Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1998 05 27

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 97 of 98

ACROSS THE ATLANTIC BY GEOFF MEYER t's a funny thing how a little bit of good luck can propel a sport. Sometimes a legend appears out of the oodwork and takes his chosen sport to other level. Whether it be a Michael rdan, a Mike Tyson or a Jeremy cGrath, particular sports 'lave risen d/ or sunk - to new levels just because a name - or just plain luck. Tn Europe, motocros~ is now in its ost important year ever. In 1998, otocross on the cold shores of Engnd, Belgium, Holland, France and any er great motocross nation should be an all-time high. New television deals e taking motocross to more homes an ever before, and it is anticipated at this year's viewership of the World Dec Motocross Championships will ach well over the 50-million mark. • In 1997, with not a lot of live otocross, the viewing audience was ,704/000. An amazing 20 million peoe watched the Indonesian round of the s and more than a million watched unds in Spain, Holland and France. If you're stunned by the television verage, then have a look at the ount of press coverage, as a whop·ng 16,294,200 people read about each c GP and an overall yearly amount 260,707,200 people keep an eye on the rand Prix season. The numbers are ggering. Add to the live television coverage e facts that there are many new prooters and that race fans are getting tter venues and more access to the ders. Yes, 1998 is going to be the year r a huge upturn in the motocross ene over here in Europe. Think again. Typicall y poor wea ther in the oaths of March and April have sent e GP crowd numbers into a downard spiral as knowledgeable tocross crowds are keeping away ue to the availability of the television verage. Let's face it: Who wants to sit the rain watchi\lg 40 guys in mudvered clothing doing their best to ep their machines from being swept to the next country? But, then again, the rainy weather as also hurt the television ratings. Looking at this year's opening rounds on television wa anything but mindblowing. Take for our firsJ example the opening round in sunny Spain. Torrential rain turned the World 250cc Motocross opener into a joke. Such riders as Stefan Everts and Pit Beirer blasted around the Talavera track with a style akin to Mike Tyson doing ballet. (It was ugly.) For motocross followers, it could not have been any worse. The sport we feel is equal to any other was being seen by large (really large) numbers, and we.aLI knew many were switching the channel on their televisions as soon as the first few laps had been completed. Even for motocross lovers, it was boring. What came next was Portugal, more rain and another seriously uninteresting show. Amazingly, the following round in the Netherlands (where rain is the country's pastime) would bring magic racing and no rain, but what followed in round four in France one week later was Stefan Everts walking away with two motos and showing the world he is the man. Even Everts himself told the story. "It must have been boring to watch. I hope the crowd liked it, though," said the Belgian legend after his monopoly. Making Everts' win all the more boring was the fact that overnight rain had turned the hilly French track into another one-lined procession. At least the French event was smartened up a little with some supercross-style (European, anyway) dancing girls, and rock 'n' roll music blasting out of huge· speakers. Rounds of the World 125 and 500cc Motocross Championships were also lacking any color. The opening two rounds of the 125s, held in Brazil and Spain, attracted great weather, but unfortunatel}" the overzealous promoters watered the tracks at both events far too much in early-morning preparation (this does not only happen at the Motocross des Nations) and both rounds prod uced one-line racing. In fact, watching the weekly motocross update on the television, one could have been excused for thinking one was YEARS AGO... HE 13,1968 ee-time AMA Grand National Champion Bart Markel (H-D) was our coverboy after earning a victory at the Richmond Half Mile. Markel used a . rdtail KR to beat Californian Dan Haaby (H-D) and ed Nix (H-D)... Desert ace J.N. Roberts (Hus) tested . skills at the Carlsbad Raceway motocross, and came ay the victor in the 500cc El

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