2 July 2006
Everts, Philippaerts take exciting Swedish wins.
The Grand Prix of Sweden may not have seen a new winner, with Stefan Everts and David Philippaerts clinching the MX1 and MX2 class victories, but four hard fought races more than entertained the 26,500 strong crowd.
The first MX1 race was perhaps the most predictable of the day, with Yamaha's nine time champion Everts converting pole into an early lead - although KTM's Jonathan Barragan kept pressure on the Belgian superstar, forcing him to push right to the flag, while Josh Coppins claimed a distant third - ahead of Steve Ramon, Tanel Leok and Kevin Strijbos - after a poor start.
But the second moto saw drama early on, with Everts falling and rejoining in sixth place, while Coppins led from Strijbos. Factory Suzuki rider Strijbos then overtook the CAS Honda rider, with team-mate Ramon following suite soon after. Indeed Ramon was on a mission and went on to pass Strijbos and to escape for victory.
However, Everts was making up ground and - although the gap to Ramon initially seemed impossible to overcome - Steve slowed noticeably in the closing stages and was overtaken by Stefan on the very last lap! Ramon thus took second in the race, and overall, with Coppins joining them on the end of day podium despite finishing fifth in race two - behind a rejuvenated Gordon Crockard and third placed Strijbos.
"Jonathan was following my lines and was coming closer," said Everts of race one. "In the first moto I was also very tired because of the heat but the second one was much better. I crashed though and when I re entered I did not believe I could win. The first overtaking moves were not so easy; then when I got to third Steve and Kevin were not far away but at first I could not close in. Once I saw I could, I just pushed my hardest."
The first MX2 race had seen a similar fight back ride from Philippaerts - just sixth at the end of lap one - who charged past KTM team-mate Marc de Reuver and world champion Antonio Cairoli on the same lap, before making short work of Kenneth Gundersen and Tyla Rattray.
The Italian then became locked in a thrilling dogfight with race and championship leader Christophe Pourcel, with the two riders passing each other several times before David broke away… but the race didn't end there, since Cairoli was now closing fast and passed Philippaerts on the very final lap - only for Philippaerts to retake the Yamaha rider virtually at the finish line!
The younger Pourcel brother finished third, but got a strong start in race two and rode to a safe victory, but Philippaerts settled into second place for the overall – Cairoli having crashed on the opening lap.
Rattray looked likely to put Philippaerts under pressure for second, but suffered a mechanical problem and instead it was young Brit Tommy Searle that took third, ahead of Molson Kawasaki team-mate Gareth Swanepoel and de Reuver.
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