2007-04-03 01:16
Team Suzuki's Steve Ramon opened the 2007 FIM MX1 World Championship with third position overall this afternoon. Sunshine and balmy spring temperatures graced 25,000 spectators crowded into the Eurocircuit at Valkenswaard for Grand Prix of Benelux and the opening race of 15 as team mate Kevin Strijbos completed a decent weekend for the team with fourth overall.

The Belgian squad only had to make a short trip across from their base in Lommel to Valkenswaard. The Eurocircuit delivered the same shallow sandy but rough and energy-sapping terrain. The only difference was seen with several new corners and a layout run in reverse. The lap-times edged towards two minutes and 10 seconds.

Ramon gave flight to the chasing duo of Josh Coppins and Ken de Dycker in the first moto. Any hopes of victory evaporated at the midpoint of the race as he slipped off around the far side of the circuit. For a moment he was under pressure from Strijbos who rode a mainly lonely race in fourth spot but eventually regained his rhythm and surged after De Dycker who was fading into the final 10 minutes. The former World Champion made light work of passing his countryman before the perilous 'roller' section and was unchallenged for the runner-up placing. Strijbos made sure of fourth.

The second race saw Ramon again mounting pressure on the leading group until another costly error - in what was a slightly nervy performance - dumped the 26 year old on the ground. He dusted himself down and took sixth to ensure a podium celebration. Strijbos again lacked the speed to penetrate the trio of Barragan, Coppins and de Reuver spaced out at the front but another fourth position left the Belgian content with a weekend of work somewhat against the odds.

Both riders retain the same places in the formative World Championship points table.

Beursfoon Suzuki rider Erik Eggens deserves special mention for giving the RM-Z250 its highest World Championship ranking to-date with an impressive fifth position overall in the MX2 class.

Team Suzuki visit Neeroeteren next weekend for the second round of the Belgian Championship and will have only a few days rest before heading to the popular Bellpuig circuit for the Grand Prix of Spain; site of Kevin Strijbos' sole moto victory last year on the way to runner-up position in the final series ranking.

Steve Ramon - 3rd overall:

"The first moto was going well and I wanted to go with Josh once I had passed Ken but the front wheel slide away and I crashed. It took me a while to get back and there was a big gap to Ken but I kept working. The result was good and gave me some confidence for the second moto. My start was bad that time and I could not find my pace. The guys were in front of me so there was still time to attack but I made a mistake again just before the finish jump. I hit my hand and it was difficult to ride. The second moto could have been better for sure but third place today for the first GP is ok because it will be a long season. There are many riders going for the Championship and it will be important to stop those crashes because the points disappear. I fell off twice today but I am still on the podium so it is ok."

Kevin Strijbos- 4th overall:

"Today was tough! I got a good start in the first race but then I had some arm-pump and felt stiff so I could not follow the rhythm of the others. When Steve crashed I got a second wind and followed him closely for two laps but I just tensed up again and had to back off. The first few laps of the second moto were so-so. I was finding it hard to follow the leaders but then decided to ride my own speed and I am happy with the final position. Fourth is ok; I'd prefer to be on the podium of course but I believe that many people would not have expected this result from me. I am happy for the team also because they worked very hard."

MX1 Moto1:1 Joshua COPPINS, (NZL) YAMAHA 41:01.884, 2 Steve RAMON, (BEL) SUZUKI 41:18.837, 3 Ken DE DYCKER, (BEL) HONDA 41:27.106, 4 Kevin STRIJBOS, (BEL) SUZUKI 41:37.589, 5 Jonathan BARRAGAN, (ESP) KTM 42:00.153, 6 Marc DE REUVER, (NED) YAMAHA 42:04.953, 7 Maximilian NAGL, (GER) KTM 42:06.563, 8 Kornel NEMETH, (HUN) SUZUKI 42:08.376, 9 Billy MACKENZIE, (GBR) KAWASAKI 42:11.239, 10 James NOBLE, (GBR) HONDA 42:13.223.

MX1 Moto2: 1 BARRAGAN 41:44.389, 2 COPPINS:54.775, 3 DE REUVER 42:05.831, 4 STRIJBOS 42:12.829, 5 PRIEM 42:22.963, 6 RAMON 42:36.973, 7 DE DYCKER 42:41.739, 8 NOBLE 42:45.845, 9 BROWN 42:48.222, 10 NAGL 43:22.691

MX1 Overall Classification: 1 Coppins 47, 2 Barragan 41, 3 Ramon 37, 4 Strijbos 36, 5 de Reuver 35, 6 de Dycker 34, 7 Nagl 25, 8 Noble 24, 9 Priem 19, 10 Brown 19.

Source: Team Suzuki Press Office

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