The 24-year-old captured the premier class MX1 title with a fifth-overall finish in the final round of the series, Sept. 14 in front of a crowd 30,000 at the Faenza circuit in his native Italy. Philippaerts finished third in the first Faenza moto on soft and slippery rain-soaked terrain. Philippaerts needed just three points in the second moto to clinch the title, so he took a cautious approach for a ninth-place finish in the second race.
“It has been a long, long year and now I am so happy,” says Philippaerts. “I wanted to take decent points at every GP and I only really believed that the title was in my grasp during that second moto today.”
The win marked the fourth title in five years for Yamaha’s factory team and its four-stroke YZF450FM. Philippaerts exceeded expectations in his first year with his team to return the title to Yamaha following the 2006 Championship win by Suzuki’s Steve Ramon.
“This is a fantastic day, for many people connected with the team and with Yamaha,” says Mino Raspanti, racing manager of the Yamaha Monster Motocross Team. “We knew (Philippaerts) might win a few GPs this season but ’08 was about gaining experience, so he has done an immense job, especially considering he led the championship from round three.”