McFarlane still searching for that elusive victory Round four of the revamped 2004 Motocross World Championship will be held at the popular Valkenswaard circuit in Holland on April 24-25 - yet another chance for Australian hotshot Andrew...
McFarlane still searching for that elusive victory
Round four of the revamped 2004 Motocross World Championship will be held at the popular Valkenswaard circuit in Holland on April 24-25 - yet another chance for Australian hotshot Andrew McFarlane (Dixon Yamaha YZ250F) to stand atop an international podium for the first time.
The 26-year-old Queenslander, who has been Australia's sole world championship campaigner since countryman Chad Reed switched his allegiances to America at the start of 2002, is currently fourth in the MX2 (125cc two-stroke versus 250cc four-stroke) standings after three of 16 rounds, with a best result of second in race two at Spain on March 28.
McFarlane is on 98pts, 21 in arrears of New Zealander Ben Townley (Champ KTM 250SX) and Stephen Sword (Kawasaki KX250F), who share joint leadership. Hitherto, Sword and Townley have won two races each in the 2004 MX2 campaign, with Dutchman Mark de Reuver (250SX) and 2002 125cc world champion Mickael Maschio (KX250F) the other winners. However, De Reuver's consistency has him sitting in third on 103pts.
McFarlane heads into the fourth round on the back of some strong recent form, which included a fine runner-up behind Sword in last weekend's second round of the ultra-competitive British Motocross Championship. That's the type of intensity the Brisbane rider, who finished sixth in last year's premier MotocrossGP category, will have to maintain at the 1.75km Valkenswaard layout, which has been one of his bogey circuits since he began his world championship career in 2001.
However, far from taking umbrage at his moderate Valkenswaard form, McFarlane is feeling upbeat about what lays ahead.
"Round three in Portugal (a fourth and 14th) was disappointing for my title challenge, but I want to have my revenge in Valkenswaard," said McFarlane. "Last weekend was an ideal tune-up, so we'll see how it all pans out in Holland - but I'm certainly confident that I'm about ready to peak."
Besides Maschio, three former motocross world championships will also go through MX2 qualifying in Holland - Alessio Chiodi (125cc, 1997-99), Andrea Bartolini (500cc, 1999) and British rider James Dobb (125cc, 2001).
In MX1 (250cc two-stroke versus 450cc four-stroke), the imperious Stefan Everts (Yamaha YZ450F) - who dominated the 2003 International Six Days' Enduro in his 'spare' time - is already well on the way to posting a 46th world championship victory for Belgium, which has dominated the world motocross scene since its inception in 1957.
With three race wins already to his name, Everts is already 26pts (129 to 103) in front of the closest challenger - compatriot Cedric Melotte (YZ450F). Then follows yet another Belgian, 2003 world 125cc champion Steve Ramon (KTM 450SX, 102pts), with New Zealander Josh Coppins (Honda CRF450R, 98) and Kenneth Gundersen (450SX, 93) rounding out the top five.
However, some marquee names hover just outside the leading quintet, including French wiz Mickael Pichon (CRF450R, 91pts), who returned to form with a vengeance in round three. Add that name to four-time world champion Joel Smets (Suzuki RM-Z450, 60pts), who has floundered in recent rounds but will be determined to post some improved results on the prototype Suzuki.
MOTOCROSS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ON FOX SPORTS 2
Tuesday, April 27 - 9.00pm
Wednesday, April 28 - 7.00am
<pre> CURRENT STANDINGS MX1 1 Stefan Everts Yamaha 129 2 Cedric Melotte Yamaha 103 3 Steve Ramon KTM 102 4 Joshua Coppins Honda 98 5 Kenneth Gundersen KTM 93 6 Mickael Pichon Honda 91 7 Kevin Strijbos Suzuki 68 8 Javier Garcia Vico Honda 65 9 Joel Smets Suzuki 62 10 Brian Jorgensen Honda 60
MX2 1 Stephen Sword Kawasaki 119 Ben Townley KTM 119 3 March de Reuver KTM 103 4 Andrew McFarlane Yamaha 98 5 Tyla Rattray KTM 83 6 Aigar Leok KTM 75 7 James Dobb Honda 71 8 Mickael Maschio Kawasaki 67 9 Carl Nunn Honda 56 10 Antonio Cairoli Yamaha 55