Team Teka Suzuki WMX1's Ken de Dycker finished an excellent second overall in the Grand Prix of Benelux - held at the punishing Lierop circuit - while his team-mate Steve Ramon struggled to find a rhythm around the sandy track all day and eventually finished in eighth place overall.
The 14th round of the FIM Motocross World Championship was a real test of man and machine as the sandy Lierop circuit rutted and roughed up more than ever before partially due to showers on the day but also because of the work that Youthstream track designer Greg Atkins had carried out to the circuit to ensure that it was more technical than in previous years. With big holes forming and the ruts and berms around the circuit moving constantly in the ever changing soft sand finding a good rhythm around the 1.8 kilometre track was essential.
De Dycker was able to get into his groove quite quickly in moto one and swiftly slotted his sweet-handling Suzuki into the lead position by showing some outstanding bike skills around the Lierop facility.
After coming under intense pressure from Marc de Reuver, De Dycker gave up the lead to the Dutchman but tried to tag along to learn the local rider's lines. But while stalking the leader De Dycker lost concentration and made a big mistake by crashing into the trackside green fencing. Slipping from second to eighth as he retrieved his machine Ken finally crossed the line in the position he restarted in after his spill.
Moto two went much better for the Belgian star though as he got away from the start just inside the top five and capitalised on a Jonathan Barragan mistake to move from fourth to second in one move as not only did the Spaniard hit the deck but he also collected the race one winner De Reuver in the carnage.
After moving into the lead on lap four Ken relinquished first place two laps later as first a recovering De Reuver and then a hard-charging Belgian Manuel Priem set the pace before De Dycker who'd been biding his time picked up at the front once more on lap 12 of 16. De Dycker stayed in the lead until the chequered flag flew after more than 40 minutes of punishing but exciting race action.
Finishing second overall on the day, Ken was satisfied with the fact that he'd lessened the gap between himself and the series leaders but felt frustrated that his first race mistake had not only cost him the overall win but also more championship points.
"It's been quite a good day for me," said Ken. "I got a pretty good start in the first race and I was just taking it easy and I moved into the lead without pushing too hard and but then Marc came by so I tried to follow his lines and not make too many mistakes but then I lost concentration a little bit and ended up stuck in the green fencing. It took me a long time to get out of it and that wasn't so good.
"I got another okay start and I came through okay but by the halfway point it started to get a little crazy because everyone was riding like it was the last lap or something. A lot of people made a lot of mistakes but I was able to keep going and it was good to win.
"I knew this was going to be a tough race and the track was very difficult to ride but I'm very pleased to win a moto and also to take second overall. I'm also happy to take points from both the riders ahead of me in the championship. I know it's easy to say if about things but I know that if I hadn't made that mistake in the first race then I'd have caught up a lot more points but I learnt a lot from today and that's a good thing in itself."
For reigning World Champion Steve Ramon the circuit where he wrapped up the 2007 MX1 title proved to be particularly punishing this time around. After qualifying well Steve was confident of success but despite using the plentiful power of his factory RM-Z450 to get great starts in both motos Ramon was unable to find a good rhythm around the punishing track and his results suffered as a result.
After starting second in moto one Steve started a downward spiral to seventh place despite trying very hard to pick up his pace - and regain some positions lost - around the Lierop track.
Moto two was even more difficult for Steve as after starting inside the top five he caught a bump wrong and took a trip over the handlebars. Taking a long time to restart, Steve then made forward progress through the MX1 pack to rise from 14th to eighth place at the finish.Obviously disappointed to have lost points in the title race to current leader David Philippaerts instead of leaving with the lead like he anticipated, Ramon rued his ability to find a good rhythm around the circuit.
"In the first race I got a very good start in second place behind Nagl but I couldn't find a good rhythm and I was just struggling and finding riding difficult," explained the MX1 champ. "On this kind of track you have to have good speed or else it costs you so much energy - I was struggling and the race was just bad for me.
"I got another great start in the second race but in the beginning I made one or two small mistakes and a couple of guys were able to pass me. My riding was a little bit better than in the first race but then I hit a bump wrong and I crashed over the handlebars. It took me a long time to get going and I lost a lot of time.
"It's always difficult to find your rhythm again after crashing but here I was really struggling - my rhythm was already not that good. I tried hard today but it just wasn't working today - I hope to have a better race next weekend in Italy."
Although neither Ramon nor De Dycker improved their series ranking on the day their combined efforts did ensure that Suzuki retook the points lead in the Manufacturer's World Championship.
The final round of the 2008 FIM MX1 Motocross World Championship will take place next weekend at the Faenza circuit in Italy.
MX1 Moto 1:1 Marc De Reuver (Honda - NED) 40:03.592, 2 Jonathan Barragan (KTM - ESP) +0:08.025, 3 David Philippaerts +0:11.507, 4 Josh Coppins (Yamaha - NZL) +0:20.570, 5 Max Nagl (KTM - GER) +0:22.773, 6 Tanel Leok (Kawasaki - EST) +0:25.932, 7 Steve Ramon (Suzuki - BEL) +0:50.755, 8 Ken De Dycker (Suzuki - BEL) +1:15.921, 9 Sebastien Pourcel (Kawasaki - FRA) +1:23.049, 10 Marcus Schiffer (KTM - GER) +1:25.376.
MX1 Moto 2: 1 Ken De Dycker (Suzuki - BEL) +40:14.189, 2 Max Nagl (KTM - GER) +0:04.653, 3 Marc De Reuver (Honda - NED) +0:13.630, 4 Clement Desalle (Suzuki - BEL) +0:13.630, 5 David Philippaerts +0:16.478, 6 Josh Coppins (Yamaha - NZL) +0:21.415, 7 Marcus Schiffer (KTM - GER) +0:28.700, 8 Steve Ramon (Suzuki - BEL) +0:36.755, 9 Manuel Priem (Kawasaki - FRA) +0:42.159, 10 Aigar Leok (Yamaha - EST) +1:24.811.
World Championship standings (after 14 of 15 rounds): 1 David Philippaerts (Yamaha - ITA) 477 points, 2 Steve Ramon (Suzuki - BEL) 463, 3 Ken De Dycker (Suzuki - BEL) 452, 4 Jonathan Barragan (KTM - ESP) 419, 5 Josh Coppins (Yamaha - NZL) 415, 6 Max Nagl (KTM - GER) 394, 7 Sebastien Pourcel (Kawasaki - FRA) 392, 8 Tanel Leok (Kawasaki - EST) 337, 9 Billy MacKenzie (Honda - GB) 293, 10 Marc De Reuver (Honda - NED) 277.
Manufacturer World Championship standings (after 14 of 15 rounds): 1 Suzuki 543 points, 2 Yamaha 543 points, 3 KTM 525, 4 Kawasaki 494, 5 Honda 443, 6 TM 33, 7 Aprilia 23.