Team Teka Suzuki WMX1's Steve Ramon enters the 12th round of the FIM MX1 Motocross World Championship at Loket in the Czech Republic todayconfident that he can increase his points lead in the series after qualifying fifth in yesterday's timed session on his factory RM-Z450.
The 1.58 kilometre Loket circuit was dry, fast and slippery for the 30-minute qualification session with relatively few bumps or ruts forming which meant times were tight between the leading MX1 contenders.
Despite not riding during the week, as he recovered physically from the previous weekend's tortuous sand race at Lommel in Belgium, reigning MX1 World Champion Ramon soon found the quick way around the hardpack Loket circuit. Fast throughout the two free practice sessions and then the official qualification period too, his fastest lap placed him fifth which gives him a good gate pick and great confidence going into tomorrow's points-paying races.
"This track is completely different to how Lommel was last week and I haven't been practicing with the bike during the week so it took a little bit of time to get used to riding this circuit," said Ramon. "My riding was going okay though and I enjoyed riding today even though it was quite difficult with many stones making the turns slippery and there were not so many ruts in the corners. The track is quite smooth at the moment and so a lot of riders are able to go quite fast on it - the start will be very important here.
"Timed qualification went quite well for me and the difference between myself and the fastest rider was not so much. I'm looking forward to racing tomorrow. I hope to get good starts, to ride well and to keep the red plate."
Ken De Dycker finished ninth in the qualification session on his factory RM-Z450 but is also confident he can perform better in tomorrow's races as the currently smooth circuit gets rougher and more technical. After making gearing changes to his factory Suzuki to improve acceleration both out of the gate and up the many hills the Loket circuit offers, De Dycker feels ready to decrease the lead between himself and the current series leaders.
"The track is quite hard and slippery with all the stones but there aren't so many bumps or ruts and it's actually quite easy - it's the same for everyone and I know it will be better tomorrow as it gets rougher and that's the main thing," said Ken.
"The qualifying session went okay for me. I tried many times to put in a fast lap but with the track being so slippery I found it hard to make a perfect lap. I finished the session ninth which is okay and I'm not too worried because the times are quite tight.
"Ideally I'd like to get good starts tomorrow but it won't really matter because I'm confident I'll be able to pass here quite easily. My main aim tomorrow is to take even more points from the riders in front of me in the championship - if I do that I'll be happy."
While the track's slick going may change the way in which the riders can attack the circuit's corners the highly versatile factory RM-Z450 needs very few changes from its base settings for this kind of race as Team Teka Suzuki WMX1's General Manager Sylvain Geboers explained.
"We class the circuit conditions at this race as hard/ medium-hard and Steve is on the standard settings we have for this type of race," said Geboers. "In qualifying Steve decided to use his spare bike which has the same settings as his race bike but offers a little bit more top-end power which he preferred on this circuit.
"For Ken we have moved to a different gear ratio as his higher overall body weight means a shorter gear ratio helps him on this track which is quite demanding on the uphills. It works well for him and it will help him on the start also which will be very important tomorrow because we can already see that it's difficult to pass on this circuit."
The Loket circuit should offer a similar challenge for tomorrow's race as the weather is forecast to be much the same as today - overcast with sunny spells and temperature expected to be around 23 degrees Celsius.
MX1 Timed Practice: 1 Billy MacKenzie (Honda - GB) 1:47:227, 2 Tanel Leok (Kawasaki - EST) 1:47:639, 3 Sebastien Pourcel (Kawasaki - FRA) 1:47:757, 4 Josh Coppins (Yamaha - NZL) 1:47:985, 5 Steve Ramon (Suzuki - BEL) 1:48:096, 6 Clement Desalle (Suzuki - BEL) 1:48:128, 7 Steve Boniface (Honda - FRA) 1:48:399, 8 Max Nagl (KTM - GER) 1:48:489, 9 Ken De Dycker (Suzuki - BEL) 1:48:492, 10 Manuel Priem (Kawasaki - BEL) 1:48:679.