Sanders and Kunnas surprise Group “A” for Pole Position and Brown and Chamberlain storm Group “B”.

13/04/2019

Just twenty-seven crews made the journey to Spain for the second round, but that made proceedings much more straightforward. Every team would get a start in the two Grand Prix races, with no last chance qualifying required. However, due to a new rule for 2019, there would still be two qualifying groups, rather than the whole entry going at once.

In the ballot for groups, Group “A” certainly looked to be the tougher of the two, with Marvin Vanluchene, Koen Hermans, Etienne Bax and Valentin Giraud thrown together.

Daniel Willemsen found himself lined up alongside Stuart Brown, Kert Varik, Koen Hermans and the flying Julian Veldman.

The weather was perfect, the track fast and furious, with the stage set for chapter two of this fascinating novel, which is World Sidecar Cross.

Group A – Pre-Qualifying saw Etienne Bax/Kaspars Stupelis fastest in the first group, and behind them, all the big names were impressive with their very close times. Runners-up overall last year, Koen Hermans/Nicolas Musset were second quickest, but almost half a second slower than Bax.

 In the qualifying race that mattered, Vanluchene/Van den Bogaart took the hole-shot, whilst there was a tangle at turn one which all the crews survived.

Their lead was short-lived though, as they did not complete the lap, with Davy Sanders/Lari Kunnas assuming control, from Bax/Stupelis and Kristof Santermans.

This was not a good scenario for the defending champions. They had retired with a mechanical breakdown, and would start from the second row.

On lap six it was Sanders, from Bax and Hermans, followed by Giraud, Santermans and Jake Brown.

With such a small entry, there was actually no need to throw caution to the wind, because everyone would race tomorrow, it just determined from where on the grid.

Then Bax too was gone from the front with a technical problem, only to reappear in ninth place and once more pushing hard.

Jake Brown and Joe Millard moved to fifth behind Valentin Giraud. This was a good ride by the youngsters, which, if replicated in the GP proper – then a good result would be forthcoming.

Sanders and Hermans were involved in a colossal fight at the front with Giraud, now third, and fastest man on the track.

Etienne Bax and Kaspars Stupelis were once again fighting through the pack and were up to sixth behind Jake Brown.

Into the closing stages and Davy Sanders had two crews all over him, as Jake Brown passed Santermans for fourth place.

And that is how it finished, with Etienne Bax completing the top five.

Group B – Pick of the gate from pre-qualifying went to Daniel Willemsen and Luc Rostingt who actually eclipsed Bax's time from the previous group. Arne Dierckens/Robbie Bax ran him close, but not close enough.

 Come the actual race, and it was the Swiss Cuche brothers who took the lead from Dierckens and Stuart Brown/Josh Chamberlain. They were not to last one lap however, but it was a brave effort. This sort of going was heaven to the hard charging Brown and he was destined to lead anyway.

On lap three Brown recorded the fastest lap and Arne Dierckens went with him, as Daniel Willemsen and Luc Rostingt grabbed third on lap four.

Dierckens then put in a lap rivalling that of Davy Sanders in the group “A” race, but fractionally slower.

Willemsen responded with an incredible lap putting him right on the back wheel of Dierckens.

Julian Veldman and Glenn Janssens meanwhile had fought through from a mediocre start and were sitting fifth.

They were right with the Italian crew Compalati/Chopin and looking for a way by on this notoriously difficult track. Then they were through, and the Mega powered Veldman was after Willemsen, albeit some distance back.

Stuart Brown and Josh Chamberlain extended their lead to over eight seconds as Arne Dierckens dropped back. He was in a safe second place though because Daniel Willemsen was a now further twelve seconds behind.

Ten laps completed and Veldman was up to third, as Willemsen went missing. This was turning into a very dramatic day indeed for the superstars. First Vanluchene and now Willemsen.

Stuart Brown and Josh Chamberlain took victory with a huge lead from Arne Dierckens/Robbie Bax and Julian Veldman.

 

From Barry Nutley

 

 www.fimsidecarcross.com