15 April 2007
Coppins controls Bellpuig, excitement in MX2.
Josh Coppins extended his early MX1 world championship lead with perfect 1-1 finishes at an extremely rough and rutted Bellpuig circuit, venue for Sunday's Grand Prix of Spain.
With Saturday qualifying cancelled due to the weather, Kawasaki's Tanel Leok claimed pole during Sunday morning's timed 'warm-up' - but the Estonian was unable to convert his first gate pick into a strong start in either moto.
Instead, American Mike Brown led the early part of moto one before being passed by Coppins on lap four around the ever-drying track. While Brown plummeted backwards due to apparent arm pump, Suzuki team-mates Steve Ramon and Kevin Strijbos fought for second place, which eventually went to Strijbos. Ramon collected third, but was just 0.3secs ahead of local hero Jonathan Barragan at the flag. Another KTM rider, Max Nagl, completed the top five ahead of Brown's CAS Honda team-mate Ken De Dycker, who suffered a fall with five laps to go.
The second moto saw Coppins lead from start to finish, while fast-starting Kawasaki young guns Sebastien Pourcel and Billy Mackenzie began as best of the rest. Strijbos struggled with a poor start, but eventually fought his way up to third - behind Nagl - as the Kawasaki riders were pushed back to fourth (Pourcel) and fifth (Mackenzie). Barragan claimed sixth on his factory KTM.
"I'm really happy with the result today," smiled Coppins. "After Valkenswaard we worked on a whole bunch of little things and these have definitely helped. The Yamaha has been really awesome on the hard circuits so I came into this race with a lot of confidence and a good feeling. The weather made the track conditions difficult and one-lined and I knew it was important to get a good start. I need to stay focused and take this momentum through to Portugal next weekend."
Coppins now holds a 19 point lead over Strijbos, who also took second in the grand prix, with Nagl an excellent third overall for the independent KTM Sarholz Team.
In the MX2 class, GPKR's reigning champion Christophe Pourcel just edged out Yamaha De Carli's championship leader Antonio Cairoli in qualifying - and the pair proved just as evenly matched in the races.
Nicolas Aubin took the race one holeshot, but Pourcel seized the lead a few corners later and attempted to pull away, while Cairoli fought his way up the order. The Italian charged past Leuret, Aubin and Eggens then closed down Pourcel, eventually passing the Frenchman to lead with three laps to go. But Pourcel retaliated and costly mistakes by Cairoli kept the Kawasaki rider in front at the flag, with KTM's Tyla Rattray third.
The second and final race again saw Pourcel take an early lead whilst Cairoli was left buried in the pack - and again the former world champion was able to carve through the field, taking second place from Aubin on lap seven then reeling in Pourcel – whom he passed on the very last lap. This time Christophe couldn't regain the position and Cairoli crossed the line just a fraction ahead to claim both the moto and overall grand prix victory. Rattray was again third for third overall, ahead of young factory KTM team-mate Tommy Searle.
Cairoli is now 15 points clear of Rattray in the championship standings, with. Pourcel now up to third.
Round three of the 2007 MX1 and MX2 world championship will take place at Agueda, Portugal, next weekend.
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