The 2009 Motocross World Championships got off to a soggy start at Faenza on Sunday, when Tanel Leok (MX1) and Gautier Paulin (MX2) took victory on a day when appalling weather conditions restricted the track action to just one moto per class.
After a dry Saturday, rain fell incessantly from the early hours of Sunday morning, reducing the usually fast and hard-packed hillside circuit to a slow and sloppy quagmire.
A good start was therefore essential - but no guarantee of survival - and it was Teka Suzuki WMX1's Steve Ramon who led the opening laps, ahead of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Max Nagl. Marc De Reuver then took the lead but both Ramon and the Martin Honda rider had to visit the pits due to the tough racing conditions and lost vital time.
As the chaos intensified, with unrecognisable bikes and riders stranded all around the circuit, Leok - making his Yamaha Red Bull De Carli debut - kept his cool and went on to take his first win since Ireland last year, and lead the early championship standings.
Second place went to Ramon's team-mate Ken de Dycker, with Clemet Desalle third for LS Motors Honda.
TM Factory's Aigar Leok was fourth ahead of MX2 star Tony Cairoli. The Yamaha Red Bull De Carli rider was holding third when a mistake sent him off track.
Reigning MX1 World Champion David Philippaerts struggled with the race conditions and finished ninth, while Sebastien Pourcel crashed at the start and finished in 24th.
In the MX2 race, eventual winner Paulin got caught up in a gaggle of riders as the 250cc pack headed through the first corner and finished lap one in 14th position - almost one minute behind the leaders.
Over the next five laps the 19-year-old Frenchman threw down the gauntlet and closed in on the leading riders. By lap 8, he was already up to third position and with two laps to go slotted into second behind Belgian Jeremy Van Horebeek.
Without hesitation, Paulin pounced for the lead and kept his Kawasaki up front to the chequered flag. van Horebeek retained second with Marvin Musquin third.