Gundersen marks Yamaha debut with podium result


Ricci Racing’s Kenneth Gundersen scored an emotional podium in his debut for the team and on the formidable YZ250F at Zolder, Belgium today for the first round of fifteen in the 2006 FIM World Championship. The Karcher Grand Prix of Flanders occurred in front of a decent 16,000 attendance considering the cold and wintery conditions.

Gundersen notched results of second and sixth to place third overall in his first top three appearance for over two years and his first in the MX2 class since 2001. The Norwegian has battled back from multiple knee and cartilage operations in the last 18 months. The 25 year old showed promising form despite some less than perfect starts on the wet and rough Belgian terrain. He had to ditch his goggles early in the first moto but was still able to pass the KTMs of Rattray and De Reuver. In the second race he ensured his fresh silverware as the highest placed Yamaha rider.

World Champion Antonio Cairoli, who dislikes the Belgian circuit, fell on the first lap of the first moto and with the track at its wettest throughout the weekend he rode well to break into the top fifteen and collect six points. The Italian crashed on Saturday and received a blow to his left leg but was able to show his true colours in the second moto as passed he title rival Marc de Reuver and crossed the finish line with the runner-up position behind eventual overall winner Tyla Rattray. The De Carli rider’s mishap earlier in the day meant that he placed seventh overall.

Alessio Chiodi showed decent speed and all the experience of a three times World Champion to take sixth spot in the first moto in the soggy conditions. The Italian was however fighting the debilitating effects of an illness and after slipping down the order and out of the points in the second race retired to the pits.

Billy Mackenzie, who is 22 years old next week, wasn’t able to get the set-up on his YZ250F correctly dialled for the conditions and it cost the Scot in the first race as he registered a disappointing twenty-fourth position. Adjusting several aspects of the machine for the second moto he managed a more creditable ninth after passing British Championship rival Carl Nunn on the last lap.

Kenneth Gundersen, Ricci Racing:
“This feels unbelievable. I have been out for so long. Last year I did some GPs but my leg was not good enough to ride. I trained a lot this winter and the way that this team have supported me is incredible. Yamaha and so many people have helped me and this came out today. In the first moto I felt like I could have won if I didn’t have to throw away my goggles on the first lap; second place was good though. It took me a little while to get going in the second race and finally I ran out of time to take any more positions.”

Antonio Cairoli, De Carli Yamaha:
“The first heat was not so good because I crashed on the first lap and I lost a lot of time and positions to get going again. I was totally last and had a lot of work to do. I finished 15th and it was OK for training because I do not like this track so much! In the second race I started well but in the first corner someone touched me and it cost me a few places. I caught and passed many riders like De Reuver and Pourcel. Tyla is always very good at this track. My leg was OK and is only stiff when I am resting.”

Alessio Chiodi, Ricci Racing:
“The first part of the first moto was pretty good but after about 25 minutes I started to feel bad and my stomach was really bothering me. I finished the race but I could feel that a fever was coming. I was in the gate before the second moto and I thought that I would try to see what I could do but the bumps on the track just made it worse. When I saw I was down in 27th I thought it was better to stop."