STRIJBOS AND RM-Z450 PODIUM2007-04-15 23:11
Team Suzuki's Kevin Strijbos walked the podium with runner-up position in the MX1 class at a sunny Bellpuig circuit for the Grand Prix of Spain and the second round of 15 in the 2007 FIM Motocross World Championship.
The Belgian, with his RM-Z450, obtained his standing with second and third places in two motos held in front of a 22,000 crowd. Team mate Steve Ramon was frustrated to take ninth overall after a weekend marked by extremely contrasting weather.
The Bellpuig circuit was victim to harsh conditions with unrelenting rain forcing the practice and qualification schedule to be cancelled on Saturday. Race day dawned equally grey and soggy and the two Belgians tentatively circulated the soaked course with Ramon taking third and Strijbos fifth positions respectively after a hurried 40 minute timed session.
From 11am onwards the sunshine started to breakthrough; so much so that the Grand Prix motos themselves were held in temperatures touching 20 degrees and the spectators around the Spanish inclines began to peel away the clothing layers. The climatic improvement dried the course significantly but the water from the previous days meant that it became very rough, with many deep ruts, which pushed the riders more towards a solid single fast racing line.
Neither Strijbos nor Ramon gained starts that enabled them to challenge double moto winner Josh Coppins: Strijbos moved into second spot by the fourth lap of the first race and then spent the next 14 circulations keeping a several-second margin over Ramon. The latter struggled with a small engine problem that meant he had to use his second machine for the next moto.
Ramon was luckless from the beginning as he gated poorly and also crashed on the step-ups on the first lap. He worked his way back to 15th but was angry and disappointed to concede valuable championship points to Coppins. "The first moto was pretty good with regards to my start and the riding but the engine of the bike wasn't running as normal. It was difficult to ride because of the deep ruts and it was hard to pass, even to get close to Kevin, but third was okay," the former World Champion commented. "I then had to use the second bike and it was different. My start wasn't great and somebody crashed in front of me on the step-up. It was a really bad second moto for me and I cannot afford to give points away like that if I want the Championship."
Strijbos meanwhile also had to work hard to rally from dodgy start that saw him down in 12th on the first lap. He fought hard to pass Sebastien Pourcel and Billy Mackenzie to climb the ranking in the final minutes and capture a well-earned third for his first spray of podium champagne this season. His result is also the second top-three result in a row for the Belgian team and the RM-Z450.
"Today was good," he remarked in the post-race press conference. "My knee is feeling much better now. I am starting to find my speed and race fitness and expect more improvement next week. I had a bad start in that second moto which meant that I had to push hard. Second overall is a good result but I want to win and I will do everything that it takes next week," he added.
After two rounds, Strijbos trails leader Coppins by 19 points. Ramon is fifth and 34 points adrift of the leader.
Beursfoon Suzuki rider Erik Eggens gave the RM-Z250 its highest World Championship finish to date with an excellent third spot in the first MX2 moto. The Dutchman could not complete the second moto and therefore ended ninth overall.
Team Suzuki now remain within the Iberian Peninsula and will begin to head east towards Porto and the town of Agueda for the Grand Prix of Portugal next weekend.
MX1 Moto1: 1 Joshua COPPINS (NZL) YAMAHA 39:57.248, 2 Kevin STRIJBOS (BEL) SUZUKI 40:17.131, 3 Steve RAMON (BEL) SUZUKI 40:18.683, 4 Jonathan BARRAGAN (ESP) KTM 40:18.973, 5 Maximilian NAGL (GER) KTM 40:41.518, 6 Ken DE DYCKER (BEL) HONDA 40:46.859, 7 Kornel NEMETH (HUN) SUZUKI 40:47.150, 8 David PHILIPPAERTS (ITA) KTM 41:04.680, 9 Tanel LEOK (EST) KAWASAKI 41:09.771, 10 James NOBLE (GBR) HONDA 41:10.676.
MX1 Moto2: 1 COPPINS 40:24.251, 2 NAGL 40:36.736, 3 STRIJBOS 40:39.703, 4 Sebastien POURCEL (FRA) KAWASAKI 40:42.620, 5 Billy MACKENZIE (GBR) KAWASAKI 40:46.408, 6 BARRAGAN 40:54.814, 7 LEOK:07.362, 8 PHILIPPAERTS 41:12.034, 9 DE DYCKER 41:16.143, 10 Marc DE REUVER (NED) YAMAHA 41:18.513. 15 42:00.808. 15 RAMON.
MX1 Overall:1 COPPINS 50, 2 STRIJBOS 42, 3 NAGL 38, 4 BARRAGAN 33, 5 POURCEL 28, 6 DE DYCKER 27, 7 LEOK 26, 8 PHILIPPAERTS 26, 9 RAMON 26, 10 DE REUVER 18.
MX1 World Championship Standings(after 2 of 15 rounds): 1 COPPINS 97, 2 STRIJBOS 78, 3 BARRAGAN 74, 4 NAGL 63, 5 RAMON 63.
Source: Team Suzuki Press Office
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