Taking on a European flavour for a couple of days Maico International travelled to Belgium last weekend following an invitation to race in the Belgium International Maico Cup.
With Maico Keith Ree unable to attend the meeting the burden of responsibility fell on the shoulders of the tenacious Dunlop Maxima rider Neil Berry, to represent the distributors on the start gate. Held at the popular Pulderboss circuit the venue has been hosting international race meetings for the last 54 years and features a curious mix of fast flowing straights and jumps, combined with a sandy wooded section which ruts up quickly, before moving back out into a twisty section of bends and jumps.
While the U.K. was suffering a torrential downpour, the Belgium skies were a little kinder to the Pulderboss circuit providing only infrequent short showers which did nothing to dampen the spirit in the Maico International camp. As word quickly spread round the paddock that their were a selection of new Maico’s on display the distributors spent most of the day talking to potential customers who were clearly enthused to see the return of the brand.
Despite having the option of a 500 motor available to him the underdog tag seems to be sticking as Berry decide to use his trusty 320 mount to fight the competition which consisted of a plethora of immaculately prepared 81 490’s and more recent 500’s. As the riders headed out for practice, the only British Maico rider at the event set out his stall early by recording some blistering lap times, which if translated into race results would put him in with the chance of a podium finish by the end of the day.
As the riders made their way from the Park Ferme for the first race Berry found himself on the far outside of the line up and as the gate dropped he stuck himself right in the middle of the foray heading towards the first bend. As the pack came out of the bend onto the fastest section of the circuit he was baulked at the back after a bad first turn. Fuelled by determination and anger at his bad start he mustered the traditional British bulldog spirit and started his relentless assault on the rest of the field.
Taking just about every line available to him as the rain lashed down; by the end of the second lap he had forced his way into tenth and was continuing the charge.
Two laps later saw two more places made up but with the top three now opening up a substantial gap, hopes of a top three finish in the first moto were out of reach and as the chequered flag was waved his efforts were rewarded with a 7th place.
As the traditional two race format moved into the second moto Berry was clearly taking no prisoners as he launched from the gate heading for the hole-shot only being outdone by two other riders, and by the end of the second lap he had consolidated third place and was making ground on the top two. Lap after lap he was clearly closing in on the leading duo and it was obvious by his aggressive riding style he was aiming for the win until being dealt a cruel blow two laps before the finish when he suffered a puncture and had to back off the throttle and nurse the bike home for fifth place taking an overall finish of 6th in the meeting.
Commenting on the results at the presentation afterwards Berry said “All credit to the promoters for a well organised event, unfortunately I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time in the first race and just didn’t get a good start; the bike was running great and with a few more laps I may well have got into the top five. I made a flyer in the second race and was making ground on the top two for several laps until I felt the front end start to wash out and realized I had a puncture, it was frustrating having to back off but there was nothing else I could do, all things considered I am happy with a 6th place finish”.
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