Belgian Grand Prix - Top Ten Things
News Tuesday 19th June 2012 By Geoff Meyer
Not only that, but when the qualification races were cancelled and the whole afternoon become free to leave the circuit and head to my hotel in the middle of the Ardennes. My day was made even worse as I had previously organized an interview with Youthstream president Giuseppe Luongo at 7pm in the evening., meaning a long wait in the cold, wet press room.
Added to my displeasure was the fact I had taken my son and one of his friends. Now my son’s friend had never visited a Motocross Grand Prix before and obviously it’s nice if you can show him how great the sport is. As it would turn on they would spend the Saturday dodging flying mud from the riders, and hiding under any shelter they could find to keep out of the rain. In all honesty Saturday was a complete and utter waste of time.
Sunday though dawned bright and sunny and while the facility was still covered in sticky mud, the atmosphere had changed. People were smiling again, and the circuit was slowly becoming the best racing surface of the season.
Anyway, here are my top ten things from the Grand Prix of Belgium.
The track. Despite all the complaints from the riders in Mexico, how about giving a hand to the Youthstream crew and local organizers for this one. The riders loved this circuit, but what many people won’t know (and it was the same in Mexico) is that Greg Atkins and his crew were at the track late into the night and then returned at around 4am on Sunday morning to prepare the circuit. All to make the best circuit possible, for the riders, and the fans.
Belgian legends. Walking the pits at any Grand Prix and you will find legends of the sport, but this Belgian GP was just loaded with Belgian legends. Andre Malherbe was there, as was Joel Smets, Stefan Everts, Harry Everts, Eric Geboers and Jacky Martens, just to name a few. That is a total of 28 World Championships, then you also have Sylvain Geboers and other Belgian GP winners. I probably missed a few, but it was always a pleasure to stop and talk with some of the really important people from our sports history.
Tommy Searle. This guy continues to fight for the right to be Great Britain’s first World Motocross Champion in more than a decade and his performance in Belgium was impressive. Despite having to deal with a bunch of orange bikes he fought through the opening moto bad start and controlled the second moto. His professional attitude is something that is often forgotten and the British bulldog is really a class act.
The weather. Sure enough Saturday was simply horrible, but Sunday was brilliant. With the rain on Saturday and the muddy conditions, plus the effort of the track crew the surface was simply amazing. Had to think of that 2006 Motocross of Nations when Saturday was horrible and the Sunday racing surface was like an AMA Supercross, tacky and technical.
The paddock. It’s not been an easy month for the FIM World Motocross Championship. A lot of travel, riders clashing has put pressure on everyone from Youthstream, the FIM, teams, riders and media. After a Youthstream/FIM/Team meeting on Saturday night hopefully the sign of sunshine on Sunday was the start of a more positive relationship between everyone in the paddock.
Kevin Strijbos. Here is a guy who still has a lot of talent and despite not being that old has looked more like a soon to be retired rider than a contender. Hopefully his fourth place finish in his home Grand Prix will see him move closer to the top of the sport once again. Sixth in the MX1 points is just around the corner for the likeable Belgian.
Cairoli, Desalle, Pourcel and Paulin. These four have put up some classic racing in 2012 and it’s been more than once that I have thought about that brilliant 2005 season when Everts, Smets, Townley and Coppins went to war on each other. Whatever happens in this year’s World MX1 Championship the winner will have deserved the number one plate.
The Crowd. With the organizes taking on this race at the last minute, and having no luck with the weather or the GP schedule it was nice to see a large crowd arrive. Belgian Motocross is in tough times and it’s going to take a big effort from organizes, riders and spectators to keep it on the World Championship calendar. This year’s Belgian GP made sure that the most successful country in the sports history remains around for at least another season.
Smets, Geboers and Everts. The three Belgian legends held a press conference on Saturday to mention that they have teamed-up to help young Belgian riders make it in the sport. With tracks closing in Belgium and less riders racing this is a valuable project by three men who still love the sport like they did when they were kids.
Ryan Villopoto. Yes, the AMA Supercross Champion actually did watch most of the weekend and from what we could see he really enjoyed himself. His presence and comment about joining the series in 2016 brought a smile to everyone’s face. Any time a rider of his quality wants to race in Europe it is a good sign that the GP series is heading in the right direction.