ON VALENCE INTERNATIONAL PODIUM
A cold, windy and occasionally showery Valence circuit towards the south of France hosted the second major pre-season International race of the 2009 motocross schedule and the Teka Suzuki WMX1 team were able to capture their first chequered flag of the year as Ken De Dycker claimed the Superfinal on his way to second place overall.
2007 MX1 World Champion and 2008 runner-up Steve Ramon had three consistent outings to finish sixth by the day's end, while third-placed rider in the '08 Grand Prix series, De Dycker, was a little more proactive in the damp conditions and went 4-2-1 in the race programme.Across a slippery, hard-pack terrain that became suitably bumpy by the last Superfinal , the fuel-injected RMZ-450s faced a different test compared to the Italian sand of Mantova two weeks ago.
Ramon started in the top five of the opening race and was part of the charge for third position in the closing stages along with four other riders. The Belgian was hampered by a stone that damaged his right index finger and then in the last laps a rock smashed into his right boot. He finished the 20 minute and two-lap sprint in seventh place. After a mediocre start, De Dycker was part of the same melee and was strong entering the final two circulations to record fourth.
The next set of races took place after gentle periods of rainfall that saw the level of grip deteriorate. De Dycker was a protagonist in the formative stages and briefly led after passing David Philippaerts but in the latter third of the moto had no reply to the Italian's speed. He finished second while Ramon completed a fairly lonely run just outside the top five with sixth spot.
The final ranking in Valence was determined by the Superfinal which saw the top 15 of the MX1 and MX2 classes share the track. The MX1 riders enjoyed an advantage over their smaller-cylinder rivals and De Dycker was excellent out of the gate; this time enjoying a free run to the finish in first place. Ramon had to gain positions in the middle of the top 10 and, like many, struggled to find effective lines; he ended the chilly afternoon with another seventh. The Belgian was content however with some suspension modifications and a new exhaust pipe that brought an improvement to his set-up.
"It was good to finish the day with a win and it was just a bit of a shame about my bad start in the first moto," commented De Dycker. "It was not easy to get back to the front here and thankfully my starts were better later in the day. I didn't go crazy in the second moto, and once I was in front and had made some hard laps in the Final, I could cruise to the finish. I think we are going in the right direction and I am pleased with our progress."
"Apart from being hit by rocks I feel pretty good!" said Ramon. "I felt better than I did in Mantova and also in Grobbendonk last week and I had the sensation that my riding is improving. My starts were not spectacular and it was hard to find different lines and overtake on this track. We tried a few new things with the bike and those worked well so I am quite happy."
Team Teka Suzuki will be in action again next weekend at the Hawkstone Park International in the United Kingdom.
Valence International overall MX1 classification: 1. David Philippaerts (Yamaha), 2. Ken De Dycker (Teka Suzuki), 3. Josh Coppins (Yamaha), 4. Kevin Strijbos (Honda), 5. Marc de Reuver (Honda), 6. Steve Ramon (Teka Suzuki), 7. Julien Bill (Aprilia), 8. Julien Vanni (Honda), 9. David Vuillemin (Kawasaki), 10. Manuel Priem (Aprilia).