Strange as it may seem, the motocross track of Kegums is not one of Tanel Leok’s all time favourites. We say strange, because the Estonian, used to the enthusiastic support of his compatriots wherever he races, enjoys particularly vociferous support at this track in neighbouring Latvia. For the hordes of Estonian fans, it is a relatively short trek, passing a now-deserted border post and bouncing across some of the more entertaining roads in Europe before getting to Kegums. The fans therefore make the journey in great multitudes, some of them bolstered by copious sampling of the local firewater, others not.
Kegums used to be known as a sand track, and truth be told, there is still a loose covering over the surface, but somehow, over the years, it has somehow metamorphosed somewhat into a harder substance. The jumps, treacherous as they are, sometimes develop square-edged kickers, and this is not a place for the unwary. A trip over the handlebars is often just a split second of inattention away.
The track’s technical qualities were substantially upgraded in degree of difficulty by intermittent rain leading up to – and during race day. This aided the creation of deep ruts, unexpected holes and more hazards than an Iraqi minefield. Tanel’s weekend started solidly, if not too spectacularly, with a tenth spot finish in the qualifying race.
Despite the miserable conditions, or maybe because of it, Tanel got a good start in race one. The bright yellow of this factory Rockstar Energy Suzuki flashed by the timing beam in sixth position on the first lap. He lost a position to Russian powerhouse Evgeny Bobryshev, but claimed a spot back by passing Belgian Kevin Strijbos. He kept himself in the hunt, and on the last lap god close enough to Bobryshev to do a visual identification of his DNA, but he just could not get past. Sixth place was a good finish for him though, and his world championship tally kept clicking merrily along.
The second start was an altogether more troubled affair, and Tanel had to fight his way forward from a position well into the double digits. After one lap, he was already in a top 10 position, and his square jaw almost jutted visibly from his helmet in determination. He spent most if the race in ninth position, making up lost distance, but as the Latvian race day wound down, he gained two more positions on two successive laps, and collected all the points associated with a seventh-placed finish.
Tanel was credited with seventh place overall for the day, and it is a testament to the competitiveness of the MX1 class if we consider that he was only four points off a podium finish. This proves again that the MX1 world championship category of 2012 is ultra-competitive, with a number of riders that can vie for podium positions.
The tidy points haul gained Tanel another position in the world ranking, and he now occupies the 8th rung on the ladder. He is excited to move to the neighbouring country on the other side of his homeland next, as the action moves to Moscow in Russia.
– All GP Results
THERE WAS LOTS OF LOCAL INTEREST IN TANEL, SO THE TV CREW DESCENDED ON HIM
BY NOW, TANEL KNOWS THE TRACK PRETTY WELL
YOU CAN’T REALLY GET MUCH CLOSER WITHOUT BEING A FAMILY MEMBER
Pics by Suzuki-racing.com
Reporting by Tinus Nel