Professional rider on closed course competition.

RAMON TAKES 2ND PODIUM IN JAPAN

May 20, 2006

Team Suzuki Press Office – May 21, 2006.

Team Suzuki rider Steve Ramon claimed runner-up position in the fifth round of the MX1 Motocross World Championship at a hot and sunny Sugo circuit for the Grand Prix of Japan this afternoon.

The Belgian lifted his second set of silverware for the squad after just five events and extends Suzuki’s podium streak to four successive races. He was fourth and second in front of 17, 500 sun-tanned spectators at another impressive Japanese Grand Prix.

23, 600 fans in total travelled to the venue located a few kilometres from the road racing circuit used in the past for World Superbike events and were treated to some riveting action facilitated by the excellent course. The Sugo soil had been meticulously prepared and the soft terrain soon carved into numerous racing lines. Rough and bumpy, the two MX1 motos were a fast but technical test in which speeds were similar and small mistakes ultimately costly.

Ramon was third at the end of the first lap after briefly passing Cedric Melotte for second spot but was reeled in by Ken De Dycker and Tanel Leok. The Belgian eventually managed to obtain fifth from Melotte on the last lap. After qualifying in fifth position, Kevin Strijbos had a nightmare start by getting boxed in around the first bend of the tight initial ‘S’ section. He then struggled to thread his way through the pack of riders ahead of him and finished a frustrated 12th.

Ramon tried to follow the escaping Stefan Everts in race two after having taking second position from KTM’s Jonathan Barragan but the World Champion proved superior in both events today. Ramon completed a fairly lonely ride but his second place represented his highest moto result of the year so far and assisted towards the same standing on the overall classification sheet. Strijbos was unlucky to get tangled with a falling Leok going through the tricky first corners but unveiled a completely contrasting performance to the first race by rising from last to fourth with an impressive rally. He emerged victorious from a spectacular four rider battle at one stage and sealed seventh overall with his efforts.

Strijbos has slipped to fourth in the World Championship standings and is only three points behind his team-mate. Suzuki is currently second in the Manufacturers points table.

Shinichi Kaga was 19th and a decent 11th, for 15th overall on the fuel-injected RM-Z 450.

The team will visit the Suzuki factory on Monday before beginning the long trip back to Europe.

The sixth round of 15 in the World Championship will take place at the Sevlievo circuit for the Grand Prix of Bulgaria on June 4th.

Steve Ramon:

“My start was not so good in the first moto but I made some good positions in the first two corners. My riding was not great after that because I could not get into a rhythm and I saw that Stefan was pushing very hard at the beginning. I lost two places in the middle of the race but towards the end I was improving and could close the gap to Ken and Tanel, although there was no time to attack. Fourth was ok but it could have been better.

“In the second moto I was hanging third and the whole race was tough for me; I had to work hard on the bike. To finish second overall is a good result. Stefan was too fast today and we will try in the next GPs to beat him but at this moment it is really difficult. I want to give many thanks to Suzuki and the team because they worked very hard to give me the best bike they can. This runner-up position also feels a little bit special because we are here in Japan. It has been a nice trip.”

Kevin Strijbos:

“The day was good and bad. I had my worst and my best races of the season. In the first moto I could not find my lines and was too slow and I was not happy at all. My second moto start was pretty bad. Tanel fell in front of me and because I had my rear braking foot off the peg I could not turn the bike and I hit him. It was bad luck because I had a decent race after that and came back from last to fourth. My riding was better and the lines came to me whereas the first heat was just terrible.”

Eric Geboers:

“It is another podium for us but I am never enthusiastic until we are on the highest step. It is going to be difficult this year to get that win from what we have already seen so far! We had great support from Suzuki this weekend and the atmosphere around the team was much better after the second race compared to the first!”

MX1 Moto1: 1 Stefan Everts, BEL (Yamaha) 40:42.166, 2 Ken De Dycker, BEL (Honda) 40:56.316, 3 Tanel Leok, EST (Kawasaki) 40:58.110, 4 Steve Ramon, BEL (Suzuki) 41:05.772, 5 Brian Jorgensen, DEN (Honda) 41:11.949, 6 Cedric Melotte, BEL (Yamaha) 41:24.773, 7 James Noble, GBR (Honda) 41:30.852, 8 Jonathan Barragan, SPA (KTM) 41:36.404, 9 Manuel Priem, BEL (Yamaha) 41:37.884, 10 Marvin Van Daele, BEL (Honda) 41:39.886. 12 Kevin Strijbos, BEL (Suzuki) 41:56.267. 19 Shinichi Kaga, JPN (Suzuki) 40:50.992.

MX1 Moto2: 1 Everts 39:44.664, 2 Ramon 40:07.800, 3 Barragan 40:15.525, 4 Strijbos 40:22.057, 5 Van Daele 40:25.169, 6 Priem 40:30.894, 7 Noble 40:33.929, 8 De Dycker 40:39.308, 9 Akira Narita, JPN (Yamaha) 40:43.491, 10 Danny Theybers, BEL (Suzuki) 40:46.892. 11 Kaga 40:52.325.

MX1 Overall Classification: 1 Everts 50, 2 Ramon 40, 3 De Dycker 35, 4 Barragan 33, 5 Leok 29, 6 Noble 28, 7 Strijbos 27, 8 Van Daele 27, 9 Priem 27, 10 Melotte 21. 15 Kaga 12.

MX1 World Championship Standings (after 5 of 15 rounds): 1 Everts 242, 2 Leok 181, 3 De Dycker 168, 4 Strijbos 165, 5 Ramon 151, 6 Barragan 150, 7 Melotte 105, 8 Tortelli 99, 9 Priem 99, 10 Leuret 93.

For more stories about Steve Ramon, click here . For photos, click here .
For more stories about Kevin Strijbos, click here . For photos, click here
For more stories about Shinichi Kaga, click here . For photos, click here

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