There is always something special about a home Grand Prix for a rider or a team. The territory feels familiar, the air is just a little crisper, more of your friends and fans can come along to cheer the warrior on his iron steed on, it’s just - special. For Kevin Strijbos, the Belgian Grand Prix at Bastogne earlier in the year brought all of that, and now, it was the turn of HM Plant KTM team to enjoy basking in world championship-level exposure close to home.
The blazing sunshine certainly helped the crowds along to descend upon Matterley Basin in their droves. This was a world championship event on a grand scale, stretching over three days, and featuring every international racing class that you could care to think about. The fans were certainly going to get their money’s worth, with good racing through all the classes and throughout the field in each class being the order of the day.
As the leader of the British MX1 championship series, Kevin certainly has an established fan base in England, a fact greatly helped along by the fact that he rides for a British team. Moreover, a goodly number of Belgian fans made the hop across the pond to cheer their men on, so there was certainly not a lack of enthusiastic support.
After a so-so pre-qualifying session, Kevin heaved on the throttle with some enthusiasm to bring his orange machine to the tenth qualifying spot. He bulleted into seventh position off the line in race 1, and pretty much held it steady throughout the race, latching onto the rear fender of Clement Desalle near the end, but just not able to pass his compatriot.
Kevin was significantly deeper down the field at the start of race two. The track, having endured a worse pounding than a 50kg intruder at the hands of a heavyweight boxer, and passing was extremely difficult. He gained a few spots, but could get no higher than 12th spot. Despite the less-than-ideal second race, he still managed 8th overall for the day, bagging enough points to keep his sixth place in the world standings intact.
Reporting by Tinus Nel
Image by Ray Chuss