Motoclub Dardon Gueugnon hosts penultimate round as Bax and Stupelis eye the title
Fresh from galloping round the “Vineyard Circuit” at Gooik in Belgium, the two men homing in on the title of 2019 champion, Etienne Bax and Kaspars Stupelis, lead the circus across the border into France to a traditional French motocross track.
The circuit at Gueugnon has seen the very best sidecar crews in the world on several occasions, and was the scene of double triumph for the Latvian pairing of Kristers Sergis and Artis Rasmanis in a totally dominant season of 2002, winning their fifth title along the way.
This track is in complete contrast to last weekend's Belgian round where the track was literally marked out on a grassy field, with few jumps to contend with. Nonetheless, the racing was exceptionally, drama was plentiful, and the local boy, defending champion Marvin Vanluchene with his loyal passenger Ben Van Den Bogaart, covered himself in dirt and glory to steal six points off Bax and Stupelis. He will be hoping all that effort was not in vain as they head to France.
With a sixty-five point lead, Bax and Stupelis can put it out of reach this weekend, and it would need something to go horribly wrong for that not to happen.
Below the top two however, there is still much to play for between the chasing bunch.
Both Koen Hermans and Arne Dierckens are in trouble. Hermans with repeated mechanical issues, and Dierckens nursing an injured passenger in the shape of Robbie Bax. They both have eyes on third place, and it could go either way. Hermans sits there at the minute, but to win it, you must be in it, and that has been a problem for him of late.
Stuart Brown and Josh Chamberlain are not out of that equation either, and these French tracks suit Brown and the four-stroke.
Another thumper, in the hands of Kert Varik and Lauris Daiders, has now taken them one place better than last year, ahead of a dormant Davy Sanders, and an exceptionally in-form Zeno Compalati and Bastien Chopin.
The pair took the first-ever podium for an Italian sidecar-crosser last time out, and have just grown in stature as the season has unfolded.
Then comes a young pair who are destined for great things. Jake Brown and Joe Millard were nothing short of inspirational in Belgium - lifting their first overall podium with a brilliant third behind the two top crews.
They are now thirty-three points behind Compalati, and to slash that gap might be a bridge too far. The Italian is nothing if not consistent, and has good momentum.
One thing is for sure, even though the season is drawing to a close, the title is still not decided, reputations all down the field are at stake, and futures are being decided as we speak.
2019 could be the most interesting year yet, but with four races and heaps of drama still to come, France will be the place to be this weekend. Failing that, you can join us through our newsfeeds and reports.
The WSC team will be on hand to capture all the action as it unfolds, with the highlights show available later in the week on this website, and all topical news and views as it happens.
From Barry Nutley