Onwards and upwards for Bax and Stupelis as Strassbessenbach welcomes round nine
Just days after a dramatic and somewhat difficult round in Markelo, the crews travel across Germany to Strassbessenbach, which lies south-east of Frankfurt. This is a regular venue for WSC, with a hillside track in rich farming countryside typical of the natural going found in Germany and Switzerland.
The track is fast and spectacular, and favours the brave with its downhill jumps and steep climbs.
One year ago it was the playground of Julian Veldman and Glenn Janssens who leapt to double victory and with an untouchable display of hard riding. It might not be the same this year though, because they have taken much time out with injury, and on their return last weekend in Markelo, gave Veldman's wrist yet another tweak with a big crash.
Men on form however, are Etienne Bax and Kaspars Stupelis who, after double victory in Holland, enjoy a thirty-one point lead in the standings over defending champions Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van Den Bogaart.
Bax and Stupelis were on the Strassbessenbach podium last year in second spot, and will be hoping to go to the top step this time around.
A further twenty-five points back sit Koen Hermans and Nicolas Musset, who recorded fifth and third places at the German track last year.
Now in their second season together, this duo have shown real class, and if they stay out of trouble, mechanical or otherwise, they are strong contenders for victory.
Marvin Vanluchene and Ben Van Den Bogaart are methodically going about their business in the style which earned them the title in 2018. For them it is not just about winning, it's also about making sure that whatever happens, they score solid points.
The machine preparation is paramount, the mental attitude is total, and consistency wins championships. This level-headed approach is largely helped by the experienced Van Den Bogaart, already a three times champion passenger.
There will be a sober and reflective mood for this round, because the series has lost one of its brightest lights from active competition, and a man who was third overall in Germany one year ago.
In an horrific incident in race two Markelo, Valentin Giraud crashed heavily and was struck by several other outfits. The resulting hospital diagnosis confirmed everyone's worst fears. The multiple French Champion, former solo GP star, and immensely talented sidecar cross driver, suffered severe back injuries which inevitably mean a new way of life.
This is the worst possible news for the man who was certainly France's best-ever hope of a World Championship title in this sport.
Our sincere condolences and best wishes for a speedy recovery go to Valentin, whilst wishing all support and sympathy to his family, friends and all at Team Giraud.
We at WSC will be on the ground bringing you all the action from Strassbessenbach as it unfolds, with reports, newsfeeds, and the highlights show later in the week.
Stay with us here on fimsidecarcross.com for updates as they happen.
From Barry Nutley