The dominant performance by Kevin Strijbos in the deep sand at Round 1 sent out a crushing message to the rest of the MX1 pack. No rider really came close to bothering the HM Plant rider, and the Belgian showed all of his GP experience and stamina at the FatCat Motoparc. Whilst other rides might reach for the excuse book and claim that the first round is all about getting a solid start and simply scoring points, there must have been a lot of guys wondering if they have the speed to match KS22. Whilst the riders from North East Europe often show good technique on sand tracks, Kevin wasn’t one you would immediately pick as a master of the surface, in the way that say De Reuver was feted in the past. Yet the Kawasaki rider had an average to poor day at round one and must be hoping that he’d shaken out the cobwebs and will be able to step up the pace at the distinctly British setting of the Canada Heights track.
Another rider that must have been sideswiped by Strijbos’ results is new Dixon rider (and Moto columnist) Shaun Simpson. The Scot might have hoped he’d returned to the home championship with a strong chance of a title, and whilst that might have happened if he could have competed at home in 2011, the competition has stepped up unbelievably for 2012. Shaun will have to be eating three Weetabix in Irn Bru if he’s going to have the pace to muscle his way to the front. Standing in his way will be the 450 Kawasaki of a confident Martin Barr, and the twin MVRD assault of the mercurial Jason Dougan and the quiet storm of Gert Krestinov (currently sitting 2nd in the championship). Hoping to join this mix will be Kristian Whatley, but that’s going to depend on just how bad his practice injury was at round 1 – the PAR Honda Team will have every digit crossed! (Ed – According to team boss Paul Rowland everything is fine)
But all these are likely to be supporting actors to the main role of STR’s Mattis Karro. The Latvian rider was on a mission in Doncaster, and was the only guy that came close enough to Strijbos to eat his roost. Given a less punishing and more flowing track, Mattis is a safe bet for a podium and might just take the game to his fellow KTM rider.
With cooler but fine weather promised for the weekend, and the prospect of many riders last outing before the GP season kicks off, fans are in for classic racing on a classic circuit.
Words by Julian Challis
Images by Ray Chuss
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