22 August 2007
Preview – Grand Prix of Great Britain.
The course on the infield section of the parkland circuit has been specially crafted, using some 50,000 tons of soil, to provide an fast, high leaping and exciting challenge for the elite riders - and the pressure is on now in the scramble for the title.
Josh Coppins had looked likely to walk to his first world crown, but a shoulder injury in the Czech Republic ruled him out of both the Belgian and Northern Ireland events - reducing his once mighty points lead to just 12 over Suzuki's Steve Ramon. Coppins will return to action for Yamaha this weekend, but his level of fitness remains unknown.
Ramon may be within striking distance of Coppins, but it is team-mate Kevin Strijbos who is on better form, winning last Sunday in Northern Ireland, while GPKR Kawasaki's Sebastien Pourcel has closed to within 33 points of Ramon, with fellow star rookie David Philippaerts just 11 points further back.
But another 'rookie' could play an even bigger part on Sunday with Antonio Cairoli, who clinched his second MX2 crown last weekend, making his MX1 debut at Donington Park. The Italian says he doesn't know what to expect, but aims to try and help factory team-mate Coppins if he can.
Also hoping to push the title contenders will be top British riders including Billy Mackenzie and James Noble, while in the MX2 category Tommy Searle is gunning for double top to secure the overall runner-up position at the expense of former champion Christophe Pourcel.
Pourcel will miss the remainder of the season after a nasty injury in Northern Ireland, where he remains in hospital after his warm-up fall.
The Frenchman broke the last bone in his spinal column but is said to be in good spirits, while doctors decide if he will require surgery before reconstruction.
"Of course it's painful and difficult for him to wait for hours but he is strong mentally," explained countryman Nicolas Aubin, one of several French riders to visit Pourcel before leaving Ireland. "He confirmed to us that he was afraid just after the crash as he didn't have any feeling in his legs for a few seconds; many nerves cross the sacral, and some have been affected by the crash. Christophe still has some tingling in his lower body, a result of the broken bone. Concerning his dislocated shoulder the news is better; even if the ligaments have been damaged from the crash."
Just five points separate Pourcel and Searle, making the KTM rider all but certain to seize the runner-up spot this weekend - and perhaps an emotional first overall victory, in front of his home fans.
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