Motocross

Kevin Strijbos to stand in for injured Steve Ramon

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Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 will count on the services of former rider Kevin Strijbos for the remaining four rounds of the FIM MX1 World Championship after the injury to Steve Ramon at Lommel last Saturday.

Strijbos will make a timely return to the factory team on the RM-Z450 at Loket this weekend for the Grand Prix of Czech Republic and round 12 of 15 in the series. It was at the hard-pack and fast course in 2005 that Strijbos gave the works machine its very first overall GP victory.

Strijbos has a long association with the team and also Suzuki (four years with GRP) and was the perfect candidate to help fill the awning next to Clement Desalle for the remaining GP events in Czech Republic, UK, Germany and Italy. With Ramon's blessing, Strijbos was able to test the bike yesterday (Tuesday) and will again represent the Belgian crew after twice finishing as World Championship runner-up while wearing its colours.

"This is a great opportunity for me," he said. "I've had a few bad weekends this season and also some other problems and this is a fantastic chance to show that I can still produce the goods, so I want to thank the team for picking me.

"I went to the workshop in Lommel yesterday and everything was exactly like it was before," the 25 year old added. "Nothing had changed and it was like coming home. I hope I can repay some of the faith this weekend."

Ramon has begun the drawn-out road to recovery after his serious crash at Lommel during qualification for the Grand Prix of Limburg last Saturday.

The former World Champion was moved out of intensive care at a hospital in Genk (Ziekenhuis Oost-Limburg) and transferred to a facility close to his home in Eeklo (AZ Alma) on Monday.

"Steve suffered a contusion of the spine and when the muscles began to ease he could regain feeling and move his legs. He can now sit-up and has begun the first steps of a 10-15-point plan," said Dr Sam Vermeire.

"There is a long way to go and we hope soon he will be able to take his first steps," Dr Vermeire continued. "When he can start to make 'transfers' such as moving from the bed, getting up to walk across the room, sitting down and-so-on; then he will be able to leave the hospital and go home to begin his rehab and physio from there.

"In four-to-six weeks we will know a lot more about his recovery and options for his career in the future," he added. "It could be three-to-five months before there is a full recovery and perhaps some painful rehab ahead because of the nerve damage, but, like I said; the first positive steps have been made so we will see how we progress from here."

Rockstar Energy Suzuki World MX1 conveyed its wholehearted thanks and gratitude to all the medical staff and experts, from the scene of the crash at Lommel; to Steve's current rehab team for all their care, concern and attention.

"It is reassuring that motorsport athletes can have immediate access to the high-quality of medical treatment that Steve received and we are so-appreciative of every person who has helped; and for all of those who have sent Steve and the team well-wishing messages," said Team Owner Sylvain Geboers. "For sure this is not an easy time but Steve is a strong character as well as a very-fit individual, so we are hopeful for the weeks ahead."

Ramon's regular team-mate Clement Desalle notched his seventh podium result from a possible 11 last Sunday in Limburg. The 22 year old returns this week to the venue where he scored his first Grand Prix victory in 2009. "I hope to return to my usual training schedule this week," he said after the Limburg round last Sunday. "So a bit of recovery, exercise and some riding. I think we will start the journey to the track on Thursday or early Friday.

"Loket is a nice track but I hope they have done some work there because last year there were not many lines," he said. "I hope we find a layout where we can have some fun and good racing. I felt good on the bike in Lommel and I think if you have that feeling there, then you can have it almost anywhere."

The long-term weather forecast indicates that the Grand Prix of Czech Republic could be a wet one with cloudy conditions and showers predicted for both Saturday and Sunday.

Main Photo: Steve Ramon

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