Latvian delight for Bax/Musset in Fast and Furious Stelpe
Torrential rain fell during the night and morning, but certainly did not dampen the spirits of Daniel Willemsen as he holeshotted from the delayed start.
He and Robbie Bax were very much at home on the fast circuit, and were chased into the first turn by the Cermak brothers and Etienne Bax/Nicolas Musset.
Stuart Brown slotted into fifth, with Brett Wilkinson mid-pack from the second row.
Valentin Giraud had again given himself work to do, and he and Elvijs Mucenieks set about the task methodically.
This circuit was a great leveller, with its high speed turns and jumps, and the Cermak brothers seemed to relish the conditions.
At one-third distance, Giraud was up to third and putting in consistently fast laps as he moved ahead of the Czechs.
Hermans/Van Gaalen were locked in a scrap with Daiders/Stupelis, who in turn were being urged on by the huge Latvian crowd.
As the leaders encoutered the first of the backmarkers, the race became even more frantic, with Giraud sniffing at the heels of Etienne Bax. Just at that moment, Brown hit a problem and slipped off the leading bunch. He was later to recover slightly, but much lower down the points.
Giraud then went into second with eyes firmly on the leader Willemsen.
Moments later, drama struck and Willemsen was in trouble as his mechanics ran to see what that problem was.
You can only imagine the grin on the faces of Giraud and Mucenieks as they lifted the victory and closed the gap on red plate holders Bax/Musset. Their winning margin was twenty-five seconds.
Hermans/Van Gaalen got the better of the Cermaks who finished a very creditable fourth ahead of a delighted Janis Daiders.
Brett Wilkinson and Dan Chamberlain had a brilliant ride through the field to claim sixth.
After a long delay, proceedings kicked off. Again Willemsen had a cracking start and led from Giraud and Bax. However, his efforts were thwarted as out came the red flag for a large crash involving some mid-pack runners.
The restart gave Willemsen the lead from Hermans and the Cermaks. Next time round, Giraud was up to third and chasing. Moments later, he was past the ten-times champion and leading. This race was run at an incredible pace with Brown/Millard, Wilkinson/Chamberlain fighting each other. Wilkinson however, was looking strong.
At half-distance, Willemsen was back in the lead, with Etienne Bax/Nicolas Musset for company, and the Czech brothers in the hunt too.
Hermans/Van Gaalen had not surrendered and were also in the thick of the fight at the head of the chase. This was a race which would go down as one of the best of the season.
Wilkinson and Chamberlain meanwhile had caught and passed Cuche the Swiss and moved into seventh. They were now the fastest on track and very soon made it to fifth, leaving everything in their wake.
But than Giraud/Mucenieks stucked in the deep rut, Hermans/Van Gaalen hit them and both these teams lost so important time and positions.
With four laps remaining, Brown was by the Frenchman mimicking the progress of Wilkinson, who shortly demoted Veldman/Van Den Bogaart and took fourth, almost towing Brown with him.
Into the closing stages, and Willemsen had the lead under control, with Etienne Bax Nicolas Musset a good second. Tomas and Ondrej Cermak rounded out a terrific weekend with third, and a visit again to the podium.
The Red plate still stays with Bax and overall victory was his here in Latvia.
From Barry Nutley