Everts third in season opener

Race

The eagerly awaited new Motocross GP class finally got underway at Bellpuig in northern Spain today, with Yamaha once again at the forefront of the action.

There was plenty of interest in the new class. Not only would it pit 250cc two-stroke machines against 450cc four-strokes, but also 250cc world champion Mickael Pichon on his two-stroke Suzuki against Yamaha L&M Motocross Team’s Stefan Everts – 500cc world champion for the past two seasons – on the new YZ450FM.

Everts and team-mate Marnicq Bervoets both ran in the top four in the early stages, along with Team Yamaha De Carli rider Claudio Federici, who led for the opening laps on his production YZ450F.

By lap five Pichon had moved into a lead he was not to lose, but behind him the battle raged between Everts and fellow Belgian Joel Smets. In the end second place went to Smets, while Everts showed his determination to add a Motocross GP title to his 125, 250 and 500 crowns. The Yamaha rider suffered from arm-pump but still managed to defend his podium finish from the hard-charging Irish rider Gordon Crockard.

But fortune was not on the side of Bervoets and Federici, who both crashed out in separate incidents. Federici was the first to go, crashing out of sixth place on lap 12. Two laps later Bervoets suffered a spectacular tumble that left his machine too badly damaged to continue.

Stefan Everts (Yamaha L&M Motocross Team) – 3rd 

”I am both happy and disappointed with my performance today. I had such a good run-in to this race that I felt a good result was possible here, and after I had ridden so relaxed throughout practice I felt even more confident. The first laps of the race also went well, but when I saw Pichon start to make his move I was starting to struggle with my arms. That's nothing new - I have had the same problem at the first GP for three years now. I was prepared to drop back to third place because there is a long season ahead. The problem stayed right to the end, but I was determined not to lose my podium finish. Those last few laps were quite stressful.”

Marnicq Bervoets (Yamaha L&M Motocross Team) - DNF

“In the warm-up races I proved to myself that I have the same speed as Stefan and once I realised that the thumb I injured in a training crash last week was not going to cause me any problems I felt quite confident of finishing on the podium. But it was not to be. I clipped a hay bale just before a big jump. The bike flew out of my hands and jumped the fence, while I was left stranded on the jump. My thoughts immediately went back to 1996 when I was disqualified for rejoining the race after I needed help to get back onto the track and eventually lost the title because of it, but when I got to my bike I discovered that I could not continue anyway - the impact had been so great that the handlebars were broken."

Claudio Federici (Team Yamaha De Carli) - DNF

The crash on the whoops was so painful that I just had to quit. I hurt my knee and I just wanted the doctor to check me over, because I know from experience that you can never be too careful. But the YZ450F is so good and after a strong showing in qualifying and the race I am sure I have made the right decision to race one this year."