The following is from Yamaha...

Yamaha Intur Sports Motocross Team rider and reigning MX1 World Champion Stefan Everts left the opening round of the 2006 series having increased his record-career total of GP victories to 88 and proved his rhetoric concerning the new aluminium frame YZ450FM was completely founded. 16,000 spectators flocked to the Zolder circuit in Belgium for the Karcher Grand Prix of Flanders, the first race of fifteen in this season's campaign. Teammate Cedric Melotte managed tenth position overall.

Rainfall in the days leading up to the event meant that the fine Belgian dirt at the former Formula one circuit was soft and sodden, and throughout practice churned into a demanding and difficult prospect. Following through on his excellent pre-season form Stefan Everts did not put a foot wrong on Saturday to clinch his first pole position since the 2005 Grand Prix of South Africa.

33-year-old Everts began the opening moto behind former rival Sebastien Tortelli and although he tried to pressurise the Frenchman, drawing close on several occasions, he was unable to seize the lead and lost any chance of victory in the last third of the heat when he was held up by backmarkers. The pair surprisingly lapped everybody up to fifth position. Melotte, who is still coming back to full fitness after a wrist problem limited his pre-season preparation, finished in ninth. The 27 year old, who was an overall winner at the first ever MX1 GP - also at Zolder - in 2004, made a mistake two laps from the chequered flag which cost him sixth place.

Spanish sponsors Intur Sports were announced as the new backers for the Rinaldi team in an entertaining function on Saturday evening and they must have been pleased as Moto2 saw a dominant performance from Everts as he broke away from Sebastien Tortelli in a role-reversal of the first sprint.

The Belgian has been raving about the handling and performance of the new YZ450FM and gave a large section of his fans an ample demonstration of his synergy with the Rinaldi-fettled machine. He would win by almost 40 seconds and his 2-1 scorecard gave him a familiar top step of the podium. Cedric Melotte had a problem with his goggles that affected his eyesight and he was close to crashing on several occasions but was able to steer his Yamaha past the chequered flag in eighth spot for tenth in the final classification.

The second round of the series will take place in two weeks time, on Easter Sunday, at the Bellpuig circuit in Catalonia, Spain. The Grand Prix of Portugal will occur just one week on from the trip to the Iberian Peninsula.

Stefan Everts, Yamaha Intur Sports Motocross team:

"I was making a lot of mistakes in the first race and was not riding smooth enough to really catch Sebastien. After that though the ice was broken and I knew I had one more moto to make things better. I changed my position on the start line and got into the first corner ahead. I pushed really hard in those first few laps and Sebastien was with me for a while but I focussed on my own riding and it worked. I was happy with the bike. We changed a few little things with suspension but the performance was great today and I felt comfortable.

It is very early for the Championship. Sebastien is right there but Pichon missed a lot of points today, Josh is out and I expected the Suzuki boys to be closer, but there is still a long way to go."

Cedric Melotte, Yamaha Intur Sports Motocross team:

"I was struggling over the weekend with my wrist and my condition. Everything is improving but to come here and do 40 minutes with a weak wrist was unbelievable. The track was so difficult. If I had not crashed in the first race I would have been fifth and this was OK. After a few minutes of the second moto I got some dirt in my goggles and I could not see or concentrate on my lines. I am happy enough with the result because at least twice I thought that 'I should stop otherwise I will crash' because I could not see. The ruts were really deep and to come away with a top ten in the conditions is satisfying."

Race classification MX1

Round: 1 - 2006 GP of Flanders, Belgium

Circuit: Zolder

Moto 1

1 S. Tortelli KTM FRA 39' 22.213

2 S. Everts Yamaha BEL +11.063

3 T. Leok Kawasaki EST +1' 5.994

4 S. Ramon Suzuki BEL +1' 33.493

5 K. De Dycker Honda BEL +1' 54.790

6 J. Barragan KTM ESP +1 lap(s)

7 P. Leuret Honda FRA +1 lap(s)

8 K. Strijbos Suzuki BEL +1 lap(s)

9 C. Melotte Yamaha BEL +1 lap(s)

10 S. Sword Kawasaki GBR +1 lap(s)

Moto 2

1 S. Everts Yamaha BEL 40' 9.339

2 S. Tortelli KTM FRA +38.639

3 K. Strijbos Suzuki BEL +1' 15.573

4 T. Leok Kawasaki EST +1' 23.799

5 S. Ramon Suzuki BEL +1' 30.347

6 S. Sword Kawasaki GBR +1' 39.574

7 K. De Dycker Honda BEL +1 lap(s)

8 C. Melotte Yamaha BEL +1 lap(s)

9 J. Barragan KTM ESP +1 lap(s)

10 P. Leuret Honda FRA +1 lap(s)

FIM Motocross News

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.

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