RAMON 4TH IN FIRST MX1 QUALIFYING RACE
Under grey skies at the Monte Coralli circuit in Faenza, Italy, the first laps of the 2009 FIM MX1 World Championship took place and Teka Suzuki WMX1's Steve Ramon was the best-placed qualifier with his fuel-injected RM-Z450, finishing fourth in the first ever MX1 Heat Race.
The 20 minute and two-lap sprint is new to the Grand Prix programme for this season and replaces the traditional 30 minute Time Practice. The classification represents the order of riders in the gate for the Grand Prix motos on Sunday.
The flat and extremely fast course in central Italy found few fans among the riding fraternity as the high speed, rounded jumps and lack of technical demand saw very little differences in between the protagonists of the premier MX1 category. In fact, just one second separated the top 10 in the first free practice session.
Ramon worked on the set-up of his machine in the practice period and pre-qualifying session. The 2007 World Champion made a top-10 start in the decisive Heat and worked his way to fourth despite the tricky conditions.
Team mate Ken de Dycker had difficulty, as a fault with his goggles meant that recovering from a mediocre launch from the gate was even more perilous. The Belgian managed to secure 10th by the finish line.
Rainfall - as predicted - began late afternoon and the first of 15 Grands Prix in the 2009 schedule could well be a wet one come midday Sunday.
Steve Ramon, 4th:
"I can't really comment on the qualification heat system; we don't have another option so we have to make the best of it. The track is difficult; so hard to pass. We are struggling a little bit with our set-up and tried another pipe after the first practice. It was very dark near the end and they say it will rain so things could be different tomorrow but I think around this place if you don't get the start then it will be hard to win."
Ken de Dycker, 10th:
"I had a problem with my goggle lens on the first lap. It came loose and I had a lot of dust and sand in my eyes. It meant that I could not get too close to people and overtaking was hard anyway. The track is so short and so fast there is not much you can do if you don't get the start. We tried a different rear suspension setting and I am happy with the set-up we have."
MX1 Qualification Heat Results: 1. David Philippaerts (ITA, Yamaha); 2. Jonathan Barragan (SPA, KTM); 3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, Yamaha); 4. Steve Ramon (BEL, Teka Suzuki); 5. Tanel Leok (EST, Yamaha); 6. Billy Mackenzie (GBR, Honda); 7. Clement Desalle (BEL, Honda); 8. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Honda); 9. Sebastien Pourcel (FRA, Kawasaki); 10. Ken de Dycker (BEL, Teka Suzuki).