Kevin Strijbos enters the winners circle
Despite variable weather and several showers on Sunday, the Grand Prix of Czech Republic offered some good racing, especially in the MX1 class. A massive crash at the second start cost time to most of the favourites and allowed Kevin Strijbos to collect his first ever GP win while Christophe Pourcel scored his first heat success in the MX2 class.
Once more the facts confirm that the 2005 season is one of the most interesting of the decade, and this weekend two young riders joined the winner’s circle. After Antonio Cairoli, David Philippaerts and Billy Mackenzie, Kevin Strijbos (19 years old) won the first Grand Prix of his career while Christophe Pourcel (16 years old) took his first heat win; a feat that Anthony Boissière, Davide Guarneri, Mackenzie and Philippaerts also achieved earlier this season. Both Strijbos (who will turn 20 on Saturday 13th) and Pourcel (who will be 17 on Tuesday 16th) already celebrated their birthday ‘present’ in Loket, and will continue to set the pace in the series as both confirmed that they will race the GP’s next season.
Everyone was looking at the sky all day long in Loket and as predicted several showers disturbed the races and damaged the track. Antonio Cairoli again grabbed strong starts in the MX2 class and led the entire first heat but at the second Christophe Pourcel took the holeshot. Cairoli could only secure second position but earned the overall win as the French kid finished the first moto in fifth position. Coming to the GP’s just one year ago, Pourcel confirmed with his first ever GP holeshot and heat win, that he is one of the strongest hopefuls in this class. Second in the Grand Prix overall he collected his second podium after Great Britain and defeated Andrew McFarlane. The World Championship leader suffered from a heavy crash in qualification but secured another GP podium with two consistent races. Second and third in the first heat, Marc De Reuver – coming back strongly as it was his second race of the season – and Carl Nunn had pretty bad starts later, as well as David Philippaerts and Cedric Melotte.
Both MX1 starts were fairly hectic with several crashes in the first corner. Brian Jorgensen led the first race for seven laps but made a mistake in a muddy corner and offered first spot to Stefan Everts and Mickael Pichon. Both completed the entire race together but there was mainly one dry line and Pichon ended the tussle in second position followed by Joshua Coppins. Unfortunately Everts, Pichon, Smets, Ramon and some other riders were involved in two crashes at the start of race two. Strijbos and Coppins grabbed the advantage and battled most of the race; making his best performance since his return to the GP’s, Strijbos was passed by Coppins on the second lap, but never gave up and regained control later on. He won the third heat of his career and collected the overall, the first ever MX1 for Suzuki and their RM-Z 450. Coming back to fourth Everts scored the same number of points as Strijbos, but lost the GP win with a worst performance than his countryman in the last race; it was the first time since Great Britain that the reigning World Champion won one heat and scored more points than Josh Coppins who was third overall today.
Kevin Strijbos: “It has been a difficult season so far for me with the injuries, but I never gave up, practiced hard and kept pushing. Last week in Nismes I struggled with the start but as soon as I arrived here everything went pretty well. I had two good starts today and it’s amazing to win my first GP even I don’t really realize yet! In the second heat I saw that I was faster than Joshua Coppins in some corners and in my first attempt I took the inside lap and could pass him in the fifteenth lap. When the rain came at mid race the track became slippery in some places but it was not as worse as last week in Belgium. Now I must continue to work hard because I’m still not at my best level and want to achieve some other good results this season.”
Antonio Cairoli: “The first heat was really good for me, I got the holeshot and then pushed to secure a strong gap with the other riders. In the following race I had another good start but took a wide line in the first corner and Christophe Pourcel got the lead. I watched his lines but we had the same, he was really fast and I couldn’t pass him. The most important for me this weekend was to win the GP and to get a better result than Andrew McFarlane. I’m now only one point behind him but I will not change my tactic: I want to win as many races as possible, and that’s it. I don’t really like the track in Gaildorf, for me it’s more enduro than motocross but it’s the same for everyone and I will do my best there.”
Next event: Grand Prix of Germany (Gaildorf), August 20th-21st
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