News Report 20 July 2008
South Africa

2008 GP of South Africa, Nelspruit

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att 20
07 / 20 / 2008
Time to be confirmed

Philippaerts fourth at sun-struck South Africa


Low winter sunshine bathed 20,000 spectators at the scenic Nelspruit circuit for the Grand Prix of South Africa and Yamaha Monster Motocross Team’s David Philippaerts finished 4th overall and saw just one point chipped away from his lead at the top of the series; the gap now at eleven. Josh Coppins was 6th on the YZ450FM and remains third in the standings.

The tenth round of fifteen in the 2008 FIM MX1-GP World Championship visited the southern hemisphere for the first time since 2006 (after three consecutive events were held at the Sun City resort) and represented the sole non-European outing of this year’s calendar.
The Nelspruit circuit was immaculately prepared for its inauguration as a world championship venue. The narrow and twisty layout involved many sharp turns and technical additions (such as dividers and plenty of jumps) while the dark red dirt varied between soft and rough to hard and slippery. The biggest obstacle for the riders to face was the sunshine with the light dipping low in the afternoon, throwing many shadows on the track and hiding the ruts and jump take-offs. The glare was also problematic over the jumps.

Philippaerts, now more or less recovered from his rib injury, benefitted from two decent starts around the top five. In the first moto he rode well to push through from fourth to close on leader Steve Ramon in the final laps, finally sealing 2nd spot. For Moto2 he was circulating in the top six and for some time alongside his team-mate. With the sunshine and the many backmarkers adding an element of danger to the race, the 24 year old overtook a struggling Ramon (who would drop to 8th) and make sure of 6th; missing out on his seventh trophy of the year by just one point.
Coppins, who recently extended his association with Yamaha and will enter a third season in 2009, was again a victim of misfortune on the first corner (after two problematic races last time out in Sweden). A tangle with Sebastien Pourcel left the Kiwi almost last and he had to pick his lines carefully to recover to 9th. A more cautious and improved launch in Moto1 saw the 31 year old blast from the lower depths of the top ten to charge Pourcel all the way to the flag for 3rd place, finally taking 4th. It was an excellent performance in which he was one of the few proactive riders making positions in difficult conditions; the fastest lap testimony to his speed.

Nelspruit represented only the second time this season that the Yamaha Monster Motocross Team has not scaled the rostrum.
Philippaerts holds an advantage of 11 points over Ramon and 23 over Coppins. Ken De Dycker is 43 further back in fourth. After ten events Yamaha still control the manufacturer’s ranking by 16 points. The final third of the series will begin in two weeks time with the first of back-to-back races. Round eleven takes place at the sandy Lommel circuit for the Grand Prix of Belgium before the trip to Loket in the Czech Republic.

David Philippaerts, Yamaha Monster Motocross Team, 4th:

“I missed the podium by one point but the positives from this weekend were the good race in the first moto and that my physical condition is getting better after a few small injuries. I was a bit tired early in the second moto and with the sun going down it was hard to find the lines. After about twenty minutes I felt a bit better and pushed to pass Mackenzie but there were so many lapped riders that it was very difficult. I did not want to crash and I had already passed Ramon. I think I will be strong for Lommel. All the GPs will be important for the championship now and I will be looking for good positions and to finish ahead of Ramon as much as possible.”
Josh Coppins, Yamaha Monster Motocross Team, 6th:

“For three motos in a row I have had to start from pretty much last. I knew I had the speed but I lost so many points just from incidents in those three heats. In that second moto today I decided to start a little more cautious, take my turn and then ride my own race. I came out in the top ten but then could start the hunt and move forward; this is not really the way I want to go racing, holeshots would be preferable! It was a tough track but the same for everyone. There were parts that I liked and others that I didn’t. I am pleased with that second moto though; if I can improve my starts then I feel that I can push my way back in there for the title.”

Mino Raspanti, Racing Manager:

“It was not an easy Grand Prix by any means but we are happy that David had better starts and was inside the top six in each moto. He took too long to pass Mackenzie in the first race and had to use a lot of energy to overtake. His speed was good and if he could have moved forward quicker then he might have been able to win as he was very close to Ramon. He rode well in the second moto also but was a bit more tired. The result was good for the championship though because he did not make a mistake. Josh had a crash right at the start again and had to come through so it was difficult for him. The second moto was better and although he did not want to take any risks at the start he soon found his speed and actually made the fastest lap of the race. He was physically strong and this showed. We were working out of the crates this weekend but we were well organised and prepared, and overall we can feel content with how things have gone.”