Motocross

Ramon chases MX1 series lead

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Team Suzuki's Steve Ramon will head to the Grand Prix of Northern Ireland at the new Moneyglass Demesne circuit for the 13th round of 15 in the 2007 FIM MX1 Motocross World Championship with a realistic opportunity of taking the lead in the series for the first time this season. Current pace-setter Josh Coppins will miss his second meeting in succession with a fractured shoulder and the 27 year old Belgian can shrink the 43 point deficit down to nothing with the first of three Grands Prix in three weeks and still 150 points left to win. "There is a real chance now," the ex-125 world champ said. "Suzuki and everyone behind me are working hard so that we can chase this championship. We still have three Grands Prix this year and of course my aim is still to win one of those, but for the title I will have to play it race-by-race. If I cannot go for the victory this weekend then I want to at least to go for 40 points and overtaking Josh is a possibility." Ramon is second in the standings and has not dropped out of the top eight in the last eight rounds, taking four podiums and two motos wins along the way. The 'Bomb' finished second overall to team-mate Kevin Strijbos at the sandy Keiheuvel circuit for the sixth round of eight in the Belgian Championship yesterday. "It was ok and my riding was pretty good," he commented. "The sand at Keiheuvel means that the three motos were hard physically. I had a positive feeling though and it was good training for Lierop in a couple of weeks." Ramon has been struggling slightly with a small injury to his left wrist but says that the ailment will not affect his late push for MX1 glory. "The wrist is not too bad," he asserted. "I strained the ligaments in the crash during the first moto at the Czech Republic and now I just have to tape it each time before I go out. It is a bit uncomfortable on the larger jumps but is not a huge problem." Kevin Strijbos is involved in a four rider tussle for third position in the world championship. The recently turned 22 year old is only 28 points behind Sebastien Pourcel and took a confidence boosting win through the Belgian sand that means he holds second place behind Ramon in the domestic series. Moneyglass Demesne is a brand new facility developed by the Northern Ireland Events company for the 2007 Grand Prix and for the 2008 Motocross of Nations in 13 months time. The circuit holds the first of two 'unseen' tracks for the riders of the MX1 and MX2 classes with the British Grand Prix taking place at the freshly constructed layout inside Donington Park next week. The Irish course is said to have an array of big and spectacular jumps and is complimented with a soft loamy soil. The location - a short drive outside the city of Belfast - has also been picked for it capabilities to handle a sizeable crowd and provides excellent viewing to the spectators. Rainfall is predicted for Saturday, with cloud but drier conditions for race day.

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