There has been a long rest between GP’s since Loket, although many teams have been in action in national series with at least two teams coming here as champions in their respective countries.
In complete contrast from last year, the weather was beautiful on arrival in Rudersberg, with the track nestling in green hills and vineyard strewn countryside.
Some track changes have been made since 2022 and one of the bends which proved problematic in the mud, is no more. Instead, the track goes straight on with a new jump inserted for increased spectacle. Having walked the whole track this morning, it also seemed wider in the tight places.
This penultimate round has so much resting on it for the two teams at the top of the standings, and we would certainly have to talk with Marvin Vanluchene and Etienne Bax among others.
A chat with Justin Keuben revealed that Dion Rietman is now home and recovering after his very frightening Loket experience where he blacked out from heat exhaustion and dehydration. This resulted in an enforced hospital stay in the Czech Republic before returning to The Netherlands two weeks later. His place alongside Justin for this round, and probably the remainder of this season will be taken by young French super-sub Rodolphe Lebreton.
Marvin was upbeat in his TV interview, whilst never losing sight of how unpredictable this sport can be.
Etienne, trailing by twenty-four points, is a consummate fighter, but was equally realistic about the scale of the task to retain the title. Having ridden at this track over many seasons, he was happy with the weather, the dry conditions, and his chances of success.
Celina Jahn, the very pretty lady passenger of Patrick Hengster was very excited to be in front of her home crowd, and desperately keen to qualify tomorrow. She admitted that the heat of Locket was about as much as she could bear but was really looking forward to the races here.
Tomorrow’s track walk and talk will involve local hero Tim Prummer, who’s truck and trailer was already in place mid-afternoon, with him following on later. Technical inspection and registration were already getting underway around the same time.
The atmosphere in the paddock was positive and light-hearted, with all the teams now moving towards the end of a long, hard season. There were many relaxed chats under awnings in deckchairs and a totally calm environment.
Tomorrow will be an early start, and then the track action begins as free practice gets underway.
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From Barry Nutley