TOUGH WEEKEND FOR KAWASAKI IN ULSTER

The final count down to the FIM World Championship started at Desertmartin in Northern Ireland over the weekend, it proved to be a tough test for the Kawasaki pairing of Tanel Leok and Bas Verhoeven and they both struggled to come to terms with the rough and demanding red sands of Ulster. Heavy rain throughout the weekend made the beautiful red sand hard packed and the going was tough with lap times getting slower for almost the entire field.

Leok crashed heavily on Sunday morning and aggravated his injured shoulder, even with pain killers the tough Estonian struggled to focus on racing, his mind was not on the job in hand but he recorded 12th and 8th positions. Finishing the weekend in 9th position overall and frustrated by his humble efforts still holds onto 5th position overall in the world ranking with only two of the fifteen rounds in the series remaining.

Former Dutch Champion Bas Verhoeven was disappointed when he saw the heavy sands, compacted by the rain, he was expecting ‘dutch’ sand but it was to turn out to be a very tough weekend with a number of mistakes ending up with spill after spill.

 

The Desertmartin circuit some 100 kilometres north of Belfast is a tight technical hillside circuit with man made jumps, things were made worse by the inclusion of several new obstacles which seemed to slow the pace and make passing difficult, lap times slowed and riders battled fatigue. Verhoeven suffered from two bad starts and lost ground I his opening race but fought back to salvage four points. Leok’s starts on the big KX450f-SR machine were better but the short start straight into a very tight right hand turn favoured the inside gates and with a 9th position in his qualification session he started almost in the middle of the starting gate. Verhoeven qualified in a safe 20th position but he too had a long way to travel to get to turn one, he was forced wide in race one and two clashing handlebars while jostling for positions.
Injured Kawasaki ace Stephen Sword made his first appearance at a motocross race since badly injuring his right ankle in a horrific crash at the Grand Prix of Germany back in May. Sword still on crouches but able to ‘hobble’ short distances was a guest co-commentator for Eurosport switching riding gear for a microphone for the live televised feed with an estimated world wide viewing figure of 34 million as in 2006. Sword will not return to action this year and will leave the Kawasaki Racing Team to return back to the British based Molson Kawasaki team were he started his professional career, in 2007 Sword will compete for the World and British MX2 titles.

Quotes :

Tanel Leok “I made a big crash in free practice on Sunday morning, my shoulder was really hurting and I couldn’t take my mind off the pain, it was there all the time and I couldn’t focus on my riding. I missed the drop out of the gate and fought to come around in 13th at the end of the opening lap, I did make some progress but then after a few mistakes and riding through the pain I slipped back to 12th position again. I took some extra pain killers before the start of race two and felt much better but the track was very rough, many ruts and braking bumps, the constant jarring on the bikes soon brought back the pain and I started to make mistakes again. I felt that my riding was better, I finished in 8th position but my lap times were very bad, I was lapped in both motos which is not nice but all I could do was try to ride through the pain.”

Bas Verhoeven “I have had a terrible weekend here at Desertmartin, I was told that it was a sandy circuit and I was looking forward to racing here but the dirt is more hard than sand, not like Dutch sand that I was expecting but still I prefer this to hard packed ground, this was tough going. I made two terrible starts but this was a very difficult track, many jumps and small obstacles that stopped you making up ground. I was forced out wide at the first turn in both motos mid pack and couldn’t settle down and find a nice rhythm, there were riders switching lines it was hard to make up ground. In race one the ground was heavy due to rain, I made so many mistakes I dropped back from 16th to 22nd and out of the points, I was really annoyed with myself. From another poor start in race two I was right at the back of the pack, I think on lap one I was back in 24th position, I was trying to push hard but made mistake after mistake, my riding was better than race one and I scored points but to be honest I rode crap ! all weekend.“

Stephen Sword “It’s nice to get back to a motocross race, I am not one for watching races and it’s frustrating not being able to race but I now notice a steady improvement to my ankle so I can now see the light at the end of a very long tunnel. I was fortunate to be invited to co-commentate for Eurosport, I had the best seat in the house and watch the race live on the monitor gave me a god view. It was a new experience for me, I have never done that sort of thing before and fortunately I didn’t think about how many people were watching live so I didn’t have any nerves. It was strange not racing, I have been a couch potatoe for while waiting for my injury to heal, I think riding around here today even if you are 100% fit would have been very tough, Everts and Coppins were in a different league, they made a great race but think when you see everyone except the top three getting lapped tells the story how hard the going was, nearly everyone struggled. I have had some very good races at this circuit, I would like to think I could have been running at least top five had I been out there.”

 

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