Mickael Pichon made a sweet return to World Championship motocross today by winning the Grand Prix of Wallonie at a showery and chilly Nismes circuit in southern Belgium.
In front of 21,000 spectators (total for the weekend) the former double 250cc World Champ and 2004 MX1 runner-up went 1-2 in the two 35 minute plus motos at the twelfth round of the 2005 FIM series to capture his second overall success of the season for the Martin Honda team.
CAS Honda representative Josh Coppins stood next to him on the podium and his spectacularly-earned runner-up spot meant another point deducted from the advantage currently held by standings leader Stefan Everts, who was third overall for L&M Yamaha.
The first moto saw Pichon pass hole shotter Brian Jorgensen on the third lap and then stretch away to a fairly straightforward victory.
Meanwhile, Coppins would carve past Jorgensen and privateer Pascal Leuret in a thrilling mini-battle before slowly chipping away at Pichon's lead, but he could never get close enough to challenge the Frenchman. Leuret went on complete another fantastic ride on a stock Honda to collect his second top three finish of the season.
Not having such a good start to the day was Everts, who had fallen early on and had to fight his way up from 26th to sixth, allowing Coppins to gain a further six points over the Belgian in the championship standings.
However, the start of race two would see Coppins and Leuret caught up in a turn two tangle that left them towards the back of the field, while Pichon was again up front – but this time under pressure from Everts.
But while Pichon and Everts headed the field, Coppins embarked on one of the most impressive rides of the season as he fought back from last position to eleventh by the end of the first lap and then proceeded to climb to third throughout the duration of the moto, constantly setting the fastest lap-time of the race.
Everts overtook Pichon with five laps to run before going on to claim his first moto win since England, and claw back most of the earlier points lost to Coppins, while the Frenchman soon fell into the clutches of the New Zealander, who had closed down a five-second gap to set-up a grandstand finish.