Tanel Leok has certainly hit a purple patch in form of late. As familiarity with his new De Carli Yamaha has grown, the Estonian has blossomed, and going into the third round to the Italian motocross championships at Ponte A Egola, he had the championship lead in hand, if only by a couple of points over teammate Antonio Cairoli. Like any professional motorcycle racer, though, Tanel knows that each new race is a new challenge, and that race - and consequently championship - disaster always lies in the lurk. He would therefore be intent on maintaining the rhythm that he has built up over the last few weeks.
Building up a successful race weekend is a step-by-step process, and Tanel made a firm first step when he qualified in second position, behind somewhat surprising pole sitter Loic Leonce on the Aprilia. More so than at the previous rounds of the series, the event at Ponte A Egola boasted a top class field, with riders like world champion David Philippaerts, teammate Josh Coppins, factory Suzuki duo Steve Ramon and Ken de Dycker as well as factory Honda racing pairing Kevin Strijbos and Marc De Reuver added to the mix. Tanel's by now near legendary starting problems surfaced again in all their glory, and he was buried in 21st position at the start of the first race. In this kind of racing company, this was a tall order in any one's language, but he responded with characteristic flair. By the 6th lap he had scurried into the top 10, and like a good army, he marched ever forwa rd. A number of big names had to yield to the Estonian onslaught, and by race end, he had worked his way all the way up to fifth. After the race, Belgian Ken de Dycker was excluded from the result, promoting Tanel to fourth in the final result.
In a masterpiece of irony, Tanel got a much better start in the second heat, but rode to a worse result. This time round he launched his Yamaha into seventh position off the start, putting him in the tick of a battle with all the top protagonists on the MX1 world championships. He gained one spot, but that was as far as his forward progress went for the race. The top contenders were pretty evenly matched for speed, and barring mistakes, passing would always be difficult.
In this kind of company, a top 6 finish was still well within the ballpark. Although the fifth place finish overall was a step down from his overall victory the weekend before, his consistent good results in the series have helped him to actually extend his championship lead over teammate Cairoli, who suffered a rare DNF in the first heat. Tanel carries a 19 point championship lead in his back pocket to the final round of the series at Gazzane on 15 March.
SON SEBASTIAN IS ALREADY LEARNING THE ROPES
(Pic - Karoliina Leok)