Ten times Motocross world champion Stefan Everts closed a record-breaking career with his 14th victory from the 15 2006 grands prix, at the season ending event at Ernee, France.
The 33-year-old Belgian scooped his 101st and final victory with two double triumphs watched and applauded by 17,000 appreciative spectators. The masses acknowledged a special chapter in motocross history as Everts took to the podium for the final occasion after an 18-year stint at the highest level.
The Ernee circuit had dried significantly after lengthy spells of rain on Friday led towards the practice programme being shortened on Saturday in the interests of preserving the terrain. Sunday witnessed blue sky and sunshine for the first time in three days and the hill-side track was a slippery and rough test with many ruts chopping the corners and jump take-offs.
Steering his YZ450FM with a new colour scheme that involved a chequered flag design inscribed with his 100 grand prix victories, as well as a set of white painted Pirelli tyres, Everts pulled away from Jonathan Barragan in the first moto for a comfortable victory as main rivals Mickael Pichon, who took pole position on his own GP farewell, and Josh Coppins, the only rider other than Everts to win a grand prix this season, both fell.
"Mickael broke his nose and he may have some concussion but he is still at the hospital," said KTM team manager Georges Jobe. "I saw the crash and it was really bad. He jumped off the bike and landed face-first on the ground. The helmet pushed up and broke his nose it seemed."
Coppins was more fortunate and recovered to sixth - leaving Kevin Strijbos to complete the race one podium.
The second race was a similar walkover and Everts had a lead of more than ten seconds by the end of the first third of the sprint. Stefan then held that advantage over Coppins to the flag, with Tanel Leok third. In the final championship standings, Strijbos took a distant second behind Everts with Suzuki team-mate Steve Ramon third, CAS Honda's Ken de Dycker fourth and Kawasaki's Leok fifth.
After taking the chequered flag for the final time at a grand prix, Everts - wearing special white Acerbis gear with large sections of shiny gold befitting his status as the king of the sport - completed a victory lap and then enjoyed a lengthy podium ceremony with his world championship peers gathered around in celebration.
From this season's 15 grands prix, Everts has won 14 and 27 motos, 22 of which he clinched in a row. He also recorded 8 pole positions and posted 739 points from a possible maximum of 750. His lowest result was a third position taken in the first moto at Bellpuig for the Grand Prix of Spain.
"It wasn't such a difficult race. I really wanted to enjoy this day and try to capture a lot of things that I can remember later about the weekend," reflected Everts. "It has been a great GP and Yamaha and Team Rinaldi have made some really nice surprises. To go into retirement with a victory here at my last grand prix is wonderful. Just before the second race I was getting emotional when the 15 second board went up. I said to myself for the last time I am going to go for it and enjoy it.