Crockard and Cooper on Namur incident in 2000
Paul Cooper and Gordon Crockard are good friends and have plenty of memories racing together but at Namur in 2000, both of them came together which saw Cooper hit the deck. Demaria was getting away at the front and Crockard was eager to get into second as he believed he could win the race. Both of them offered their thoughts on the incident.
Cooper on the build up to the Namur GP in 2000 and the incident..
“In the lead up to that season and ultimately that race, I had been working hard on my Starting technique. For many years of my career it was a shortcoming but I was fortunate enough to meet the very well known and successful rider Andy Lee who was at the time running Elsworth. He is an idol of mine and still remains one of my best friends. Our friendship started fairly early in my career as I had been a fan of speedway as a youngster so of course I was a fan of Michael Lee. Anyway, Andy himself had an amazing MX career and between the two of them they were pure genius when it came to starts. Andy Lee used to have me up at Elsworth on the closed days, just working on starts with me for hours. You will understand this intro shortly! After a lot of work on starts and bike set up on the Motorex Husqvarna with Trevor Avery and Marco Lucchini, my starts were really getting good”, Cooper told GateDrop.com.
“So, Namur: Heat 1 if I remember correctly I gated top 3 and crashed in the first turn! After getting going I was dead last but it was a good day for me and I worked my up to 6th at the finish, not bad all things considered. Heat 2 and yes, I holeshot (Thanks Andy, Trevor & Marco!). I was feeling really really good that this could be a top 3 result now. Within the first couple of laps, Yves Demaria passed me and I have to say, he was so fast on this day (in general he was so fast anyway! but he went 1-1 this day). So I was happily settling into my rhythm a couple seconds behind him. There was a particular off-cambered corner 90deg before you go up a very steep hill. There was literally 1 line around the outside that everybody took because it allowed you to carry momentum up the incline. If you went tight inside you would lose at least 2 seconds or risk not even making it up it was so steep and slippery. It was one of those rare sections on a track where riders accepted the situation and allowed each other to go wide because simply, that way everybody was in the same boat”, added Cooper.
“Enter GC! Gordon was also on a good day but unfortunately for me, he decided this ”status quo” of the outside line up the incline was not suitable for his needs! So he just straight-line torpeod me as I was exiting the outside and heading uphill. I hit the ground. He managed to stay on and I daresay made it up the hill at walking pace. But it did the job, I think he ended up on the podium and I once again ate dirt all the way to the line to finish a very frustrating 6th again. I was very upset about it but that is racing and I eventually accepted it. A week later in Desertmartin we partied together after the race and all was forgotten in a haze of Guinness & Kahlua! That was not the first time we had done that and certainly not the last. You can ask him about our Ministry of Sound party at the end of this 2000 season”, Cooper concluded.
Crockard on the Namur incident..
“Namur was an iconic track for me, I had been there as a boy watching Thorpe, Malherbe, Jobe. So Demaria holeshot the first race and I was second and I couldn’t catch him and that was annoying! So the second race I knew if I beat him I knew I would win the overall and I really, really wanted too. I got away and I had to pass a couple of guys and Paul Cooper was I think second or third and there was a really sharp corner that went up a steep bank, you had to go down low to get the run up it. I had sat behind Coops for too long and I could see Demaria was getting away and I just straight lined the corner and hit Coops. Unfortunately I knocked him off and he even fell into the fence and down the big bank”, Crockard told GateDrop.com.
“We were sharing the hire car and I was like, I don’t think he is going to take me in the car – I am going to have to take a taxi! But Paul being the brilliant guy he is took me, but we didn’t speak, there wasn’t a word spoken in the car and then we just got out! Cooper and I had a good relationship but were neck and neck in that British championship. There was a round cancelled at Torrington that year and Coops and I didn’t live that far away from each other in England. So we went to London together to the Ministry of Sound on the Saturday night, him and I and a few friends and we had good craic”, Crockard concluded.
See the race below with the take-out at 17 minutes 25 seconds.
Pic: Nigel McKinstry