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Preview - Grand Prix of Bulgaria
8 May 2008
The first meeting of May will begin with a radically different situation in the points standings, compared to the pre- Portugal listings: David Philippaerts is now leading the MX1 class with Italian countryman Toni Cairoli back on top of the MX2 classifications courtesy of his Portuguese double.
A close second overall at Agueda, Yamaha Monster Motocross rider Philippaerts has taken the championship lead for the first time in his career. The Italian is looking really comfortable on his new ride, collecting podium results at the second round in Bellpuig, Spain, after a troubled start in Valkenswaard.
On the other hand Portuguese GP winner Sebastien Pourcel of GPKR had two difficult first rounds before coming back stronger in Agueda to take his first win of 2008. With his team-mate Kevin Strijbos out until the British GP, Pourcel is now the best placed Kawasaki rider courtesy of his eighth place in the series.
Defending world champion Steve Ramon of Teka Suzuki WMX1 is sitting a close second to Philippaerts and enters Bulgaria with the goal of chipping away at the gap; after a last lap mistake in the final moto at Agueda, Ramon saw his third consecutive podium snatched from him by 2007 rival Josh Coppins.
The latter won last season's Bulgarian round and is now a solid third in the championship ahead of CAS Honda's Billy Mackenzie; the factory Honda rider showing good speed in Portugal but crashed in both heats.
Early world championship leader Ken de Dycker of Teka Suzuki WMX1 sits fifth in the points standings, having lost his leadership at the last grand prix, where he rode with a blister on his throttle hand.
Heat winner at the 2007 Bulgarian GP, AXO KTM Silver Action's Jonathan Barragan collected a second place overall on the podium. This year the Spaniard sits seventh in the Championship, behind Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Max Nagl.
Yamaha Red Bull De Carli star Cairoli finally collected his maiden win of 2008 with his dream Agueda double and will be full of confidence heading to Bulgaria, where he dominated one year ago.
The Italian's closest rivals in the 2008 championship, Tyla Rattray and Tommy Searle, both of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, completed the Bulgarian rostrum last year, sitting second and third respectively.
This weekend Rattray will be on a mission to get the red plate back as the South African lead the Championship from his Valkenswaard's victory until the last round. On the other hand Searle has not collected a win yet but he keeps going for it since his maiden success at his home in Donington Park last year.
The hard fought 2008 season has seen a third GP winner - alongside Rattray and Cairoli - in the form of Ricci Racing Yamaha's Davide Guarneri. After his triumph in wet Spain, the Italian is currently fourth but he is ready to work his way up through his consistency.
This weekend will also see the opening round of the FIM Women's Motocross World Championship, marking the first edition of the series as the incredibly popular Women's World Cup was upgraded to world championship status at the end of 2007. Kiwi Yamaha mounted Katherine Prumm enters Sevlievo as the defending champion.
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