Dry, fast Kramolin sets up Etienne Bax/Nicolas Musset nicely going into tomorrow
Even before the track action began in Kramolin, the air was filled with anticipation and expectation. The weather forecast for the three days of the GP weekend was favourable, with warm sunshine and great track conditions. This would be in complete contrast to the last time we were here when rain and mud became the order of the day.
Friday saw the teams arrive, set up, go through the mandatory scrutineers checks and generally prepare for the weekend ahead.
Free practice on Saturday saw the usual two groups with Marvin Vanluchene, Etienne Bax and Daniel Willemsen in “A” with Julian Veldman, Kert Varik and Koen Hermans in “B”.
Thirty teams completed the start list with the track in perfect order. Weather was perfect and the stage was set.
Qualifying – The group split threw up some interesting challenges for the “B” group simply because the track cut up quite badly even after the first session.
Marvin Vanluchene/Robbie Bax edged ahead in “A” posting a time which Etienne Bax/Nicolas Musset could not match. A strong showing by Daniel Willemsen with his new young French passenger Rodolf Lebreton put them third. Lukas Cerny/Bastien Chopin were fourth.
The second group kicked off with Julian Veldman/Ondrej Cermak setting an early standard, but still a clear second off Vanluchene’s time. That was until Koen Hermans/Glenn Janssens pulled out a very special lap to get within three tenths of 2018 Champion Vanluchene. Try as they might, Veldman/Cermak could not improve, so Hermans came out on top of group “B” but second overall.
Kert Varik’s time put him marginally down on Daniel Willemsen but ahead of Cerny/Chopin.
Gate Position -
1/ Vanluchene/Bax, 2/ Hermans/Janssens, 3/ Bax/Musset, 4/ Veldman/Cermak,
5/ Willemsen/Lebreton, 6/ Varik/Kunnas, 7/ Cerny/Chopin, 8/ Sanders/Rostingt,
9/ Steegmans/Steegmans, 10/ Keuben/Rietman.
Race One – The atmosphere was explosive as the gate dropped and the field charged up to the first wide right. Daniel Willemsen/Rodolf Lebreton grabbed a slender lead but were quickly relegated by Etienne Bax/Nicolas Musset.
The reigning champion meant business and having been quoted as saying this round could make or break them, was not about to be broken.
They headed off into the lead, never to be conquered. Behind them, the red plate of Marvin Vanluchene/Robbie Bax challenged for second, and also got past Willemsen. Koen Hermans/Glenn Janssens sat fourth, with Julian Veldman/Ondrej Cermak fifth and desperate to improve.
Varik/Kunnas had a sluggish start and had to battle hard to make up for lost time which they slowly did as Willemsen dropped back
Hermans kept the pressure on, making a flying pass on Vanluchene at two-thirds distance. Jumping into the lead on the fast downhill drops, they looked to be the quickest crew on track. That was until Bax/Musset turned up the wick and extended their lead to around ten seconds.
At the flag, Vanluchene found himself being caught by Veldman, although his cushion was more than enough to hold on. The 2018 Champion complained of arm-pump, and the fact he did not feel comfortable on the bike. Work needs to be done before the two races tomorrow.
Jake Brown and Joe Millard stalled on the gate, and the bike would not start. Once away dead last, they plugged away, fighting through to sixteenth place and a handful of points.
Hermans/Janssens were supreme, and Bax/Musset magnificent.
Result – 1/ Etienne Bax/ Nicolas Musset, 2/ Koen Hermans/Glenn Janssens, 3/ Marvin Vanluchene/Robbie Bax, 4/ Julian Veldman/Ondrej Cermak, 5/ Kert Varik/Lari Kunnas,
6/ Daniel Willemsen/Rodolf Lebreton, 7/ Justin Keuben/Dion Rietman,
8/ Heinzer/Schelbert, 9/ Davy Sanders/Luc Rostingt, 10/ Tim Leferink/Kostas Beleckas.
Races two and three take place tomorrow
Full results and standings will be listed in the results/standings section on this website
Round four the finale comes from Oss, Netherlands 15-17 October
From Barry Nutley