Kramolin Qualifying mudbath showcases the class of Bax/Stupelis and Vanluchene/Van Den Bogaart
Gloomy grey weather overshadowed the Kramolin circuit ahead of what would prove to be a thoroughly entertaining qualifying. The forecast for the weekend was one of sunshine and showers, with the heaviest of the bad weather set for Saturday. The group draw put Bax, Willemsen, Brown and Giraud head-to-head in group A”, with Vanluchene, Hermans, Sanders and Varik the hottest prospects in Group “B”.
Free practice pretty much underlined this situation, with the circuit in very good shape. As it happened, the weather took a turn for the better, with the sun coming out before qualifying.
Pre-Qualifying “A” - Those who follow this sport regularly will know that this twenty-minute session is all about setting one fast lap. The objective being to have first pick of the gate for the actual qualifying race. Etienne Bax and Kaspars Stupelis continued their blistering run of form, and set the standard at the top of the timesheets, but they had company in the form of Valentin Giraud and Andres Haller.
Arne Dierckens and Robbie Bax were also very much alive, with Daniel Willemsen either sandbagging, or simply not at the party. The former must have been the case, because late in the session, the wily veteran posted a time which put him second fastest.
That lasted one lap before Giraud showed his speed, claiming the place back. Bax though, was on fire, and would take first bite of the cherry in starting gate choice.
Pre-Qualifying “B” - Two laps into this one and the heavens opened with the obvious consequences. Marvin Vanluchene by that time had done enough, and was clear of the bunch, from Koen Hermans, Davy Sanders and Kristof Santermans.
It was a significant downpour, so needless to say the times were well down on the earlier group. With the clock ticking away, Vanluchene sat the rest of the session out, safe in the knowledge he had done enough.
Qualifying Group “A” The session got under way well enough with Arne Dierckens and Daniel Willemsen fighting into turn one. Willemsen/Rostingt took over at the front and were looking like they were going to dominate.
Valentin Giraud/Andres Haller were right up at the sharp end, with Stuart Brown/Josh Chamberlain dropping into fourth.
The red plate of Bax and Stupelis had something of a sluggish start, but quickly got into the groove. Then the rains came with a vengeance, and Willemsen appeared to be talking to his passenger, whilst still holding the lead. Something was not right, and very shortly, in the deep mud, Willemsen was slowing, finally to retire from the chase.
Race leaders Dierckens/Bax gthen found themselves under pressure from Etienne Bax/Kaspars Stupelis, and the championship leaders showed their class with a brilliant passing move on an inside line they had tried several times before.
Giraud was steady away in third, with Brown now established in fourth ahead of the Swiss Cuche brothers.
With Willemsen gone, and Dierckens hung on for second. Giraud brought it home third, with a jubilant Bax out front.
Race Result – 1/ Bax/Stupelis, 2/ Dierckens/Bax, 3/ Giraud/Haller, 4/ Brown/Chamberlain, 5/ Cuche/Cuche, 6/ Keuben/Rietmen, 7/ Van Werven/Beunk, 8/ Ressna/De Bruyne,
9/ Heinzer/Betschart, 10/ Hofmann/Dorig, 11/ Kops/Lambrechts, 12/ Muller/Hofmeier
Qualifying Group “B” - On a seriously ruined track surface, Davy Sanders and Marvin Vanluchene fought for honours into the first turn, with the reigning champions getting the verdict. From that position, they were never to look back. The standing water in the turns, was even deeper that the previous race, and the ruts had dug out too.
Sanders/Kunnas held second from Koen Hermans, and a brilliant starting Zeno Compalati,
The Italian/French pairing were in fine form and managed to hold it all together to bring it home fourth.
Jake Brown and Joe Millard were riding well and up to sixth when drama befell them, and the engine cried enough.
Varik/Diaders were in trouble further down the order, and were eventually to miss out completely, joining Willemsen and other high profile teams in last chance.
Sanders must have been pleased with his runner-up spot, and everyone hoped the weather would be kinder come tomorrow and the two Grand Prix races.
There were some impressive results, with Britons Hodges/Grahame claiming a top ten finish.
Race Result – 1/ Vanluchene/Van Den Bogaart, 2/ Sanders/Hunnas, 3/ Hermans/Musset, 4/ Compalati/Chopin, 5/ Blank/Ravera, 6/ Cerny/Musil, 7/Pozzi/Walti, 8/ Hodges/Grahame, 9/Van der Lagermaat/ Van Haal, 10/ Petr/Zatloukal, 11/ Boukal/Boukal,
Last Chance – The biggest surprise and totally creditworthy result was the gfact that Kelly Debryne mastered the atrocious conditions to make it through once again to compete in a Grand Prix. Her performance almost overshadowed the brilliant recovery by Willemsen, Varik and Santermnans to preserve their reputations and compete tomorrow.
Result – 1/ Willemsen/Rostingt, 2/ Santermans/Beleckas, 3/ Varik/Daiders, 4/ Debruyne/Mans, 5/ Hroch/Hroch, 6/ Kolencik/Hehjal
From Barry Nutley