Preview – Grand Prix of Italy.

This Sunday will see the World Motocross Championship move to Italy, for what will be the third consecutive weekend of grand prix action.

Home of eight Italian GPs between 1962 and 1992, the Gallarate track has been totally re-designed and will offer the 'tifosi' a perfect view of the action and - even if they have no home riders in title contention - the Italian fans can count on several top teams to support.

The most famous is without any doubt the Rinaldi Yamaha team, who have taken no less than four of the last 500cc titles, courtesy of with Andrea Bartolini and Stefan Everts, with the Belgian also currently heading the 2004 MX1 championship standings.

Teams De Carli, Errezeta, Martin Honda, SRS Honda, JK Racing, Yamaha Evolution, RSC Italia, KTM Silver Action, Medei Suzuki and Maddii Racing are some of the other regular GP contenders, while two Italian factories are also directly involved: TM (with Enrico Oddenino) and Aprilia (with Javier Garcia Vico and Thomas Traversini).

Aprilia, who took part in the 125cc class with Corrado Maddii and Michele Fanton in the 1980s - will officially introduce their new 450 SXV (lower pic) during a Press Conference on Saturday afternoon, where they will present both Motocross and SuperMoto teams.

Few can predict the impact the high tech v-twin machine will have but, after weeks of testing and intensive development, many feel it will perform admirably against established manufacturers Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha and KTM.

Meanwhile, increasing his MX1 lead with a fourth GP win last week at St Jean d'Angely, Everts also has some good memories of Italian events, with his decision one year ago to race two classes in Montevarchi marking a turning point in the old MXGP Championship.

But this time it is his rivals who need to cause some disruption, with Cédric Melotte, Joshua Coppins and Mickael Pichon all having taken a GP win so far, and so the Belgian's most likely contenders main contenders, but Steve Ramon, Brian Jorgensen (winner in Germany) and Kevin Strijbos could also play a major role.

Joel Smets (who is recovering from a serious blood infection) and Kenneth Gundersen (also suffering from his knee after his crash in Germany) will not enter the event.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Left to right: Jorgensen (#8), Pichon (#2) and Ramon (#11) go bar-to-bar (Pic: Honda).
Aprilia`s new SXV 4.5 twin-cylinder (pictured in SuperMoto spec), with which the Noale based company will enter the 2004 FIM Motocross and SuperMoto World Championships.

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