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Cairoli crowned, 'wrong' Suzuki wins

19 August 2007

The Sicilian conquered Moneyglass Demesne in dominant style and could rejoice in his well-deserved title after taking honours in the first race and charging through to pass KTM's Tommy Searle on the last lap of the second. Cairoli was already mathematically the new number one as outgoing champion and nearest rival Christophe Pourcel fell in warm-up, dislocating his left shoulder and breaking his pelvis.

The Sicilian grabbed pole position on Saturday with the qualification heats replaced by a joint 45 minute practice and Timed period in an effort to save the soaked and boggy track. Rainfall had been replaced by a strong and cold wind on Sunday and extensive work carried out by the organisers helped preserve what was an interesting layout full of jumps and elevation changes but dangerous in places - some jump landings - due to the soft mud.

Cairoli won the first moto easily from Searle and Rui Goncalves and the De Carli team started the celebrations as Cairoli rolled the finish-line double. The 21 year old then had an authentic challenge in the second race when he started poorly and had to come through the top ten with a buckled front wheel after a collision with Marcus Schiffer.

He faced a gap of almost twenty seconds to Searle and seemed to have reached as far as he could go - and would have to accept second place - but launched into a flurry of furiously fast laps. He worked hard to slice the final six seconds to the back of the KTM in the last two circulations and forced his way through to the lead with mere corners left until the flag. It was a grandstand finale to an incredible year for the rider and team.

From 90 motos and 45 grand prix since 2005, Cairoli has won 44 and 18 respectively. His title-winning campaign has seen him miss the overall top three only once with 19 chequered flags from a possible 26 and 9 Grand Prix wins from 13 events.

"Normally I would have been looking at this race just to confirm the championship and not be thinking about the overall but I had a good feeling on the track," explained Toni. "I got into the lead in the first moto and from there just worked on being smooth. My finger was bothering me because the track was still so soft and wet that I needed to use the clutch a lot. That race was not difficult and I thought a lot about the championship. When I went over the finish it was so good to see all the team and the people there waiting; it was a sight that I had been waiting for since the beginning of the championship.

"I got held up behind Schiffer for five or six laps in the second and I tried to move through but ended up damaging the front wheel. Towards the end I was always watching where Tommy was on the track because I knew he could take the overall. I was happy to see that I was gaining ground quickly and then on the last lap he made a mistake and went wide. We have been making little parties all year it seems but we will have a big one after Lierop!"

"It is unbelievable the way Tony has won this championship with total domination through the whole season and what he did in the last few laps of that second moto he showed that he's a rider who is not from this planet," enthused Laurens Klein Koerkamp, racing division manager of Yamaha Motor Europe. "He had some damage to the wheel but still managed to be seconds faster than the others! We must give a big compliment to Antonio and Claudio de Carli too for his tuning and preparation. It is great for us that we offer them the bike as standard and they can do such a good job. Molte contenti!"

In the premier MX1 class, all eyes were on Steve Ramon as he had the chance to take the title lead from the injured, and absent, Josh Coppins. But it was another Suzuki rider who took victory in the form of team-mate Kevin Strijbos, while Ramon was forced to charge from the back of the pack in both heats.

Strijbos was second to CAS Honda's Ken de Dycker in race one, in which KTM's Jonathan Barragan was third, but claimed the overall with a dominant win in race two ahead of Pourcel and KTM's David Philippaerts.

"It was all good today, especially the second moto because I felt really strong and not tired at all," said Strijbos. "The first race was quite positive but after I fought back against Ken I had some arm-pump and it was over as I had to drop the speed. The track was good but hard with the mud and to deal with the jumps. When it is dry it should be one of the best circuits around. I just want to keep racing now and see where I finish in the championship."

Ramon fell on the opening lap of race one, but recovered to eighth, then suffered similar first lap misfortune in race two - but this time at least reached fourth at the chequered flag.

"I wasn't a first lap specialist today!" admitted Ramon, who will now start the last two GPs 12 points behind Coppins. "My start in the first moto was not so good and I tried to do the double jump going into the back part of the circuit but I hadn't attempted it before. I wanted to get to the front quickly but made an error of judgement, ran wide and crashed. I hurt my wrist and had a lot of pain the whole moto but tried my best. Eighth place wasn't in the plan.

"In the second moto I had a good start and was third but I was riding up a climb behind somebody and hit a stone that made me wobble and go off the track. I ended up in the green fence and had to be really careful coming back that I did not get it around the chain. I was last again on the first lap and thought 'this cannot be possible!' Again I had to try so hard but I had some good lines and could reach fourth which was pretty positive. I'm looking forward to Donington Park now because the championship is tight and if I can keep on making the lap-times and riding with that kind of speed it will be very close."

Coppins is hopeful of being able to ride for the first time this week, since fracturing his shoulder in the Czech Republic, and plans to race at the brand new Donington Park circuit this weekend - although the Kiwi's level of fitness is unknown.


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