News Report 15 June 2008

2008 GP of France, Saint Jean d'Angely

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Saint Jean d'Angely
1750 m
att 30
06 / 15 / 2008
Time to be confirmed

Coppins secures second podium of the season


Yamaha Monster Motocross Team’s Josh Coppins returned to the podium with second position overall at an overcast St Jean d’Angely for the Grand Prix of France and the seventh event of fifteen in the 2008 FIM MX1-GP World Championship. Team-mate and series leader on the works YZ450FM, David Philippaerts, had a tough and unlucky day in front of 30,000 spectators and did not finish the second race to place 18th overall.
The established and impressive circuit, located near La Rochelle on the west coast, offered its usual degree of difficulty thanks to the tough bumps of the hard-pack soil. The stony dirt also made the course slippery and many riders were trying different suspension and tyre combinations during practice on Saturday to find the best traction. Despite the presence of a special sandy-section to add an extra technical edge, the lap-times were all extremely close with Coppins taking 6th position in the gate and Philippaerts 10th but the top ten riders in Timed Practice were separated by just over a second.

The team completed suspension and engine tests last week in Italy and the new settings were used by Coppins while Philippaerts made some further alterations to smoothen the power delivery of the YZ450FM during a sunny Saturday schedule.

Both riders started excellently in the first race and circulated second and third behind leader Ramon. Philippaerts then suffered an unexpected and heavy crash on the landing of a jump and hurt his left hand and knocked his head. The Italian was able to continue, in some pain, to 13th place by the chequered flag. Coppins was flying behind Ramon and when the world champion made a mistake and crashed into the fence on one of the steep downhill sections, the New Zealander grabbed the lead for the first time this season. More drama was to continue for the team however as the 31 year old ran slightly wide in a turn shortly afterwards and caught a stretch of green plastic fencing in his rear wheel. He then had to ignore the close attentions of eventual Grand Prix winner Sebastien Pourcel for most of the race without a rear brake. Pourcel eventually found a way past with just three laps remaining. Second place still represented the highest finish yet for Coppins in 2008.

The second moto saw the Kiwi again slot into a top three position on the second lap and from there he used 17 of the 21 circulations to close to the rear wheel of Ramon and push past his rival for another runner-up classification; guaranteeing his silverware and best result of the season (after taking third in Portugal).
Philippaerts took a painkiller for his hand and attempted Moto2, slightly encouraged by the crashes suffered by Ramon (who finished only two places ahead in 11th) and also other title rival Ken de Dycker (who would be a reduced force in race two). The 24 year old was not in the top half of the pack around the first turn and needed several laps to get feeling and rhythm. He then again demonstrated his fine ability to cut through the pack to rise from 14th to 7th until he was inexplicably hit by Clement Desalle in the process of relegating the Belgian and moving up to 6th. The impact ripped the right footpeg off the bike and although he bravely tried to continue he was forced to retire with three laps remaining. It was the first time Philippaerts had missed the rostrum since the first round in April.

As a consequence of the events at St Jean, the championship standings have become closer. Philippaerts’ lead has shrunk to 6 points from Ramon, with Coppins now just 19 behind.

The team will now travel back to the workshop in Italy and soon start preparations for round eight and the Grand Prix of Germany at the Teutschenthal circuit near the city of Halle. Coppins has plans to contest the Belgian championship at Kester next weekend. Philippaerts will have a scan tomorrow (Monday) to learn the extent of the damage to his hand.
Josh Coppins, Yamaha Monster Motocross Team, 2nd:

“I went to Italy to make some tests and training this week and it definitely helped me this weekend. I like to work closely with my mechanic and the team so I will be heading back there in the next few days. I think I can take quite a lot from this result. I should have won the first moto if it wasn’t for the problem with the fencing and in the second Sebastien was a little bit faster. To come from a 'low' like Mallory Park to be right at the front and on the podium was the response that I wanted. I can take a lot of motivation from the fact that I am back in the title chase.”

David Philippaerts, Yamaha Monster Motocross Team, 18th:

“From fifteen races it is impossible to have a good result or good luck in all of them. I am disappointed but I also have to be realistic. In the first moto I don’t know what happened. I did exactly the same line and approach as always but the bike slipped away. I think we made a mistake and picked a tyre that was too soft. I really banged my hand and had a lot of pain. For the first ten minutes after that I was seeing spots because I had also hit my head. Thirteenth was not ideal but I did not feel fit and I was determined to finish. I was fortunate that both Ramon and De Dycker also crashed. I wanted to see what points I could get in the second moto and took a painkiller. I did not have the best start but then I started to ride very well, very smooth and with good lines. Anyway I reached sixth and then passed Desalle on the inside of one corner but he did something crazy because I was ahead and he just rammed into the back of me. It was a big collision. The right footrest had gone so I tried to keep riding but once or twice I touched the ground with my foot and it was getting risky. My goal is still to look ahead and keep working each race. I am happy that the bike is really good and now I need to check I can have the best physical condition possible for Germany. I like Teutschental and I think it is possible that I can be very fast there.”

Massimo Raspanti, Racing Manager, Yamaha Monster Motocross Team:

“Another strange GP for us but I am really happy for Josh. I could see from his work and riding last week in Italy than he was back on the pace and we hoped he would be back on the podium today. For sure if he had not picked up the green fencing then he should have won that first moto. It was a bad day for David. The first moto crash was unfortunate and he had a lot of pain in his hand but we were lucky that Ramon also went down. Due to the pain he was a bit slow at the start of the second moto but when he started riding really well it was good to watch until the collision with Desalle. The footpeg was completely gone so it was not safe or really possible for him to continue. The YZ450FMs worked well this weekend, so now we look ahead to Germany.”