McFarlane breaks collarbone in Germany Round 14 of the 2004 Motocross World Championship was held in Germany last weekend, delivering contrasting fortunes for the antipodean connection - Australian Andrew McFarlane and New Zealander Ben ...
McFarlane breaks collarbone in Germany
Round 14 of the 2004 Motocross World Championship was held in Germany last weekend, delivering contrasting fortunes for the antipodean connection - Australian Andrew McFarlane and New Zealander Ben Townley.
While McFarlane crashed his Yamaha YZ250F heavily on the opening day and broke his right collarbone, 19-year-old Townley (KTM) is now virtually assured, barring any misdemeanors between now and the next round in Ireland on September 11, of clinching the MX2 (125cc two-stroke versus 250cc four-stroke) championship.
Townley, despite failing to finish the opening 21-lap moto around the 1.830km Gaildorf layout in southern Germany, managed to increase his lead over KTM teammate Tyla Rattray from 93 to 96pts after 14 of 16 rounds, with a maximum of 100pts up for grabs in the remaining races. That's a lopsided equation which is likely to hand New Zealand its second world motocross title after Shayne King's 500cc success in 1996.
"I was building up to take the title this weekend and I was excited rather than nervous," said Townley, who finished 11th in last year's 125cc title despite missing a bulk of the season with injury. "The first race (crash) was a disaster; it was my own fault. I wanted to come back, 4pts would have given me the championship, but I was so far behind. I tried, but then crashed again."
In the MX2 races at Gaildorf, 2002 world 125cc champion Mickael Maschio (Kawasaki) defeated Italian Alessio Chiodi (Yamaha) by 3.706sec in the opener, with Claudio Federici (Yamaha) a lonely third. In the second 20-lapper in front of 18,000 spectators, normal service resumed with the redoubtable Townley notching his 11th win of the year in 28 races, followed by Marc de Reuver (KTM) and Frenchman Sebastien Pourcel (Kawasaki). Rattray was 13th after a torrid encounter -- just enough to keep his championship aspirations 'alive'.
Meanwhile, British rider Stephen Sword (Kawasaki), who currently occupies third position in the MX2 standings, joined McFarlane on the list of championship heavyweights to leave Germany empty-handed after a big crash left him with facial injuries. Sword managed to remain in third on 382pts despite his tale of woe -- in contrast to McFarlane (329), who fell from fifth to seventh after his nadir. The 27-year-old Aussie said of his crash: "I went over the handlebars on the triple jump and landed badly. I knew straight away that I had hurt my shoulder and an examination revealed I had broken my collarbone.
"I'm still hoping to be able to compete in the Motocross of Nations at Lierop (Belgium) on October 3, but my main priority now is to get fit for next season.
"It's upsetting way to end the year like this but these things happen and I hope to come back stronger next year."
McFarlane's old hold on fifth position is now being held by Maschio (343pts), who is just in front of Chiodi (340).
Before his involuntarily exit from proceedings, McFarlane was staring at his best finish in a world motocross championship, surpassing last year's sixth place.
In the premier MX1 (250cc two-stroke versus 450cc four-stroke) class, the form guide continued to run true with Mickael Pichon (Honda) and Stefan Everts (Yamaha) claiming wins and second places, and New Zealander Josh Coppins (Honda) completing the day with a pair of thirds.
With Pichon and Everts sharing the spoils, the net result is that the latter still holds a commanding 93pt (619 to 526) lead in the championship, and only has to go through the motions in Ireland to hoist the trophy for title number eight.
Everts, who won his first championship (125cc) in 1991 -- a decade after his iconic father Harry signed off in the same class -- has now won 12 races this year, and Pichon eight.
Coppins remains in third on 481pts after another quality result, ahead of KTM's Steve Ramon (410).
After the penultimate round of the Motocross World Championship in Ireland, South Africa will host the final outing on September 26.