Another victory for Everts at Hawkstone

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Hawkstone Park
5/3/2006

Rinaldi Yamaha rider Stefan Everts claimed his third victory in four weeks after winning both MX1 heats of the Hawkstone Park International in Shropshire, England.

The nine times World Champion dominated the first of two heats in bright and sunny but cold conditions. A packed crowd attended one of the more prestigious pre-season events of the winter calendar and the dark Hawkstone sand was in its usual rough and demanding state. The circuit is dwarfed by the large hill section that sees the riders climb a near-vertical 100m slope and the gradient caught out a number of top riders as the International once again boasted an array of Grand Prix stars.

For the third time since the motocross schedule began to crank into life during February, Everts beat the likes of the factory backed Honda team and the works Suzuki and KTM efforts, all housing his main rivals for the 2006 MX1 World Championship.

Everts escaped the clutches of fellow Belgian Kevin Strijbos in the opening sprint and was just as masterful in the second heat as he glided past Strijbos and his team-mate Steve Ramon. A mistake on the last lap gave Strijbos more impetus to close the gap but the race was already won.

A 'hatrick' could not be taken later in the afternoon as a rare fall in the 'Grand Final' (mixing the best finishers from the MX1 and MX2 classes) allowed Yamaha MX2 representative Billy Mackenzie to streak head on the YZ250F. Although he fronted the pack for the majority of the distance Mackenzie was slowed by backmarkers with just two laps to go and was caught by Strijbos and a charging Everts who plagued the Suzuki rider to the flag and was only a second behind over the finish line.

Contrary to reports stating that he would miss the pre-season race programme Cédric Melotte took to the line at Hawkstone. The Belgian is still recovering from an injured wrist, but was able to wrestle the YZ450FM over the sandy terrain for eigth and fifth positions. He picked up a DNF in the Final after a collision with another rider robbed him of his rear brake.

Bike it Dixon Yamaha's Billy Mackenzie produced a good performance in his first race meeting of the season. The 21 year old slipped from second place to third in the first heat after suffering some arm-pump but confidently claimed the next heat by over twelve seconds from main British Championship rival Carl Nunn. Only a hold-up with backmarkers prevented the Scot from marking a historic triumph over the 450s in the 'Grand Final'.

Stefan Everts:
"I will miss this place. It is the sixth year in a row I have come to Hawkstone. I've had some great moments here and unfortunately I never got the chance to ride in the Grand Prix. I think it is a great track with a lot of potential. I enjoyed the races today and it was difficult to make the lap of honour for the last time."

Cédric Melotte:
"The result is not so bad because I wasn't expecting to finish all three races. In the last heat I hit someone else's wheel and the brake pedal bent under the footpeg so I could not continue. I am quite satisfied. I could not push too hard because my wrist was giving me trouble but I am confident and now need to go step by step to reach my best level. We are still working on the bike because I missed a lot of testing time."

Billy Mackenzie:
"I feel like I have an overall win because I managed to produce that good last race. That heat was awesome; it was such a buzz to be leading those guys. With two laps to go I was thinking about what celebration I could do over the finish line, but it never comes that easy when you are racing against the best! Just to be in front of them for that length of time felt good. I also set the fastest lap. This meeting will keep me going for a few weeks. The first race was pretty muddy and I got some arm-pump, but it was the first one of the year so that was expected. I got a top three though and I know I need to work on my consistency so I am pleased. We tweaked the bike and got rid of some of the niggly problems we would have had at Lyng for the British Championship next week."

MX1 Race 1
1. Stefan Everts 2. Kevin Strijbos 3. Ken de Dycker 4. Mickael Pichon 5. Josh Coppins 6. Tanel Leok 7. Steve Ramon 8. Cédric Melotte 9. James Noble 10. Mark Hucklebridge

MX1 Race 2
1. Stefan Everts 2. Kevin Strijbos 3. Steve Ramon 4. Mickael Pichon 5. Cédric Melotte 6. Josh Coppins 7. Tanel Leok 8. James Noble 9. Ken de Dycker 10. Gordon Crockard

MX1 Grand final result
1. Kevin Strijbos 2. Stefan Everts 3. Josh Coppins 4. Mickael Pichon 5. Tanel Leok 6. Steve Ramon 7. Sebastien Tortelli 8. Mark Jones 9. Yoshitaka Atsuta 10. Gordon Crockard

MX2 Race 1
1. Carl Nunn 2. Tommy Searle 3. Billy Mackenzie 4. Brad Anderson 5. Steven Clarke 6. Lewis Gregory 7. Jason Dougan 8. Wayne Smith 9. Oliver Sandiford Smith 10. Alex Snow

MX2 Race 2
1. Billy Mackenzie 2. Carl Nunn 3. Tommy Searle 4. Wayne Smith 5. Brad Anderson 6. Shaun Simpson 7. Jim Murro 8. Jamie Law 9. Ray Rowson 10. Alex Snow

MX2 Grand final result
1. Billy Mackenzie 2. Lewis Gregory 3. Tommy Searle 4. Oliver Sandiford Smith 5. David Willet 6. Ben Saunders 7. Alex Snow 8. Carl Nunn 9. Ashley Greedy 10. Dan Johnson