Bax and Stupelis vanquish Vanluchene, as Brown and Chamberlain complete the podium
After an impressive display in qualifying, the top crews were firing on all cylinders ahead of the two Grand Prix races. The form Koen Hermans and Nicolas Musset had been threatening was evident in the fight for grid places. Etienne Bax and Kaspars Stupelis went into the two races knowing they would have a fight on their hands.
Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van Den Bogaart were equally fast, so we had the prospect of a titanic clash ahead. Sunday warm-up took place under grey skies and a somewhat damp weather situation. Current series leaders Bax and Stupelis were fastest, with defending champions Vanluchene and van Den Bogaart next in line.
Kert Varik is renowned for holding his pace until the end of these long races, so he had high hopes going into the GP proper. Hermans and Musset, fastest in qualifying, sat third quickest, and were bound to deliver too.
Race One – Rain had abated as the grid formed up, and there was even a hint of sunshine to brighten the atmosphere.
When the gate dropped it was once again the “holeshot kid” Arne Dierckens with Robbie Bax on home ground who grabbed the lead.
Koen Hermans. Etienne Bax and Jake Brown were next in line. The young Brown has moved to Holland to further his training, and that seemed to be working.
Once again Valentin Giraud had a problem off the line, and he was destined to fight through the traffic playing catch-up.
Hermans and Bax were right with the leaders, and the pace this early in the race was really quick. Could Dierckens maintain this momentum - well only time would tell.
On lap four, Hermans/Musset were by, and going away from Dierckens and Bax with a three second gap. Vanluchene/Van Den Bogaart sat in fourth and looked threatening.
Then came Van Werven and Veldman, with the two Browns now line astern seventh and eighth.
Giraud/Haller had made progress, passed Brett Wilkinson/Ryan Humphrey and moved into thirteenth place. The Frenchman was flying, but it would need a miracle for him to make it into the top five.
Lap eight and Veldman/Janssens had another big crash, Vanluchene went third, and the Browns went fifth and sixth, with father Stuart leading the way. George Kinge/Lewis Gray were in a fine ninth place, and looked strong ten laps in, just six seconds behind Varik and Daiders.
Closing stages, and Etienne Bax/Kaspars Stupelis began to reduce Herman's advantage, and move away from Vanluchene.
Giraud was motoring well, going tenth on lap thirteen, but was showing signs of smoking from somewhere. Another retirement would finish his title chances completely.
Two laps to go and Stuart Brown was fourth, with the top three now spread out, until suddenly, Hermans slowed, looking like he had problems. Bax and Vanluchene took advantage, and it was game over for poor Hermans/Musset. Brown moved third, and Hermans fell like a stone down the order.
Result – 1/ Bax/Stupelis, 2/ Vanluchene/Van Den Bogaart, 3/ Brown/Chamberlain,
4/ Dierckens/Bax, 5/ Brown/Millard, 6/ Van Werven/Beunk, 7/ Varik/Daiders,
8/ Hermans/Musset, 9/ Kops/Lambrechts, 10/ Kinge/Gray, 11/ Giraud/Haller.
Race Two – Both Koen Hermans and Davy Sanders suffered broken steering dampers in the first race, which explained their various problems. They would both be hoping for more luck this time around. Anyone who has ridden these things will know that if the damper breaks, they are almost impossible to ride at speed.
When the gate dropped, it was an absolute flyer for Hermans and Musset, but a big crash slowed a lot of the field as one bike cartwheeled. Valentin Giraud was heavily involved, and the red flag came out to stop the race allowing medical attention.
Once the track was cleared, the re-start was immediately put in place without a sighting lap, and away they went again.
This time Stuart Brown and Josh Chamberlain slotted into second place behind fast-gating Hermans and Musset. Bax and Vanluchene were tucked in behind, from Dierckens, Sanders and Jake Brown. Bax was quickly up to second, putting Brown between himself and his young Belgian rival.
Bax was on record lap pace, and looked right and left for a way past Hermans and Musset.
That proved to be the case. And he took the lead, just as Vanluchene moved past Brown to go third.
One third distance, and the race now had a pattern, with Julian Veldman in eighth, and Brett Wilkinson in tenth place.
Half-distance, and Bax's lead from Hermans was four seconds, with Vanluchene a further two seconds back.
Brown and Chamberlain were doing a fantastic job in fourth, and looked to be on the way to an overall podium. That proved to be the case.
Fellow countrymen Brett Wilkinson and Ryan Humphrey could be well pleased with their efforts, holding eleventh place in the face of strong opposition. Veldman was in fifth, and Jake Brown sat just behind him having moved past Dierckens and Bax.
Bax took victory by a clear twenty seconds from Vanluchene and added more points to his slender advantage.
He also too overall victory and climbed to the top step of the podium with Kaspars Stupelis.
Result – 1/ Bax/Stupelis, 2/ Vanluchene/Van Den Bogaart, 3/ Hermans/Bax,
4/ Brown/Chamberlain, 5/ Veldman/Janssens, 6/ Dierckens/Bax, 7/ Brown/Millard,
8/ Sanders/Van Gaalen, 9/ Varik/Daiders, 10/ Kops/Lambrechts
Overall Standings – Updated standings are available on this website
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From Barry Nutley