16 April 2006
Everts, Rattray reign in Spain.
Stefan Everts and Tyla Rattray, winners at the season-opening Grand Prix of Flanders two weeks ago, repeated their success in Sunday's Grand Prix of Spain, at Bellpuig.
The victory marked Stefan's 89th GP win and came after 3-1 heat finishes - the Belgian falling while under pressure from Kawasaki pole sitter Tanel Leok in race one, then delivering a dominate display in race two to take both the heat and overall victory.
"I never found a good rhythm in the first race, and Leok put some pressure on me when I was leading. I made a stupid mistake and then it took me a few laps to recover when I was fifth, with Ramon right behind me," explained the Yamaha star. "I got a better rhythm at the end and was able to pass Barragan for third position. I wasn't really happy, last year I also made silly mistakes here. In the second race I was more relaxed and consistent, I had a really great feeling on my bike and posted fast laps. I'm happy to succeed here in Spain where our new sponsor is based."
But while Everts had his race one troubles, Sebastien Tortelli - the Belgian's only rival at round one - was unable to capitalise after mistakes of his own. The KTM rider fell several times, leaving Leok and Suzuki's Kevin Strijbos to fight for the race one win.
With Everts falling down the order it looked like the Estonian would take victory, but he too made a mistake and Strijbos instead took a much needed heat win. However, Kevin's hopes of an overall victory ended with an early accident in heat two, but Leok went on to take a solid second - in both the race and overall standings.
"This weekend I was able to battle with Stefan during the first fifteen minutes, but then he was stronger. When he crashed in the first race I got the lead, but I also made a mistake and finally got two second positions," analysed the Estonian, who is now second in the world championship standings.
Joining Everts and Leok on the end-of-day podium was the second factory Suzuki of Steve Ramon, who took 6-3 race finishes, while Tortelli fell at the start of race two - before remounting and brilliantly fighting his way right up to fifth at the chequered flag. However, his 7-5 finishes meant that the Frenchman, who had been tied with Everts heading into the event, is now third in the championship and 15-points from the reigning nine-times world champion.
In the MX2 class, Rattray didn't take a heat win at Bellpuig, but consistency gave the South African his fifth GP win in a row. Alessio Chiodi got the holeshot in the first heat, but his team-mate Kenneth Gundersen passed him promptly and gave Yamaha its first heat win of the season ahead of Chiodi and Rattray's factory KTM team-mate Marc de Reuver.
Meanwhile, Tyla had fallen on the opening lap - but fought back to fifth - while reigning world champion Antonio Cairoli was one of several victims of a hopelessly over-watered track; the Italian spinning out in the race one 'mush', with his Yamaha then becoming permanently tangled in trackside fencing.
But Cairoli took revenge with a start-to-finish race two victory, while Rattray finished 2secs behind for the overall grand prix win. de Reuver was second overall after 3-5 finishes, while Billy Mackenzie got his first podium of the season after recording 8-3 heat results.
"I knew that it's important to be consistent, but I wasn't expecting a win with a fifth place in the first heat," admitted Rattray. "I had a good start but crashed in the second corner, I was maybe twenty fifth… I pushed really hard in the first laps to come back in the top six, and in the next period I was happy with my riding. I posted similar lap time during the entire race, and put pressure on Antonio until the finish."
Round three of the 2006 MX1 and MX2 world championships take place next weekend in Portugal.
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