Grand Prix Of Japan - Dirt Rider Magazine

BREAK-AWAY FROM EUROPE THIS WEEKEND IN SUGOFUNCHAL, 21 May 2007- The Japanese track of Sugo is for sure one of the most fascinating venues in the FIM Motocross World Championship calendar, and everyone looks forward to it since the Japanese Grand Prix re-entered the calendar in 2005, after a ten year absence.The Sportsland ground waits for series leader Joshua Coppins and his many rivals in the MX1 Championship, who were joined by David Philippaerts since his maiden GP victory in the latest round. In the MX2 class Antonio "Tony" Cairoli wants Yamaha to be happy about his virtual sixth victory in a row on the factory's home soil, but defending Champion Christophe Pourcel knows he cannot wait longer to clinch his first victory of the season.MX1
It was a positive surprise to see KTM Red Bull's David Philippaerts win the German Grand Prix in Teutschenthal, because the Italian already showed his potential in the previous rounds.The series may have found a fresh Title contender, but there is still Yamaha Motocross' Josh Coppins on top of the points standings. The Kiwi even increased his lead in Germany, breaking a few points away from runner up Kevin Strijbos.Runner up also last year, the Suzuki factory rider is one of the three GP winners in this start to the season, and aims at being the first Japanese GP winner after countryman Everts, who won since the event came back into the calendar in 2005.His team mate Steve Ramon knows the Sportsland quite well, clinching second overall last year, and hopes to make it to his second consecutive podium.Ken De Dycker of CAS Honda completed last year's podium, which is something he missed in these first five rounds; in the Championship standings GPKR's Sebastien Pourcel is right behind Ken, and so far he is the best placed debutant.But another MX1 fresher can be a threat here in Japan, and it is double Japanese GP winner Billy Mackenziof Kawasaki Europe; Billy needs to make up ground in the points, and so does KTM Red Bull's Jonathan Barragan, who slipped further down after a great opening round in Valkenswaard.Two of the best Japanese Motocrossers, Yamaha's Akira Narita and HRC's Yoshitaka Atsuta - who were also part of the Japanese Motocross of Nations team last year- will be there for an interesting comparison with their colleagues from the World series.MX2
Antonio Cairoli and Yamaha De Carli have done a great job over the winter, and a five GP victory row is simply an amazing result for this beginning of the season.Cairoli lost the Title last year from a very motivated Christophe Pourcel, who tried to stop the Italian in the German round but had no success. He brought the bike home with the second place overall, but the GPKR's Frenchman aims higher.He will head to Sugo with victory intentions, exactly like KTM Red Bull's Tyla Rattray -winner here in 2005- who was snatched second in the Championship by Pourcel. Both contenders know that Cairoli is on a mission, but they have a mission too, which is avoiding a Cairoli escape by giving a constant chase for the remaining ten rounds.This is still a long way to the top of the season, and Martin Honda's Pascal Leuret is aware of that, as he hopes to break into the top three, in what seems to be his best World Championship season ever.Leuret was on the podium once so far, as KTM Red Bull's Tommy Searle made it twice, but he currently lies fifth in the Championship, six points behind the Frenchman. This will be a fight within the fight, where no mistakes are allowed; Ricci Racing's duo Nicolas Aubin and Kenneth Gundersen are ready to move past the rivals, especially the Norwegian, who clinched his first season top three moto finish in Germany.Also the third member of the Italian squad Davide Guarneri looked solid in Germany, finishing fifth in his comeback to the GP scene.Suzuki's Youhei Kojima will race the MX2 class, and will try to enter the top ten after he spent some time training in Europe this winter.SPORTSLAND AND SUGO
Sportsland Sugo was inaugurated in 1975 in Murata-machi, Shibata-gun, Miyagi Prefecture, and it is one of the largest motorsports facilities with an area of over 2 million square metres, hosting four specialized race courses - road racing, motocross, trial and go-kart.A lot of work was carried out on the Motocross facilities in 2005, when the World Championship came back, and since then Sugo has been one of the best organized events in the calendar; there are many lines on the wide but compact track, with a dirt that can be ridden almost anywhere.Sugo is in the North of Japan, actually 300 kilometres North of Tokyo, but just 30 kilometres far from the biggest city of the area: Sendai, which is the political and economic centre of Japan's Tohoku (North-East) Region. Being almost at the same latitude as Washington D.C., Sugo enjoys a very temperate climate all over the year, which perfectly combines with a breathtaking surrounding: the Ohu Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. The Sportsland is one of the biggest attraction in the area, but there is some room left for both high tech industry and agriculture, with the latter producing some of the best Japanese rice.THE EVENT'S SCHEDULE
Saturday's first MX2 practice will start at 10.00 am, some time ahead the Japan Ladies Free Practice, scheduled for 12.50 am.
On Sunday May 27, the Japan Ladies' race will begin at 10.10 am, almost one hour before the opening moto of the MX2, where the gate will drop at 12.08 am.