Cairoli takes first podium of the season

Race

MX2 World Champion Antonio Cairoli was third overall today at Agueda for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The De Carli Yamaha representative made the perfect start in the first moto and defended a slender margin ahead of Kawasaki’s Christophe Pourcel for the entire race distance. It was his second consecutive moto win after success in Spain last week, but, like the meeting at Bellpuig, the Italian was luckless in the other half of the Grand Prix and was the victim of a collision entering the first turn that caused him to crash and restart last. The world champion showed considerable skill on a layout that was difficult to pass on, rising to 10th - good enough to take his first top three result of the year.

The track was very rough and dry after sunny spells on Saturday and clear blue skies throughout race day. The Grand Prix had begun under a dark cloud – literally - as heavy rain battered the circuit through Friday night and forced the MX2 qualification heats to be scrapped in favour of a 30 minute timed practice period. Thankfully the weather did not play further havoc and 15,500 spectators attended encouraged by a decent forecast.

Kenneth Gunderson had taken his first podium since 2002 at Zolder and proceeded to notch a moto victory at Bellpuig last week for the first time in three years. The Norwegian was in no condition to play the role of protagonist on this occasion however after feeling sick all weekend. He started well in moto1 and was briefly as high as third but faded back to 12th and had to be assisted into the medical centre for a saline drip. In moto two he tried to gather some points but had to pull out after eight laps.

Bike it Dixon Yamaha’s Billy Mackenzie was sixth overall. The 22-year-old Scot had marked his first career Grand Prix podium at the same venue for the 2005 Grand Prix of Portugal and was the second Yamaha home in moto one after just being beaten to a possible fifth position by the KTMs of Carl Nunn and David Philippaerts; the trio crossed the line only three seconds apart. In the second moto he was slightly off the pace and had to fend off British championship rival Tommy Searle for sixth.

Former three times world champion Alessio Chiodi was the second best Yamaha rider with fifth overall. The veteran was pass the chequered flag in eighth after finally managing to get the better of Rui Goncalves and Searle. The Italian was not assisted by a poor jump from the gate that placed him mid-pack on the opening lap. Later in the day he made a better launch from the line and rode safely to third.

Davide Guarneri was again unfortunate after a crash caused him to retire in moto one. He was 15th in moto two.

Cairoli is now fourth in the series standings and 39 points behind Tyla Rattray who won for the third consecutive GP. Chiodi is fifth and Mackenzie is tied in seventh.

The world championship will reconvene after a one week break at Teutschenthal for the Karcher Grand Prix of Germany on May 7th.

Antonio Cairoli, De Carli Yamaha:
“The first race was good for me but I am not happy about the second because of the crash at the start. I pushed so hard to close the gap to the other riders and take positions but this track was not an easy one for overtaking. I finished tenth which was OK but it was not a good day for me. Race after race we are getting better and faster. I want to fight with Tyla and he is a very fast rider. We need to be stronger at the start because I showed that I have the speed.”

Kenneth Gunderson, Ricci Racing:
“I don’t know what the problem is now but I know I am sick. I need to see a doctor on Tuesday and find out what’s wrong. I think it must be a virus or something because I could push for two laps and then after that I was completely finished. I tried in the first moto to get some points but in the second it was impossible.”

Alessio Chiodi, Ricci Racing:
“The first moto was all about a bad start and the track made it difficult to pass. The other riders were fast and it was difficult to catch them. Finishing 8th was not so good and I understood where I needed to improve. In the second moto I was riding with more confidence. My rhythm was fast and I could take third. The track was difficult because in some places you had grip and in others not and it was very rough. I am about 80 per cent satisfied with the result today.”