Team Suzuki's Kevin Strijbos aced the two MX1 motos at a soaking, windy and cold Hawkstone Park in Great Britain on Sunday to give the Belgian crew their first victory of the pre-season period and christen the 2007 RM-Z450 in the best way possible.
The 21-year-old Belgian trailed world championship rivals Josh Coppins and Ken de Dycker in the first moto around the chilly and blustery midlands venue - before overcoming them both to seal his maiden moto victory of the year.
The Belgian then dealt countryman de Dycker another blow in the second moto, when he sliced through his countryman's lead to score a perfect 1-1 sweep of the MX1 points.
Strijbos, who gave the RM-Z 450 its first grand prix win in the Czech Republic during the 2005 season, was looking for a hat-trick of triumphs in the Superfinal until an injured Carl Nunn - coupled with a torrential shower - forced the red-flags to prematurely close the British International, which had boasted an entry list consisting of works riders from virtually every manufacturer.
"I felt good and it was a pretty easy win actually," Strijbos claimed. "I was not too good off the start in the first race and I was third for quite a while but worked on catching the guys in front of me and things went to plan. In the second heat my start was better but the first few laps were shaky and I let Ken get away a little bit. When I started to find my rhythm again then my pace was better and it was quite straight forward for the win once I had the lead. The track was tough especially with some of the deep ruts. The bike worked well today. We made some changes last week and will also do some tests over the next two weeks until the first round of the Dutch Championship as well as the Belgian series."
"That was the best race I have seen Kevin make this year and it came after some good progress this week," added team principal Sylvain Geboers. "The track was not so easy but he has found his set-up with the 2007 motorcycle and I hope this will be the start of a run into the world championship now."
Former world championship runner-up Coppins took third place overall, with a pair of consistent results in conditions that perhaps did not best suit the New Zealander.
“It's been a bit of an up and down day,” commented Coppins. “What a pity we didn't have the weather on our side. The track took some getting used to and I must say I was not in my comfort zone today. The super-final seemed to be going much better but then that got stopped with a fallen rider. My starts were good and every time I went out there I was able to feel more comfortable on the bike.”
Further back, Gordon Crockard, making his home debut for PAR Honda, was the best of the British based competitors, taking seventh position overall for his efforts. Recovering from a recent injury Billy Mackenzie, who switched to the Motorex Kawasaki factory team over the winter, could only record one result of note as he took eighth place in the second MX1 moto after falling in the first race.
In the MX2 class, South African born Tyla Rattray took victory in both of his races to take the overall honours. Dutchman and sand specialist Erik Eggens of Suzuki was best of the rest in both heats, while the final podium position went to Britain's Tom Church, riding a Molson Kawasaki, who scored 5 - 4 finishes. Red Bull KTM rider Tommy Searle could only manage fourth overall as he and reigning MX2 British champion Nunn both fell in the first MX2 moto.
Nunn's accident in the Grand Final, where the best riders from the two classes are brought together, caused a premature end to the day's action, with the race being stopped to remove the injured rider from the track. The delay caused by this stoppage saw the arrival of torrential rain, which meant that the unfortunate decision not to re-run the grand final was taken on the grounds of safety. Fortunately, Nunn's injuries are reported not to be serious.
Moto One MX1:
1. Kevin Strijbos 2. Ken de Dycker 3. Joshua Coppins 4. Max Nagl 5. Marc de Reuver
Moto Two MX1:
1. Kevin Strijbos 2. Ken de Dycker 3. Marc de Reuver 4. Josh Coppins 5. Max Nagl
1. Kevin Strijbos 60 2. Ken De Dycker 54 3. Josh Coppins 48 4. Marc de Reuver 46 5. Max Nagl 44
Moto One MX2:
1. Tyla Rattray 2. Erik Eggens 3. Martin Barr 4. Marcus Schiffer 5. Tom Church
Moto Two MX2:> 1. Tyla Rattray 2. Erik Eggens 3. Tommy Searle 4. Tom Church 5. Carl Nunn
MX2 Overall: 1. Tyla Rattray 60 2. Erik Eggens 54 3. Tom Church 46 4. Tommy Searle 40 5. Martin Barr 40