Professional rider on closed course competition.

STRIJBOS WINS HAWKSTONE GRAND FINAL

March 7, 2006

Team Suzuki Press Office – March 7, 2006.

Team Suzuki earned its first win of a short but busy pre-season period when Kevin Strijbos beat nine times World Champion and reigning MX1 king Stefan Everts at a sunny Hawkstone Park.

Despite a brief and bizarre snow storm mid-way through the afternoon, the famous sandy circuit in Shropshire, England entertained a big crowd and saw a large entry of Grand Prix riders line-up for the International event.

On a rough and demanding course Strijbos was immediately on the pace and started among the leaders in all three motos thanks to the RM-Z450 ample capability launching from the start gate. The 20 year old Belgian pushed countryman Everts hard in the opening sprint and then repeated to chase the Yamaha rider again in the second moto. Everts was largely untouchable, as he had been at Pernes Les Fontaines and Mantova in weeks previously. The Champion made a mistake however in the Grand Final and crashed which allowed Strijbos through to second position and with a handful of laps to reel in runaway leader Billy Mackenzie who was part of the MX2 field in the mixed class contest.

Strijbos made his move on the penultimate circulation and then withstood a fierce comeback from Everts who had gained ground on the leaders as they thread through backmarkers. By less than a second it was the first taste of success for Strijbos since the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic last August.

“I had some problems with arm-pump in the first race so by the time I came to second Everts had already gone,” he said. “I was happier with my speed and the riding felt easier compared to last week in Pernes. In the second moto I had the holeshot but Stefan came through. I could stay with him fine but wasn’t quite close enough to overtake. He made a mistake on the last lap and I tried to squeeze past but he is a nine times World Champion so he knows how to defend his position! I was happy with the two races because I was not pushing near my limit.

“I managed to get back at Everts in the final,” he continued. “Billy was going really fast and I could not close the gap but on one lap we ran into backmarkers and I made some seconds. On the last lap my mechanic said I had a four second lead over Stefan but on the last lap I saw that he was right there! It was difficult with the lapped riders but I was really happy to win.”

Steve Ramon completed a decent ride considering that the Belgian was recovering from a strained back muscle. His best outing came in the second race as he collected third place behind his team-mate. He was then sixth in the Final.

Said Ramon: “It is only pre-season but things did not go to plan for me in Pernes last week, so this was much better today. In the first moto I did not get a good start and with these rough track conditions it is vital to get away well. I was not riding well although seventh position could have been worse. Everything improved in the second race; my start and my speed especially. I was following Stefan and Kevin but I made a mistake in a corner and the bike stopped. I lost a lot of time to the guys restarting.

“There was a lot of action in the Final passing the MX2 guys and I crashed on the big hill and dropped many positions because I could not get back to the bike. I was encouraged by my riding afterwards and we had made some positive changes to the Suzuki in the last week or two and I felt them today, “he added.

Moto1: 1. Stefan Everts, 2. Kevin Strijbos (Suzuki), 3. Ken de Dycker, 4. Mickael Pichon, 5. Josh Coppins, 6. Tanel Leok, 7. Steve Ramon (Suzuki), 8. Cedric Melotte, 9. James Noble, 10. Mark Hucklebridge.

Moto 2: 1. Stefan Everts, 2. Kevin Strijbos (Suzuki), 3. Steve Ramon (Suzuki), 4. Mickael Pichon, 5. Cedric Melotte, 6. Josh Coppins, 7. Tanel Leok, 8. James Noble, 9. Ken de Dycker, 10. Gordon Crockard.

Grand Final: 1. Kevin Strijbos (Suzuki), 2. Stefan Everts, 3. Josh Coppins, 4. Mickael Pichon, 5. Tanel Leok, 6. Steve Ramon (Suzuki), 7. Sebastien Tortelli, 8. Mark Jones, 9. Yoshitaka Atsuta, 10. Gordon Crockard.

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

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