19 May 2006
Preview - Grand Prix of Japan.
For the second year in succession, the FIM MX1 and MX2 Motocross World Championships return to Sugo for this weekend's Grand Prix of Japan, round five of the 2006 campaign.
Japan has long dominated the motorcycle world and the 2005 Motocross world champion comeback, ten years after the last Japanese GP at Suzuki, was a clear step forward in the development of the series.
"It's a major event for us," said Wolfgang Srb, president of the FIM Motocross commission. "Sugo has some of the best organisers in the world, they take it extremely seriously and want to do the best GP every year and I think that the riders will be very happy with the circuit.
"It's always easier coming back for a second time, as you've built up relationships. It was already really good last year, but it's even better now. This GP is important for our sport, and even if we talk regularly with the Japanese it's important to come here.
"We would like to see the Japanese manufacturers giving more support to the World Championship," he revealed. "We know that Supercross is a big issue for them, but we believe that our world championship is the best and biggest series and we hope that in the near future we, I mean riders and teams, will get more support from the manufacturers."
Compared to last year the promoter has improved the facilities, including new components in the soil. Some of the riders examined the new lay-out on Friday, but others remained in their hotel to recover from the long trip.
For reigning nine-times world champion Stefan Everts, who will retire at the end of this season, Sunday will mark another emotional grand prix.
"For sure my best memory in Japan is 1991 when I won my first title in Suzuka, that's something always really special for me," said the Belgian legend, whose leading rivals have already been sidelined by injury or illness. "Last year was a great GP here in Sugo; I remember the great battle in the second race, maybe the best heat of the season!
"I've always enjoyed coming to Japan, I think it's my 18th trip here: I've been racing Tokyo and Osaka Supercross, GPs in Suzuka and Sugo and several Japan Championships. The trip was at the beginning hard, but you get used to it and I don't mind anymore about travelling. I hope to have a nice ending here, as it's not sure yet if I will come for the Japan Championship in October.
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