On a blisteringly hot summers day in Spain two passionate sportsmen met to compare notes and have some fun. Two men consumed by the same desire for perfection in their chosen dangerous professions and the tools of their trade, two very different motorcycles.

The meeting between West Honda Pons MotoGP star Loris Capirossi and French Motocross and Extreme Sports perfectionist Manu Troux ended in a spectacular cross over that even had their respective battle weary technicians on their feet, cheering at its sheer audacity.

While Capirossi raced down the main straight at the Tarragona circuit, in Spain on the NSR Honda at over 200kmh, Manu soared over him like a giant bird of prey, controlling the flying Honda CR 250 with just one hand. For one brief second their shadows touched before both disappeared in a blur of speed, noise and dust. For that brief magic moment the two riders and their respective sporting disciplines joined in a mark of respect for the bravery and skill of each other.

All day in the searing heat the two riders and their respective teams had been building up to the moment their silhouettes joined as one. Amid the smoke and dust an earth digger and roller noisily busied themselves to prepare the ramp and landing area for the CR Honda. Troux and his team constantly paced both slopes measuring life saving distances to ensure safe landings and take-offs. To a man, who is more an acrobat on a motorcycle than a MotoCross rider, a single millimetre can mean the difference between life and death.

Troux is a legend in the crazy world of extreme sports. His trademark jump, 'No Foot Can-Can' has made him a favourite with his millions of fans worldwide. It's an unbelievable sight as the 28-year-old Frenchman performs a variation of the French showgirl dance routine, both feet off the pegs, legs switching sides of the machine mid-air, and that's not all. Also included in his considerable repertoire is the Superman seat grab and the heart attack.

He won the 2000 Big Air Competition in Las Vegas and is also a member of the exclusive 'Indian Air' Club, reserved for riders who perform the sport's renowned mid-air double-handed seat grab.

''I arrive in third gear at the bottom of the ramp and then push towards the top and into the air,'' explained Manu. ''My feet then go up behind me, I turn my head and then come down on the other side.''

Sounds easy but to Capirossi braking from 300kmh to overtake another rider at the height of a MotoGP battle seems a much easier proposition.

''Manu's freestyle jumping is very beautiful and what we are doing today is certainly very different to passing on a race track,'' revealed the Italian MotoGP star.'' He overtakes by jumping over me. It was strange to see him flying over me when I was travelling at around 200kmh. I think it would be too dangerous for me to try such a big jump although I would like to practice on a Motocross track.''

Capirossi pushed back the years by remembering the joys of Motocross. For ten years the Italian learnt his trade in the rough and tumble of the Motocross arena before switching to road racing when he was 14 years old. Like most MotoGP stars he still loves to ride MotoCross machines to keep both the body and brain fit and active.

''Riding Motocross is a fantastic feeling and I really enjoyed riding again today because I started when I was just four years old and rode for ten years before taking up road racing,'' recalled Capirossi. ''It's still important for the training because it really tests your fitness.''

The Motorcycles that are pushed to the limit by Capirossi and Troux as they search for perfection in their chosen professions are also very different beasts. The 300kmh NSR West Honda Pons 500cc machine looks positively sleek and silky against the rugged no nonsense lines of the Troux's Honda 250 CR that the Frenchman gets to fly like a bird.

''The important features of the MotoGP bike are the aerodynamics and the brakes,'' explained the Italian who has won both 125 and 250cc world titles. ''At speeds at over 300kmh those carbon fibre brakes are very important while on Manu's bike without a doubt with those jumps, it's the suspension and tyres that are vital.''

The motorcycles may be different but their two riders definitely share the same beliefs and passions as they push themselves, and their machinery, to the limit.



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