The heat on track must have been difficult to deal with because it was bad enough standing trackside. The track was well prepared, and this part of the world is also sandy. Those crews who did well in Lommel could well feature strongly here is Estonia.
The style of the track, with its contoured and perfectly spaced jumps had, to my mind, been designed by solo riders, therefore presenting an additional challenge to sidecar crews. Fortune would favour the brave here, and there was no shortage of bravery.
Pre-qualifying showed who might be a force, and against the clock, one flying lap told us what we needed to know. A good time was in the 1.46.00 range, and Marvin Vanluchene did just that on lap four in Group “A” from Veldman and Bax.
The next group were there or thereabouts, with Kert Varik having replaced his engine due to an earlier engine oil leak, very much on the pace. Fastest was Gert van Werven initially, as Varik fought back with a time slower than Vanluchene, but still impressive.
Qualifying Race Group “A”
With only eleven teams in each group there was more to fight for and a greater chance of a good front row slot. The twenty-minute race would be fast and furious, and the spectators were ready.
Down went the gate and it was Etienne Bax/Ondrej Cermak who grabbed the holeshot. Their start technique has improved over last season. They held the lead and got stuck in. Young Dan Foden/Nathan Cooper held second ahead of Vanluchene/Bax. This was a great start for the young British crew who have been growing in confidence.
Vanluchene moved past and Marco Heinzer/Reudi Betschart were next to attack the youngsters. Julian Veldman/Glenn Janssens had a heavy crash on the opening lap, and after that were out of it with Julian Veldman injured and taken to hospital for further examination.
Lap four and Bax’s lead over Marvin Vanluchene was fifteen seconds, with a wider gap back to Foden and Heinzer. Stephan Wijers and Jorrit van der Putten were chasing hard and closing to within two seconds of the Swiss pair ahead of them.
Two laps later and they had moved fourth, but still almost ten seconds off Foden. Thom Van de Lagemaat/Robbe de Veene were also virtually on the same piece of track as Heinzer as Bax increased his lead to twenty seconds and headed for victory.
Result – 1/ Etienne Bax/Ondrej Cermak, 2/ Marvin Vanluchene/Robbie Bax,
3/ Dan Foden/Nathan Cooper, 4/ Stephan Wijers/Jorrit van der Putten,
5/ Thom van der Lagemaat/Robbe de Veene, 6/ Marco Heinzer/Reudi Betschart, 7/ Adrian Peter/Niki Debruyne, 8/ Stacy and Alex Van Der Veldt.
Qualifying Race Group “B” – Kert Varik/Lari Kunnas hit the front, as one of the Estonian teams, Tanel Reesna/Sten Niitsoo went upside down half-way down the straight without injury. Gert van Werven/Ben Van Den Bogaart hit second and stayed in a strong position throughout. Brett Wilkinson/Joe Millard were third, from Davy Sanders/Luc Rostingt.
Reesna got going again, making up a place or two as he worked back into the race.
In fifth place were Gert Gordejev and Kaspars Stupelis, and it looked like that was where they would finish. Keuben/Beleckas did not register a lap, so were destined to start the GP races from the back row. Wilkinson in third was looking vulnerable as Davy Sanders homed in followed by the Estonian Gordejev.
Seven laps gone, and Varik’s lead was around twelve seconds, and he and Kunnas looked comfortable in control. Then Sanders/Rostingt were by Wilkinson/Millard, who now had Gordejev just behind them. Kaspars Stupelis was urging his driver on in front of the home crowd, and it was a good battle to watch. These top five teams were way ahead of the chasing pack, depleted by the travel chaos keeping some passengers away.
Into the closing stages and Varik was in control at the front, with Gert van Werven a solid second, from Sanders and Wilkinson holding fourth.
Result – 1/ Kert Varik/Lari Kunnas, 2/ Gert van Werven/Ben Van Den Bogaart, 3/ Davy Sanders/Luc Rostingt, 4/ Brett Wilkinson/Joe Millard,
5/ Gert Gordejev/Kaspars Stupelis, 6/ Ular Karing/Sebastian Oliver Lamp,
7/ Tanel Reesna/Sten Niitsoo, 8/ Liutaurus Variakojis/Martins Antons.
These results form the grid for tomorrow’s two GP races.
We will be covering all the action for the customary TV highlights show, with regular bulletins and updates on social media and the website. Stay across
www.fimsidecarcross.com for the news as it unfolds.
From Barry Nutley