Giraud turns up the Race One heat in scorching Möggers
In blisteringly hot weather conditions under a cloudless sky, and on a beautifully prepared circuit, Round Nine of this fantastic series eventually got under way after a significant delay.
Several riders had expressed concern about dangerous ruts in the track at a sensitive point discovered on the sighting lap. A tractor was sent out to rectify the problems, and the riders personally inspected the repairs. The heat was building, and tension was at boiling point by the time the gate dropped.
With just thirty-four points splitting the top three crews, the championship is at a crucial stage. It could also be an historic event for ten times world champion Daniel Willemsen. He was in search of his two-hundredth race victory. Would that happen this weekend in Austria?
From pole position, he rocketed off the line to find himself neck and neck with Valentin Giraud/Elvijs Mucenieks. The Frenchman had got a flyer ahead of Willemsen and the twenty-one year old Belgian Marvin Vanluchene with his Latvian passenger Haralds Kurpnieks.
Etienne Bax/Nicolas Musset, after registering fourth, fell back on lap three to some twenty seconds off the leaders in eighth place.
On lap four, Van Werven/Van Der Puttens were up to fourth, with Tomas and Ondrej Cermak close in fifth.
Giraud at this point had a four second lead over Willemsen, who in turn was twelve seconds clear of Vanluchene. Etienne Bax seemed to be bogged down in seventh place behind his eighteen year-old compatriot Veldman/Van der Bogaart.
It was however, only a matter of time, and then Bax/Musset were through ahead of the Cermaks with eyes on the bigger prize ahead.
Further down the order there was a good scrap between Dierkens/Rostingt, Sanders/Soenens and Brett Wilkinson/Dan Chamberlain.
Stuart Brown/Joe Millard had obviously had some sort of problem on the opening lap, because they were busy fighting back through the field, having climbed from twenty-fourth place to seventeenth after eight laps.
Ten laps in, and Giraud was well clear, and barring incident looked to be adding a third race win to his tally. He must have been praying that his overheating gremlin would not bite him here in these extreme temperatures.
Bax was on a charge, now up to fourth, but over forty seconds adrift of the leader. Closing that would be a tough call, even for him.
Into the final two laps, and Bax definitely was not himself. Ordinarily, we would have seen him muscle his way past everything before him, but not this time.
After a shaky spell, the Cermaks were back up to fifth with one lap remaining, and Bax had got his act together and was within three seconds of third place. Wilkinson dropped back to eleventh, just three places ahead of the recovering Brown,
Then, on the final tour, Bax was third and that is where he would stay. But he had given points to a jubilant Giraud/Mucenieks, clear winners by thirty seconds
From Barry Nutley.