It was a tough day at the races for Teka Suzuki WMX1's Steve Ramon and Ken de Dycker who battled hard to place fifth and sixth overall at the Grand Prix of Czech Republic - the 12th round of the 15-round MX1 Motocross World Championship - in front of over 28,000 race fans.
The fast and hardpack nature of the Loket circuit always makes overtaking difficult and both Ramon and De Dycker made things extra hard on themselves by not getting the best of starts in either motos.
Running sixth in moto one, Ramon, the reigning MX1 World Champion got stuck in the heavy roost of Josh Coppins for far too long and actually lost a position to David Philippaerts during that time before making a safe, clean pass to move ahead of Coppins on lap 16.
Desperate to not let Philippaerts pull too far away and retake the series lead that Ramon had worked so hard to get, he doggedly chased the Italian Yamaha rider - a battle which would see them both pass Sebastien Pourcel - and would finally finish fourth meaning the scores were level between the pair in the MX1 World Championship standings going in to moto two.
But while Philippaerts holeshot the second encounter and was never headed, Ramon had to put his head down and pull through the pack after getting snarled up in some turn one chaos. Battling through even heavier roost in the second race that deeply cut the champ's upper lip and badly bruised his torso and biceps, Ramon was able to methodically move from outside the top 10 to fourth on a circuit that many riders claimed was difficult if not almost impossible to pass on.
Although losing the championship lead back to Philippaerts, Ramon is confident of championship success going into the final three races of the season and sits just a mere seven points behind the current leader with races in Ireland, Holland and Italy left to run.
"This was a difficult race for me as Loket is not my favourite track so I'm actually pretty happy with my results," said Ramon.
"The start is really important here because it's not so easy to pass unless you are much quicker. My start in race one was okay and I was riding well but I spent too long sat behind Josh and it cost me a lot of energy trying to get by him. In the end I was able to pass him with about eight laps to go then I found myself right on the tail of Pourcel on the last lap. We were two corners from the finish and I was on the inside and I knew Philippaerts was in front of me and that I needed to make the pass so I kept the throttle on and made it happen - it wasn't a block pass though, it was a good fair pass.
"The start in race two wasn't good and I had to push hard in the beginning. I started getting a little bit tired in my legs in the middle part of the moto but I had to keep pushing hard. To finish fourth twice on this track is good because I knew this would be a difficult GP for me. There are now only three rounds left now - it is going to be tough but I will try my best!"
While De Dycker struggled to make much of an impression in moto one - starting 10th and only moving to eighth - his progress through the battling pack in moto two was meteoric. Starting outside the top 10 after getting stuck in turn one it was a classic De Dycker display of how to outsmart the competition from there on for the duration of the second race. Moving to third position - ahead of Ramon - on lap 15, he then powered after Pourcel with his Teka Suzuki WMX1 team-mate in tow but ran out of time before he was able to pass the Frenchman.
"The track was much better for me today with more ruts, more bumps and more lines. It was still important to get a good start because it was difficult to make up time and to pass here also," he explained.
"In race one I didn't get such a good start and then I wasn't riding so well. I wasn't able to turn and my speed wasn't there but the second moto was much better - I was much better and more aggressive. I was behind Steve for a long time in moto two and I felt faster but I found it difficult to pass him. There were many times when I was close and I could have gone for it but I may have made contact and I obviously didn't want that to happen - it wouldn't have been good for anyone involved. Eventually I was able to get by and then catch up with the guys in front - I would have got Pourcel but I ran out of time.
"Overall today wasn't too bad even though I am disappointed not to get on the podium. I'm now looking forward to the next few races where the tracks will be heavier and more technical so I can recapture the points I lost today."
The MX1 World Championship series will now take a two-week break before resuming with the Grand Prix of Ireland held at the brand-new Fairyhouse circuit near Dublin.
MX1 Moto 1: 1 Max Nagl (KTM - GER) 39:38.255, 2 Jonathan Barragan (KTM - ESP) +0:08.690, 3 David Philippaerts (Yamaha - ITA) +0:16:171, 4 Steve Ramon (Suzuki - BEL) +0:19.210, 5 Sebastien Pourcel (Kawasaki - FRA) +0:20:225, 6 Tanel Leok (Kawasaki - EST) +0:20.798, 7 Josh Coppins (Yamaha - NZL) +0:23:086, 8 Ken De Dycker (Suzuki - BEL) +0:24.745, 9 Clement Desalle (Suzuki - BEL) +0:37.346, 10 Kornel Nemeth (KTM - HUN) +0:50.532.
MX1 Moto 2: 1 David Philippaerts (Yamaha - ITA) 40:18.466, 2 Sebastien Pourcel (Kawasaki - FRA) +0:04.986, 3 Ken De Dycker (Suzuki - BEL) +0:06.206, 4 Steve Ramon (Suzuki - BEL) +0:10.184, 5 Jonathan Barragan (KTM - ESP) +0:14.943, 6 Tanel Leok (Kawasaki - EST) +0:17.849, 7 Manuel Priem (Kawasaki - BEL) +0:24.837, 8 Clement Desalle (Suzuki - BEL) +0:31.930, 9 Max Nagl (KTM - GER) +0:39.030, 10 Josh Coppins (Yamaha - NZL) +0:51.460.
World Championship standings (after 12 of 15 rounds): 1 David Philippaerts (Yamaha - ITA) 405 points, 2 Steve Ramon (Suzuki - BEL) 398, 3 Josh Coppins (Yamaha - NZL) 370, 4 Jonathan Barragan (KTM - ESP) 369, 5 Ken De Dycker (Suzuki - BEL) 369, 6 Sebastien Pourcel (Kawasaki - FRA) 344, 7 Max Nagl (KTM - GER) 327, 8 Tanel Leok (Kawasaki - EST) 275, 9 Billy MacKenzie (Honda - GB) 257, 10 Marc De Reuver (Honda - NED) 224
Manufacturer World Championship standings (after 12 of 15 rounds): 1 Yamaha 471 points, 2 Suzuki 457, 3 KTM 452, 4 Kawasaki 420, 5 Honda 362, 6 TM 32, 7 Aprilia 12.