Professional rider on closed course competition.

STRIJBOS CLAIMS FIRST PODIUM

April 23, 2006

Team Suzuki Press Office – April 23, 2006.

Kevin Strijbos and the RM-Z450 Suzuki gained third position this afternoon at a sunny and warm Agueda circuit for the Grand Prix of Portugal and the third round of 15 in the 2006 FIM World Championship.

It was the first top three for the Belgian since the 2005 Grand Prix of the Czech Republic on a day when team mate Steve Ramon suffered a heavy crash in the second moto and had to retire.

More than15,000 fans passed through the gates at the venue 100km south of Porto and the riders in the MX1 class were finally met with some decent weather after heavy rainfall Friday evening necessitated the cancellation of the free practice sessions Saturday morning.

Strijbos, who had qualified fourth, made a poor start and was just inside the top 10 on the first lap. The 20 year old lost time trying to pass James Noble but once through he picked up his speed and also overtook Jonathan Barragan and Tanel Leok. Arriving in fourth spot he shaved tenths off the large gap to Ken De Dycker but was not able to make a challenge for the podium in the time remaining.

Ramon had changed little on his number ‘11’ RM-Z after taking third position in the second moto at Bellpuig last week and registered the second fastest lap in qualification. He stole the holeshot at the opening turn and was running a close third behind Stefan Everts and Sebastien Tortelli who both put on an amazing show for the fans. Ramon could not follow the pace of the leaders and was eventually sucked into the grasps of the Ken De Dycker. The former World Champion was relegated to fourth place and then crashed shortly after when he lost control on a sharp downhill turn. Fortunately the engine was still running and he could immediately rejoin the race to at least take 14 points for seventh.

Strijbos made the better running in Moto2 and was holding second position behind eventual Grand Prix winner and double moto victor Everts after Tortelli had crashed and dislocated his hip. KTM’s Barragan had a slightly better rhythm to demote the Suzuki rider to third and also the bottom step of the podium, but Strijbos produced a solid moto to make sure of his silverware and the team’s second celebration in a week.

Ramon was following Strijbos for two laps and even made a move to briefly steal second before he hit the ground after landing badly from a step-down. It was a hard crash and the 26 year old hurt his shoulder and banged his head. He tried to restart his machine but after a few futile efforts, headed towards the medical centre where he even had trouble trying to remember what happened.

Strijbos has now moved up to fourth in the Championship standings from sixth position while Ramon’s DNF - leaving him 14th overall today - means he lies seventh.

The World Championships now pause for a week before beginning to prepare for the Karcher Grand Prix of Germany at Teutschenthal, near the city of Liepzig, on May 7th.

Kevin Strijbos:

“I am happy with the result because I did not start well in the first moto and it was hard to pass people. Finally I was fourth and this was not too bad for the overall result. I was not riding so hard at the end because I wanted to save some energy. Everything went well in the second heat. Some riders crashed and that helped my position. I was riding pretty good; it was not my best race but I am pleased with this first podium of the year.”

Steve Ramon:

“I really don’t know what happened. The last thing I remember is seeing Tortelli’s crash and then I was on the ground. I have some pain in my shoulder and a headache right now.”

Sylvain Geboers – Team Manager:

“We have another podium but after qualification I thought we would leave here with at least third and fourth. We got a third! With Tortelli being out we could have had both riders on the podium so I am a bit disappointed but there are understandable circumstances with Steve. I think that both the team and the riders need to keep on working hard. It looks as though Tortelli might be out so we must focus at least on that second place.”

MX1 Moto1: 1 Stefan Everts, BEL (Yamaha) 40:11.933, 2 Sebastien Tortelli, FRA (KTM) 40:32.660, 3 Ken de Dycker, BEL (Honda) 40:45.477, 4 Kevin Strijbos, BEL (Suzuki) 40:52.193, 5 Jonathan Barragan, SPA (KTM) 40:56.007, 6 Tanel Leok, EST (Kawasaki) 41:01.854, 7 Steve Ramon, BEL (Suzuki) 41:06.391, 8 James Noble, GBR (Honda) 41:31.260, 9 Cedric Melotte, BEL (Yamaha) 41:37.049, 10 Stephen Sword, GBR (Kawasaki) 41:40.570.

MX1 Moto2: 1 Stefan Everts, BEL (Yamaha) 39:23.754, 2 Jonathan Barragan, SPA (KTM) 39:29.500, 3 Kevin Strijbos, BEL (Suzuki) 39:35.449, 4 Tanel Leok, EST (Kawasaki) 39:42.482, 5 Ken de Dycker, BEL (Honda) 39:46.197, 6 Manuel Priem, BEL (Yamaha) 39:53.495, 7 Julien Bill, SUI (Yamaha) 40:14.071, 8 Pascal Leuret, FRA (Honda) 40:25.721, 9 Wyatt Avis, RSA (KTM) 40:33.064, 10 Antti Pyrhonen, FIN (TM) 40:39.296. 28 Steve Ramon, BEL (Suzuki) 12:46.330.

MX1 Grand Prix Result: 1. Everts, 2. Barragan, 3. Strijbos, 4. de Dycker, 5. Leok, 6. Priem, 7. Tortelli, 8. Garcia Vico, 9. Leuret, 10. Bill. 14 Ramon.

MX1 World Championship Standings (after 3 rounds of 15): 1. Everts 142, 2. Leok 115, 3.Tortelli 99, 4. Strijbos 98, 5. Barragan 97, 6. de Dycker 97, 7. Ramon 83, 8.Melotte 66, 9. Leuret 65, 10. Priem 53.

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 Sylvain Geboers, click here . For photos, click here

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