Tanel Leok Crowned Dutch MX Champion

The 2007 motocross season is definitely in its dying spasms, and one of the traditional curtain calls is the final round of the Dutch Motocross championships at Mill. Despite the winter chill starting to emerge, a blazing sun and crystal clear sky welcomed the hordes of die-hard supporters and a full line up of international riders to the season finale.

photo: Christophe Desmet

Tanel Leok came into the event as championship leader and clear-cut favourite, a few points clear of second-placed Marvin Van Daele. The balance seemed to favour the Estonian Express heavily, but motocross is a very unpredictable sport, and the matter was by no means settled. If Tanel felt any pressure going into the event, very little of it showed, as he was his normal inscrutable self and full of banter on the way to the track. Once he arrived, however, Tanel put on his race face, and got to work. Not leaving anything to chance, he took to his task with enthusiasm, and true to form, he set the pole time during qualifying practice.

The team was on full alert and the tension in the Kawasaki pits was palpable as Tanel lined up for the first heat of the day. The risk of disaster is greatest at the start of a race, when 40 men mounted on 50 horsepower 100kg machines all head for the same spot, but Tanel guided his green mount through the first corner effortlessly and glided to the front. He had Van Daele in close attendance, and all look set for a very tense finale. Lap after lap Tanel fended off the thrusts of Van Daele, and after five laps, the Belgian seemed spent, allowing Tanel to break away slightly. From then on the Estonian Express managed his race pace to perfection, and came home as the delighted winner.

photo: Christophe Desmet

The Kawasaki again surged to the front in race 2, but this time it was Belgian Kristof Salaets that had the lead, with Tanel hot on his heels. The Estonian found a way past soon enough, but again he had Van Daele in close attendance. In a virtual repeat of the first race, Tanel endured the Belgian breathing down his neck for a while, but then shook him off. By now the track had become rough beyond description, and the Estonian's known proficiency under these conditions served him well. As the fireworks exploded at the finish line, Tanel raised his hands aloft to acknowledge the cheers for the new Dutch Open motocross champion.

Tanel was delighted to add this prestigious title to his growing array of championship successes. "It feels great to be champion after a tough series," he said. "I want to thank the team and everyone that has supported me, and it's great to give the team a title in their home country. At this time I must especially mention the late great Jan De Groot, who did such a lot for me in my racing career. We will not forget him."

Tanel's racing activities for 2007 have now come to an end, but he will remain busy with resting work to ensure that the 2008 version of the factory Kawasaki is optimally prepared for next season.