Those of us that remember the classic days of motocross often fondly remember grainy photos of the heroes of old, generating insane lean angles atop spindly-framed bikes with a few centimetres of suspension travel, tea-biscuit skinny wheels and under-slung exhausts. The motocross heroes of yore gave every impression of being the quintessential hard men, and the former Soviet block produced heaps of riders of this genre. Being from Estonia, Tanel Leok has a close link to this part of history. His father, uncles, grandfather and even grandmother were no strangers to the rigours of racing the hard way, so it was a homecoming of sorts for the Estonian Express to head across to Russia for the 11th round of the 2012 world championships.
The 1200 km road trip to Semigorje is, in Leokspeak, a mere drive around the block. From a young age, Tanel has become accustomed to square his derriere off on the car seat in search of motocross adrenalin many thousands of kilometres away. On a side note, the history continues, his two offspring assume an air of quiet resignation when they are strapped into the car seat, never knowing if the journey ahead will be 10 minutes or 18 hours.
Having scouted out the lay of the land at the track which was new to everyone, Tanel got stuck into his qualifying duties. The muddy conditions prevailing during qualifying suited him well, and he brought his factory Rockstar Energy Suzuki home in sixth spot, a good result. The weather was near perfect come Sunday, and Tanel blasted off the line in ninth position in the first race, although a mistake early on cost him a position. He was not having the best of times, being a bit ill as well as having had returns pangs of pain from an earlier leg injury that continues to niggle. Nevertheless, he held his own in the top 10 of the race and after a long battle to find a way past Davide Guarneri on a track that did not offer much in the way of passing lines, he finally got ahead to finish ninth.
The blazing blue sky of the morning made way for dappled cotton buds of cloud when time came for the second heat. Tanel was definitely not in the best of shapes in race two, battling through a fair bit of pain and discomfort. He started in eighth, but lost a few positions as he struggled to find a rhythm. He kept the plot on the boil, though, and kept up a good enough pace to be rewarded with tenth at the flag. The number 10 was significant in another respect, for this was his overall result for the day as well. He has now crossed the 250 point barrier for the season, and is still in 8th position in the world standings.
– All GP Results