Thursday, September 23

AHOLA ON BRINK OF 4TH WORLD TITLE



The AMV Grand Prix of France at Noiretable this weekend will wrap-up the 2010 Enduro World Championship and could be another remarkable event in the illustrious career of Honda- HM-Zanardo Team’s Mika Ahola. The 35 year old is on the precipice of his fourth crown in succession and second in the E2 (450cc) category. The Finn holds a 28 point lead over sole title rival Ivan Cervantes with both days of the GP yielding a total of 50; even if he finishes second to the Spaniard on the first day of action in central France then a fourth World Championship with Honda will be assured.


The veteran has enjoyed an excellent season on the modified CRF450R, earning nine day wins from the fourteen held in the seven rounds so far and has not dropped out of the top three in all outings.

Ahola – who was 3rd and 4th in the E1 class in France in 2009 – admitted in his personal blog that the weekend will hold special significance. ‘The last GP will be in France. It's gonna be in Noiretable which is the same place where I confirmed my first world title in 2007, so I have a nice memories and I'm looking forward to a good race like back then! My lead over Ivan Cervantes is 28 points which more than enough but there's no space for big mistakes either. Just have to keep calm and focused. Easy to say but can't help the pressure building.’


Noiretable is a familiar course to the riders of the E1, E2 and E3 classes and the entry lists are likely to be swelled in what is a popular event. The 70km lap involves the standard Enduro, Motocross and Xtreme tests and stand-out features involve two steep hill sections, a long 10km Enduro zone and a fast MX area. The race could be complicated by a poor weather forecast.

“It will be an important weekend for us obviously but also a bit nervous because anything can still happen especially if rain arrives,” said Team Manager Franco Mayr. “Mika likes slippery and technical conditions and was actually practicing in something similar in Finland recently but wet terrain also carries more risk; we will have to wait and see.”

“We will arrive there on Thursday and have a look at the course and be ready to change the setting of the bike if the rain falls,” he added.

Oscar Balletti is likely to finish 2010 with 6th in the E2 class as the Italian needs 32 points over Swede Joakim Ljunggren to enter the top five. Balletti enjoyed his best day of the season two weeks ago in Greece so will be aiming to end the campaign on a similar note. Fabio Mossini has options to break into the top fifteen (he is 16th) after a difficult and injury-riddled season in E1. The Italian was able to take his CRF250R to a double point-score in Greece however.


Ahola could be Honda’s second World Champion in off-road motorcycling this year after Repsol Montesa-Honda’s Toni Bou dominated the 2010 Indoor and Outdoor Trial competitions. Fingers are crossed at Honda that the flying Finn can do the business this weekend and cement the pace he has shown all year aboard the Honda CRF450R.

For a full report on the final Grand Prix of the season, visit www.hondaproracing.com throughout the course of the weekend.