Topsy-turvy Spanish outing for McFarlane Australian gun Andrew McFarlane (Team Ricci Yamaha) was at his swashbuckling best in round two of the Motocross World Championship in Spain on April 16-17, with only mechanical failure thwarting his ...
Topsy-turvy Spanish outing for McFarlane
Australian gun Andrew McFarlane (Team Ricci Yamaha) was at his swashbuckling best in round two of the Motocross World Championship in Spain on April 16-17, with only mechanical failure thwarting his charge for overall honours.
The 27-year-old Queenslander, a three-time GP winner, was on the tail of fellow Yamaha YZ250F punter Antonio Cairoli in the opening MX2 (125cc 2T versus 250cc 4T) race when gearbox gremlins forced him out of the mix -- his first DNF of the year.
In blustery conditions, which caused as much irritation to the 16,000 spectators as the riders, McFarlane then responded with some real grunt in race two, finishing second behind erstwhile teammate, 21-year-old Billy Mackenzie (Yamaha).
The end result of the topsy-turvy day was that McFarlane finished ninth overall on 22pts, with Italian veteran Alessio Chiodo (Yamaha, 42), teenager Cairoli (38) and Stephen Sword (Kawasaki, 32) leading the way. It was the first overall win for Chiodi, a three-time world 125cc champion, since 1999.
"This result does not reflect my riding because this weekend went really well for me," said McFarlane. "After being ill during the week, I felt healthy coming here and I think it showed in my form.
"I knew exactly where to pass Cairoli in race one -- my speed was better than his -- but unfortunately I then encountered this problem with my gearbox.
"In the second race I had a strong start again, but Mackenzie was just outstanding today and I could not catch him."
McFarlane's second place in race two enjoyed a touch of dejà vu -- it replicated his result from the corresponding round in 2004. Furthermore, the Australian is the only rider to have finished on the podium in the opening rounds of the 2005 season, in what is shaping up as a tipster's nightmare.
With McFarlane cooling his heels in the pits, Cairoli, the current world number three, claimed the opening MX2 honours in a breeze from Chiodi, Dutchman Erik Eggens (Honda) and round one winner Tyla Rattray (KTM). Meanwhile, flying Belgian Cedric Melotte (Yamaha) finished sixth behind the unheralded Davide Guarneri (Yamaha) after a mid-race oopsie -- the same position he would claim in race two after another faux pas of the same ilk.
However, with the current unpredictable nature of MX2 racing, Melotte's modest results were still enough to see him move atop the world championship standings. Melotte is now on 74pts after round two of 17, ahead of Cairoli (72), Rattray (68), Chiodi (67), McFarlane (57) and Eggens (53). Rattray dropped two spots at Bellpuig, while Cairoli and Chiodi were the biggest movers -- both climbing three positions.
Rattray was the only other big name to DNF in Spain after a chain broke on his factory KTM 250SXF in race two -- which saw Chiodo finish third behind Mackenzie and McFarlane to make it an all-Yamaha podium.
In MX1 (250cc 2T versus 450 4T) competition, New Zealander Ben Townley (KTM) nailed his first overall win with two podium finishes -- the only rider to perform the feat.
Townley, last year's MX2 champion, was a strong second in race one behind polesitter Mickael Pichon (Honda), and then continued the momentum with a third in the second 21-lapper behind Belgian tyros Joel Smets (Suzuki) and world champion Stefan Everts (Yamaha).
"I did not expect to win this early in the championship, although I have been working really hard," said Townley. "Having changed classes, I have to say that the racing is so intense against the likes of Pichon, Everts, (Josh) Coppins and others. Some of those guys were my heroes a few years ago, and to beat them is just an amazing feeling."
Pichon, who finished sixth in race two, has now taken over the MX1 lead on 84pts, with fourth-placed Townley just six in arrears on 78. In between, Everts and Smets are deadlocked on 80pts, ahead of round three in Portugal this weekend.
The second New Zealander in the MX1 class, reigning world number three Josh Coppins (Honda), improved two spots at Bellpuig to move into fifth spot on 61pts. Coppins was fourth in both outings, although he was on course for a podium finish in race two before crashing.
Meanwhile, Smets is now the only multiple winner in 2005 as he continues his resurgence from an injury-marred 2004.