Bax and Musset are Champions in Markelo as Willemsen takes overall victory
Race dawned bight and sunny, though far from warm. It could be said these were ideal conditions for racing, and the morning warm-up took place on a re-graded track.
There were several dramatic incidents, not least of all mechanical breakdowns for both Valentin Giraud and Briton Stuart Brown.
Giraud retired with steam gushing from the cooling system, and Brown's engine mysteriously died.
There were one or two collisions in the woods, but all made it back to the paddock safely. Brown and Giraud both with work to do.
Race One – From pole position, Willemsen/Bax made their customary lightning start to head the pack into the woods.
Championship leaders Etienne Bax/Nicolas Musset went with him and looked for all the world as if they were riding in the opening race of the season.
There were two hairy moments when it could have easily ended in tears for him, when he took so much air over the table-top jump he almost crashed.
Eventually, Bax went by Willemsen, but then dramatically, he retired into the pits with mechanical troubles.
A great start by Julian Veldman and Ben Van Den Bogaart took them into third place, only to promoted to second place with Bax's retirement.
Championship challenger Valentin Giraud/Elvijs Mucenieks had a dreadful start, finding themselves mid-pack on the opening lap. This gave them a huge degree of work to do fighting through the field.
Also battling up, conscious of their vulnerable fourth place in the standings, were Stuart Brown and Joe Millard. Ahead of them were several really fast crews, including Vanluchene/Schneider, Hermans/Van Gaalen, Daiders/Stupelis and Wilkinson/Chamberlain.
Then, suddenly, Vanluchene was out with what looked like an injury to his passenger, and the Latvian pairing of Daiders/Stupelis crashed out on the table-top.
Charging through came the Cermak brothers, and on the final lap, they relegated Giraud to what might well have been a position which lost him his title chance.
Up to that point, his hopes were still alive, but in dropping back, he handed the title to a delighted Etienne Bax/Nicolas Musset.
Race Two - If we thought we were in for a quiet race, and a cruise by Bax, nothing could have been further from the truth. Willemsen was determined to claim overall victory and flew from the gate to the holeshot.
Bax and Musset chased him all the way, with Giraud/Mucenieks slotting into third.
There was huge interest in this one, because Giraud stood to lose second in the title chase if Willemsen had another strong ride.
In addition, a terrific situation had evolved around Stuart Brown and Joe Millard's fourth place. Only nine points split Brown, the Cermak Brothers, Janis Daiders/Kaspars Stupelis and Hermans/Van Gaalen.
This came into sharp focus when Brown/Millard were involved in a first bend tangle, dropping them to twenty-first position.
Then began an heroic charge through the field, as they reeled off lap after lap passing other crews.
Their crowning glory was the scalp of Valentin Giraud, who was eventually to finish down in eight place, hence protecting his runner-up spot.
Bax was still riding like a demon, with huge jumps and lots of air over the table-tops.
Safe in third, after a really great ride came Julian Veldman and Ben Van Den Bogaart.
This pairing acquitted themselves really well, as they have done all season.
Brett Wilkinson and Dan Chamberlain were immensely strong again, claiming all in front of them to fifth place behind Hermans/Van Gaalen.
This enhanced their championship position, and was a great way to end the year.
Willemsen might have clinched double victory today, but all the plaudits go to a truly great effort throughout the year by Etienne Bax and Nicolas Musset.
Lifting his second title, Bax is a worthy champion, and a consummate professional.
From Barry Nutley
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