Mercifully, the rain stayed away on race weekend, and the GP paddock was dry(ish) for once this season. The track at Agueda had been completely changed and covered with a thick layer of sand since the GP boys last visited. The remaining moisture did however present some problems, since the track became badly rutted and one-lined on qualifying day.
Tanel breezed through qualifying without much drama, although two of his best laps were spoilt by slower riders on the racing line. He eventually slotted in the 17th fastest qualifying time, which ensured him of pretty much a central gate pick on race day.
Tanel was outgunned on the start of the first heat, and started his pursuit of the leaders just outside the points. A couple of big battles for points scoring positions ensued, and after a hard tangle with Danny Theybers, Tanel lost his rhythm somewhat, and therewith the opportunity to fight for a top 15 position. Things were not made easier by the fact that the roll-off system of his goggles was stuck, leaving him with blurred vision for the duration of the race. He regained his composure later on in the race, and soldiered on in a race that was turning into a war of attrition. Admittedly, this was not one of Tanel’s strongest rides this season, but he still managed to slot into the points in 18th position.
A good start was definitely a remote possibility against the more powerful four strokes, and in heat 2 Tanel again had to start his race from the back of the pack. The track had by now formed very definite ruts, and passing was extremely difficult. Tanel was bent on maximising his result despite the conditions, however, and this time the Estonian Express chugged on in all its glory. This time Danny Theybers received no mercy as the teenager passed him with ease. He kept his momentum going, and a final pass on Antti Pyrhonen slotted Tanel in behind a group of riders that included Kenneth Gundersen on the factory KTM, as well as Javier Garcia Vico. Tanel matched these top guns blow for blow in speed, but could not close enough to enable him to make a pass.
Tanel’s 18th – and 12th place finishes were not exactly what he had hoped for, but still represent a solid points haul. He has dropped down the world championship ranking somewhat to 11th position, and he will go all out to reclaim a position in the top 10 at the next GP in the Netherlands.
Info, photo (C) TanelLeok.com
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