Kawasaki Racing Team’s Tanel Leok and Bas Verhoeven where in action at the team’s ‘home Grand Prix’ on Sunday, Grand Prix of the Netherlands was staged in the deep and bottomless sands of the Lierop circuit some thirty minutes from the factory Kawasaki squad’s base near to Eindhoven.


Tanel Leok bounced back from a string of frustrating results in recent weeks to finish 4th narrowly miss out on a podium position in race one, the Estonian Express rode a calculated race and with conditions expected to be the toughest of the season he came back from ninth place improving his lap times as the race went on. For the early part of the thirty five minute plus two lap moto he had to contend with following team mate and sand specialist Bas Verhoeven, the former Dutch Champion was the home town favourite and was the best local rider of the weekend. Leok passed Bas on lap seven but spurred on by air horns and waving fans Bas held onto 6th position right behind Leok until only four laps from the end when DeDycker and Strijbos both put in a last big effort relegating Bas to 7th but still his best result of 2006.
Race two got underway in a rain storm, both Leok and Verhoeven were with the top ten and looking to pace themselves for an overall result. Crashes were to prevent them from achieving their goals, first to crash was Leok, the twenty year old suffered a bit get off and hit his head hard on the ground, it took him a while to get up, but dazed and suffering from double vision, concussion and a very sore shoulder he made his way back to the pit box to have the bike straightened. The team was confident that the bike was good to race and Leok went back out for a further three laps but was unable to focus and feared he would crash again he retired. With only one race left in the fifteen round series Leok is lying in a comfortable 5th position even if 6th placed Spaniard Barragan was to win both motos at Ernee, France in two weeks time he would be unable to catch and pass Leok with the points gap being 405 to 338.

Bas Verhoeven made a tremendous opening push in race two and was soon circulating in 8th position before he too suffered a high speed crash, caught off guard as he took off on a big jump, the bike kicked sideways and his hand came off the handlebars, he ended up eating dirt. Losing his rhythm the young Dutchman was eager not to let friends and family down who had traveled the twenty or so kilometers from his home town to encourage him. Bas took a few laps to get going but came back to 8th position and eventually passed the chequered flag in 10th place which handed him 7th position overall on the day.

Quotes :

Tanel Leok “I didn’t manage to get a clear lap in the qualification session, every time I was held up or made a mistake which left me in 7th position at the end of the session, I was reasonably happy with that but was confident of my speed which should have been good enough for top three. We had a good set up for my race machine, it was a little richer to help keep the engine cooler, it gets very hot in the deep sand – the rain helped to compact the sand so it wasn’t as dry and deep as everyone expected.”

Leok “I made a good jump from the gate in race one but was caught up at the first turn and pushed a little wide, it was the usual chaos on lap one but I came around inside the top ten and set about working my way through passing one rider per lap, I moved from 9th to 6th by lap eight and set about chasing Strijbos. It took me a couple of lap but I could see Ramon just ahead of him and by lap twelve I was in 5th and chasing DeDycker. He was tiring and I went to 4th but then DeDycker seemed to get a second breath and I could see from my pit signal and my pit crew that he was coming back. I dug deep and held 4th place it was a nice result after some recent disappointing performances.”

Leok “I had some slow laps times in race one so it was my intention to try and be more consistent in race two, I got off to a good start and was initially 4th came around in 8th position at the end of lap one, I was messing around a bit and made a mistake, on lap three I crashed hard and had a big headache, I was seeing white and sure I had a bit concussion, the bike felt twisted so I came into the pit box for them to straighten it but they told me it was ok. I went back out for a couple more laps without goggles, it was a big struggle to concentrate, head was hurting and then I had to call it a day, it was too dangerous to stay out, I would have hurt myself more.”

Bas Verhoeven
“I was looking forward to this race, it’s only twenty minutes from my house so I have friends and family here, it’s a real ‘home’ grand prix for me. Riding in the sand comes much more natural for me that hard packed track, the sand was not as deep as normal due to the rain but was still going to be a tough day. I was 8th in qualifying and had a good gate but I missed the drop and was at the back of the field by turn one, I came back on the inside and started from 10th on lap one. I was riding in front of Tanel and then he passed me, I was feeling very good, and moved through to 5th position which would have been a great result but on the last two laps DeDycker and Strijbos caught and passed me, still seventh position is my best result this year by a long way.”

Verhoeven “From an sixth place start I was circulating in 8th position for five lap I think then I made a big jump and my hand came off the handlebars and I crashed, I was out of breath and out of my rhythm but I picked up the pace after a few laps and came back to 10th position. I lost a position to Nemeth as I was making a few mistakes after the crash trying hard to pick back up my pace. I am sure without the crash I could have finished easily 7th again but 10th was still Ok and that gave me seventh overall on the day.”


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