McFarlane's first taste of the Sun The 2005 Motocross World Championship moves out of Europe for the second time this weekend, at a venue all-new to Australian hotshot Andrew McFarlane -- Sun City in South Africa. The Queenslander, who...
McFarlane's first taste of the Sun
The 2005 Motocross World Championship moves out of Europe for the second time this weekend, at a venue all-new to Australian hotshot Andrew McFarlane -- Sun City in South Africa.
The Queenslander, who leads the MX2 (125cc 2T-250cc 4T) championship by 25pts (345 to 320) on his Ricci Yamaha YZ250F, missed last year's South African round with a broken collarbone, but from what he saw on television, he's already an unabashed fan of the circuit.
"I think it's going to be fun. I was bummed to miss it last year, and the layout of the circuit should suit me," said McFarlane. "It has some nice jumps, and also tricky corners. I can't wait to see it. I really want to push hard, and break further away from the other riders in the points' race."
Many observers have compared Sun City to the Sugo layout in Japan, with its array of technical corners and supercross-like 'feel'. McFarlane, 28, finished fourth and ninth in the two Sugo races on May 29, but has since hit a purple patch, finishing on the podium in five of the following eight races.
One of those podiums was a victory, which advanced his world motocross race-winning tally to five. Only two other Australians have won world championship races: Jeff Leisk (three wins) and Chad Reed (one).
This weekend's Sun City MX2 skirmish remains wide open, with two riders who finished on the podium in 2004 -- Ben Townley and Tyla Rattray -- not competing this weekend. Actually, Townley will compete, but in MX1 (250cc 2T-450cc 4T) colours, while Rattray, the reigning No. 2, is still convalescing after an early-season injury.
Antonio Cairoli (YZ250F) finished second behind Townley in race two last year, and remains McFarlane's greatest championship threat. The Italian sits in second on 320pts, and has eight wins to his credit this year -- with his nadir a disqualification from the MX2 qualifying race in round nine after collision with compatriot Davide Guarneri (Yamaha). The punitive measure meant that he could not saddle up for the two world championship races the next day.
However, Cairoli is now over that hurt, and with a maximum of 300pts still up for grabs in the final six rounds, his on-going scuffle with McFarlane should make for some real fireworks.
Cairoli won both races in round 10, ahead of McFarlane and yet another Italian campaigner, David Philippaerts (KTM). The latter is currently in sixth position on 258pts, behind three-time world 125cc champion Alessio Chiodi (YZ250F, 310), Belgian Cedric Melotte (YZ250F, 267) and British rider Stephen Sword (Kawasaki KX250F, 262), who will miss Sun City with injury.
In the MX1 class, the New Zealand connection of Josh Coppins (Honda CRF450R) and Townley (KTM 450SXF) have won the last six races between them, and are firmly entrenched in second and third behind defending champion Stefan Everts (Yamaha YZ450F).
Despite the recent antipodean onslaught, Everts still leads by a healthy 45pts (411 to 366) over Coppins, with Townley a further 20pts behind in third.
French champion Mickael Pichon (CRR450R) will miss the balance of the championship after electing to have surgery on his dodgy knee. In spite of already missing a round, he remains in fifth position on 299pts, behind Joel Smets (Suzuki RM-Z450, 318).
For more information on the Motocross World Championship, visit www.motocrossmx1.com/