Kramolin in the Czech Republic holds its breath ahead of round Four
This time one year ago in Kramolin we had a walking wounded Etienne Bax and Kaspars Stupelis putting up a brave fight to follow Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van Den Bogaart home in both races. This year they enjoy a ten-point advantage over them at the top of the standings and are both fully fit. The red plate therefore has changed hands, with Vanluchene keen to claim it back.
Another crew going well with ghastly memories of one year ago are Daniel Willemsen and Luc Rostingt. The gritty Willemsen was sidelined by an horrific traffic accident in the Ukraine, which could easily have ended his career. He returns to Kramolin third in the table after a successful start to his attempt to gain an eleventh title.
The evergreen Stuart Brown has scored well in the Czech Republic before and is as consistent as ever, sitting fifth ahead of this next round behind last year's championship runners-up Koen Hermans and Nicolas Musset. The current number two crew have yet to show what they are really capable of, despite victory in race two in Spain.
Valentin Giraud appears to be totally happy with his new German passenger Andres Haller, and will only get faster as they grow together, whilst still becoming accustomed to two-stroke power from Mega. The ultra fast downhill drops and hard going will suit his style. Having said that, we have seen that regardless of the type of going, whether it be bottomless sand, or hard rock cafe, these top crews take it in their stride.
There has never been French world sidecar cross champion, and Giraud is more than qualified to make that happen, having learned his trade in solo Grand Prix motocross.
I see this next round as a pivotal event, cementing positions at the top of the table going into the next three quarters of the season.
The pace will only get hotter, and with five hundred points still there to be had, the competition will intensify as the year unfolds. With all our crews in good shape, and finishing races, it promises to be one of the most exciting seasons ever.
We have yet to see consistency from Arne Dierckens/Robbie Bax or Julian Veldman/Glenn Janssens, but we are well aware of their potential, as Veldman has already demonstrated with victory in Belgium.
I have only scratched the surface of what might happen in the Czech Republic, such is the standard of field this year. The permutations are endless, and as I've said many times, and we all know, in this sport – anything can happen, and probably will.
We are LIVE for the entire weekend in Kramolin, with non-stop coverage of qualifying and both Grand Prix races. There will be the usual bulletins and newsfeeds from both days, and the one hour high-lights show later in the week.
Make sure you have signed up for your season pass, so you will not miss a thing, and join us for all the news as it unfolds on www.fimsidecarcross.com
From Barry Nutley