RAMON 4TH AS STRIJBOS STRUGGLES2007-06-10 03:26
Team Suzuki's Steve Ramon sealed fourth place in Timed Practice and looked on the pace throughout the first day of activity at a sweltering St Jean d'Angely for the Grand Prix of France and the seventh round of 15 in the 2007 FIM MX1 Motocross World Championship.
The largest crowd for a Saturday programme this year travelled to the impressive and sun-soaked facility near La Rochelle on the east coast. The track itself, with its hard-packed soil and fast layout, meant that the practice and qualification lap-times were extremely close and the slightest mistake could cost a rider at least half a dozen positions.
Ramon was happy with the set-up of the RM-Z450 from the first practice session, so much so that the team experimented with a new carburettor in the second outing. The unit improved the machine in some areas but did not give the Belgian the best feeling in others. Switching back to his original configuration the 27 year old briefly held pole position during the 30 minute Timed Practice but eventually took fourth with just two seconds separating the top 20 riders.
"It was a good day today and I felt fast out there," said Ramon. "The track is really hard and I think they will water it a lot for tomorrow. As always the start will be important. The bike was working well and I really hope to make a good result."
Kevin Strijbos clearly struggled with his weak left knee. The 21 year old did not have any pain in the joint but also lacked strength and flexion and it affected the Belgian's confidence and comfort on the RM-Z450. He circulated in both practice sessions but found it difficult to increase his pace. He focussed hard for a fast lap in Timed Practice and was content to emerge with eighth.
"Tomorrow is obviously going to be hard," he commented afterwards. "I have been lying on the sofa for nearly two weeks because of my knee and now I feel tired. I could push for one lap but then I felt completely dead. The knee did not get better during the day and I had to concentrate hard in Timed Practice. My riding was getting more natural and less tense but it was tough. I just hope now that I can get some good starts and take as many points as I can."
Good weather and high temperatures are again forecast for race day.
MX1 Timed Practice: 1 Tanel LEOK (KAWASAKI) 1:35.533; 2 Sebastien POURCE (KAWASAKI) 1:35.609; 3 Kornel NEMETH (SUZUKI) 1:35.859; 4 Steve RAMON (SUZUKI) 1:36.181; 5 Mike BROWN (HONDA) 1:36.215; 6 Julien BILL (HONDA) 1:36.327; 7 Joshua COPPINS (YAMAHA) 1:36.408; 8 Kevin STRIJBOS (SUZUKI) 1:36.425; 9 Billy MACKENZIE (KAWASAKI) 1:36.505; 10 David PHILIPPAERTS(KTM) 1:36.597.
Source: Team Suzuki Press Office
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