but two weeks ago the Kawasaki star suffered his worst result of the season and lost the red plate to Ben Townley.
Winner in Benelux, Townley now has four GP wins to his name this season, but missed two races and will be looking to iron out that inconsistency to reach his title goal.
The best two-stroke rider, Champ KTM's Tyla Rattray is holding a worldwide four-stroke assault with Australian McFarlane (on a British based Yamaha), Italian Cairoli, French Maschio and Brit's Dobb and Nunn pushing behind him.
Both Jamie Dobb and Carl Nunn will be desperate for a podium in front of their always excited home fans, but it could be a tough job as the best Honda MX2 result so far has been a fourth for Dobb in Zolder. Joining the CRF riders will be AMA regular Akira Narita.
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