Marvin Vanluchene with Robbie Bax take victory in race one at Lange Estonia
The weather for day one of the second round of the FIM World Sidecar Cross Championship could have been kinder in Estonia, but part of the challenge of Motocross comes in the variety of conditions. On a good but soggy surface under grey, misty skies, the fight for gate positions got underway.
Group “A” Qualifying was a close-fought affair, with the battle between Marvin Vanluchene/Robbie Bax and defending Champions Etienne Bax/Nicolas Musset resuming.
Gert Van Werven/Ben van den Bogaart were strong in third albeit two seconds adrift of the leaders. Then came a good showing by Tim Leferink/Kostas Beleckas in fourth, as Etienne Bax went ahead on the timesheets with half a second over Vanluchene/Bax.
There was another strong performance from Markus Normak/Karl-Albert Kasesalu ahead of Daniel Willemsen/Rodolf Lebreton. These six crews were split by just four seconds, so it was very close. The track in Lange was in prime condition, despite the wet weather. Great care was taken by the organisers to provide the best possible platform for this most important event in the Estonian motorsport calender. There was real evidence that the sandy terrain would cut up, so it would be interesting to see how it fared once the quads had done their thing.
Group “B” and it was the sole British crew Jake Brown/Joe Millard who laid down the early marker. The Lange track seemed initially to suit the left-hand chair, and they looked impressive over the spectacular jumps.
Very quickly though, Kert Varik/Lari Kunnas stormed ahead on what must be the closest GP to Kunnas’ home country of Finland. Then it was the turn of Belgium in the form of Justin Keuben/Niki Debruyne to move up the table. Lukas Cerny/Bastien Chopin (Jawa) gave chase too, and this began to look like a very tight group.
Flying high though, were Julian Veldman/Ondrej Cermak and Koen Hermans/Glenn Janssens (CPD Mega) as they set after the fast time set by an inspired Varik/Kunnas.
Half distance and Keuben was second fastest but still one clear second of the pace of Varik. Clearly, the closed season had done some good to certain crews, but not to others.
Brown/Millard slipped to sixth, in need of finding four or five seconds each lap to get on terms again. With ten minutes left on the clock, Keuben had got to within half a second of Varik.
Then, Veldman/Cermak nailed a great time on a track which was rapidly developing deep ruts on the soft sandy circuit. They eclipsed Varik by four one-hundredths of a second to go top of the pile. Again, five seconds split the top eight crews with Brown/Millard hanging on in seventh fastest
Tanel Reesna/Markus Lina upheld local honour with a great effort recording sixth fastest. Hermans was third, Keuben fourth, and Cerny fifth. Veldman/Cermak however, were once again on a mission.
Race One – By the time the sidecars returned to the gate for the opening race, the track had been subjected to considerable attention, both from the Quads and the organisers.
In the main, there was a hard under-core to the surface although the ruts on the bends would make passing difficult.
From the gate, a fantastic charge to the first turn saw the whole field so bunched, it was hard to choose a winner. However, Marvin Vanluchene/Robbie Bax had a nose in front and that saved them from what was about to unfold. They were to carry that advantage through the entire race, giving them a great start to their 2021 campaign. It all fell apart for many on turn two, with a massive pile up side-lining some big names, among them Etienne Bax/Nicolas Musset who became embroiled in the melee, and Koen Hermans/Glenn Janssens who trailed home seventeenth and almost out of the points
Bax eventually got away in last place. The fight back would be long and hard, but Bax is not a quitter, and knows better than anyone that championships are won on persistence and dedication. Julian Veldman/Ondrej Cermak repeated their form from Jinin, slotting into second place, with the youngest driver in the field Tim Leferink/Kostas Beleckas sitting third. They had escaped the confusion in turn two and were going to make the most of it.
Veldman/Cermak maintained the chase on Vanluchene, but the former champion had such a good start, he never looked back and was almost twenty seconds ahead at the flag.
Leferink/Beleckas must have felt a warm feeling as they were now leading the legend that is Daniel Willemsen. What’s more, even though they eventually succumbed to Willemsen, the only other crew who passed them were Kert Varik/Lari Kunnas, so I think it is fair to say a two new stars were born today. Willemsen and Rodolf Lebreton were fourth and looking determined to improve having escaped the turn two carnage. The veteran kept plugging away and was always going to prevail as his result will show. He was to eventually to finish third behind the two young guns who triumphed at Jinin.
Ijen Kops and Paul Horton had a great ride, introducing still more new talent to the series as they battled throughout to claim sixth ahead of Gert van Werven/Ben van den Bogaart
At half-distance. Etienne Bax had made his was to eighteenth in this rich field, and was to halve that deficit by the flag, salvaging ninth place from what could have been a disaster.
Further down the order, the fights were immense and spectacular, with everyone glad to be back racing.
Result – 1/ Vanluchene/Bax, 2/ Veldman/Cermak, 3/ Willemsen/Lebreton, 4/ Varik Kunnas, 5/ Leferink/Beleckas, 6/ Kops/Horton, 7/ Van Werven/van den Bogaart,
8/ Gorejev/Stupelis, 9/ Bax/Musset, 10/ Cerny/Chopin
Races Two and Three are as the schedule.
From Barry Nutley